How to Travis-Pick Like a Pro on Guitar!

By. Sebastian Gomez

Last week we looked mapped out our fingers to the guitar using the P.i.m.a technique.

Today’s hacks are geared towards learning the notorious Travis Picking technique.

What is Travis Picking you ask??

Think of any Folk tune, specially from the late 60’s and early 70’s; songs like Dust in the Wind or Landslide, and used a lot by Bob Dylan. You can hear it now, that acoustic guitar bouncing back and forth between the notes.

What makes this technique unique and audibly auspicious is:

a) how your thumb moves between two strings

b) the thumb and fingers play at the same time

The sheet music bellow (and TABs) will help you learn the movements a little better now that our fingers are running along.

1. Halleluja by Leonard Cohen

This song is a classic. It’s easy enough for beginners to try, but also one all skill levels should know. I chose this song to work out the thumb, and get it ready for the fast pace grove of Travis Picking.

From last weeks lesson: Thumb will play the bass strings: E, A, and D.
Index will play the G string, Middle will play the B string , and Ring will play the high/little E string.

2. Playing Together

We got the thumb moving, now lets coordinate it with the rest of the fingers. This exercise is designed so your fingers will learn to work together.

Give it a try!

To play this as smooth as possible, start with your Pinky on the B String.

3. Dust in the Wind by Kansas

When their guitarist Kerry Livgren  wrote this, it was meant to be no more than a simple exercises. But once the band heard it, they were awestruck with it’s serine simplicity. But for me, no better song highlights the beauty of Travis Picking.

All it is for the intro (the section of our focus) is two chords: C and A minor. Add some variations on the B string, and you’ve got…. Dust in the Wind…

You can also practice the right hand pattern on the open strings.

The letters in the standard notation are the letters we gave to each right hand finger last lesson.

If you haven’t seen last weeks lesson yet check it out. It’ll round out today’s lesson, and with it, you’ll have the basics of finger-picking under your belt!