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  1. #1

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    Three questions about the Merle Travis style:

    a) What is the best book out there that teaches Merle Travis style?

    b) Who are the best players of the Merle Travis style out there today--or the players of who were around years ago?

    c) I am looking for a guitar transcription of 'I'll see you in my dreams'. Travis style or other styles (jazz / classical). Any body know of one?

    Many thanks.

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    This is a good book. Lots of transcriptions. Written by Tommy Flint, a relative of Merle's.Sorry! Something went wrong!

    Speaking of relatives, Merle's son Thom Bresh is still around.


  4. #3

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    Tommy Emanuel is pretty good.

  5. #4

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    Chet Atkins was highly influenced by Merle. And he was a big influence on Tommy Emmanuel. But neither of the played (plays) pure Travis style. Merle used just his thumb and forefinger, most everyone else uses multiple fingers. But the sound is very similar. Thom Bresh probably is the keeper of the flame. He has made a career of playing Travis style as closely as he can.

  6. #5

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  7. #6

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    The best book(s) are the two by Mark Hanson:

    Products – Mark Hanson

    The Art of Travis Picking and The Art of Solo Fingerpicking. Work through those and you'll have all you need.

    Another wonderful book is Richard Saslow's brilliant New Art of Ragtime Guitar (despite it mentioning ragtime it provides a great basis for all that thumb-picking stuff),

    Sorry! Something went wrong!

    In addition to the players mentioned above check out Richard Smith. He's great:



    Cheers
    Derek

  8. #7

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    I have worked through and am working through 2 of the Tommy Emanuel Truefire Courses : Milestones and Fingerstyle Breakthroughs and can recommend them for going from no ability to Travis pick to being able to come out the other end with a few really cool pieces to play. I have the Mark Hanson books to and they are great but I generally prefer the Truefire interface for learning.

  9. #8

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    a) What is the best book out there that teaches Merle Travis style?
    I don't recommend books, I think much is lost trying to convert stylistic components to/from text. Western Kentucky thumb style... buy this video. Learn by watching!

    b) Who are the best players of the Merle Travis style out there today--or the players of who were around years ago?
    See the answer to (a) above. It's been a while since I've watched that video, so in case he's not on there, check out Eddie Pennington.

    c) I am looking for a guitar transcription of 'I'll see you in my dreams'. Travis style or other styles (jazz / classical). Any body know of one?
    A good place to ask Chet or Merle questions is the The Chetboard. Know that Merle often played with one finger and thumb (like Rev. Gary Davis) and it is to that much of his stylistic sound can attributed.

  10. #9

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    agree thom bresh

    little known fact..merles big influence and guitar hero/mentor was ike everly..the dad of the great everly brothers


    with some nice words from johnny cash-



    if you want some great merle, be sure to check out his recordings with another guitar legend-joe maphis!!

    here they are doing -ike everlys rag!



    cheers

  11. #10

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    I think there's a DVD by Paul Pigat about travis picking. He's also a really great Player in that style, so definetly worth checking out.


    Brian Setzer also often throws some travis picking into his playing, but in a sloppier/dirtier kind of way.

  12. #11

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    The real deal heir apparent (besides Thom Bresh) is Eddie Pennington of Kentucky - He learned from some of the same people Merle learned from (Mose Rager, etc.) - hes has a website and a bunch of CDs and YT vids - if you want the real thing - he's it. Another great player in this style is Comer 'Moon' Mullins (RIP) - hard to find his CDs but he has some YT Vids and even some YT lesson material - definitely worth a look. Richard Smith and TE are good players among a lot of others but most are not true to the style which is a turn off for me. I've been playing this style for many years and Eddie and 'Moon' are the ones I've listened to the most although I cheat and use two fingers - how they do it with one finger is amazing to me. Good stuff, though!

  13. #12
    Thanks everybody for your replies to my questions--and great videos. Much appreciated.

    Thanks once again.

  14. #13

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    Oh, I just remembered this one, might not be everybodys cup of tea, but I think Brian Setzer Travis Picking over Cherokee (2nd Chorus) is lots of fun:

  15. #14
    Can anybody help with the following questions regarding the Merle Travis style?

    a) The style is mostly on solid 6th & 4th strings. Would you use the 6th & 5th strings--where the root of the chord falls? Aim to get the root as much as possible as opposed to the 5th or even the third of the chord?

    b) Would you use the bar chord in the Travis style?--now & again?

    c) Would you play octive notes on the bass strings? say 2 E's or 2 A's?

    d) Could you answer's be: 'Experiment'?

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by swingtoneman
    Can anybody help with the following questions regarding the Merle Travis style?

    a) The style is mostly on solid 6th & 4th strings. Would you use the 6th & 5th strings--where the root of the chord falls? Aim to get the root as much as possible as opposed to the 5th or even the third of the chord?

    b) Would you use the bar chord in the Travis style?--now & again?

    c) Would you play octive notes on the bass strings? say 2 E's or 2 A's?

    d) Could you answer's be: 'Experiment'?
    I have never gotten into that sort of depth of trying to imitate a player, but if I was going to the only thing we can really do is study transcriptions of Merle himself. Skip the method books (imo).

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by swingtoneman
    Can anybody help with the following questions regarding the Merle Travis style?<br>
    <br>
    <em>a) The style is mostly on solid 6th &amp; 4th strings. Would you use the 6th &amp; 5th strings--where the root of the chord falls? Aim to get the root as much as possible as opposed to the 5th or even the third of the chord?<br>
    <br>
    b) Would you use the bar chord in the Travis style?--now &amp; again?<br>
    <br>
    c) Would you play octive notes on the bass strings? say 2 E's or 2 A's?<br>
    <br>
    d) Could you answer's be: 'Experiment'?</em>
    <br>
    <br>
    Answer: 'yes' to all the above. This is not a style to be analyzed or learned from books. It is a style to be learned from listening, watching and interacting with players who play the style. Merle, many times, played chords that worked but shouldn't have. He also played partial chords (a lot!) using fretted bass notes and open melody strings (and vice versa). He also rarely played anything the same way twice. No offense, but you should get your mind out of the books and watch vids, especially the one from Comer 'Moon' Mullins - he lays it out exactly. Eddie Pennington is also a great one to see as is Thom Bresh (Merle's son). If you have the 'TefView' program, there are lots of Travis transcriptions with TAB and notation and it plays a MIDI file at the same time.





  18. #17

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    Thanks for the tips; especially that Pennington fellow, very nice indeed.

    About the thumb though: did Merle Travis do that precise 1 3 2 3 bass trot or was it more of a quick brush across the low strings? Both sound good, I'm just curious.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zina
    Thanks for the tips; especially that Pennington fellow, very nice indeed.

    About the thumb though: did Merle Travis do that precise 1 3 2 3 bass trot or was it more of a quick brush across the low strings? Both sound good, I'm just curious.
    No, Chet was much more precise with his thumb notes. Merle/Eddie/Moon used what I call a 'heavy' thumb where you play a couple strings on 2 & 4. Sorta of like bass note, strum, bass note, strum - of course, all these are muted so it kinda comes out as a 'thud'. You also have to learn the trusty left hand 'thumb over' method for bass notes sometimes. A couple of the best songs to work on to begin with are "I Am A Pilgrim" and "Nine Pound Hammer". Also listen to Moon's version of "Riding Down The Canyon" and Eddie's version of "Over The Rainbow". Also "Windy and Warm" is fairly easy to learn. I started out (about 50+ years ago) by playing melody notes in unison with the thumb notes - then after getting the thumb part down, you learn to syncopate the melody notes to go with them.

    Let me know if I can be of further help.

  20. #19

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    Skip Ellis, thanks for explaining, and for those song tips. I'm glad to hear that that's the way to play Travis-style, because I already do a similar thing, flicking my thumb up for that quick strum after a bassnote. I think in the end I prefer that to the cleaner pattern; the train-like "chucka chucka" sounds more lively and urgent than the carefully picked notes.

    I won't be able to put my other thumb over the neck for quite a while yet; I hope I can get by without it for now. Did the syncopated melody note playing come naturally after a while? I can do that in the simplest way, like on Mystery Train, but have trouble with the more elaborate things that Travis and Atkins do; I mean when they go outside the chord itself.

    And thanks for the help offer too. I've some questions that won't interest other players, so if it's all right with you I would ask those in a message.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zina
    Skip Ellis, thanks for explaining, and for those song tips. I'm glad to hear that that's the way to play Travis-style, because I already do a similar thing, flicking my thumb up for that quick strum after a bassnote. I think in the end I prefer that to the cleaner pattern; the train-like "chucka chucka" sounds more lively and urgent than the carefully picked notes. I won't be able to put my other thumb over the neck for quite a while yet; I hope I can get by without it for now. Did the syncopated melody note playing come naturally after a while? I can do that in the simplest way, like on Mystery Train, but have trouble with the more elaborate things that Travis and Atkins do; I mean when they go outside the chord itself. And thanks for the help offer too. I've some questions that won't interest other players, so if it's all right with you I would ask those in a message.
    Sure - anytime - just shoot me PM

  22. #21

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    Thanks, I did. Btw, it's strange coincidence that the 3 modern electric pickers I like best are all corpulent fellows: Hiland, Smith, and now Pennington; not joking. Yet they all have this light effortless touch.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zina
    Thanks for the tips; especially that Pennington fellow, very nice indeed.

    About the thumb though: did Merle Travis do that precise 1 3 2 3 bass trot or was it more of a quick brush across the low strings? Both sound good, I'm just curious.
    Zina,
    I've known Eddie Pennington for over 30 years and he is one of the best real Travis-style players in the world. Eddie grew up in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky and learned a great deal of what he knows from Mose Reger, the man who mentored Merle Travis, so Eddie is the real deal and one of the nicest, kindest people you'd ever hope to meet.

    A book or video will help you get started but to dig down into the details of the Travis style you'll need to see some players up-close and live.

    The National Thumbpicker's Hall of Fame has a website where you can get information about the yearly Home of the Legends Thumbpicking Weekend in Western Kentucky.

    Hall of Fame - Contact

    Also, the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas holds a yearly Tribute to Merle Travis, usually in May.

    Thumbpicking Workshop and Contest Tickets in Mountain View, AR, United States

    As for your question about the thumb, Travis and Reger (as well as most of the other Western KY thumbpickers) would occasionally hit more than one string on 1 and 3, then brush the remaining strings on 2 and 4 much the same way that Blind Blake and other pre-war blues fingerpickers did.

    Regards,
    Jerome

  24. #23

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    monk, thank you for the information. I'll watch as many videos as I can and not bother with a book. Seeing pickers in that class live won't be possible, and Arkansas is 1000s of miles away alas. I'm very taken by M Pennington's playing, and when you see him next please tell him he has a new fan. I'm serious, because after the videoclips I saw I think he's nudged Chet Atkins aside as my main finger-style reference. He has very nice, fluid transitions and seems to do more with less within the chord.