Basic Fingerstyle: Travis Finger Picking (Folk Guitar Lesson FO-108) How to play

This is the 9th lesson in the folk fingerstyle module and we look at “Travis Picking”, a kind of alternating bass fingertyle technique first made well loved by the fantastic Mearle Travis. TAB is on the web site! Whole series will be on the web site and a DVD is available with some bonus material! See the web site for more details!Taught by Justin Sandercoe. Full support at the justinguitar web site where you will find hundreds of lessons on a wide range of subjects, and all the scales and chords that you will ever need! There is a fantastic forum too to get help, no matter what the problem. And it is all really free, no bull. No try out lessons, no memberships, no free ebook. Just tons of fantastic lessons :) To get help with this lesson (and for further info and tabs), find the Lesson ID in the video title (like ST-667 or whatever) and then look it up on the Lesson Index page of Have fun .
Video Rating: 4 / 5

click here to make a song request More Fantastic Lessons at Bill Withers – Ain’t No Sunshine – Acoustic Guitar Lesson simple song
Video Rating: 4 / 5


  1. BenjaminFranklin99 says:

    Vote Ron Paul if you want to take the pensions and health check care away from ancient folks and the handicapped, and eliminate taxes on the Greedy One Percent. Vote for the Democrats, if you don’t want to take the food out of the mouths of poor children, the unemployed, our elders, and the handicapped.

  2. 2012felixx says:

    I didnt find this much harder than the simpler fingerstyle tbh, thanks justin :)

  3. GameLevelEditor says:

    I struggled a long time till that sounded somewhat like I was getting it. But its worth it. Merle is tough. Thom Bresh says that Chet articulated Boom Chick / Boom Chuck individually to both the E and A strings because when he heard Merle thats what he thought he was doing. Either way both made fantastic guitar music. Seems Merle thumbed across both the E and A strings together to get a heavier punch to his melody line. It sounded tight still though.

  4. GhostOfKratos93 says:

    I learned Julia by the Beatles a while ago so this wasn’t so terrible.

  5. guitarsaiyan says:

    Yo… that’s a cool ring justin.

  6. mattstraszewski says:

    To be precise it looks more like Chet Atkins picking style. Merle Travis while picking used only his thumb and index fiddle with. Other fingers were “glued” to the guitar. :-) But, that’s not really vital here and it’s a very valuable lesson!

  7. Zsolto66 says:

    I like it when you start to jam or play up-tempo at the end of the lessons. That is the part that gives me the most and the best thoughts. Thank you also for that, Justin.

  8. eNTo0o0 says:

    @Funtokill414 Really agree. Seriously.

  9. James707 says:

    Thanks for the lesson Justin. I took lessons for 4 years and these videos are like continuation of my lessons. You’re awesome!!!

  10. Zeppelinrocker7 says:

    @Funtokill414 YES!

  11. grantniels says:

    You need to place a reflector or a light down low so we can clearly see the passage of your fingers ;0)

  12. mlord1only says:

    Hej check out the result of one of your loyal subscribers: /messysketchy still delight in your lessons!

  13. Jackastrophic says:

    LEGEND :) I like fiddle with picking!

  14. stevalianarbone says:

    Fantastic lesson. Excellent clarity too rare thing in such a Mad Planet dude, expect I will add your folk DVD to my pool of Justin’s things soon. All your DVDs and book is excellent value for the money. Will you be making new album someday and another gig soon?

  15. DirtyCs says:

    Playing around with that C7 D and now cant get Harry Nilson’s coconut out my head… Cool Lesson Justin.

  16. Bagels108 says:

    Is it incorrect to use your ring fiddle with as well so the thumb doesn’t have as much to do?

  17. ericsbuds says:

    u rock Justin

  18. javadude54 says:

    Fantastic lesson. Merle Travis was an incredible guitar player and I hope this lesson will inspire some of your listeners to check him out. There are plenty of videos of him on YouTube.

  19. Rodneyuplonka85 says:

    lovin the blues try out at the end haha just got it below my fingers lolreally cool, thanks mate for another excellent lesson

  20. kharan3 says:

    i tihnk orchid by black sabbath would be an incredible lesson

  21. IPushHard says:

    Ive been browsing your lessons off an on for quite a minute Justin, and THIS one is doubtless one of the most useful (for me..) that you’ve done.
    I know that Youtube comments are often “want, want, want” but I reckon it would be really fantastic if you could add just 1 more lesson to this series instead of ending with the next lesson. It would seem a small shared.

    By the way.. These style modules are a fantastic thought and fully compliment the content of your other lessons.
    Thanks so much man.

  22. tjompiskompis says:

    @TheSmedleys ooooooooooh, I thought you meant the kind of ring you place on your penis to have orgasms xD

  23. mistertfool says:

    Hahaha. Justin, you’re fantastic, but some of those faces you make when bending a string (around 7:22 and 7:28 for model) are hilarious.

  24. galtun says:

    fantastic for practicing right hand. thanks.

  25. Funtokill414 says:

    Justin! You should do a “Going to California” tutorial.

  26. TheDubBreezy says:

    I have listened to this about 100 times in a row now… Can’t get it out of my head. Marty’s brainwashing plot is very nearly complete, lol!!!

  27. DrMoeVEVO says:

    ur so dope man!

  28. MrLeemput says:

    man man you give us so much pleasure. Thank you !!!!!

  29. Kalm15 says:

    @woofwoofwoofie Right me if I’m incorrect (you’ve been playing years, I’ve been playing months) but isn’t the 5th string is supposed to be muted here? The regular Am7 has you bar the entire 5th fret and use another fiddle with on the 7th fret of the 5th string. You don’t really need the 5th string to ring out unless you really want the chord to have more body.

    You’re doubtless better than you reckon. But you can just use another Am7 chord instead anyway, not the “super simple” Am.

  30. BubbaButt7 says:

    marty your so high man. or i am either way

  31. eamo2020 says:

    marty… putting the word ‘simple’ in title doesn’t make it simple lol

  32. Jewel123 says:

    Marty, you’re a bright warning of hope to all of us aspiring guitarists. I’ve learned so much from you man!

  33. megalordcartman says:

    Its not a chord, its a fingerbreaking torture

  34. woofwoofwoofie says:

    I guess I’m just relegated to doing everything the “super simple” way. I’ve been culture guitar for several years, playing and practicing every day, and there is NO WAY I can possibly form that Am chord up there on the 5th fret like that. it’s simply not possible for me to NOT touch the 5th string also. (unless I cheat and use my thumb on the e string)

  35. MDougan98 says:

    hey marty , what guitar is that you are using?:)

  36. FallOfMind says:

    @sawyerbobby Who the fuck is ExpertVillage?

  37. henkiewessel says:

    @bartsomsentju ow ja schrijffoutje, jemig wat faal ik hard

  38. bartsomsentju says:

    @henkiewessel FAIL! EADGBe, niet EADGBA

  39. TheMikeMarston says:

    This could not be more perfect… thank you marty!!!!!!

  40. dizzydude21 says:

    @vin12nie quit expecting everything to be handed to you how bout you do some fucking work and google the fucking chords he talks about or at smallest amount make an effort

  41. AdamTuckerMusic says:

    i know i know i know…*leaves page*

  42. risahall says:

    awesome x

  43. henkiewessel says:

    @vin12nie kwestie van gewoon leren, ik bedoel je moet toch een keer weten hoe elke snaar heet. Een Aap Die Geen Bananen Eet, EADGBA dat zijn je snaren van dik naar dun

  44. vin12nie says:

    why does no one thinks about that some people don’t know how they call these strings or how they call these chords.. yeah maby i’m kinda an dumb that i don’t know that, but still why can’t u no one of u tutorial makers just say “the second string” cuz i’m getting very frustrated that i just can’t know this chinese guitar language..
    sorry for my terrible enlish, i’m from holland..

  45. DalueCommentarys says:


  46. SkirtSoPlain says:

    @HaggardNaggar but play open A string. that was my question too. only difference I see is that an open A string sounds slightly thinner than an A played by 5th fretting the low E string

  47. SkirtSoPlain says:

    Ok both this and the mahalo lesson are excellent, but question: why can’t the first chord simply be played using the open A string instead of 5th fretting the low E string, and then you can simply barre the B, G and D strings? Simpler than fretting the 5th fret of low E then skipping A string then cramming fingers onto B, G and D all in 5th fret. Follow me? And that’s the real Am7 too, which sounds better than Am.

  48. HaggardNaggar says:

    @savannahsean Yeah, It’s painfully hard to do it the right way..but I guess all the chords were at one time. I guess i’ll just have to keep practicing. thanks

  49. savannahsean says:

    @HaggardNaggar It’s better if you don’t- because you want to dodge that D note (5th fret on the A string) since it kind of makes a “suspended” chord- which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but maybe not the best sound for this type of song. It’s worth culture the way he plays the chord, with your middle fiddle with on the 6th string and ring fiddle with barring the top 4 strings- that’s a really handy shape to know.

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