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Thread: pragmatic steps for gaining an autonomous thumb.

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ripock View Post
    I've been listening to some John Fahey guitar CD's and watching Justin Johnson on youtube, and I want their ability to play a droning bass line with the thumb whilst picking with the other fingers.

    But how does one go about that?

    I've looked at a few things and the advice is to practice. However that's pointless. It is like saying, "you want to beat Lebron James? Just score more points than him." The goal is obvious but the problem involves how do you achieve that goal? In terms of the droning bass line, the goal is obvious: the player just keeps it going while he or she plays the melody. Easy Peasy, right? However, what steps does one take to approach that goal?

    To that end, has anyone run across a systematic approach to teach the thumb to just keep on keeping on while the other fingers pick the melody?
    Which John Fahey song would you like to learn?
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  3. #13
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    Basically it is impossible on our ukulele, because it requires three strings for bass.

    I arranged it with drop F tuning. I have some explanation of it in there.

    http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/...cking-arrange)

    Quote Originally Posted by ripock View Post
    However, what steps does one take to approach that goal?

    To that end, has anyone run across a systematic approach to teach the thumb to just keep on keeping on while the other fingers pick the melody?
    I play travis picking on my guitar.

    Basically they contain two parts. One is alternate thumb one is melody. In general, we practice alternate thumbs first. Then we practice melody. Eventually we combine them together. It is like left hand practice and right hand practice on piano. Actually travis picking started as a imitation of ragtime piano.
    Last edited by zztush; 10-02-2017 at 04:44 AM.
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  4. #14
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    I apologize for not being around to respond. Other things have been demanding my time.

    It seems travis picking is the answer, which is good because I already practice it. I guess I just need to practice a lot more because I can do the patterns just fine and add chords, but I just felt I was missing the big picture. I have Aaron Keim's books and with practice I can play the songs, but I wanted to move beyond mere mimicry. Essentially I want to do what I already do, but add a drone to it. What I like to do is wank around with pentatonic scales and riffs. However, when I try to add a drone, the melody notes either occur with the drone or they robotically occur right in between the drone notes. I can't convince my thumb and my melody fingers to ignore each other and just do their own part.

    After reading everyone's insights I just need more practice. I think I was just freaking out because halfway through the process, the pieces weren't coming together and I started thinking I was doing something wrong. I'll just go back to practicing clawhammer with my re-entrant uke and travis picking with the linear uke, and give it another year and see if the skills don't start to come together. Thanks for being good listeners.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ripock View Post
    To that end, has anyone run across a systematic approach to teach the thumb to just keep on keeping on while the other fingers pick the melody?
    When I was starting to learn slack key guitar, a guy suggested that I should spend quite some time just learning to play the bass notes. Ignore the melody part of the tune until I could play the bass notes without thinking about it.

    What I ended up doing was setting up a metronome and a timer, and every day for two weeks, I spent ten minutes a day just playing alternating bass notes. (I was using Open G tuning, so I was playing either strings 6 & 4, or 5 & 4, on a DGDGBD tuning). It was boring as hell, but it worked well. It also helped with my travis picking in standard tuning.

    So, I'd suggest the same trick on a uke. Set up your metronome, probably for about 80bpm to start with (if you don't have a metronome, there's tons of smart phone apps that work well). Then, using only your thumb, just play strings 4 & 3 over and over, keeping in time with the metronome. Do it every day for at least two weeks, for a minimum of 10 minutes per day. Don't skip any practice sessions. You need to be consistent about it.

    If you find it getting easier, increase the metronome speed by 10bpm every few days. By the end of my two weeks, I was easily playing at 120bpm.

    Once you can do it easily, start putting in the melody notes.
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  6. #16
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    I think that I am doing what you are talking about with my thumb. I either drone on the G string, or sometimes bounce between the G and the C strings in just a rhythmic manner while my other fingers do more fancy stuff. What does your thumb do? For me it just seemed natural to drone that top string, or the top two strings. Otherwise my thumb would feel sad and left out.
    Last edited by Rllink; 02-05-2018 at 05:52 AM.
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  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rllink View Post
    I think that I am doing what you are talking about with my thumb. I either drone on the G string, or sometimes bounce between the G and the C strings in just a rhythmic manner while my other fingers do more fancy stuff. What does your thumb do? For me it just seemed natural to drone that top string, or the top two strings. Otherwise my thumb would feel sad and left out.
    My question is this: as a musician how do you think about these things and how they relate? Do you get a drone going and then do the fancy stuff between the beats of the drone? Do you get a drone going and then just forget about it and do your fancy stuff without any regard to the drone--letting the fancy stuff play over the drone? I know what my Russian lifting coach would say: go practice for a year and if, after that, you still have questions about minutiae, then we'll talk. However, I was just curious what other players did.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ripock View Post
    My question is this: as a musician how do you think about these things and how they relate? Do you get a drone going and then do the fancy stuff between the beats of the drone? Do you get a drone going and then just forget about it and do your fancy stuff without any regard to the drone--letting the fancy stuff play over the drone? I know what my Russian lifting coach would say: go practice for a year and if, after that, you still have questions about minutiae, then we'll talk. However, I was just curious what other players did.
    Ha ha, your Russian lifting coach has answered your question very well, "go practice for a year and if, after that, you still have questions about minutiae, then we'll talk." Check out some of the many video tutorials on YT, there are many that cover fingerpicking and they should be enough to point you in the right direction
    Last edited by Camsuke; 02-05-2018 at 04:02 PM.
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  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ripock View Post
    My question is this: as a musician how do you think about these things and how they relate? Do you get a drone going and then do the fancy stuff between the beats of the drone? Do you get a drone going and then just forget about it and do your fancy stuff without any regard to the drone--letting the fancy stuff play over the drone? I know what my Russian lifting coach would say: go practice for a year and if, after that, you still have questions about minutiae, then we'll talk. However, I was just curious what other players did.
    Perhaps think about it this way: your melody notes are going to either fall on the beat, or between them. (If you're starting out with this stuff, it's probably best to avoid anything that has anything faster than an eighth note, until you've grokked it properly).

    So, that means that your melody note needs to be played at the same time as the drone note, or between drone notes.

    (It can get more complicated than this, but it's a good starting point to build your understanding from).
    Kala ATP-CTG-CE Tenor
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  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ripock View Post

    However, when I try to add a drone, the melody notes either occur with the drone or they robotically occur right in between the drone notes. I can't convince my thumb and my melody fingers to ignore each other and just do their own part.

    .
    Isn't that what is supposed to happen? I guess that I thought the droned was sort of keeping time.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

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