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Had no idea...

in Welcome Posts: 3,960

that we weren't the only acoustic players big on the thumb chords. Even though I went to Chet Atkins fest one summer, I didn't notice that. Thom Bresh was there too (as he probably is each year...) but none of this stuff caught my attention. Pretty neat though. Would love to someday dedicate a chunk of my life on this stuff. And Tele style chick'n picking and some's too short...

Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel


  • WillieWillie HamburgNew Old french mystery, Altamira M01 f
    Posts: 552

    Fantastic lesson, marvellous sounding guitar!

    Life is too short, that's right. My next incarnation is already scheduled for trombone and piano; but as I'm afraid there is a certain distance between my current status and enlightment, there will be enough incarnations left for conscientiously studying different styles of guitar playing.

    BucoBill Da Costa WilliamsAndyW
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,022

    @Buco Thumb chords are pretty common in many styles...if for no other reason than old guitars were so hard to play that full barre chords were almost impossible.

    But you find the technique used in modern jazz guitar too:

    What's interesting in the vid that you posted is that he also points out that Merle Travis used the one finger double stop technique. I've never seen anyone do that outside of the Gypsy style but it may be more common than I realized.

    WillieBucoWim GlennBill Da Costa WilliamsbillyshakesBonesChrisMartinrudolfochristAndyWconstantine
  • edited October 2021 Posts: 3,960

    Yes, when I saw him demonstrate same finger double-stop I was thinking "even that!". It could be that Merle got it from someone's GJ bag but equally possible he came up with it on his own. Merle was one of the instrument innovating giants as well.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • Wim GlennWim Glenn oƃɐɔᴉɥƆModerator 503
    Posts: 1,287

    What a great photo of Sister Rosetta Tharpe with the big smile! Tal's video was cool too

    BucoMichaelHorowitzWillieBill Da Costa Williams
  • edited October 2021 Posts: 3,960

    Another cool Bresh video where he shows how to play "I'll see you in my dreams" in the style and is using some of the same chords.

    Never seen this fingering for a 7th chord where you thumb playing 3rd in bass, index the 7th, then third again with pinky, middle playing the 5th and index playing the root octave higher... I think... going of memory.

    @Willie I think what Thom is playing is one of those Martins with Bigsby neck. Probably one of his dad's old guitars. I don't know much about that scene but I read an article in Fretboard Journal on Paul Bigsby to learn, much to my surprise, that Paul was responsible for the electric guitars we play today as much as Leo Fender and Les Paul. Only Paul simply wasn't interested in a large scale production. He ran his own custom shop and built electrics with his own pickups and modified acoustics, usually a neck replacement. Him and Merle Travis came up with the Bigsby tremolo idea. And I think Thom mentioned in one of these videos it was really his dad's ideas but Paul brought it up life. And that's what the world mostly knows about Paul, is the Bigsby vibrato arm. Also the headstock on Thom's acoustic is designed by Paul. No idea how it came to show up on Stratocaster. But these guys knew well what each one of them was up to. Paul sure had an amazing mind. And could build whatever anyone imagined. That's how they built the first electric guitar for Merle. He asked "you think you can build this" and Paul replied "I can build anything!". Until then he was into motorcycles.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • WillieWillie HamburgNew Old french mystery, Altamira M01 f
    Posts: 552

    @Buco Thank you for the explanation, didn't know this. For me "Bigsby" only was a synonym for that huge lever.

  • WillieWillie HamburgNew Old french mystery, Altamira M01 f
    Posts: 552

    @MichaelHorowitz The first halfs of your guitar videos seem to be inspired by Tal Farlow's playing in the video, did you deal with this style before you turned to gypsy jazz?

  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 603

    Paul Bigsby was a genuine character and a superb artisan at everything he did. He had a real impact on American popular culture that endures to this day. He was the chief machinist, pattern-maker and tuner for the Crocker motorcycle company back in the late 30s. Crockers were the ultimate high performance bike in their time and are the holy grail of American motorcycles, they only made about 100 of them. Most survive and are very valuable today. The Bigsby guitar in the video is probably a modern replica - the original Bigsby/Martin D-28 is not ornamented like that.

    That Travis E(7) chord 45643x is really interesting! Looking forward to finding ways to integrate that chord into my own fingerpicking... I always used 4x243x as my go to fingerpicking E chord - it never occurred to me to add the extra G# on the 4th string. The Travis chord has interesting dissonances - it's more like a John Fahey chord. Another popular fingerpickers E7 is 776757 fret 5th and 6th string with your thumb.

    Something I always did in gypsy jazz was to try and find ways to use these kinds of chords in my rhythm playing - it's a good way to make your rhythm original and unique. It's the great thing about the guitar! Always something new and cool to learn.

    BucoWillieBill Da Costa Williamsrgrice
  • scotscot Virtuoso
    edited October 2021 Posts: 603

    Deke Dickerson's book about finding old guitars, "The Strat in the Attic", has a great section about Bigsby guitars, as well as Michael Dregni's recollections of the time he and I went to visit record collector John Bajo in Wisconsin and got to play his super-rare D-hole Selmer with the double port resonator. All in all, that's a great book for anyone interested in rare and obscure guitars, by a guy who knows and loves those old and weird guitars.

    I think the Bigsby/Martin in the 2nd video is the original one.

    Many thanks for generating this thread, Buco!

    BucoWillieBill Da Costa Williams
  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 319

    Thumb-over fingerings were dirt-common when I was learning to fingerpick sixty years ago--and both Gibson and Guild offered fingerboards narrow enough to make them easier to manage than full barre shapes, even for minor-chord shapes such as the second-fret Bm, which I learned to make with the thumb on both the E and A strings.

    Those fingerings got tougher on the wider-neck guitars that became common later--and in the long run, thumb-over can have some undesirable effects on the left hand, as I discovered when I got past 70. My mildly arthritic left thumb joint is happier with my old Guild dread and my Epi Broadway than it is with my modern 1.75-inch-and-up guitars. (Though neck profile and fingerboard radius matter as well.)

    WillieBucoBill Da Costa WilliamsAndyWbillyshakes
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