Chet's right hand pattern on his scales

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Chet's right hand pattern on his scales

Postby Doug Working » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:57 pm

I'm still working on scales, almost daily, even though my left elbow joint is still messed up and in pain. It's healing slooooooooooowly, I think. It would probably heal a lot faster if I would just put down the dern guitar, but I can't bring myself to do that.

So anyway, we all know Chet could roll off them scales faster than we can imagine. Does anybody here have knowledge of his right hand finger alternation on scales? When I say "scales", I'm talking about what he does, for example, in his tune with Merle Travis "Is anything faster, just watch it go past ya', is anything faster than this!

Man, he rips those scales off in a blink! And I've heard him do it on a lot of tunes.

How about "Sugar foot Rag" and "Ol' Joe Clark?" Those tunes don't exactly use scales per say, but his right hand work is superb. Has anybody tabbed those two tunes, btw?? What right hand pattern was he using in those tunes?

Anyway, as far as me, I'm still working daily on scales, and by golly, after all these years, breaking old habits because you CAN teach an old dog new tricks, I'm finding I can do the scales a little more efficiently if I use p i, p I pattern as opposed as to just doing the entire scale with only thumb pick, up and down strokes.

But how did Chet do it? What was his approach to scales? I think I'm about to learn a lot from you guys..

Doug
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Re: Chet's right hand pattern on his scales

Postby rhirvine » Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:19 pm

Until I saw Chet and Jerry using p-i to achieve fairly rapid notes I was at a loss to play single notes with a thumb pick. I just couldn't do it very well. I think Chet used p-i for much of "Yaketty Ax". I heard a live album by Glen Campbell where he played it faster than Chet but not better in my opinion. Chet had a way with single notes.
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Re: Chet's right hand pattern on his scales

Postby DagerRande » Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:51 pm

OK, it’s time for me to jump in again! I love any discussion about technique, practice routines, nail care, etc. Chet varied how he played his single note runs depending upon the song. Because of my friendship with Tommy Jones, we spent some time in Chet’s office (where I met John Knowles) in the early 80’s. I asked all sorts of questions like what is being discussed here. Sometimes he used p,i and other times it was p,m depending upon which strings were being played. Chet also said that he would sometimes use 3 fingers (p,i,m) if the run was quite fast and the positioning allowed for it. Personally when I’m playing a series of fast notes and am working my way across the strings, I’ll start out with p,i until I get to about the 3rd or 2nd string (starting with the 6th) and then I switch to p,m and once in awhile I’ll finish off a longer scale with p,a. The challenge for me is to smoothly transition so that switching is undetectable.
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Re: Chet's right hand pattern on his scales

Postby Doug Working » Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:05 pm

Whew! My head is swimming, now!

I suppose what we all want to aim for is the fastest and most efficient way to rip off those runs/scales.

I took a few classical lessons when I were a much younger feller. My teacher (and all classical purists) are a BEAR on strict alteration. Anything else is ANATHEMA!! But there have been times when I just didn't FEEL LIKE IT. I want to do things my way. Of course my way is not always best. Chet did things his way, but he had the "guitar wisdom", if I may coin a phrase, to know what worked for whatever he was playing. After all he was CHET. Mr Guitar. I'm just Mr Struggle to play halfway decent.

I think the problem is, for me at least, when I read arrangements it will often specify the right hand pattern. But then I ask "Well, why do I have to play it THAT WAY? It's easy to find other patterns that work just as well, and this especially applies to tremolo patterns. So why is their pattern so superior to mine?"

So I end up confused, disgusted, and discouraged. And in the end I do it "My way.", but in the back of my mind I think "Hmmmmmm. I wonder WHY they think that pattern is correct or best.
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Re: Chet's right hand pattern on his scales

Postby Doug Working » Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:08 pm

And Rande, I truly envy you to have had the chance to rub shoulders with those guys and pick their brains (if not their guitars, too!)

Anything you can tell us, we'll, I'm all ears!
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Re: Chet's right hand pattern on his scales

Postby DagerRande » Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:19 pm

Doug, it was all about timing. I accidentally saw Tommy Jones on “Hee Haw” in 1971 (He said it was taped in 1970), after I had just gotten out of the Army. I never caught his name at the time and spent several years tracking him down. That’s a chapter for a book, but we finally met in 1976 and stayed in touch until his death in 2002. I stayed with him several times both in Nashville and when he lived in Florida. In Nashville he was playing 6 nights a week in Boots’ club and I was with him every night. During the week, we would go to Chet’s office and that’s where the unexpected exposure happened. I tried to pick up as much as I could through asking questitons and watching and listening closely. Fortunately I had already picked up a lot over the years by then just through all of my records so much less of it was a mystery than it would have been otherwise. I can understand how people who are just getting started would be totally mystified and puzzled. There are various reasons why a person would say that they could never achieve any of this. For most it would be because they could never figure it out. As I’ve stated before, the figuring out part is not my biggest challenge. It is in the execution of it even after I know exactly how to play it. I’ve never been in a situation to put in hours and hours every day to practice like Chet did, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it wouldn’t matter anyway. As I mentioned in another post here, I would start playing something that Tommy had heard from records but had never tried and it would catch his attention and he’d ask me “How does that go? Can you show me that again?” So I would show him something like “Huntin’ Boots” but at a much slower tempo and then he would copy it and play it a few times just to get it into his “motor memory” and then speed it up to the normal tempo. In fact I have a VHS tape of us together right after he had learned it and he is playing it at the normal tempo with almost no effort, which I know I could never do. So my strength is in figuring out HOW to play things I want to learn but not in actually playing them smoothly and up to tempo. I’ve learned to accept this. It’s nice to see you so enthusiastic about all of this! I live in isolation between CAAS conventions and there is nobody to share any of this with.
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Re: Chet's right hand pattern on his scales

Postby Doug Working » Thu Jan 04, 2018 3:16 pm

Rande, you can share it with me at ANY time. Even e-mail or text me, if you wish. Believe me, you have my rapt attention.

Doug

And I have seen videos of Tommy. That guy is frigin' amazing! A machine!!

Reminds me of Richard Smith in the way he just picks things up so easily that I have to work so hard for.
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Re: Chet's right hand pattern on his scales

Postby the-ocean87 » Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:18 pm

Hey Doug,

you can see Chet's picking hand quite good in this tutorial video. Starting at 1:35 he plays a nice run and slows it down.
He picks scales with 3 fingers (middle, index, thumb) if he plays 3 notes on one string it seems.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUr57vN1uxk

You should also check out Buster B. Jones who also had an incredible picking technique and could play scales faster than anyone else with that 3 finger techniuqe:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0xfpyWHNVA
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Re: Chet's right hand pattern on his scales

Postby the-ocean87 » Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:26 pm

DagerRande wrote:Doug, it was all about timing. I accidentally saw Tommy Jones on “Hee Haw” in 1971 (He said it was taped in 1970), after I had just gotten out of the Army. I never caught his name at the time and spent several years tracking him down. That’s a chapter for a book, but we finally met in 1976 and stayed in touch until his death in 2002. I stayed with him several times both in Nashville and when he lived in Florida. In Nashville he was playing 6 nights a week in Boots’ club and I was with him every night. During the week, we would go to Chet’s office and that’s where the unexpected exposure happened. I tried to pick up as much as I could through asking questitons and watching and listening closely. Fortunately I had already picked up a lot over the years by then just through all of my records so much less of it was a mystery than it would have been otherwise. I can understand how people who are just getting started would be totally mystified and puzzled. There are various reasons why a person would say that they could never achieve any of this. For most it would be because they could never figure it out. As I’ve stated before, the figuring out part is not my biggest challenge. It is in the execution of it even after I know exactly how to play it. I’ve never been in a situation to put in hours and hours every day to practice like Chet did, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it wouldn’t matter anyway. As I mentioned in another post here, I would start playing something that Tommy had heard from records but had never tried and it would catch his attention and he’d ask me “How does that go? Can you show me that again?” So I would show him something like “Huntin’ Boots” but at a much slower tempo and then he would copy it and play it a few times just to get it into his “motor memory” and then speed it up to the normal tempo. In fact I have a VHS tape of us together right after he had learned it and he is playing it at the normal tempo with almost no effort, which I know I could never do. So my strength is in figuring out HOW to play things I want to learn but not in actually playing them smoothly and up to tempo. I’ve learned to accept this. It’s nice to see you so enthusiastic about all of this! I live in isolation between CAAS conventions and there is nobody to share any of this with.


Great story! Tommy Jones is one of my favourite pickers ever. Unfortunately there isn't much information about him available. Tommy Jones, Tommy Emmanuel and Buster B Jones are the G3 of finger picking (after the old guard of Chet and Jerry)
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Re: Chet's right hand pattern on his scales

Postby Doug Working » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:48 pm

Ocean,

Thanks for the GREAT video link!

Doug
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