Those fast runs

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Those fast runs

Postby Fred » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:30 pm

Could use some help on those fast runs that Chet is sooooo good at. Any tab or books you can point me to to develop that technique? Chet just walks down down the strings it looks like using his thumb, first and second fingers of the right hand and some down strokes with the thumb. If there's any written excerices around that can help with that, I'd appreciate it.
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Re: Those fast runs

Postby thenorm » Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:45 pm

can't be of much help because Chet was so versatile at that.

He'd use thumb and fingers in all kinds of combinations along with being very good at gripping the thumbpick like a flatpick and laying the runs down.

What you need to do is take any run (series of single notes) and gradually increase the speed using the grip-the-pick method, then thumbpick and index finger method, then thumbpick and index-second finger method and PRACTICE them until you get so you can do all three methods equally fast.

There are all kinds of tabs. Jack Baker's site has a lot of them but there are no shortcuts to hours and hours of practice.

http://www.frettedinstrumentsnyc.com/
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Re: Those fast runs

Postby LMark » Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:37 pm

Mister Guitar, the magazine/journal of the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society, has tons and tons of tabs and tips over the years. I'm leaving out many other good transcribers here, but John McClellan, for instance has two or three volumes of transcriptions under the title Chet Atkins in Three Dimensions. John is one of the best musical technicians (and players) I have met. Craig Dobbins, who posts here occasionally, also produces a reputable periodical that is full of such instruction. He also transcribes carefully and has a great ear. I would look through their publications and find a tune that has the runs you mentioned, then learn the whole tune. That way not only do you master the runs, you have a ready-made place to use them. LMark
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Re: Those fast runs

Postby Fred » Sat Apr 23, 2011 11:20 pm

Thanks Guy's, good suggestions. I was just thinking after I posted that maby Craig Dobbins might have some specific exercises or licks in his vast repetoire, so Craig, if you're seein' this, please point me to whatever you might think would be most beneficial. Thanks again.
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Re: Those fast runs

Postby Jo-Anne Park » Sun Apr 24, 2011 1:03 pm

I was wondering how Chet managed to play with the thumbpick in a flat picking style without it being significantly louder or a different timbre than the fingerpicking that often surrounded it. I have tried it but the "flat picking" with the thumbpick comes out much louder, especially if a fast run is attempted. If I hold back on the flat picking to keep it at the same volume as the fingerpicking, I tend to make boo-boos and poor-sounding notes. Any suggestions on what technique to use to rein in the flat picking?
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Re: Those fast runs

Postby thenorm » Sun Apr 24, 2011 5:12 pm

I don't think people realize how much practice time Chet put in on a guitar even when he was at his peak.

I'm amazed at how he was able to use a thumbpick as a flatpick too but he does quite often on YouTube. It shouldn't be that much of an issue since many folks use a heavy flatpick. I beleive I read Richard Smith saying it had a lot to do with your wrist action but that's hard to show using a keyboard
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Re: Those fast runs

Postby LMark » Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:28 pm

Jo-Anne, I'll take a shot at your question.

Chet had an uncanny degree of hand-ear coordination. I like to think of it as shooting clay pigeons. Once you have the basics down, you eventually get the "feel" of shooting the birds--your hand-eye coordination simply improves with practice. Considerably, but not exclusively, it's a matter of firing off enough rounds. Of course we all know that the life-blood of a master guitarist coursed through Chet's veins, and only a few have that kind of gift. But I still argue that most of us can improve significantly by actually and carefully listening to what we are playing--while playing--but better yet with a recording device. After a while you get so you can "hear" yourself better while you are actually playing and make those minute adjustments almost unconsciously, the kind of adjustments that transform an average player into a player that people stop and listen to or at least notice there's something special going on (for whatever that's worth). It takes time to "shoot of all those rounds" though, and very few of us have the drive or calling to put in as many hours as Chet did, or the pure grit to hang in there on a shoestring for a decade until all that practice starts to pay off. So the art of listening itself and managing to find time to listen are two huge factors. But, obviously, you are listening, or you would not have asked the question. So, what's my point? My point is that I don't really think there is a cool, sure-fire, method or technique that will solve the problem you have raised. Norm has been trying to tell us this all along, of course.

I want to suggest that there is at least one other piece to this puzzle, however. The electric guitar is a powerful instrument. (No duh!) But sometimes we forget just how powerful it can be. It's the nature of the beast. Some players crank the treble up so high on their axes that they practically carve right through cinder block walls. If you listen to Chet, his steel string electric always had a fine timbre to it, but never harsh or strident. I think that's part of the key to balancing out the various kinds of attack on the strings. On top of all his talent he had all kinds of electronic circuitry in the studio. Who knows if anybody alive today could reduplicate the electronic packages he used in the studio in the late 50's and early 60's, for instance. But back to the strings, if you look at the Chet Atkins set, aren't those 10 and 13, or 10 and 12 on the trebles? I am pretty sure I read that at times he would even string 10 and 10 (!) on the first two. That gives you a sizzly fine sound (especially with filtertrons) without having to saw through a brick wall on your treble settings. (I happen to think that Austrian steel [Thomastik-Infeld] sounds a lot better than American or Japanese too, but we won't get into that here.) So, on the amp, turn your bass and treble back some and boost your mids a bit. My point here is that I think the finer strings plus a "darker" tone, if you will, helps balance out the variations in attack that we're discussing. Please, please, now, I'm not taking anything away from Chet's hands. I'm only speculating on the enhancements to a good thing!

So there you have it. One shot at answering your question. Is a complete answer? No. It might even be a crummy answer. But does it give us any ideas worthy of discussion? Well, I hope so.

LMark
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Re: Those fast runs

Postby thenorm » Mon Apr 25, 2011 8:37 am

"flat picking" with the thumbpick comes out much louder...'

That is what "Practice" is all about. It's just like how you need to modify your thumb stroke when playing thumb style to get a "good thumb", something some people never get.

It's like LMark said...Listen to what you're doing and Work On It. A lot of it is undoing bad habits which can take some doing....
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Re: Those fast runs

Postby Jo-Anne Park » Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:23 am

I have never really played with a flat pick so there are no bad habits to unlearn. I merely put forth the question so I might start out on the right path, perhaps with a leg up from those who have worked it out. Thank you LMark for your insights.
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Re: Those fast runs

Postby thenorm » Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:58 am

Learning a new technique can be a trying process.

As previously noted, Chet, even in his prime, still practiced for hours almost every day and people who knew him in his younger days usually remarked on his constant practicing.

I just spent several months getting an eight note lick to the point where I can get it right most of the time.

Boy, howdy, I gotta say there were times when I thought I'd never get it.
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