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PMI vs PIM banjo rolls in Chet's scales?

PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2018 7:39 pm
by Doug Working
I thought I'd nail the Am scale that ends Chet's recording of "Blue Angel." So I went to the transcription in one of my books. Boy was I in for a shock!

It's a sure fire banjo roll, but I was surprised at Chet's right hand finger pattern to execute it. The "natural way" of the fingers resting on three strings, ready to roll, is PIM. Chet didn't do it that way. He used PMI. Wow! I tried it, and it sure was hard! Took tons of concentration in my old brain, which wants to play PIM!

But obviously, Chet knew something I don't know. That's why he is Mr Guitar.

Can anybody please explain to me the reasons or advantages of doing the banjo roll scales in a way that seems contrary / counter productive to what feels natural to my brain? I know I'm missing something here. Probably the obvious.


Re: PMI vs PIM banjo rolls in Chet's scales?

PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 6:03 pm
by bill raymond
What book did you see this in Doug? Was it transcribed by one of Chet's "authorized transcribers"? It may have been either a clerical error or someone's idiosyncratic fingerings. I agree that pim seems like the natural and "correct" fingering. Chet always looked for the easiest fingerings; no sense in making things more complicated and difficult than necessary.

Re: PMI vs PIM banjo rolls in Chet's scales?

PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 6:19 pm
by Doug Working
I think it may have been "The Best Of Chet Atkins," but I'm away from the house, so I'll double check when I get home. I know that the Blue Angel arrangement is transcribed in at least two books.

I have so MANY of these Chet transcription books that it's hard to remember which arrangement is in which book by name. Shoot, I have enough trouble just remembering the arrangements!

I'll double check when I get home.

Re: PMI vs PIM banjo rolls in Chet's scales?

PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 12:47 am
by Tom Keller
Out of curiosity which A note do you start the scale on open A or A 6 string 5 fret? I worked this out many years ago by ear and basically used the melodic banjo approach which for guitar involves some outlandish stretches.


Tom Keller

Re: PMI vs PIM banjo rolls in Chet's scales?

PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 12:26 pm
by bill raymond
I should elaborate a bit on my comments: Transcriptions of Chet's arrangements don't always reflect the precise manner in which Chet played a tune. And further, it shouldn't be necessary to play a tune _exactly_ as Chet might have done it. Everyone's hands are different and you need to find the way that works easiest for you. Chet always sought the easiest fingerings for him--you need to find the fingerings that are easiest for you. When I wrote the earlier comments, I didn't have a guitar at hand, so didn't try it for myself; I might have played it pmi as well as or in preference to pim, I just don't know. I'll have to try it for myself. But never the less, do what works best for you regardless of what the transcription says; there is no "correct" way, only the way that works best for the individual player. Try both ways and pick your preferred way.

Re: PMI vs PIM banjo rolls in Chet's scales?

PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 7:14 pm
by Doug Working
I looked. The two books were "The Best Of Chet Atkins" by Chad Johnson and "Chet Atkins, Contemporary Styles," by John Knowles and Dave Whitehill.

They both specify the PMI alternation.

I guess I'm strange. I always have to delve for answers or better techniques.

You guys are probably right. Do it the way that seems more natural. But I suppose my thinking on this is that if Chet used PMI, perhaps Chet is right and I am wrong. There has GOT to be reason why the master does things a certain way. What I'm saying is that what at first seems counter productive, even counter intuitive (as far as technique) often in the end turns out to be more efficient than what feels like the natural way.

I just figured Chet knew something I don't (an UNDERSTATEMENT!) and I am too blind to see it.

I once had a classical guitar teacher who insisted "Do it this way!" And though it made no sense to my student's mind (he tried to explain it) in the end, the wisdom of the teacher was greater than my puny ideas.

So I suppose the ideal solution for me will be to learn it both ways! Compromise. After a year or so, I'll see what works best.

Re: PMI vs PIM banjo rolls in Chet's scales?

PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2018 2:38 am
by bill raymond
I picked up a guitar and tried an Amin scale. Guess what, Doug: I found that I naturally play it pmi. I think your reference to "banjo rolls" made me think of the kind of rolls Buster B Jones shows in his youtube video on Jerry Reed's banjo rolls, and I assumed pim. Guess I wouldn't call these scale runs "banjo rolls". Anyway, do try it both ways and see which feels more comfortable for you. Good luck.

Re: PMI vs PIM banjo rolls in Chet's scales?

PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2018 6:39 pm
by Doug Working
The reason I called it a banjo roll is because that's what the description of the lick in the book described it as.

Anyway, I've been working on it daily, and dog-gone it, I am actually beginning to slooooooooowly get it. I give myself a couple months of daily persistent practice before my execution is decent and presentable.

Persistence is definitely my strong suit.

The toughest part, I think, is that left hand stretch from 3rd fret to 7'th. Of course, for Chet, that stretch was a piece of cake.

What I lack in natural "genetic" talent, I make up for in persistence, lol.

But that's what you got to do in life. Quitters never win, and winners never quit.

Surely, Chet would not want me to give up.

Re: PMI vs PIM banjo rolls in Chet's scales?

PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2018 11:10 pm
by rkk2786
Doug is right! Jerry had multiple banjo rolls that were not standard fingering. Dad showed me many rolls that Jerry did over the years, quite hard I might say. Jerry was the king of guitar rolls. Doug you didn't miss this topic, I wish players would work more on rolls because its a lost art that not many people can do anymore. I have a lot more to say about all this but ill stop here for now. Happy New Year to all the awesome Chet and Jerry Players out there!

Best regards,

Re: PMI vs PIM banjo rolls in Chet's scales?

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 7:21 pm
by Doug Working
I know I am only a "beginner" when it comes to this aspect of guitar technique. The knowledge that Jerry and Chet had on this is a mountain, and I'm at the foot of the mountain, craning my neck, looking up. Wanting to start the climb. But it is SO imposing.
Trite to say, I guess Is that the best place to start is always at the beginning.