PMI vs PIM banjo rolls in Chet's scales?

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

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

Postby craigdobbins » Wed Jan 09, 2019 4:23 pm

I agree with Micah, Jerry was the king of rolls. Apart from the obvious showcases like Jerry's Breakdown, listen to his subtle accompaniment patterns on McArthur Park and Something from the Me and Jerry album, for example. Genius.

Rolls are a very important part of thumb and finger style guitar, from Merle's two down-one up rolls with thumb and index, to Chet's elegant two and three finger rolls, to Jerry's banjo-inspired backward and forward/reverse rolls, to Lenny's three and even four finger patterns. Any fingerpicker would do well to study the accompaniment roll patterns of these masters, including Paul Yandell, who learned literally at their feet. (Just listen to Paul's accompaniment rolls behind Chet on the Chet Atkins Picks on Jerry Reed album, as well as his own body of work.)

Chet did use the PMI (thumb-middle-index) pattern, but many others as well. Don't think of the roll as carved in stone- Chet and the others would alter the sequence (and the fingering) to get the notes they wanted. The pattern was a means, not an end.

Transcribing and learning many of Chet's, Jerry's, and Paul's tunes will give you the equivalent of a master's degree in fingerpicking, and I'm still learning every day. Guess I'd better close for now and get back to work on that Reed roll that Paul showed me. ;)


P.S. Before Jerry came along, Chet used mostly the forward roll and variations. Jerry told me that he got a lot of ideas from banjo players like Bobby Thompson and Larry McNeely.
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Re: PMI vs PIM banjo rolls in Chet's scales?

Postby Steve Moran » Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:35 pm

This makes me think of Chet's amazing rolls driving the song Cosmic Square Dance. So smooth and with each note fully picked. That's one of those moments where you lean forward and smile like Garrison Keillor's quote about Chet.
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Re: PMI vs PIM banjo rolls in Chet's scales?

Postby Doug Working » Wed Jan 09, 2019 6:56 pm

Craig, your insights are pure gold. Really gave me a lot to think about. Also puts more fuel on a fire that's already burning in me.

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

Postby DagerRande » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:17 pm

Doug, you just got the ultimate praise from Micah Yandell ! I created this response offline and when I returned, there was Craig Dobbins with great advice!I have a lot to say on this topic. Being self taught and through decades of trial and error, i’ve had to make decisions about things like this. I used to think that the answer about the direction of the roll depended upon whether you are ascending or descending. But then I realized that it was more complicated than that because it would depend upon where you are on the neck with your left hand? As you know, you could be fretting a second or third string up high and that note could be higher than one of the first string notes in a lower position. So the notes themselves could be moving up the musical scale but the strings could be being picked out of order depending upon your left hand position. There are many runs where the notes might sound consecutive but you are picking nonadjacent strings to achieve this. So I don’t really think there is one answer to your question. I think you are going to have to try several possibilities and one of them might feel easier and seem more logical than the others. I have felt a great sense of achievement when I reasoned my way to choosing the most logical approach and then I would see Chet play it that same way in concert. There has been a definite advantage learning from records and listening carefully. When I have been the most wrong is when I’ve learned that a different tuning was used than I had expected. This has happened a few times in my earlier years when I was learning some of Jerry Reed’s music, but I quickly caught on and my ear was trained to listen for those types of things also.
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Re: PMI vs PIM banjo rolls in Chet's scales?

Postby Doug Working » Thu Jan 10, 2019 6:26 pm

Thanks Rande! Those are some thoughts I hadn't considered.

Wow!! The subject can get truly gnarly. You are probably right: there probably is no right or wrong way...just ways that are more efficient. And when it comes to fingering, efficiency is prime. A big part of my problem, I think, is early training I received from a classical guitar teacher many moons ago. He inculcated in me the concept of "right way/ wrong way, and good technique / poor technique." I've had a hard time all these shaking it from my thinking, because I was a young man back then. Now, years later, I'm an old fart.

(Just kiddin'. You're as old as you feel!)

One thing about Chet: his rolls were SMOOTH as velvet. Mr guitar is an endless fountain of inspiration. (Jerry too, of course!)

One thing for sure: since my original post, my practice sessions have become more complicated, more thoughtful, and more challenging. Time to grow!

I might dig out a book I have: Giuliani right hand studies. I may find some rolls in there.

And they won't even need any butter. :)
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Re: PMI vs PIM banjo rolls in Chet's scales?

Postby Doug Working » Tue Jan 15, 2019 7:19 pm

I have indeed been practicing that a minor scale that I mentioned every day since I first posted, and by golly, I can actually do it, now. I mean I can do the stretch without any real difficulty. At first, I simply could NOT do it for anything.the stretch was killer and a source of great pain for me, if you catch my drift.

But a few weeks of diligent, concentrated, DETERMINED, targeted practice has made the impossible possible. Smoothness? Well, of course I can't touch Chet's buttery smoothness. But at least I can do it.

So I thought I'd push myself. I went back to the transcription of "Cascade." That monster stretch right in the beginning, (C6 chord) I could not do before. Not for the world. Not without physical pain. But I can now do it. Yeah!!! I can actually do it!!

I'm pretty tickled. I guess you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.
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