Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Re: Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby DagerRande » Tue Jun 16, 2020 3:24 pm

Jim, have you seen Ray Cummins' hands? They aren't huge but he talks about the potential for improvement through stretching. He uses the term "Cascade Stretch". I don't know at what point this would be impossible but his hands are smaller than mine and he appears not to have any problem with that reach and for me it is difficult but I can at least do it. Stretching at the beginning of Cascade isn't as difficult as the second time it comes around. You can have your hands all ready to go when the song starts but when the second time comes around you are coming from another position and the transition into that stretch has to be instantaneous.

Practicing with scales requiring a stretch is good exercise but I'm sure that there has to be a point where hands any smaller just won't make the stretch.

I haven't seen yours but I just thought I'd mention Ray Cummins.
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Re: Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby Steve Moran » Tue Jun 16, 2020 4:44 pm

I remember reading in one of Chet's music tab books him suggesting try different fingerings on chords/shapes. I suppose he's saying what works for one may not work for another given their different hands.
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Re: Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby Jim Jarrell » Tue Jun 16, 2020 5:53 pm

Rande, in regards to Ray Cummins, I just recently started to try and learn "How High the Moon" after seeing Ray's
video of it on the Chet FaceBook page here:

https://www.facebook.com/VintageGuitarm ... 080035924/

And while you say his hands aren't huge, they sure are compared to mine as it applies to finger length. Check out the
video at the 10 sec mark where, after the single note intro, he starts the tune off with a 2nd position E. Note how long his ring finger is reaching up to the 6th or 7th fret. "No way..no day" for me having a ring finger half that length.

So, to play that first E chord I've been using a 1st position B7 chord fingering at the 6th/7th fret and reaching up to the 9th fret 2nd string to get that C#note he's getting at 1st string/4th fret. That I can do. And I should mention I'm using an old Tabledit tab for the tune put out years ago by Michael Joyce that calls for it to be played like Ray is doing it. And its the only tab I've ever seen for Chet's version of "How High the Moon."

And while we're on the subject of alternative fingerings due to finger size, another example of how to make it easier is with a basic 1st fret F chord. Unlike "Merle's" style of grabbing both 6th *and* 5th strings with his thumb which is clearly a non-starter for me, I can't even use my thumb to grab the 6th string and then get the 1st, 2nd, 3rd strings. But there's a really simple solution. Just play a first position Fmaj7th with 1st string open and then, when needed, reach down with index to get 1st string/1st fret note and the pinky to get 3rd fret note as needed. Ironically, the issue of easier fingerings, like the F chord I just mentioned, is discussed in an article in the latest Acoustic Guitar Jul/Aug magazine I just got today.

Jim Jarrell
http://www.tabpigs.org
DeLand, FL
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Re: Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby kwarren » Sat Jun 20, 2020 5:51 pm

When I first saw the televised Sound Stage show with Chet Atkins, George Benson, and Earl Klugh, that changed everything for me. This show introduced me the Chet Atkins and the wonderful world of fingerstyle guitar. When Chet performed Stars and Stripes Forever, there was no turning back for me.

Over the next several years I learned a few Chet tunes (Freight Train, Wheels, etc.) and taught myself fingerstyle guitar with the help of those early books by Tommy Flint and John Knowles (Sound Hole).

Through listening to Chet’s music, I also became a big fan of Jerry Reed, Earl Klugh, and Rick Foster and began trying to learn their music as well.
Rather than try to learn all the music of these great pickers, I instead became very familiar with their style and began arranging and composing my own music.

Now to the question at hand: Two tunes really got me excited. “Stars and Stripes Forever” and “All Thumbs.” Both tunes took quite some time to learn but I stuck with them until I could play them from start to finish (not great but good enough). Unfortunately, I haven’t played Stars and Stripes in years and can only remember bits and pieces. All Thumbs, on the other hand, really stuck in my brain. Even though I haven’t played it much either in recent years, I can still play it all the way through.

One tune that I really enjoy and hope to learn one day is Chinatown My Chinatown. I am a nylon string player so I guess I am going to have to purchase one of the Chet Atkins model Gretsch guitars. :D
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Re: Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby Doug Working » Sat Jun 20, 2020 8:01 pm

Jim Jarrell wrote:Rande, in regards to Ray Cummins, I just recently started to try and learn "How High the Moon" after seeing Ray's
video of it on the Chet FaceBook page here:

https://www.facebook.com/VintageGuitarm ... 080035924/

And while you say his hands aren't huge, they sure are compared to mine as it applies to finger length. Check out the
video at the 10 sec mark where, after the single note intro, he starts the tune off with a 2nd position E. Note how long his ring finger is reaching up to the 6th or 7th fret. "No way..no day" for me having a ring finger half that length.

So, to play that first E chord I've been using a 1st position B7 chord fingering at the 6th/7th fret and reaching up to the 9th fret 2nd string to get that C#note he's getting at 1st string/4th fret. That I can do. And I should mention I'm using an old Tabledit tab for the tune put out years ago by Michael Joyce that calls for it to be played like Ray is doing it. And its the only tab I've ever seen for Chet's version of "How High the Moon."

And while we're on the subject of alternative fingerings due to finger size, another example of how to make it easier is with a basic 1st fret F chord. Unlike "Merle's" style of grabbing both 6th *and* 5th strings with his thumb which is clearly a non-starter for me, I can't even use my thumb to grab the 6th string and then get the 1st, 2nd, 3rd strings. But there's a really simple solution. Just play a first position Fmaj7th with 1st string open and then, when needed, reach down with index to get 1st string/1st fret note and the pinky to get 3rd fret note as needed. Ironically, the issue of easier fingerings, like the F chord I just mentioned, is discussed in an article in the latest Acoustic Guitar Jul/Aug magazine I just got today.

Jim Jarrell
http://www.tabpigs.org
DeLand, FL


Ray on one of his videos was talking about the cascade stretch and how anybody can do it if they relax their hand into the stretch.

I love Ray, but that’s kind of like saying if Michael Jordan can dunk (easily) even us shorter guys can do it if we work on our technique and relax into it!

I know for SURE I can’t dunk!

I can BARELY eek out the cascade stretch.,,and I’m working on the e-min prelude by Villa Lobos where the third or fourth chord is an E-major with a G# bass played with the pinky. It takes every millimeter of length in my pinky to hit that G#, and even then i’m just catching the edge of the metal fret. Actually it goes directly from Emin with a G bass right into E maj with G # bass. Killer.

I bet Chet could have done it EASY PEASY.

I know there are lots of theories out there on stretches, but I’m here to tell you, either you got the length, or you don’t.
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Re: Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby DagerRande » Sat Jun 20, 2020 8:57 pm

I know that you're right, Doug. I just feel that there are some who are much closer to being able to than they think.
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Re: Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby Doug Working » Sun Jun 21, 2020 10:02 am

No doubt, Rande.

But candidly speaking, there are many, many times when I have been practicing when I whisper a silent prayer (or lament) to the good LORD something to the effect of “Why, oh why could you not have seen fit to endow me with perhaps just a few measly millimeters more? It would make things VASTLY easier for me.”

Just 3 or 4 measly millimeters would make the difference between struggling and facilitating easily some killer stretches.
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Re: Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby DagerRande » Sun Jun 21, 2020 3:35 pm

Doug, fortunately there is a huge amount of material to learn that doesn't require the need for a huge stretch!
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Re: Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby Jim Jarrell » Sun Jun 21, 2020 5:59 pm

Rande,

And while you're absolutely correct that there's a huge amount of material to learn that doesn't require a long stretch, as mentioned before, I find that a lot of tunes with long stretches can be modified by playing the same notes using different chord positions. Example being Ray Cummins version of "How High the Moon" where I'm using his first E chord up at 6/7th fret versus way he uses 4th fret long E. Exact same notes...easier (for me) to finger.

Doug says....

"..when I whisper a silent prayer (or lament) to the good LORD something to the effect of “Why, oh why could you not have seen fit to endow me with perhaps just a few measly millimeters more? It would make things VASTLY easier for me.”..."

Well, Doug, like many things in life, there's always a positive side to things. In this case, it's fully documented that the male human anatomy can only have X number of body parts that are...hmm?.... "big and long." Sooooo....If your hands and fingers are short, you may find like me that your.....hmmmm?....(I'll not mention the "body part" but lets just say its an *important* one) ...that your (fill in the blank) makes up the difference for the short fingers. Least that's what I tell all my guitar buds with long fingers! ;)

Jim Jarrell
www.tabpigs.org
DeLand, FL
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Re: Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby Doug Working » Mon Jun 22, 2020 12:56 am

For the first time in a long time, I am at an absolute loss for words!
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