For me, Travis picking is one of the coolest things about playing guitar.


The first time I heard Chet Atkins play, I had a big wide smile on my face.

It was because his version of “Mr Sandman” was stunning.

In fact, I’m listening to it right now as I write this email.


The wonderful, vibrant, and super exciting Travis picking style Chet was a master of is so exciting.

I don’t think anyone can help but feel warm and fuzzy when they hear Chet play.

I mean, “Mr Sandman” is a lovely song anyway, but hearing Chet play it is a joy.

…And watching the great man play it is a joy too.

You can see how much he loved to play guitar and his skill level was sublime.


I know many guitarists out there would love to play some Travis picking in Chet’s style…

…But how do you get to being able to play like Chet?

As always, it’s about being methodical, patient, and mastering the basics.

With practice, it’s possible to play in his sort of style, but as with many things, the basics often get neglected.

…And without the basics, the Travis picking house all falls apart very quickly.


Chet and others, like Tommy Emmanuel, often talked about how you have to get a rock-solid groove for this style to work.

Getting the thumb driving on the beats of 1 2 3 4.

…And doing so solidly and effectively.

Later you can then add in some melody plucks on beat 1… Or do some “syncopated” plucks in between the beats (which is where this style can really come to life).


I teach all this in a bonus video inside the Fingerstyle 101 video course and I also cover some folky style Travis picking patterns in the book version too.

…But if you are new to my lessons, you want a quick refresher or a “reboot” on your Travis picking playing (or even just a bit of fun today)…

Then you might like to check out my new little lesson on YouTube, where I cover all this.

It’s a super fun style and a good introduction to Travis picking.

You can check out the video below.

How to Travis pick the old-school way


Enjoy and happy Travis picking!

Dan Thorpe

Guitar Domination


P.S. If you enjoy the video, I would love it if you could leave a comment on the video. If the YouTube channel starts to get traction (now that I am actually putting in a little time with it for the first time in years!), then I’ll release more content.

One thing I’m keen on doing is getting everything I release on YouTube to tie in nicely with the things I talk about in my emails and the lessons inside my books and courses (thereby taking some of the randomness out of YouTube). Here’s the video. Have fun!


P.P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.

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