two guitars being played

If I had to choose my favourite style of guitar playing, it would likely be…


The Travis picking style that legends such as Chet Atkins, Merle Travis, and Tommy Emmanuel made famous.

Now, if you’re not sure what style I mean, it’s where:

  • You pick a solid and super tight bassline with your thumb and
  • At the same time, your fingers pick out a melody on the guitar


Basically, the thumb drives the bassline and beat (like a drummer and bass guitarist in one).

Your fingers provide the melody like a singer (so there’s no need for any actual singing – although you can sing over the top of it if you like).

In essence, though, the guitar creates all the parts you need for a stunning musical piece.

…And when played well, it almost sounds like two guitars being played at once.


So, if you’ve never heard the above guys play, I’d definitely give them a listen.

(I’d probably start with Chet to hear his signature sound).

There are plenty more great guitarists who have played in this style too, of course.

I’ve not really met or taught a guitarist who wouldn’t like to play in this style.

I mean, it’s exciting, vibrant, unique, and impressive, and there’s an endless amount you can do with it.


The big problem is, where do you begin?

Many moons ago, I tried to jump in at the deep end with this style and learn a Chet-style Travis picking piece from TAB. (It was his version of “Mr Sandman”).

I quickly realised this was not going to work for me.

My fingers tripped up over each other like I was partying too hard on a Saturday night.

You might know this feeling (about the fingers – not the partying. It is early afternoon when I’m writing this after all!)

Years later though, around the time I started to teach guitar, I realised there’s a simple step-by-step way to learn this exciting style.


…So, I broke it all down into two core steps.

1 – Get the bass line tight and punchy first

2 – Add in one finger pluck to play a melody (while still keeping the bass tight).

Then it was all about building from there.

That’s it.


Once I got those two steps sorted, I was away.

The Travis picking train was off and running and picking up speed.

This meant I could start to add in syncopation, chord tones, fills, licks, and riffs.

…But it all started with those two steps.

Keep that in mind if you want to play in this style.


If this style appeals to you, you’ll be pleased to know I cover all this in my Fingerstyle 101 video course in a bonus module.

Inside, I take you through the 8 steps to being able to play this style (including everything mentioned above).

The course is on sale until midnight tonight.

You can check it out below if you like.

Find out more about the Fingerstyle 101 Video Course


Dan Thorpe

Guitar Domination


P.S. If you have the book version of Fingerstyle 101, I should say, this bonus section didn’t make the cut (the page count would have been crazy high), but with online courses, I could add as much as I like.


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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