December 30, 2006

My latest obsession

Filed under: Day to Day,News — Drew Johnson @ 10:05 am

Two weeks ago I decided to finally start working on my fingerpicking technique. I’ve been faking skill for a long time but I decided it was time to put in some real work and learn how it’s really done. The specific style I’m talking about was made famous by Chet Atkins and Merle Travis. This is the thing where you use a thumb pick and chunk out an oompa type of bass line with your thumb and pick the melody with your index and middle fingers. To anyone who doesn’t play guitar this style may sound simple and charming but it’s by far the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to tackle. I haven’t been this inspired to practice my guitar since the first time I heard Stevie Ray Vaughn play his version of Little Wing.

Here is a short clip of the two tunes I’ve been working on the most. The first one is called The Glory of Love and the second is Freight Train (I didn’t write these). I’ve made some huge strides in the last two weeks but my playing is only mildly convincing at best. To any real fingerpickers out there this would be the equivalent of an 8 year old kid posting a video on You Tube of him playing Smoke on the Water rather poorly. That’s OK though. This blog is just a diary of my progress as a human and a musician so this will serve as a snapshot that I’ll look back on and cringe.

Click here to download the mp3

There is a clip of a former world champion fingerpicker playing The Glory of Love on this page if you want to know what it’s really supposed to sound like.

And here is the ultimate goal. This is a clip of a guy on You Tube making my head explode.


  1. Dude, your 8 year old on YouTube playing “Smoke On the Water” made my head explode! Fingerpicking and slide are two techniques that have always alluded me as much as I have tried. Kudos!

    Comment by Jeff H — December 31, 2006 @ 2:05 am

  2. Thank you very much sir. I’m glad you didn’t laugh.

    Comment by Drew Johnson — December 31, 2006 @ 2:31 pm

  3. yikes that’s fast . . .

    i’ve seen the Del McCoury Band in concert a few times, and and all the king’s horse’s and all the king’s men have still not been able to put me together again. . . .

    Comment by Anonymous — January 5, 2007 @ 9:16 pm

  4. […] A couple of weeks ago I posted on The Formula Kid blog that I had been working on my fingerpicking technique. I’m getting better. Here’s a video of me playing Glory of Love today. It’s starting to swing more and I’m getting the tempo closer to where it should be there are a few flubbed notes and it’s quite a long way from right. I’ll get there though. […]

    Pingback by Drew Johnson Online » Blog Archive » Glory of Love — January 15, 2007 @ 3:59 pm

  5. […] A little less than a year ago I started learning how to do the thumbpicking technique used on the acoustic guitar part in ‘Sin No More’. It’s hard. It’s very hard. It’s so hard and I’m so ecstatic that I can finally do it I’m rather bummed that the guitar part couldn’t be more prominent in the mix. I worked on that guitar part incessantly for six months. […]

    Pingback by » Blog Archive » ‘Sin No More’ - Acoustic Version — November 1, 2007 @ 7:28 pm

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