|Guitar Player, January 1972|
by Michael Brooks
Have you checked into Roy Noble guitars at all?
Yeah. I used one of those on the record. I borrowed it from Fred Gerlach, and I loved it. Excellent.
I would like to get a pretty good perspective on how you picked up on your technique. Were there any factors which you tried to emphasize more than others in learning the basics?
Yeah, I emphasized melody I wanted to get to the point where all I was playing was melody. Now I'm getting kind of tired of that and I want to learn some more rhythm. That's why I was so crazy about Pete Seeger, because everything he did was melodic. I got one of Bach's chorales from him, I learned it first from the banjo cut on the Goofing-off Suite, and I really enjoyed Peter's versatility and everything I heard him do, I just had to learn. Especially "Living in the Country."
I always respect someone who will set down and try to get a fingerpicking cut off an album, especially with that much playing going on. How is chording for you?
I had to learn that first. I'm just now to the point where I figure I can really start to learn about tit. I've got all the basic little things down, but I don't know anything about using diminished or augmented chords. The kind of chords I am talking about are 6ths and 9ths, and trying to use them without sounding like a cocktail guitar. I want to learn some counterpoint. Right now the only thing I'm doing for that is trying to play part of the melody with the song in counterpoint.
Do you normally use your thumb just for an alternating bass goody?
Yeah, and try to get it into the melody.
When you think of fingerpicking guitar, do you normally thing that the treble strings are allotted to one of each of three fingers in the three-finger picking style and the thumb will take care of the three bass strings?
Yeah. Basically, I usually depend on my fingers for the first four strings and the thumb for the bottom four, sometimes the fingers go into the firth and sixth. It just depends on what kind of chop I want. They overlap a lot, and it's when they overlap that I have the most fun, because then you can break out of the "dead" thumb thing without losing the meter of the song.
You don't limit the thumb to just the three bass strings then?
I try not to. Like "Living in The Country," it goes up to the second and first. I like it because you kind of just sort of fracture your way up to the top and wind up at one note.
When you say you take your thumb up to the second string, is that normally a bass run up to the second string, or is that fingerpicking with the thumb alternating between a bass string and the second string?
The thumb alternating on its octave end of the pairs that you are picking. In other words, instead of playing that lower octave, which is played anyhow, the thing that is picking up the melody is the octave string, so that it's not really a bass run, it sounds more like it's in the treble. But because you've also got the bass strings and, you know, it's a nice breath. It's kind of like the runs that you hear a lot of banjo players doing.
I usually think of banjo runs as having a lot of treble interjection on the bass runs, is that what you are talking about?
I read somewhere that "June Bug" is your favorite number. How long did it take you to work it up to recording level?
Well, we wanted another bottleneck song on this last record, so I just went home and wrote this one. It took us a while to get it together. We had to rehearse it. A lot of the stuff we just did in the studio, but that one, we had to sit down and really figure it out. I think that's probably why I like it so much, because it's a little more cohesive. It's really an ensemble piece, because the drum and bass aren't just playing rhythm, they're playing lead lines themselves. I really like to listen to it. I don't know, I wrote a lot of songs that way, like "Standin' In My Shoes" is one I really like, and I wrote that in the studio.
As it was happening?
Yeah. Well, we wanted some more bottleneck, and I was sitting in the control room and just worked it up. And then Danny, my producer, and I figured out the lyrics. Really had a good time with that one.
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