How To Create Fingerpicking Guitar Arrangements - Travispicking

Learn These Surefire Ways To Create Amazing Sounding Fingerpicking Arrangements On Your Guitar - Part 2 - Travispicking!

By Simon Candy

In part 1 of this article on creating awesome fingerpicking arrangements on your guitar, I broke down the process of doing this, so you have a strong foundation from which to create your arrangement from. The end result was not just a foundation from which to work, but a complete fingerpicking arrangement in and of itself.

Today in part 2, I am going to walk you through one way you could extend upon this foundation and develop your fingerpicking guitar arrangement through travispicking. Travispicking is the foundation of the style of such guitar greats as Merle Travis, Chet Atkins, and Tommy Emmanuel.

The content that I cover in both part 1 and part 2 of this article is demonstrated in the masterclass lesson video that accompanies this article. More specifically, the travispicking break down begins at 4.55 into the video.



Travispicking Guitar Arrangement

The following is a step by step breakdown of how to take a melody and create a travispicking arrangement from it on your guitar. Breaking things down in such a way makes something that looks and sounds complicated to do that much easier.

Step 1: Bass

The bass component of travispicking alternates using a combination of the lower 3 strings on the guitar.

You have some choices regarding bass patterns you can use with travispicking. It will largely come down to which string the root note of the chord is on.

For root 6 chords you have:

- 6, 4, 6, 4

- 6, 4, 5, 6

For root 5 chords you have:

- 5, 4, 5, 4

- 5, 4, 6, 4

* The numbers refer to the strings the bass notes fall on, and in which order

Here is an arrangement of the bass part, isolated, for our tune “I’ve Been Working On The Railroad”


Travispicking Guitar Arrangement Bass


Step 2: Add Melody

Once the bass part is sorted, it’s time to add the melody. If you have already created your fingerpicking arrangement foundation on guitar, you should already be familiar with the melody and how it relates to each chord of the tune. This makes it much easier to arrange the melody in relation to the travispicking bass part.

To begin, keep the melody straight. By this I mean keep it on the beat and directly in line with the bass. Watch the video lesson from 4.55 onward for detail and a demonstration.

Here is our tune with bass and melody parts together:


Travispicking Guitar Arrangement Melody


Step 3: Syncopate Melody

Once you have the melody and bass parts together, the next step is to syncopate the melody. This will have your travispicking arrangement come to life. By syncopation I am referring to moving some of the melody notes so that they fall on the off beats, in-between the bass notes.

Here is our tune arranged in such a way:


Travispicking Guitar Arrangement Syncopation



Step 4: Fill In The Harmony

Finally, it’s time to fill in the arrangement with some harmony. This step is best to leave until last. You really need to know what the lowest and highest notes are in any part of the tune, to best fill the harmony parts in-between. This has been established by working out the bass and melody parts of our arrangement first.

Here is our tune with some harmony added:


Travispicking Guitar Arrangement Harmony




Learn more ways to create fingerpicking arrangements playing chords and melody at the same time on one guitar