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Flatpicking Essentials


Flatpicking Essentials

This group is for members who are working with the 8-Volume Flatpicking Essentials course written by Dan Miller and Tim May. This is the place to meet others who are working with the course and share your arrangements.

Members: 120
Latest Activity: Apr 2, 2019

The Flatpicking Essentials Story

About the Flatpicking Essentials Course:

I’m very excited to announce a new instructional book/CD series that I’ve been writing, compiling, and editing with the help of my good friend Tim May. A couple of years ago the editor of Mel Bay’s on-line guitar magazine (Stephen Rekas) asked me to write a series of articles for their publication about the history of flatpicking. Working on that article series, tracing acoustic guitar playing back to its earliest roots in country and old-time music, I realized that the easiest and most complete way for someone to study flatpicking was to go back to the early days of the style and follow its development chronologically. I expressed this viewpoint when we published the “Pioneers” issue of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine and I received a lot of positive feedback from subscribers. Stephen Rekas at Mel Bay even suggested that I put together a flatpicking instructional method, or series, based on the articles that I had written for him. So that is what I have done, or I should say, that is what I am now in the middle of doing.

The first two volumes of the Flatpicking Essentials series are now available and we plan a total of eight volumes. In the Volume 1 students learn to focus on solid rhythm playing and adding flavor to that rhythm playing by learning how to use bass runs, fill licks, and a variety of strums. The majority of examples are based on the playing of the early acoustic guitar pioneers in old-time, country, and bluegrass music. Once a solid foundation in rhythm and bass runs is established in Volume 1, Volume 2 moves on in a natural progression to study the Carter style. However, before presenting the Carter style I first show how to find chord changes and melodies by ear. Then how to apply basic Carter style lead to the melody, and then we move on from there to learn how to apply a variety of techniques—including the use tremolo, double stops, neighboring notes, scale runs, and crosspicking—to embellish the melody and “super-charge” the Carter arrangements. Volume 2 focuses on vocal songs.

Volume 3 then moves on to fiddle tunes, and adds to the vocabulary of runs and techniques. Again, the student learns how to find the chords, find the melody, and then build an arrangement based on the melody. The goal here is to develop the student’s ability to come up with their own arrangements to tunes, and then learn how to improvise. There are many examples, practice exercises, and “homework problems” in each volume. We want to “teach you how to fish”, not catch fish the for you.
Once the student has a good foundation in rhythm, finding chords progressions and melodies, and arranging solos for both vocal and instrumental tunes, Volume 4 moves on to present information about how to play up-the-neck and how to learn to use the entire fingerboard of the guitar.

Volume 5 then explores the playing styles and contributions of flatpicking’s heroes dating back to the early days and moving up to modern players. The student studies the important contributions of all of flatpicking guitar’s most prominent players. In Volume 6 the student is presented with advanced arrangements of the songs and tunes that were presented in Volumes 2 and 3, based on using the material that was presented in Volumes 4 and 5, and more. Volumes 7 and 8 then take flatpicking beyond the traditional bluegrass and fiddle tune boundaries and explore various other genres such as jazz, Gypsy jazz, Celtic music, and Western swing. Our goal is to provide flatpickers with a very complete flatpicking study method.

I’m very proud of the first two volume, which are now available, and I’m extremely pleased with the feedback I’ve been getting from students who have ordered these two volumes. If you are interested in this series and have questions, feel free to contact me at: dan@flatpick.com.

Dan Miller
Flatpicking Guitar Magazine

Discussion Forum

Starting Over - With Essentials 18 Replies

Started by Jim Samuel. Last reply by Making Sawdust Feb 22, 2015.

Have Any Questions? 44 Replies

Started by Dan Miller. Last reply by Michael Johns Aug 20, 2012.

Rhythm players to hear 11 Replies

Started by Peter Lucas. Last reply by Michael Johns Jul 26, 2012.

Comment Wall

Comment by Pa Duff, (Ray) on August 12, 2011 at 11:47am
Hey Dan, I just orded vol 1, and I plan on asking a lot of questions if I get stuck and would like to hear from someone who has just started like me. I've been playing self taught for over 40 yrs, and now its Flatpicking time. Ray
Comment by Michael Johns on May 13, 2012 at 2:00am
Hi, yea, I'm still working with Vol 1, don't wanta rush it! Vol2 is tucked away. I think I could work with Vol 1 about a year.......don't know, but I've discovered if you don't get it all, then Vol 2, won't be as satisfying ........so I'm going to hang with Vol 1 till I can play the stuff without referring back to the book. I also, procrastinate about turning on my Computor to follow the homework. That's not good, but I dislike playing guitar while messin with a Computor. I gotta get over it, I guess! I need to learn these other bass runs in other keys...........one thing is for sure, we'll know a G chord............ha, ha
Comment by Michael Johns on July 7, 2012 at 10:10am
You must have had some previous experience, Ed. I could spend a little less than a year on Vol. 1! Although anxious to move on to Vol 2 ( laying on my Studio table); I trust the best approach is not to hurry, but imbibe, soak up, 2nd nature, the material prior to moving on.

Jim, if your going to learn this stuff, you have to make the Time, get up earlier or stay up late! Promise, this experience will help with whatever Personal Issues you are having!

Just loaded New Earnie Ball Strings on my Martin D35, Wow what a Sound.......lovin um!
Comment by Michael Johns on July 7, 2012 at 10:12am
Hi, Ray Rice......whatcha playin?
Comment by Michael Johns on July 19, 2012 at 9:57am
What are Badges on this web sjte?
Comment by Jeramey cecil on October 31, 2012 at 5:53am

Just got volume 1 in the mail yesterday.  Great book. Having fun with the first 4 or 5 examples.  Just trying to get the metronome down.  Having an easier time with the faster speeds than the slower.


Comment by Daniel J Thomack on December 28, 2012 at 4:07pm

waiting for volume one to get here. looking forward to getting started. anyone else just getting started ?

Comment by Kenny on January 23, 2013 at 7:00am

I  went to a FPG workshop about a year and a half ago and bought volume 3 (Flatpicking fiddle tunes).

For Christmas my wife got me volume 1.

I enjoy reading about history but wasn't really expecting it in these volumes. What I expected was just another instruction book, boy was I wrong!

I really appreciate the history Dan gives in each of these volumes.

Thanks for the education Dan!!


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