W. Clem Small, aka M. Missouri Clem, aka Yodeling Luke, the Old Galoot
from the Bitterroot.
Thumbpicking is the art of playing rhythm accompaniment with the thumb on
the guitar's bass strings while using fingers to play the melody on the
higher-pitched strings. This workshop will briefly cover the historical
derivation of the thumbpicking styles of Merle Travis, Chet Atkins, and Doc
Watson. These styles are quite different from folk-style fingerpicking, and
from delta-blues fingerstyle guitar. A portion of the the hour will be
devoted to demonstrating playing songs in these thumbpicking styles both
instrumentally, and as accompaniment to singing. Supplimentary techniques
such as rolling, hammer-offs, and various kinds of harmonics will be
covered. Some simple rolls will be covered which, when diligently practiced,
can lead to learning how to keep the thumb going on the bass accompaniment
while playing melody with the fingers.
W. Clem Small, A.K.A. " M. Missouri Clem," now
72 years old, started playing guitar at 16 years of age. Before that
he played harmonica, which he
sometimes still plays along with the guitar. A lifelong admirer of the
thumbpicking of Merle Travis he figured out a bit of it on his own, but has
learned most of the more authentic stuff from teachers, friends, and videos.
The thumbpicking of both Chet Atkins and Doc Watson was inspired by Travis's
style, and somewhere along the way Clem has picked up a bit of the playing
style of each of these guitarists. In addition to thumbpicking Clem's
playing bears the influence of classic country like Ernest Tubb, western
swing ala Bob Wills, pop songs of the 40s and 50s, and swing jazz.