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Order Flatpicking Essentials

This comprehensive 8 Volume course contains a complete method of learning how to play pick style acoustic guitar. Each volume provides step-by-step instruction covering everything from fundamentals to highly complex techniques. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced flatpicker, "Flatpicking Essentials" will help you to push your playing to the next level. Each volume comes with a CD so you can hear how a style or technique is played. We also offer the course in a digital format.

The foundation of the course is based on the proven learning method developed by Dan Miller and Tim May who collectively have over 40 years experience of teaching and professionally playing acoustic string instruments. "Flatpicking Essentials" differs from other teaching methods because it teaches you not only how to play, but also how to learn so that you are able to fully master new concepts and techniques.

"Flatpicking Essentials" was one of the few pick style books to be awarded a spot in "The 50 Greatest Guitar Books" by Shawn Persinger.

To Order any of the Flatpicking Essentials titles, or any of the Supplemental books, click on the title or book image below. If you would like to order the Complete Flatpicking Essentials Package in the digital format on a flash drive, with added bonus material, click here.

Rythm, Bass Runs and Fill Licks

Volume 1: Rhythm, Bass Runs, and Fill Licks

This 96-page spiral bound instructional book, with audio CD, teaches you how to play interesting and exciting rhythm guitar accompaniment by showing you how to fill the rhythm guitarist roles of: Keeping Good Time, Outlining the Chord, Leading the Listener's Ear to the Chord Change, and adding Texture, Excitement, Drive, and Interest. The goal of this book and accompanying CD is to make you a better rhythm player and improve your knowledge of bass runs, fill licks, and right hand strumming patterns.
How to Solo

Volume 2: Learning How To Solo, Carter Style and Beyond

In the 108-pages of Volume 2 of the Flatpicking Essentials series you will be given very detailed instruction designed to teach you how to create solos to vocal tunes by using the following process: 1) Select a Vocal Song 2) Learn the Chord Progression by Ear 3) Learn the Basic Melody by Ear 4) Find the Carter Style Arrangement 5) Embellish the Carter Style Arrangement using techniques such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, alternate chord strums, tremolo, double stops, crosspicking, neighboring notes, scale runs, drones, and fill licks.
Flatpicking Fiddle Tunes

Volume 3: Flatpicking Fiddle Tunes

Flatpicking and fiddle tunes go hand-in-hand. However, in this day and age too many beginning and intermediate level players rely too heavily on tablature when learning fiddle tunes. This becomes a problem in the long run because the player eventually reaches a plateau because they don't know how to learn new tunes that are not written in tablature, they do not know how to create their own variations of tunes that they already know, and it becomes very hard to learn how to improvise. Flatpicking Essentials, Volume 3 helps to solve all of those problems. In this volume you learn valuable information about the structure of fiddle tunes and then you are going to use that information to learn how to play fiddle tunes by ear, and create your own variations
Understanding the Fingerboard Volume 4: Understanding the Fingerboard and Moving Up the Neck

If you've ever sat and watched a professional player's fingers dance up and down the fingerboard with great ease and thought "I wish I could do that!", this book and 2 CD set are for you! This volume teaches you how to use the entire fingerboard and gives you practical exercises and song examples that will help you become very comfortable playing up-the-neck. You will learn to explore the whole guitar neck using a very thorough study of three important fingerboard familiarization "road maps," including: chord shapes (chord "centers"), scale patterns (both horizontal and vertical), arpeggios, and song examples. You will also learn how to comfortably move up-the-neck and back down using slides, open strings, scale runs, harmonized scales, floating licks, and more.

Volume 5: Improvisation and Style Studies

Improvisation is something that flatpickers always ask about at workshops and seminars. It is one of those mysterious and elusive concepts that is hard for many people to grasp. In this Volume of the Flatpicking Essentials series authors Dan Miller and Tim May take away the mystery by presenting a step-by-step gradual learning method that will have you improvising immediately and then build your skill slowly and steadily. By the end of this book you will have the confidence and the skill to step out and start improvising at your next jam session. In addition this book includes "Style Studies" that are focused on the "founding fathers" of flatpicking: Doc Watson, Norman Blake, Clarence White, Tony Rice, and Dan Crary.
Volume 6: Improvsation (Part II) & Advance Technique Studies This book provides you with 152 pages (and 2 audio CDs) worth of valuable information that is designed to help you take your flatpicking to the next level. The first section is Part II of our study of improvisation. An added feature of this Volume is an appendix that will serve as an easy reference for all of the chord progressions from Volumes 5 and 6. We also provide slow, medium, and fast back up tracks for all of these progressions. The second section of this book is focused on advanced flatpicking technique. We approached this topic by having Tim May record "advanced level" improvisations for nineteen different flatpicking tunes using a list of techniques, like the use of triplets, natural and false harmonics, note bending, quoting, alternate tuning, syncopation, twin guitar, minor key tunes, hybrid picking, advanced crosspicking, string skipping, etc.
Advanced Rhythm and Chord

Volume 7: Advanced Rhythm & Chords Studies

Flatpicking Essentials, Volume 7 is a 170 page book, with 67 audio tracks, that will show you how to add texture, variety, and movement to your rhythm accompaniment in the context of playing bluegrass, fiddle tune music, folk music, acoustic rock, Western swing, big band swing, and jazz. The best part of this book is that it doesn't just present you with arrangements to memorize. It teaches you how you can create and execute your own accompaniment arrangements in a variety of musical styles.
Volume 8: Improvisation (Part III) & Intro to Swing & Jazz Soloing
The eighth and final book in the Flatpicking Essentials series teaches you how to begin to play swing and jazz tunes in the context of a flatpick jam, including how to learn to improvise over swing and jazz chord changes. After presenting how to study and utilize scales and arpeggios in the context of using them as "road maps" for improvisation, and providing examples of how to build from a simple song melody to a jazz style arrangement, this book presents three variations of ten standard swing and jazz tunes. You will learn the basic melody, plus two arrangements of each tune by Tim May. The tunes presented include: Avalon, Bill Bailey, 12th Street Rag, The Sheik of Araby, Rose Room, After You've Gone, St. James Infirmary, St. Louis Blues, Limehouse Blues, and I Ain't Got Nobody.
Supplemental Titles
Learning Music By Ear For All Stringed Instruments
Learning how to play your musical instrument by ear is a skill that is vital to your development as a musician. While reading music is also a valuable skill, in many forms of music—folk, old-time, bluegrass, rock, Celtic, blues, country, jazz—you are not typically going to have a music stand sitting in front of you at a jam session or stage performance. Also, in these genres of music, it is very likely that a given song that you want to learn will not be available to you in written form and so the only way you will be able to learn the song is if you know how to do it by ear.
Guitar Player's Guide to Developing Speed, Accuracy & Tone
The Guitar Player's Guide to Developing Speed, Accuracy, and Tone (by Brad Davis and Dan Miller) is a 150 page book, with 157 audio tracks, that will show you how to develop speed, accuracy, volume, tone, note clarity, and fluidity for the acoustic guitar. Most books teach you the notes to songs, this book teaches you how to make each note that you play in those songs sound clear and distinct with rich tone and how you can bring all of those notes together in a smooth and fluid flow at any tempo.
Guitar Player's Practical Guide to Scales & Arpeggios
Scales and Arpeggios form the foundation of all song melodies, arranged solos, licks, phrases, and improvisations on the guitar. If you are familiar with scales and arpeggios, and know how to use them, your ability to arrange and improvise your own solos will be greatly enhanced. Scale knowledge is the road map that can take you anywhere you want to go in music.
This 160 page book (with 136 audio tracks on 2 CDs) by Dan Miller and Tim May not only teaches you how to learn scales in a way that is easy, fun, interesting, and informative, it also shows you how to practically apply scales when learning new melodies, embellishing those melodies to create your own solos and variations, and in exploring improvisations.
The Guitar Player's Guide to Rhythm, Timing, and Groove

This 240 page book with over 200 audio tracks presents material that will help you provide strong acoustic guitar accompaniment in any musical situation by teaching you how to:
1) Keep better time and learn to develop and maintain a solid groove.
2) Outline and define the chords and chord changes in ways that provide texture and interest.
3) With the use of bass runs and passing chords, lead the listener’s ear through the chord progression in a way that helps provide forward movement and momentum to the music.
4) Provide texture, dynamics, and interest to the rhythm accompaniment in ways that positively and tastefully support the vocalist and lead instrumentalists and improve the overall band sound by using fill licks, bass runs, passing chords, chord substitutions, chord extensions, and chord inversions.
The Guitar Player's Guide to Developing Creative Solos

In this new 260-page book Flatpicking Guitar Magazine editor Dan Miller presents three different approaches to learning how to develop creative, interesting, and tasteful melody-based solos on the acoustic guitar—the technique approach, the theoretical approach and the intuitive approach. After outlining the process of finding key, chords, and melody on the guitar by ear, the first approach to developing a solo uses a variety of guitar techniques to embellish and add to the melody. The second approach teaches you to develop your solos based on a variety of scales and music theory. The third approach provides you with exercises to help you access your creative and insightful right brain in an intuitive way. Each technique is taught using many song examples.

Student Testimonials

"The wealth of information you have made available is unparalleled. Being a technical type, your methodology fits my learning style perfectly. I will comment more (keeping it short) as I go through the material." -John

"I really appreciate all the extras that you have posted, both messages and the additional .mp3 files of rhythm tracks. I can tell you really care about your product and want it to be valuable for everyone involved." -Doug

"First let me thank you for your fantastic books. I was stuck and didn't know which direction to take with my guitar. I love Irish trad music (i suppose thats not surprising as im from and live in Ireland) so I turned my ears to bluegrass and haven't looked back. Your first volume really livened up my rhythm playing, as did the Carter Style in volume 2." -Paul

"I just wanted to say, after getting volumes 1 and 2, that these books are great. They are filling in exactly the gaps that I was missing, especially when it comes to soloing. I have been trying to figure out how to create solos for a long time, but both the books I have been buying, as wells as the one on one lessons I have received have not been able to get me beyond memorizing licks or complex arrangements. Working from the melody makes what I hear other musians doing make a lot more sense." -Josh

"I have scanned the whole book last night in order to get an idea of your intensions with it. Your approach seems to be in line with what I perceive to be the correct way to study classical guitar (which I also do). That is to spend a lot of time on the fundamentals in order to build a solid basis before you proceed to the "real" stuff. I can see that you put much thought into this series." -Regards, Deon

"I'm writing you to commend you on this book you published "Flatpicking Essentials Volume 1"; which detail with rhythm techniques; which in recently purchased and downloaded three days ago. The history section alone makes this a good buy. The book provides me tab and techniques on runs and fills that I haven't seen anywhere else." -Take Care and God Bless You, Garry

"I have already obtained your Flatpick Essentials Vol. 1 and have read through the text. On first review of it, I found it to be one of the most thorough and easily understood method book I have seen. Thank you for writing it. I look forward to future volumes." -Ellen

"Thanks for putting together this fantastic guide to rhythm guitar. I’ve been teaching myself to play for the past thirty years or so and I can’t believe I have never run across this much information in one place before … but I haven’t . This is by far the best guide I’ve ever studied. I’m playing with a metronome now (I never was quite able to make myself use it before, but now I won’t play without it. Wow what a difference) and working my way through the examples. I love that you have explained the reasoning behind bass runs. It really makes a difference. I can’t wait to finish this book so I can move on to the next one, but I plan to learn this one well first so I’ll force myself to be patient." -Best Regards, Buddy

"Just to let you know that I received volume 1 safely. I had a quick browse this morning on my train journey to work & have say that I am mightily impressed - what a wonderful book! I so wish I'd had this a couple of years ago when I first went to Kamp and struggled to understand the basics of flatpicking, base runs etc - its just so clearly explained in your book and I'm very excited about how much more I'm going to learn & more importantly really understand by using it. Well done indeed!" - rgds, Guy