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A Message from Dan Miller, Author and Publisher of Flatpicking Essentials.

The Flatpicking Essentials instructional series is designed to teach you the art of flatpicking the acoustic guitar in a sequential, step-by-step method that will gradually build your flatpicking skill in a way that leaves no “gaps” or “holes.” While this method is extremely beneficial to beginners, this series is also be of great value to those guitar players who have been working to learn how to flatpick for quite some time, yet can’t seem to get beyond a certain plateau. If you are having trouble moving beyond memorized solos, adding interest and variety to your rhythm playing, learning how to play up-the-neck, learning how to come up with your own arrangements to songs, learning how to play by ear, or learning how to improvise, then this series is for you!

Watch this video to learn more about the series.

Too many flatpickers are learning how to play by simply memorizing transcribed fiddle tune solos from tab books and video tapes. In doing that they are learning ineffectively and inefficiently. They are skipping over many vital elements in the learning process and thus they have a weak foundation. In this series my goal is to help you build a strong foundation so that you can easily maintain consistent forward progress in your study of flatpicking.

Each volume of this series presents material that provides the foundation for the next volume. In the first volume— Rhythm, Bass Runs, and Fill Licks—you will learn how to develop all of the basic skills you will need in order to become a solid rhythm player. This book is designed to teach you rhythm skills in a way that will thoroughly prepare you for Volume 2, which is titled, Learning How To Solo: Carter Style and Beyond.

As you will learn in the first section of this book, the flatpicking guitar style developed chronologically along a very clear line of sequential technical skills. In order to learn how to flatpick fiddle tunes like Doc Watson, the student needs to build a foundation similar to the foundation Doc built for himself before he started picking lead solos on fiddle tunes. The first two volumes of this course present the techniques and skills that were developed on the acoustic guitar during the 30s, 40s, and 50s —the pre-Doc Watson skills—the skills Doc acquired as part of building his own musical foundation.

This book, and the entire series, is full of practice suggestions and homework problems. I highly recommend that you take the time to go through all of the suggested practice drills and homework problems. Your learning experience will be far richer and more fruitful as a result. I have included a three-section appendix in this book. If you are new to guitar tablature, or run across a symbol in the tablature or music notation that is presented in this book that you are unfamiliar with, please refer to the appendix on “Reading Tablature.” If you have never worked with a metronome, or have trouble working with a metronome, please see the appendix on “Working with a Metronome.” Similarly, if you are unfamiliar with major scales, major chords, or arpeggios, please refer to the appendix that discusses these concepts.

In addition to the book/CD series, we also maintain a Flatpicking Essentials website that includes extra examples, songs, scales, answers to homework problems, and answers to frequently asked questions.

I wish you the best of luck in your study and practice.

Dan Miller Publisher and Editor Flatpicking Guitar Magazine