Popularized by players like Doc Watson, Norman Blake and Tony Rice, flatpicking was developed by guitarists arranging old-time American fiddle tunes on the guitar, expanding the instrument’s traditional rhythmic role by adding melodies and occasional bass runs on the lower strings.
I’ve developed a series of tunes designed to help you learn essential concepts, techniques and creative approaches to take your flatpicking chops to the next level and help you develop a flatpicking repertoire designed specifically for solo performance.
In this popular fiddle tune, called “Red Haired Boy,” I decided to focus simply on learning one single technique here: floating. The idea with floating is to create a cascade of notes that makes our guitar sound like a harp. In order to do so, we’ll alternate fretted notes with open strings and leave the fretting hand fingers planted as long as we can. This way there is always more than one string ringing, usually two or three. Just like cross-picking, floating is all about the right hand. So before beginning with Red Haired Boy, it’s a good idea to practice this move so that you can get it comfortable under your fingers.
This fiddle tune is in the key of A, played with the capo at the 2nd fret using G shapes. It’s actually in G Mixolydian, so remember the flattened 7th – F natural. Give it a try!