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Learn how to use the traditional clawhammer style of old-time banjo on the guitar to play traditional dance tunes with a powerful groove or sweet, contemplative melodies. With clawhammer technique exercises and 12 great tunes to play.
Steve Baughman is known for his melodic fingerstyle guitar playing, which draws on Celtic, Appalachian, and various ethnic and folk traditions, as well as his clawhammer guitar playing of old-time fiddle tunes with an infectious groove and rhythm. He was described by Dirty Linen magazine as one of the best Celtic fingerpickers in the United States.
Steve is a pioneer of the unique clawhammer guitar technique, one of the few guitarists who have taken the traditional clawhammer style of old-time banjo and made it work powerfully on the guitar as a folk, rock, funk, and blues technique. The album Clawhammer Guitar: The Collection, which features Steve and three other clawhammer guitarists, was named an “essential album” by Acoustic Guitar magazine.
Steve is also a fine composer and dynamite clawhammer banjo player. He has several solo recordings to his credit as well as five books with Mel Bay Publications. He appears with Pierre Bensusan, Martin Simpson, and Pat Kirtley on the Rounder Records Celtic guitar collection Ramble to Cashel and his duo album with Robin Bullock, Celtic Guitar Summit, was voted one of the best albums of 2003 by Acoustic Guitar magazine, which also called his album Farewell to Orkney “a must for all lovers of guitar and especially Celtic music.” Steve is a regular teacher at guitar camps across the US, including the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Swannanoa Gathering, and California Coast Music Camp. .
Learn to play a simple version of the traditional music favorite “Shady Grove” using the clawhammer bum-ditty pattern. With Notation/Tab
Download a PDF list of all the Clawhammer Guitar lessons so you can keep track of your progress.
A Clawhammer Guitar subscription includes:
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CLAWHAMMER GUITAR BASICS
Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs Learn how to add hammer-ons and pull-offs to the basic bum-ditty pattern, first on a simple E minor chord and then with single melody notes on individual strings. You’ll also learn how to combine them with the bum-ditty pattern.
FIRST CLAWHAMMER GUITAR TUNE: “SHADY GROVE” Learn to play the traditional music favorite “Shady Grove” using many of the techniques you’ve already learned. Steve shows you how to modify the bum-ditty pattern by just playing a single note instead of the brush stroke, and then he walks you through the melody of “Shady Grove” phrase by phrase, giving you a chance to play along with him as he goes. He also shows you how to add hammer-ons and pull-offs to the melody
USING TAB Steve talks about his philosophy of using tab as a learning tool. He recommends that you use it as a general guide not as a specific “it has to go exactly like this every time” rule.
MIGRATING THE THUMB So far you’ve been playing the bum-ditty clawhammer pattern with your thumb just playing the sixth string, but it can play other strings as well. In this lesson, you’ll learn to “migrate” your thumb to other strings, first with a version of “Shady Grove” in the key of A, where your thumb will play the fifth string (A), and then in G modal tuning (DGDGCD), a popular clawhammer guitar tuning that will not only make it easier to finger melodies but to use your thumb on different strings.
PERCUSSIVE SLAPS AND TAPS Learn how to play percussive slaps and left-hand filler taps. Using the version of “Shady Grove” in G modal tuning, Steve shows you a percussive slap that you can use in place of the brush in the bum-ditty pattern. Steve also shows you how to use a filler tap (a tap of a string with the left-hand) in the space between the “bum” and the “ditty” in the bum-ditty pattern, and where to use it in “Shady Grove.”
CRIPPLE CREEK The old-time favorite “Cripple Creek” is one of the first tunes banjo players learn to play, and it makes a great clawhammer guitar tune as well. You’ll learn to play it in open-G tuning: DGDGBD. Steve shows you a slide and pull-off lick you’ll need to play “Cripple Creek” before walking you through a basic version of the melody. Once you’ve learned the melody Steve shows you a version with the thumb playing the third string and how to add a palm slap.
SIX ESSENTIAL TECHNIQUES Learn six essential techniques you’ll need to know to move forward with clawhammer guitar. Steve introduces double-C tuning on the guitar (CGCGCD), a great tuning you’ll use to learn all of these important techniques as well as some upcoming tunes. Steve walks you slowly through all the techniques, which include open-string pull-offs and hammer-ons, alternating thumb, drop thumb, single-string bum-ditty, and more.
USING THUMBPICKS AND/OR FINGERPICKS Most clawhammer players don’t use picks of any sort, but Steve has found that using a thumbpick and/or a fingerpick placed backward on the index finger can work well for certain kinds of tunes.
MORE CLAWHAMMER GUITAR TUNES