Travis Picking Tutorial

Travis Picking... finally

First: The video and downloadable PDF and graphics can be found below.

I am going to to provide some context for why I created this tutorial.

I avoided learning Travis for MANY years. I have plenty of finger-picking in my songs but had not taken the time to officially learn Travis Picking.

A little over a week ago, I decided to change that. I spent some time online and learned a couple patterns. The pattern I cover in this tutorial is taught in a dozens (hundreds?) YouTube videos.

So, why another Travis Picking video?

In the videos I watched there is an emphasis on learning the thumb picking first. Then, each tutorial adds the alternating index and middle finger pieces in relation to the thumb pattern. This seemed confusing to me.

Then, the other night my girlfriend, a beginning player, asked me to show her how to Travis Pick. I wanted to avoid the focus on the thumb and look at the pattern more broadly and holistically. I came up with a spoken cadence of:


For example: in the case of an open C chord and limiting ourselves to just the 4 inner strings (2, 3, 4, & 5):

  • pinch - (thumb 5th string) (middle finger 2nd string)
  • in  (thumb 4th string) side (index finger 3rd string)
  • out (thumb 5th string) side (middle finger 2nd string)
  • in  (thumb 4th string) side (index finger 3rd string)

As indicated in this graphic:

She was effectively picking the pattern in about 20 minutes and has since gone on to use this pattern, learning Kansas' iconic, Dust in the Wind.

My hope is that the cadence and the graphics provided help a few of you learn this Travis Picking pattern and removes some of the confusion.

The video lesson and downloads

Download the patterns here: PDF | Zipped JPGs

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