chet

Grab your thumbpick and learn how to break down—and build up—Chet-style arrangements.


Chops: Intermediate/Advanced
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Increase the independence between your picking-hand thumb and fingers.
• Learn different strategies for harmonizing melodies.
• Create alternating-bass patterns that work over simple harmonies.


Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

As inspiring as it is to hear Chet Atkins play some mind-bending fingerstyle licks, it can be quite daunting to decode what he’s doing. Where do all those sounds come from? How do we create our own tunes or arrangements in that style?

It’s useful to break a big job down into smaller parts, and “Chet-style guitar” certainly benefits from that approach. We’ll break this technique down to the smallest components; once we understand the elements, we’ll then be able to build up arrangements using this knowledge. Practicing this way helps beginners form good habits, and it also gives experienced players a chance to identify and fix bad habits that are often the result of ineffective practice.

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