Must-Know Folk Strokes

To become a versatile player, there are some approaches you just gotta have down. This simple and folksy plucking pattern is found on more platinum albums than you can shake an iPod at.

Stevie Nicks/ Lindsey Buckingham-era Fleetwood Mac is just one of the supergroups who have employed this timeless alternating thumb/index technique on FM radio mega-hits (such as the Nicks perennial, “Landslide”). Even rebel folkies such as Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and, more recently, Steve Earle (shown here) rely on this form of “poor-man’s Travis picking” to give chords a full, rippling texture. And yes, that’s Travis as in Merle Travis—he’s the guy to go back to if you want to hear the spectacular ways this thumb-and-fingers approach can be evolved.

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