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Acoustic Blues Guitar

The right hand thumb can travel across to the treble strings to help out, which adds to the syncopation. We start to see that the picking thumb is the driving force behind the best acoustic blues. It can double up on the beat to copy a heartbeat, play off the beat , strike two or several strings at once and create individual string runs if used in conjunction with one of the fingers (normally the fore finger.) The singing Reverend was a leading exponent of that fashion of picking .

Davis could perform with picks or bare fingers, but favored a large plastic thumb pick and one steel finger pick steel pick on his fore finger. It makes a strong, penetrating effect that allowed his blues music to be heard above traffic din in Harlem when he sang and performed on the streets . His stunningly speedy individual string runs picked with thumb and finger are very hard to copy faithfully . Davis was broadly revered as a excellent blues guitar teacher. For the student guitarist motivated to learn the blues the Reverend was a gift from above .

Modern guitarists similar to Doc Watson and Chet Atkins, had a clipped, sparing way of finger picking , but Doc uses a plastic thumb and finger pick, while Chet employed a plastic pick for his thumb and bare finger nails. Doc uses one finger of his picking hand, and Chet used 3 (at least).

At the end of the 50s and beginning of the 60s, youthful students searched for the old blues guitarists and many of the old performers started to play their guitars again , either as performers or instructors . As the decades pass, these folks are now thin on the ground , so it is increasingly difficult to locate a real original expert who can perform in the original manner .