Thumb Pickin Short Take

E9th Tuning

by Roy Thomson

January '97


The SGF Store
Strings & instruction for lap steel, Hawaiian and pedal steel guitars
Notes on Thumb Pickin Short Take by Roy Thomson
  1. K- this symbol stands for your knee lever that lowers your E strings to Eb. You will note that it is engaged throughout all the measures except those that comprise the first and second endings.
  2. K+ this symbol stands for the knee lever that raises your E’s. Watch in the very last measure where your have to shift from K- to K+.
  3. Here is a helpful hint. Except for the final measure use your thumb for all notes on the 8th and 10th strings. The middle finger for the notes above. Sometimes you have to pick with the middle finger and thumb at the same time. When so doing - sort of pinch by pulling back on finger while thumb pushes forward.
  4. A & B stand for your 1st and 2nd pedals respectively. Note that the A pedal only sneaks in at the very last measure.
  5. This is 4/4 time and I have written the count below each measure. If you proceed very slowly the thumb style phrasing will eventually take shape.
  6. The last measure is the ending and is a change you don’t hear too often. With K- engaged pick strings 4,5 and 6,{Middle,index,thumb} and then let the sound sustain while you switch to K+ and pedal A.
  7. Note the ties (black horizontal bars) in two of the measures. One is a “Pull-Off” while the other is a “hammer on”. The second note on the tie is not picked but rings while string 8 is picked underneath. It is important to get these correct because they are most effective.
There are very few steel players that have mastered thumb style or as I refer to it-- Fingerstyle picking. I learned the technique first on Spanish guitar and then one day a long time ago it occurred to me — why not transfer that to steel. So I had a good understanding for the technique and also I love the sound of two guitars in one.

All the steel players I know shy away from thumb style playing and they have good reason for doing so. It is not the reason they took up the instrument in the first place. They want to play the slides and the hit sounds and just to do that can be an endless task. Another reason is that thumb style can be tough to learn. It is a gradual process that requires a lot of listening and applying the proper touch to your playing. It is time consuming and there is work involved.

I get a lot of satisfaction and enjoyment from this type of playing. It’s really great when you don’t have the band to help you and you want to demonstrate with your guitar. To me it was well worth the effort.

The good news is that if anyone takes the time to master my Thumb Pickin Short Take the doors are then open to apply this style to countless other songs.

If one person out there gets this down......I’ll be happy and so will he or she.

     -Roy Thomson,

You can download a WAV file of the song by clicking HERE.

Copyright ©1997 by Roy Thomson, HTML by Bobby Lee

Ray Price Shuffles
Classic country shuffle styles for Band-in-a-Box, by steel guitarist Jim Baron.