Learning Chet Atkins Fingerstyle?

I saw this Tommy Emmanuel video Tommy Emmanuel Teaches 4 Steps To Fingerstyle Guitar Technique | Reverb Learn To Play - YouTube and was wondering If its the best way to learn this style?
Trying to separate the thumb and fingers seems pretty hard. In addition to my regular playing and practicing, I’ve also been practicing with my thumb, just without a pick for now.
I’m not a real advanced guitar player, but I really like that Chet Atkins style, but I’m also wondering If its even possible to learn it too.

Hi Bruce, I’m a stage 2 beginner following Justin’s course methodically. In addition I’ve recently been slowly following Tommy Emmanuel’s Fingerstyle Course.

Yes, separating the thumb and fingers does look difficult but as with everything in life it just takes practice and patience.

If you like his style of playing then I see no harm in following both courses but you have to balance your practice time effectively.

For me Justin’s course is the predominant course and Tommy’s course is the supplementary course.

Therefore, Justin’s recommended practice routines for the modules I’m working on take precedence and my practice sessions only include one of Tommy’s exercises.

I find this approach ensures that I develop strong foundations from Justin’s beginners course whilst developing the specific fingerstyle techniques taught by Tommy.

Definitely keep your thumb parallel to strings as oppose to rest of the fingers. More thumb independence, less accidental string hits, less clashes with pointing finger and gives you plenty of flexibility if you want to play percussive elements in various songs :slight_smile:


Bruce, I concur with both @Socio and @adi_mrok replies.

I’ve not looked at TE’s course (or any others that focus specifically on finger-style), so can’t comment further on those.

After completing the Beginner Course, which was the equivalent of Grade 1 & 2 prior to the revamp, I opted to dig into Justin’s Folk Finger-style modules. Following the earlier lessons helped me develop some thumb/finger independence and the ability to play alternating bass notes. I think a good start towards developing the Chet Atkins Travis picking style.

Maybe it is worth looking at those lessons: Folk Fingerstyle | JustinGuitar.com


OK thanks for the information and Justin’s Fingerstyle lessons as well. I sort of have the thumb doing the alternating string hits but trying to get my fingers going as well is where I hit a brick wall.
I can get an occasional hit with my fingers but thats about it.
I’ll take a look at Justin’s lessons first though. Tommy and Justin just have soo many skills, I feel like a toddler just trying to get my first steps in !

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Definitely work through Justin’s lessons. His lessons give you the right foundations which he then builds upon further in the course. Think of Tommy’s lessons as an extra course you could do as part of your consolidation period of Justin’s course if you want.

From Justin’s lessons one of the key messages that I think applies here is that when playing the alternating bass lines with the thumb you have to practice it until it becomes automatic. Then you will be playing the bass notes to the beats without thinking and your mind can focus on the melodies with the fingers.

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