I used to think that picking bluegrass banjo and playing classical or folk guitar were so different that you couldn't adapt one style to the other. My early guitar training in college was in the classical approach (and all the restrictions that that entails). So it took me a long time to give up the comfortable acrylic nails for fingerpicks, and to start playing with just the thumb and two fingers. But you can play all of your favorite ragtime, blues, and classical songs using a 3-finger approach. This was a revelation to me!
Has anyone else adapted a 3-finger banjo picking style to the guitar?
I use only three fingers for guitar often enough. Some Dylan songs come to mind, Don't think Twice, It's alright and It Ain't Me Babe...etc...Blackbird by the Beatles, Dust in the Wind. That's all I can think of now. I guess if I don't have a flat pick with me, I use three fingers quite a bit if I have to pick some chords.
I was amazed at how easy it was for me to utilize my 3 finger playing from banjo to guitar. I got a guitar last fall and I fingerpick almost all my songs with ease. My biggest problem is my tendency to anchor my ring finger and pinky on the pick guard. I got the ring curled up, but my pinkie isn’t willing yet. It feels like my hand flops and jitters when I don’t anchor it.
I have played 3 finger style guitar and banjo for over 40 years . In my experience, the same rolls used in bluegrass banjo can easily be played on a guitar but understand that when you do, the timing is different because, for one reason, you are using 6 strings instead of 4 and a drone. That being said, the alternating thumb (box roll ?) matches well with Travis alternating bass style guitar because both styles emphasize rhythm. The danger that bluegrass banjo players should be wary of is if the finger style guitar timing they may develop when playing finger style guitar, affects the drive in their banjo rolls.
This is something I've wondered about for a long time. The approach that Earl Scruggs took to playing guitar always seemed to me to be as unique as his approach to the banjo. I always thought that someone would take what Earl had done and expand upon it and develop it as a popular guitar style.
I’ve always been hesitant to call the things I do to a guitar “playing” it, but I’ve been picking up my wife’s guitar more frequently as of late, and I have been really shocked at how much easier it is for me to play. I’ve just been strumming cowboy chords and singing, but there is obviously a lot of overlap in the skill sets. I have to give some fingerpicking a go.
The only group/artist he ever paid to go see was Flatt & Scruggs. He took what he saw Earl doing on banjo and directly incorporated it into his 6 string guitar playing...and that’s straight from Jerry’s mouth. He loved banjo and would sometimes even plink around on one in the tour bus. The intro to “Jerrys Breakdown” is a classic banjo intro. He had a couple different picking patterns, but when getting down...like in the above mentioned song, he would use thumb, middle, and ring!