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Gypsy Picking

Friday, October 4, 2013

I've been "bathing in Django", and learning about gypsy style flat picking. It's pretty interesting. Django was amazing when you consider he only really had the use of two fingers on his left hand. The gypsy picking style produces a tone with a lot of amplitude, because of the concept of "rest strokes" The picking technique also lends itself to arpeggios. I don't have anything recorded with this yet, but it definitely changes the tone, and provides a different way of thinking when soloing. 


Here is Django playing:

Here is the idea explained:

Here is the idea in full blown action. I think these guys could take a lesson from Django, on how to be more musical, but the their technique is amazing:

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Playing Style: 4-String (Tenor/Plectrum)

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Playing Since: 1966
Experience Level: Expert/Professional

[Teaching] [Helping]

Occupation: Musician

Gender: Male
Age: 63

My Instruments:
Banjo, Guitar, Bass, Piano

Favorite Bands/Musicians:
Perry Bechtel, Dave Marty, Gary Isbell, Don Obertone, Howard Alden, Maurice Bolyer, Buddy Wachter, Django Reinhardt

Classified Rating: not rated
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Profile Info:
Visible to: Public
Created 9/5/2010
Last Visit 8/20/2015

I grew up in a four string banjo family: my dad played banjo in the Peninsula Banjo Band in San Jose California, and his dad played in the Reno banjo band. There were many nights of jamming around the house until the late late hours. There seems like there was always a banjo laying around, so I started sitting in the jam sessions when I was 8. My dad signed me up for tenor banjo lessons with Charlie Tagawa, and I joined the Peninsula Banjo band where I played for many years on Monday nights at the Straw Hat pizza palor in Campbell, Ca. When I was 14, I began playing professionally. My parents were gracious enough to upgrade my banjo, and took me shopping at Satterlee and Chapin in SF. The good news is they had a beautiful 1929 Gibson PB6 Mastertone for sale. The bad news was it was a plectrum, and I played tenor. It was love at first site though, and I decided then that I was a plectrum player. My first regular job was playing in a banjo duo with Doug Pinckney in the Silver Dollar Saloon at Frontier Village amusement park. The next 7 years, I played at Frontier Village with the Gaslite Gang: Scott Hartford tenor banjo, Debbie Hartford Weitzel piano, and Bruce Jolly on Bass. The Gaslite Gang recorded both a studio and live album, and played at banjo sh ows on the west coast. For the next 10 years or so, I played dixieland gigs at venues in the San Francisco area including Great America, Marine World, and Galagers in Jack London square. I was a regular in the Forty Niner band as well as a New Orleans trio called St. Peters Street featuring Dave Giampietro on clarinet, and McNeal Breaux on bass. The St. Peters Street band had the pleasure of sitting in with Preservation Hall while they toured Oakland, and I was able to play with Narvin Kimball. At the same time I was playing the dixieland gigs, I was playing in a country and western trio on weekends at a place called Coyote Ranch. The trio featured Mike Leatherman on guitar, "Fingers" on fiddle, and myself on the four string. I was exposed a bunch of new songs, and fell in love with some of the old time CW songs as well as country swing. After about 14 years of music, I changed careers and wrote software for about 10 years for NASA. After NASA I became a stay at home dad for about 9 years, then went back and wrote software for another 3 years. I've recently gone back into music full time. I own and operate SMA Studios where I teach afterschool guitar programs, perform banjo music, and record CDs.

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