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|Chord inversions, emulating specific guitar sounds, what picks to use, nail care.|
I have a few questions for you. I am trying to learn Chet Atkins style but what I can't figure out is where I can get all those chord inversions. I see you moving up and down the neck but how do I figure out what chords they are? Also, I have a Gretsch 6122 Country Classic and a Gibson GA 77 RVT amp just like Scotty Moore had but, for the love of me, I can't get his sound. And what kind of finger picks do you use and what do you do for your nail care?
Well, let's attack these things one at a time, starting with the easier stuff...
I use a Fred Kelly large size medium gauge thumbpick most of the time (I sell them if you want to take a look on my thumbpicks page). I don't use fingerpicks, have never liked them. For the first 39 years of my guitar playing I used my natural nails. In 2002 though I found myself wearing them out so bad that I went to acrylics. I still have my natural nail as the foundation, but the nail people coat them with a fcoat of acrylic (about once a month). My nails, therefore, don't wear out and they don't break - even the tone I get is a little fuller. Most pro fingerstyle players are in the same boat with a thumbpick and acrylic nails.
As to buying specific gear and trying to emulate a specific other player's sound, it's nearly impossible. The main thing is that every single player has a different attack, different hand sizes and angles to the strings, different bone to 'fat' ratios in their fingers, and play with different techniques and dynamics. The other thing is that Scotty might likely be using effects that you aren't and probably has the knobs on the guitar and amp adjusted to different settings. Hard to say, without hearing the two of you side by side. I'm pretty good at duplicating sounds, but nobody can do it 100%. Anyway, I stopped worrying about sounding like someone else a long time ago - a better thing to do is to sound like yourself, and just keep trying to improve on 'your' sound.
Now, we get to the tough stuff - chord inversions. This is the kind of thing that takes a lifetime to gather. You need some serious classes on music theory, composition, arranging, and the like - as well as a jazz oriented guitar teacher who can help you apply what you're learning to the guitar. If you wanted to sign up with me for Skype lessons I could help you with all of this, but I have to warn you that it takes a lot of head knowledge to start with and then piles of hours transferring it to the guitar. I was fortunate enough that, although I'm primarily an ear player, I took lessons at an early age, learned to read notes, took theory and the rest in college classes - and have had another 40 years to apply it. I know exactly where you are with this question, and I pretty much have all the answers, but it just isn't a simple answer. If you want to talk further and see what we can do with Skype lessons, let me know. Otherwise, the best suggestion is to find a great local jazz teacher (they're the ones who really know this stuff) and dig in.
Well, I hope that helps. Let me know...