A Weird Potentially Very Useful Technique

Troy’s post yesterday about “What percentage of guitarists are stringhopping” got me thinking a lot about my history with guitar. I never felt like I hit any walls that prevented me from playing what I wanted, but I also never developed good picking chops. So what the heck was I doing? In retrospect, I had a lot of little hacks. A lot of them are just redundant now that I have a better basic picking technique. However, there is one hack that I think has a lot of untapped potential.

In an effort to develop speed playing step-wise lines I started using my fingers and playing arpeggiated chords built in 2nds. I don’t know of anyone else that has done this. If you could show me other players that do this I would honestly love that. Although I think fingerstyle guitar is mostly behind me now that I have CtC picking technique, it might be cool to explore this left hand conception with a Carl Miner style right hand.

I used to have the left hand articulation very dialed in on this stuff so I could play the notes cleanly and “monophonically” or let them ring into each other (I kind of split the difference in this video). That is why I think this technique might actually have a lot of advantages over conventional fingerings in certain situations. The video I posted is from like fifteen minutes ago, so my chops on this aren’t like they were when this was still on my mind. The fastest I ever probably played this stuff was 16ths at 145 (I really wasn’t speed obsessed) but I think it can be pushed MUCH farther

PS The metronome is clicking on 2 and 4 in a quick double time feel. I mention this because:
It’s like the thing mentioned in my metronome post yesterday!
I think it might be confusing to listen to if you don’t know this

PPS I really wish I could observe a version of myself that got exposed to shreddy guitar players as a kid. I am really curious what goofy solutions I would have come with. I don’t think I would have figured out the idea of escape motions, but I do think I would have been way more obsessed with clean single note playing


I made the lick for this video just an ascending major scale, but you can really play anything as long as it’s a series of arpeggios that your left hand can grab

In classical guitar this would be called a “campanella scale”. There It is usually used in combination with ooen strings.
It is most common on instruments with re-entrant tuning, like the baroque-guitar, the charango and the ukulele for example.
I still think your approach is very unique, since you are very fluent with the position shifts and don’t rely on Open strings. I’d love to see it explained in more detail.


There’s definitely something here. This is just a G Major scale ascending and it sounds really super dang cool to me. Almost musical! The slurring into the position changes is something I’ll need to learn to clean up eventually, but right now it’s honestly one of my favorite parts so I’m just leaning into it!

I’m totally going to look more into the campanella fingering thing. I just gave myself a little crash course, but I bet there are some pretty surprising and creative ways that composers have used that idea. I agree that the thing I’m exploring is a little different because although I’m using open strings whenever Ive got them, I can get pretty cool results without open strings too.

It’s actually hilarious to me that I tried use this as a reliable speed mechanic at one point. I don’t think it will ever be good for that, but I do think there’s a lot of impressionistic or bizarrely beautiful sounds built into this mechanic

Once I feel like I have more of an understanding of what this technique actually is and how it can and cannot be used I will totally explain it!

I actually tried to use it systematically in classical guitar pieces, when I felt that this particular sound would contribute to the piece in acool way. Ultimately, I dropped the idea, because it made rather simple stuff like a scale passage much more complicated to learn, and the music I was playing was already complicated enough.
But I love that sound, so much so m, that I even bought a baroque-guitar last year😁
I still have some tabs with campanella scales for regular tuning somewhere, if you are interesred, I could dig them up.
BTW, one of my favourite players here. At about 1:20 starts a variation with some awesome campanella scales. 17th century spanish guitar tradition was just amazing.


That video is cool! Thank you for sharing

The conception that he switches to at like 2:15 is very inspiring to me. The thing he’s doing with his right hand is what was my flashiest mechanic preCtC but he is way more creative with what he’s doing with his left hand. I’m definitely going to be able to pull some good ideas out of studying that for a bit!

I would absolutely love any material you have on this stuff

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So far I could find only these two anymore:

In the G-Major example you can switch the accidentals to make C- or D-major without changing the right hand


I think this is a really great technique. You could base a style off of it…or at least incorporate it as one of you ‘modes’. Thanks for sharing!

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sounds almost exactly like the way Chet Atkins played the G scale! I think this video is full of that kind of technique.


That video is super cool and does have a similar feel, but Chet’s not actually doing the “campanella” thing. You can see in Chet Atkins big entrance at 55 seconds that he is just fingering scales the regular old way

Jerry Reed is doing reverse banjo rolls and changing a note each time through the roll which has a similar sound. (If you’re not sure what that means check out the Carl Miner, David Grier, or Molly Tuttle videos). Mostly what Jerry Reed is doing is using the b string as a drone to play off of. There is however one one moment where Jerry Reed does it though! Right when it switches to the A7 in the second section of the head he plays a little lick that I wrote out which is just shooting up the A Mixolydian scale with camanella fingerings!

I have found another guitarist who has incorporated “campanella + tightly voiced arpeggios when you get higher and run out of open strings” very fundamentally into his style and even written about it: Bill Frisell!

I’m not going to post it here because I don’t want to violate copyright rules for the group, but I would definitely recommend trying to find Bill Frisell’s essay about guitar fingerings. It’s from a book that’s been out of print for decades so I don’t feel guilty, and there is a PDF scan that is really easy to find on the internet.

I spent some good time last night digging Bill Frisell and his main addition to my exploration of this idea is adding natural harmonics. He incorporates them effortlessly and it sounds really cool

yeah, Chet and Jerry played classical guitar. They do those runs often. Jason Loughlin and tons of other country players do, too. Bill absolutely does this.