A common question advanced flatpickers have is how and when to play the fretboard. In genres such as blues, rock, and jazz, the answers are somewhat intuitive because these styles mostly use closed forms that feel natural to move around. But in acoustic flat sound production, everything is a little more complicated.
The essence of flat picking is rooted in the open position, so the movement up the neck must be done in such a way as not to give out this sound. I like to think of passages up the neck as brief digressions that usually begin and end in an open position. The previous two Pickin’ columns provide good examples of such passages. In this lesson, you will get to know the other in more depth.
“Salt Creek” is an old favorite tune that can be heard on any bluegrass jam. The arrangement up to bar 17 shows how this melody is usually played on the guitar. It uses open strings, slides and ties, and the B section requires significant arm stretch. This arrangement is mainly based on the open position and therefore has a classic flat sound.