Rev Gary Davis – Learn Blues Guitar – Fingerpicking – Acoustic Blues Guitar Tips

Davis played a jumbo bodied Gibson guitar, which had rich, deep basses and cutting trebles – great for making himself heard above street noise. He also used finger picks, which act as a natural amplifier and also save the fingers from harm after playing for several hours, as musicians did at that time. He used a large plastic thumb pick worn high up, close to his hand, and a steel pick on his fore finger.

Incredibly, he only used one finger to pick the strings, which hardly seems possible, bearing in mind the complexity of the music he created. His thumb would jump all over the strings, never being content to play just the bass notes.

It could also jump out of time and double up on the beat, which shows amazing control. Another trademark technique was his single string run work. He would strike a single string alternately with his thumb and fore finger in quick succession at lightning speed, and sing at the same time!

We should all be forever grateful for the legacy left by the original great of blues guitarists. Here’s a short lesson showing a couple of simple variations on the basic Candy Man theme, as played by the legendary Reverend Gary Davis. What he did with just three chords was fascinating.