Watch the History and Players online guitar lesson by Jason Loughlin from Focus On: Travis Picking
Travis picking gets it's name from Merle Travis. It's a style of picking that seems to be loosly based on stride piano. The thumb keeps a steady alternating bass line while the fingers fill in melody notes on the top three strings. Merle's style is the center stone of Chet Atkins genius. Chet took what Merle was doing and brought it to a new level of sophistication and technicality. His love for Andre Segovia and ability to incorporate classical guitar techniques added a whole new vocabulary to travis picking. An influence on travis picking that's not talked about enough is country blues. Mississippi John Hurt, Elizabeth Cotton and Big Bill Broonzy influence on the style is easily heard in Scotty Moore's playing with Elvis and Paul Burlison's playing with Johnny Burnette. We can thank Brian Setzer for rekindling the fire for rockabilly music and travis picking. More modern players like Tommy Emmanuel have been taking travis picking to all new hieghts and has marked his place in elite group of great pickers.