Two Essential Elements of Carter-Style Guitar
There are two essential elements of Carter-style guitar playing: a root bass note and a first-position chord. Both are played with downstrokes, although the two strokes are somewhat different because playing a bass note requires a smaller hand movement than playing a chord, as you pick one string rather than several. Example 1 starts with a simple pattern over a G chord. Pick the root bass note on the low E string, and then strum the chord with three downstrokes.
The G root note in Example 1 falls on the guitar’s lowest string, but adapting this approach to other open-position chords means that we’ll need to develop the ability to pick bass notes on any of the guitar’s three lowest strings. With a chord rooted on each of these strings, the G–C–D progression in Example 2 makes for great target practice. Each chord is held for two measures, and the root bass notes are found on each of the three bass strings. Practice this example at a moderate tempo until you’re able to consistently isolate the root note at the beginning of each measure—this is one of the most important skills you need to play this style.