Two Essential Elements of Carter-Style Guitar

Posted by David Surette

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.

Carter Fundamentals ex1_2
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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.

Excerpted from Carter-Style Guitar Basics - The Fundamentals of Carter-Style Guitar

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