An introduction to fingerpicking: « Ballad Of A Crystal Man » (Donovan)

Donovan’s “Ballad of a Crystal Man” is the perfect introduction to alternate-bass fingerpicking: it’s short, the left-hand presents few difficulties, and the right-hand pattern is repetitive.

Note that a capo is placed on the fourth fret if you wish to play in the key of the original piece.

Here are the notations used to indicate which fingers of the left hand (numbers) and right hand (letters) should be used, and these will be found on the tablature:


Note that finger 3 (ring finger of the left hand) remains in place on the third fret of the low E string throughout the introduction.

Throughout the piece, the thumb of the right hand (in red) plays the “alternating” basses as it moves from the low E string to the D string and so on. Playing on each beat, the right-hand thumb marks the pulse.

The index finger of the right hand (in blue) plays the G string, and the middle finger of the right hand (in green) plays the B string. By observing this rule throughout the piece, a logic emerges in which each finger of the right hand has a precise function.

image 1

In bar 6, a hammer is played between beats 1 and 2: finger 2 (the middle finger of the left hand) taps the G string on the second fret while the string is sounding open, without plucking it again with the right hand, creating a linked effect.

Here are the first eight introduction bars:

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For the tablature of the complete piece, you can download it by following this link:

Article Submitted by Julien Prost.

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