Merle Travis, Lester Flatt and Hank Williams pioneered the Americana guitar style – and laid the groundwork for today’s folk, country and bluegrass guitar stars

Merle Travis
(Image credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

In this lesson, I will be focusing on the techniques and approaches of three early country artists: Merle Travis, Lester Flatt, and Hank Williams.

While these players sat firmly within the country and bluegrass genres – Flatt, as one half of the legendary Flatt & Scruggs guitar and banjo duo; Travis, a country megastar after whom Travis picking was named; and Williams, a troubled songwriting genius who died just before his 30th birthday – today’s Americana artists blur all of these stylistic boundaries. 

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Stuart Ryan

Stuart Ryan is best known for his acoustic guitar playing, from Celtic fingerpicking and traditional folk to modern percussive phrasing and fresh interpretations of popular pieces. He has released several solo albums, written pieces for UK examination boards and created nine tutorial books ranging from acoustic guitar arrangements to Americana styles.