How to master Chet Atkins’ fingerpicking technique and take your acoustic playing to the next level

Chet Atkins
(Image credit: Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty)

Chet Atkins was born in Luttrell, Tennessee on June 20, 1924. His style was inspired by Merle Travis and his famed picking technique. Growing up poor meant he faced real challenges as a burgeoning guitarist, not least having to travel miles to find a power supply for his guitar amp, as his home did not have electricity.

A musical genius, Atkins took the Travis picking style and made it his own; while Merle used only thumb and first finger to pick the strings, Atkins combined his thumb, first, second and third fingers, hugely increasing his picking range.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

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.