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Technically speaking Merle Travis actually did pretty much thumb and index finger picking as I recall. In those days there wasn't the opportunity to see and review stuff like Youtube vids, so many used a thumb, index and middle finger sort of picking to emulate it. Some even used flatpick, middle and ring fingers.


But I think technique isn't necessarily the priority here, but rather having one's head into that style.


Rockabilly in a sense was a bursting of a new flower in an already-established garden. Returning servicemen from WWII had been exposed to different sorts of music and electronic amplification was changing how guitar could be played. The Carter Family Scratch, for example, was a response as much in ways to the available technology of recording music as it was to the style of music in demand at the time. Those two, style and technology, walked hand in hand in both separating and integrating different sorts of American popular music.


The electric guitar allowed lighter strings and changes in technique - for example Merle and Chet using "jazz" chords and Chet using a Bigsby that wouldn't have been imagined in 1920 - and economic changes to combos from larger bands put forth the opportunity for new sorts of playing and music. "Western Swing" also helped set the stage for it.


How, one asked consciously or unconsciously in the 1950s, does one get a three to six piece band to swing for the kind of power the big bands had when doing "fast dance" tunes that brought out the jitterbug seen only in WWII movies today? That was a big question. One answer to that was "Rockabilly" that in many ways was seen more of an outgrowth of electrified "country" than of the "big band" pop music scene.


<grin> Just sayin'. Again, it's the head, not specific technique from my perspective.



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