How to Play "Mother" Maybelle Carter Style Country Guitar

Learn how to play "Mother" Maybelle Carter-style country guitar from musician Boo Reiners in this Howcast video.

Mother Maybell Carter of the Carter family was probably one of the most influential guitar players in all of country music. She used a thumb pick and a finger pick on her index finger. It had a way of strumming the rhythm and picking out some melody cause she was the sole guitar player in their trio.

And I’m going to try to show you some basic things you can do to try to get that going on. So holding down a G chord I’m going to hit the G note on the sixth string and then I’m going to strum up with my index finger that has the pick on it. So I’ve got a bass note and a chord sound. Some people might anchor a free finger on the top. Or you might just have your hand free floating. Whatever is most comfortable for you is the right way to do it.

So I might use some of that root fifth bass note motion here. Okay so to add to that I might pick out some melody, something like this. So this was a way that she could play and drive her trio and have a lot of sound, a lot of volume. Often those guys would be playing where there was no electricity. No amplification so she’d have a big old hollow body acoustic Gibson guitar. And with a thumb pick and a finger pick she could get a lot of sound and a lot of rhythm and drive out of her playing.

A lot of people don’t play that way anymore but it’s a fun way to play those old songs and I think you should give it a try.