Fingerstyle guitar lesson: “Hang Me In The Tulsa County Stars” by John Moreland – Part 1

What’s up, ladies and gentlemen? Tyler Preston here back with another lesson.

Are you in this video? We’re going to be learning hang me in the Tulsa County Stars by John Moreland or the intro at least just want to let you know we’re only going to do a baby by of this song. I was chatting with some friends on Twitter this afternoon and it came up and I was like man I should do a lesson on that. I’ve been meaning to do a lesson on that for years. It’s such a great song. I’ve been performing it. I love it. Then I sat down and I was like man, I always thought of this as an easy song, but you know what there is a

a little bit more going on in this than I realized. So what we’re going to do in this lesson, we’re going to talk about the basics of the finger Style Style and we’re going to get ourselves kind of oriented to the piece and then I’m going to show you the first three or four bars. Okay and give you some exercises that you can work on that will get you ready for the additional lessons to come. I’m also a little pressed for time. I had a very busy day today. So we’re going to keep this one short and sweet and we’re going to start digging into

Hang me in the Tulsa County stars and you know at the end we’ll have a little to be continued. Okay, those will be a multi-part lesson. So let’s talk fingerstyle to get yourself oriented. I’m in standard tuning and I’ve got a capo on the 5th fret which means that when we play in the key of G. We’re using shapes rooted in Jeannie for this song. The song is

Ethnically sounding and C. So we’re performing in the key of C. But as we talked about everything I’m going to be referring to it as standard open shapes. So all of my strings are going to be named EAD GB and I’m going to say this is the G chord. Okay, even though it’s technically sounding see that’s called transposition. Anyway, as music theory probably above your pay grade right now, we can get into it later fingerstyle Basics most important thing about this song is that you’ve got to get the alternating bass line down.

Alternating bass line is a Hallmark of the folk and Country blues style. And that’s what gives this song. It’s propulsive feel that allows it to kind of drive forward even though it’s still you know, it’s still a ballad but there’s this there’s this propulsive backbone being provided by the Baseline now the Baseline when I isolate it from the rest of the song sounds like this. Yeah.

Okay, so there’s always this back-and-forth thing happening with our thumb now to get started with it the first thing that you need to do.

Is just grab your G chord and start playing the LOI alternating with the open a excuse me, Loi open alternating with the open D. So you’re jumping over the a string. The nice thing about this tune is that it’s consistent with this pattern. It just goes back and forth between two notes and never incorporates a third that would be called Travis picking which is a slightly more complicated type of finger style, which will definitely

we talk about later but not today. So you want to sit and practice with your guitar like this until your thumb is able to do this on autopilot. Okay, realistically, you should probably practice this and this alone for five minutes every day for a week at the very very least before you’re going to really start getting comfortable with it. But if you’ve got the stamina and the focus, I would say sit down try and do it for several minutes at a time and get it get it going back and forth the

Thing that you can do is start practicing those chord changes. Now this guy that I’m seeing there were seeing here. This is technically a d but we’re only seeing the bottom end of it right now if I play the whole shape, it looks like this. That’s the F sharp note. Okay. So this is d slash F sharp F sharp is commonly integrated with the D chord during fingerstyle pieces because it gives you a nice low tone to counterbalance this

Note up here, which is usually the root of the D chord. Okay, because Dee’s as we as we learned it in cowboy cord School. These only got four notes in it except for when you add in a slash and Tack on a new base note on the bottom K. So our opening Baseline is and I’m catching it with my thumb. I think you can see that what I do to catch it on my thumb as I kind of let the let the fat of my thumb sort of Hangover.

And sort of grab on to the string. That’s my way. You might you might find that you like to roll over and pinch a little bit more. That’s kind of a that’s a personal it’s a personal preference but point is and now we switch up to C back to G back to see and when I place see I’m playing the C root note.

which is the third fret on the open or third fret on the A and playing the

E which is the second fret on the D string back down to G and then our diesel a shark.

Making sense so far. I hope so. If not, you can always feel free to reach out to me. I’m available at mr. Tyler Preston on Twitter. I hang up on there all day. Love to answer questions about guitar, or you can email me personally Tyler at Tyler Preston.com really simple again always happy to answer your questions. So now let’s go ahead and bounce to the next bit of this piece which are pinches. Okay, so when it comes to playing fingerstyle, we’ve got three things going on.

Of the time alternating bass line, which we just covered pinches and plucks. Okay pinches and plucks are pretty similar what that means is that we’re going to be incorporating one of our claws on of our finger-picking claws up here into the pattern and providing Melody with it. Okay, the difference between a pension of pluck is that a pinch is when you pinch and play both your thumb and one of these other fingers together, it might be your first finger. It might.

Your second finger. Sometimes it might even be your third finger. But the point is that a pinch is a pinch you’re going to grab with at least two fingers, maybe even more than that. You could pinch with all of them. If you wanted to you we won’t do that on this song, but you will find songs that do that. So that’s Pinch A pluck is where the pluck from your from your finger picking claw.

Comes on its own without the bass note. Okay. So in that case it’s going to happen in between the base notes because the base notes are playing a consistent eighth note Rhythm. So if there’s going to be a pluck that happens without a base notes, give me a sixteenth note and it’s going to be in between them.

Keaton okay. This is all about orientation right now. So the next thing that we can do to kind of Orient ourselves to playing this song is note that on the downbeat of one of every bar pretty much pretty much. I think at least 90% of the bars. It opens with a pinch that sort of establishes the chord sound at the beginning of the bar. It’s a really cool trick that John Moreland is using and it’s really easy to use to keep yourself on track within the piece. So that looks

Like this if I just do the pinches at the beginning of each of the bars, it should look like this. Oops.

Makes sense. So even if you don’t play this song and you just go take what I’ve shown you here in these 10 minutes so far and go play around with that practice using your alternate bass line and then doing maybe a little bit of improvisation with some plucks on the downbeat of one you are going to get some beautiful musical sounds coming out of your guitar.

Now there’s more technicalities going on with this piece. And I really do want to get into those the last thing that I’m going to show you in this video because we’re getting we’re running a little long. I kind of kept these about 10 minutes or so. The last thing that I want to show you is how to do the hammer on at the beginning of I think bar to it might be bar 3 and that is the hammer on when we use the D / f sharp chord so intro first chord and then right here.

We’ve got a hammer on. Okay, so we’re going to pinch our and then we’re going to hammer out right after the pinch and then there’s a pluck.

And then another pinch all those are all plucks. Okay. So here’s the intro again and right here we’re going to use that d slash F sharp with a pint with a pinch and we’re going to hammer on and then we’ve got two plucks where we’re going.

To alternate thumb first finger thumb on the upper string second finger. Okay. Yeah you get that. I’ll play it one more time. I messed it up.

Did you get that I’ll go ahead and play it one more time.

Did you get that I’ll go ahead and play it one more time. So that’s the first two bars. That’s probably enough for you to chew on right now. I’m looking forward to teaching you the rest of this song, but time is of the essence, and I need to get this lesson posted so I can get to beddy-bye so until next time I hope you

Fun with this lesson again. Feel free to reach out. If you got questions, I’d I am available on Twitter at mr. Tyler Preston or via email. Tyler Tyler press.com also have a newsletter on my website Tyler press.com. You can sign up for their I send out an email about once a week. And yeah, like I was saying until next time which will be tomorrow don’t know if I want to work on the song again tomorrow, but you know, if you guys tell me like Hey, we’re really interested. We want to hear more of that song hanging in the Tulsa County start then

Then I’ll definitely work on some more of it tomorrow until next time. Good luck and happy strolling.

Tyler Preston

Tyler Preston

National touring singer-songwriter & music teacher. I'm a country boy at heart, but I paid my dues singin' the blues. Find me on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.