Chet and Wayne cut it as a two-guitar piece, but I’ve arranged it for one guitar, and it can be a bit of a tricky challenge to cover both the melody line and rhythm accompaniment simultaneously.
Throughout the piece, I utilize standard Merle Travis–style fingerpicking technique: the bass notes, sounded on the bottom three strings, are picked with the thumb (I use a thumb pick), usually in an “alternating-bass” fashion, and the notes on the top three strings are picked with either the index finger, middle finger or both together.
The general fingerpicking approach, which I apply throughout 95 percent of the tune, is that the thumb-picked bass notes fall in a steady eighth-note rhythm (“1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and”), while the melody line and chordal accents, sounded with the index and middle fingers, fall on the eighth- and 16th-note upbeats between the downbeats. You’ll find that many of the bars include 16th notes, and in these instances the index- and middle-finger movement falls in the spaces between the eighth notes.
Last month, we took a look at the verse section of “El Vaquero,” so this month I’d like to explore the bridge. FIGURE 1 starts off with the last two bars of the verse, to serve as a point of reference; the bridge itself begins at bar 3. Right here, the song modulates from the key of A minor to A major, and I begin the section by playing alternating bars of A and E7.
I embellish the A chord by simply sliding