Grab any top-selling country CD produced in the last five years that has acoustic instruments on it and chances are you’ll find Bryan Sutton credited with playing acoustic guitar. On Homespun Video’s latest release, Bryan Sutton’s Secrets for Successful Flatpicking, you can pick up some tips on how to be a hot picker, too. A guitar duo with fellow Ricky Skaggs band alumnus Cody Kilby opens the DVD. It then proceeds in an interview format with Homespun video founder Happy Traum prompting Bryan to discuss his techniques.
Bryan uses several well-known fiddle tunes as examples on this DVD. “Daley’s Reel,” “Texas Gales,” “Wild Bill Jones,” and “Beaumont Rag” all get the full treatment here. I regularly play “Beaumont Rag” with my band, and although I play mandolin, Bryan’s version of the song gave me lots of new ideas for my own solos. Homespun’s split frame technique shows both the right and left hand simultaneously. Although this video isn’t slick by any means, it has good enough production values so that it never obscures the information. Sure it would have been nice if the quality was good enough to look sharp on a large screen, but as most people will probably view it on a computer monitor or a small TV, it’s good enough.
Unfortunately for students, most great guitarists are not very articulate when it comes to explaining how they play. Bryan Sutton is an exception to that rule. I’ve sat in on Bryan’s workshops at the RockyGrass Academy so I know he’s very good at explaining how he plays. Here, Homespun Video captures his special ability to elucidate his remarkably clean style. If you are serious about moving up to the next level with your flatpicking, this video delivers the tools you need to make that leap.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Feb ’07 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.