There isn’t a guitarist out there who has had more of an influence on me than Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham. His rich style of fingerpicking incorporates melodies, rhythm and chords, and smoothly blends the techniques of folk, bluegrass, and rock to create his unique sound. His style evolved over time and was inspired by musicians such as Merle Travis and the Kingston Trio; musicians from whom he emulated strumming and picking techniques. Let’s take a look at some of the elements that have defined Lindsey Buckingham’s style of playing.
Travis picking, named after celebrated country guitarist Merle Travis, is arguably one of the most prominent techniques used in Buckingham’s playing. This picking style is performed by alternating the thumb between two or three bass strings while the remaining fingers pluck the higher strings. The combination of a steady quarter-note bass line and melody create a solid rhythm. Buckingham also adds melody lines in his Travis Picking and incorporates a three-fingered banjo style roll as well. This technique can be heard in Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” and “World Turning.”
Since Buckingham doesn’t play with a pick he is able to access a wide variety of notes. He has become famous for his intricate fingerpicking style that incorporates bass lines, melody lines, rhythm and lead. Similar to Travis Picking, this technique can be seen in his acoustic version of “Big Love.” In this beast of an arrangement, he keeps a driving eighth-note bass line with his thumb, alternating between the low E and A string, while he hammers out melodies on the remaining strings.
Perhaps the most interesting of his techniques to hear and watch is what I call his “flick strumming” because he literally plays the notes by flicking the strings. This technique is most often seen when he is playing lead and it is achieved by flicking the index and middle fingers in a way that strikes the strings. This flicking creates a pleasantly sharp attack that makes the notes wail in a distinctly Lindsey Buckingham way.
Check out this video to see this flicking in action.
Those are some techniques to use to get some of that Lindsey Buckingham flare in your own playing. Enjoy!