The A Section starts with a little bit of syncopation. That means the first note falls on a beat before or after the normal downbeat that comes at the start of a measure. In this case it is before. To make things a little tougher, it's tied to the first 16th note. In the demonstration I use the pinky to slide into the 5th fret note. ralph did this often, but you can use your 3rd or even 2nd finger. In the end, you just need to make it work.
To get the tricky timing down you need to listen a lot. Loop the first two measures and listen a lot of times. As you're working on the song, be listening to the original recording throughout the week or month. There is a spotify link in the song description.
The trickiest part of this song shows up in measure two. We hammer on the third fret of the third string without striking it before hand. It's a not so well known part of how Ralph played it. Use the looper and slow the tempo down on Measure 4. Put in your reps and you can nail it. It's sort of like patting your head and rubbing your belly in a circle, but with practice you'll nail it!
Most of the song is made of forward rolls and pinches. Try and keep your fingerpicks and thumbpicks parallel to the strings. This will help produce a clear and strong tone. Picking closer to the bridge will help brighten the sound of this tune. If you pick in the middle or close to the neck you won't get a clear note separation. Watch the video for an idea of where to position your picking and fretting hands.
If 60 bpm is too fast you can slow it down even more with the tempo slider. When you get to 50 bpm or below, the metronome will click twice as much. This helps keep track of time during the slow speeds. You can count along by counting to 8 instead of four. You can also use the classical method of counting "and" between each numbered beat i.e. 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and.
mix licks, be original.
Any speed backing tracks
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B section is next. You're about to find out why this tune is called the Clinch Mountain Backstep