The Flatpicking guitarist Norman Blake has gained proficiency in stringed instruments. He is well-known for his unpretentious picking, clean, and accentuating melody over technical flash. Although he was well-reputed as a sideman and studio musician, he moved forward and gained much popularity as a solo artist.
Norman Blake is famous for using steel string guitars. However, he does not use any standard type of string set and tries to mix it up depending on the guitar. He is famous for playing various instruments and later became a vocalist. He has trained himself to learn 6-string banjo, mandolin, dobro, fiddle, and many more.
In this article, I will make you familiarize with Norman Blake and his achievements. I will also mention various facts about his personal life. Additionally, I will share various tricks so that you can play like Norman Blake.
So, what are you waiting for? Let us get started already!
Who Is Norman Blake?
The renowned multi-instrumentalist Norman Blake is infamous as a Flatpicking guitarist. He also gained popularity for being an expert in various instruments. He is proficient in playing mandolin, fiddle, and dobro.
Throughout his life, he has collaborated with lots of famous artists, such as Tony Rice, Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, and many more. He even collaborated with his wife, Nancy Blake. In 1972, he also came up as a solo artist.
Let me tell you, on March 10, 1938, and Norman Blake was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. During his childhood, he nurtured his taste in old-time folk and country music. He was only 12 years old when he learned to play guitar. Later, due to interest, he learned other instruments as well.
Out of his passion for music, he even dropped out of school, and at the age of 16, he started to give his heart and soul to music. Back in 1972, his first solo album, Back Home in Sulphur Spring, was released. He has gained popularity as a true musician.
He has won awards like the Grammy for more than five times. The collaboration with his wife has got a Grammy nomination. Readers of Frets Magazine recognized him as Best Multi-Instrumentalist.
Norman Blake, The Great Flatpicker
When someone says Norman Blake is best for playing Multi-instruments, I will not disagree but would also add his fingerpick to the guitar and flatpick it topnotch. History will always mention him as one of the best flatpickers in the world.
But do you know, What it Is Flatpicking? Flatpicking is striking the notes of the guitar by using a plectrum. This plectrum is used to strike notes with one and will bring a different note from it.
It is mostly used or performed when guitarists play American Appalachian Music on Acoustic Guitars with Steel Strings. It is a difficult technique. Mostly medium gauge strings are used to increase the volume, which can be very hard to deal with. You also need to know that flatpickers usually play music at a rapid pace.
Guitars And Playing Style Of Norman Blake
Unlike other guitarists, Norman Blake has always stuck to Steel String Guitar by Martin Guitars and Gibson Guitars. He was really fond of Martin OM models, 00 models, and 000 models. Many people would just wish to play like Norman Blake.
One of the notable pieces from Norman is Whiskey Before Breakfast. You could feel the awesome music played by Noman Blake with an old Martin D-18 Guitar.
Why Did Norman Blake Use Steel String Guitars?
Norman Blake was into traditional and country music. Steel-string guitars are best for such music as the strings produce a more crisp and bright tone. Also, another reason why Norman Blake uses steel string guitars is that they offer more volume and power.
Non-steel string guitars, like nylon-string guitars, produce a mellower sound which makes them great for classical and jazz but not country music.
Should You Use Steel String Guitars?
The answer to this question actually depends on a lot of things. Ask yourself, what type of music do you prefer to play with your guitar?
If you are into folk, blues, bluegrass, or country music, then you should definitely use steel-string guitars. Steel string guitars will provide a crisp and bright tone which is mandatory for such kind of music.
But if you are into classical or jazz music, then I guess you can go with nylon-string guitars. They are actually better for classical and jazz types of music for their mellower sound.
The bottom line is whether you should use steel string guitars or not highly depends on what type of music you play. If you play classical or traditional music, then you should use steel string guitars for sure.
How Can I Play Like Norman Blake?
Norman Blake is one of the best flatpicker guitarists you can ever find. Many people dream of playing like Norman Blake. However, the best part is you can train yourself by doing courses where the man himself will teach you.
You can purchase the online course, or you can learn from YouTube to train yourself. But to actually play like Norman Blake, first, you need to see Norman Blake’s rhythm approach that he uses using his right hand and then go through different rhythm patterns as well.
After you master the different rhythm patterns, practice those with the songs Norman Blake plays. Also, don’t forget to look at all the melody and bass kinds of playing as well.
There is one thing you must keep in mind from the beginning is that you will need to establish a good foundation of the rhythm patterns to be able to play like him.
Check out this video from Acoustic GuitarLessons; I found this helpful video which actually shows the step-by-step process of how you can play like Norman Blake:
Does Norman Blake Have Children?
To be honest, it is hard to tell how many children Norman Blake has as he has not disclosed much about his personal life. He has mostly kept his personal life a secret and does not allow people to interfere.
What Type Of Guitar Does Norman Blake Play?
Norman Blake usually plays Steel String Acoustic Guitars. His favorite Guitar brands are Gibson Guitar and Martin Guitar.
There you have it! Norman Blake mostly uses steel-string guitars. But it is not possible to tell the specific string set he uses as he does not use any standard type of string set. He is known to mix the string sets based on the guitar.
I have also tried to mention everything you need to know about Norman Blake and how you can learn to play like him as well. If you are a big fan of Norman Blake like me, I hope you have found this article interesting. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.