Clarence White: Flatpicking Guitar You Get A Line And I’ll Get A Pole”

Here’s legendary flatpicking guitarist Clarence White featured on the Bob Baxter Guitar Workshop tv show back in 1973- pickin’an old mountain tuned called “You Get A Line And I’ll Get A Pole.”


I want to put things into perspective here. If you’ve been listening to a lot of the latest flatpicking guitarist, Clarence… well… may not seem to stack up to what’s going on these days.

But you have to realize that his playing and technique was the foundation of what we know as flatpicking guitar today. He’s influenced an entire generation of guitarists, most notably Tony Rice.

Now back before Clarence, there was Doc Watson, but Doc wasn’t really performing bluegrass music- or at least what we would call a traditional bluegrass lineup of instrumentation (banjo, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, bass).

But a lot of people give Clarence the credit for being the first to flatpick with a traditional bluegrass band.

The truth is- Clarence wasn’t the very first to be doing what’s known as flatpicking.

Who do you think was the first?

The reason I ask is, so many people have given different answers. I will tell you that I asked the same question to Vassar Clements and he gave me his answer (I would have never thought).

Those of you that really know bluegrass music might even get this one wrong.

I’m looking forward to your answer! (type in comments below)



  1. Ima gonna go out on the limb and say Lester Flatt

  2. I was going to say Lester too. Another thing about Clarence’s playing (in addition to his incredible influence in bluegrass flatpicking) is his use of “hybrid” picking. Note him doing this in this video – I don;t remember many, if any, others playing guitar that way back then. Now listen to Brad Paisley, Johnny Hiland, and Brent Mason with their teles, to name only a very few. Not sure we can exactly give Clarence credit for them, but he was WAY ahead with all of this. Oh, and then there’s his timing. It takes a great musician to do such a perfect job of having that much fun with the beat.

  3. Terry Skaggs

    George Schuffler

  4. Bob Harris

    According to Vassar Clements, Don Reno was the first, so I guess he ought to know. To me though, it’s a gray area in my opinion. George Shuffler was doing it, Lester Flatt perhaps with his run- even Monroe’s Muleskinner into sounds like flatpicking. Is there a wrong answer with this???

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