On a recent December morning, Bob Minner sat on his porch in Nashville to do what has become an annual ritual. He filmed his solo-guitar take on “Auld Lang Syne,” the traditional folk song that is commonly used to bid farewell to the previous year. “It’s a way of expressing my gratitude for having played guitar for a living again this year, while looking forward to the opportunities and projects that will come along next year,” say Minner, the ace flatpicker and Tim McGraw sideman.
For this year’s version, notated below, Minner used the all-mahogany Collings 01 12-fret T that he affectionately calls Piglet. (On a different version he recorded at the same time, Minner played a one-off 12-fret Waterloo Scissortail.) He tuned the guitar to dropped D, which allowed him the big-sounding I (D) chords in the arrangement’s key of D major, and took things at a stately pace. “This is one of those tunes that’s so melody-driven that there’s not a whole lot of room for variation,” Minner says. “You don’t want to get too far off the melodic path, so it’s best that you slow down when you play it, and really give space to let it breathe.”
Nonetheless, Minner finds a way to weave in some beautiful cross-picked variations throughout, as well as some gorgeous harmonic colors. He explains that the key to pulling off these moves is to be particularly attentive to the connectivity between the right and left hands, and to have a relaxed wrist and shoulders, so that the notes will sound as smooth and consistent as possible. “I didn’t do it all that well [on this year’s video],” Minner says, self-effacingly. “But I was pleased with the overall vibe, and sometimes that’s what’s most important.”