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Joined: 13 Jan 2008
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by telecrater

12 Jun 2009
Views: 32808


This is a revised version of a fingerpicking lesson I submitted a long time ago. I've decided to create a new one rather than modify the original.

Finger picking on the guitar can be a bit tricky at first but really rewarding in the long run. Electric guitar players may never really know how to finger pick but if youíre to spend any time on an acoustic this technique will really come in handy, and open up a lot more songs to you.

The most difficult aspect of finger picking for many people is getting your fingers on your picking hand to work independent from each other. If you have been playing for a while Iím sure you experiencing this when starting out and trying to play chords and scales. Sometimes that damn middle finger just wants to do whatever your pointer finger does. It just takes some time and practice, so take is slow concentrate on your picking hand and build the muscle memory and speed will come later.

In this lesson I will cover several different patterns that can be customized to fit the chord youíre playing. Once these patterns are mastered you will be able to create rhythms based on the chord structure of a song. Each Pattern has an example on how to play in with the root being on the low E string, A string, and D string.

In the example below the first bar is a G chord where the root note is on the low E string, the second bar is an A minor chord where the root note is on the A string. The third bar is a D chord where the root note is on the D string. Iíll be using these 3 chords in the other patterns in this lesson; G major, A minor, and D major. If you don't know these chords please see the chords section of the site.

As a rule of thumb (no pun intended) you will use your thumb to hit the bass notes, that will be the Low E, A, and sometimes D. and your index for the G string (sometimes the D), your middle finger for the B string and, ring finger for the E string. This is not set in stone.

Example 1

In our first patter we are going to work on a simple pattern and only using your thumb, index, and middle finger.

Example 2

If you notice this example is almost identical to the pattern in Example 2. Well it is the only difference is we are alternating the bass note with your thumb. The finger picking patterns is the same and Iíve left off the finger letters

Example 3

Again we are still using the same finger pattern form the previous 2 examples. This time we have lowered our treble notes and we are not striking the high E string at all and we are not alternating the bass notes.

Example 4

Now we are going to Tie up the previous 3 examples up into one pattern to make things a little more dynamic.

Notice the first four notes of the patters is the same first for from example 3. We are alternating the bass note as we did in example 2, and then applying the last for notes form example 1 (same notes as example 2).

Example 5

We are introducing a new finger to your finger picking patterns, your ring finger. We are striking each note one at a time, you finger will run an arpeggio type of pattern but once you hit the high E string you will start over.

When your practicing this pattern Tie in the alternating bass note one you have it down.

Example 6

Next in this example we are pinching two notes at once and alternating the bass note. When you pinch your playing more than one note at once and letting it ring until it is played again. In this example we are going to be pinching the bass note that is alternating and the high E.

The pinching of the notes is another technique as alternating the bass notes that will add a new dynamic to your playing. When your practicing your different patters throw in a pinch to add to the song.

Example 7

With this pattern we are reversing a bit from example 5. We are striking the bass note with our thumb and then hitting the high E with our ring finger, the B string with our middle finger, and the G with our index finger

When your practicing this patter also try alternating the bass note and throwing in a 2 string pinch with the root note.

Example 8

In this example we are performing and arpeggio type of sweep. Again we are starting on the root note, playing 3 notes up to the high E string and then working our way back, but then alternating the bass note and adding another note

This should give you a good start into finger picking. There are lot's of finger picking songs, one of my favorites is "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" by Bob Dylan. I know "Dust in the Wind" is another popular song by Kansas.



I dont see any "letters above the string to represent what finger you should be using" although it is fairly easy to figure out what ones you should be using


I wound up leaving if out because the way the image and the lesson text work i could not get it to line up correctly.


To think of an easy rule:

Thumb = Low E, A, D strings
Index = G string
Middle = B string
Ring = High E string

You don't have to strictly follow this rule, but it is a good habit to start with.


Good point Jeff, I'll get that lesson updated. I think that's a better way of thinking about it anyways.


I know this thread is very old, but being a new player I have a question about fingerpicking. Is proper technique to pick with the end of your finger or using your fingernail?
I know it sounds stupid, but if you do not know, you just do not know.


either is good.


I would echo what nullnaught said either is good. I personally tend to use the tips of my fingertips and keep my nails really short. not hearing your nails gives it a softer sound in my opinion.


difference in sound is obvious. i also feel it is better to play without the nails because your finger tips dont change and they are easier to manage so you arent spending all your time messing with that.


One of the hardest things i have come across to learn fingerstyle wise might be classical and flemaco tremelo.

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