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Fingerstyle Guitar For Beginners

guitar finger picking

There are many ways to use the fingers to pluck the strings of the guitar. We collectively refer to all these different ways as finger picking or fingerstyle guitar.

In this lesson I will talk about the most basic finger picking techniques beginners should pursue. After reading this lesson you will have the tools you need to practice in order to perfect basic finger picking or explore other fingerstyle techniques.

Why learn finger picking?

Learning finger picking has some cool benefits such as:

* No need to carry guitar picks!
* Achieve cleaner tone with no pick noise.
* Allows you to play multiple lines/strings at once which means
you can play a bass line and melody at the same time.

Naming the picking and fretting hand fingers

The fingers of picking hand are named using the letters P i m a c
The fingers of fretting hand are named T 1 2 3 4

fingerstyle guitar

General rules for finger picking guitar

* The thumb (P) plays low E, A and D (6th ,5th ,4th) strings.
* The index finger (i) plays the G (3rd) string.
* The middle finger (m) plays the B (2nd) string.
* The ring finger (a) plays the high E (1st) string.
* Pinky is almost never used for picking but may act as an anchor for balance.

* Generally speaking, the thumb plays downstrokes (towards fingers) while the other fingers play upstrokes (towards thumb).

Examples of basic finger picking patterns with TABs

Here is a list of some basic finger picking patterns in TABs. I purposely tried to keep the list small with just enough examples to get you started. So, it's not a complete list of every pattern out there. I did so because I don't want you to feel intimidated. Many more advanced patterns exist especially for certain styles of music. Some music styles have strict finger picking rules so be sure to do your research when you feel you are ready. You can, of course experiment and create your own patterns too.

Melody finger picking patterns


Basic melody line on the treble strings. Fingers look like they are walking along the strings.Finger picking pattern example 1


Multiple notes pattern played on adjacent strings.
Finger picking pattern example 2


Single note tremolo pattern triplets - the same note is played three times in two groups of three on a single string.
Finger picking pattern example 3

Bass line with melody finger picking patterns


In this example, the thumb plays the bass line while the other fingers play melody on adjacent strings. This pattern can also be used with the fingers playing a single string for tremolo effect.
Finger picking pattern example 4


This is a way of playing a melody line on the lower strings using the thumb and middle finger.
Finger picking pattern example 5

Sweep style


Sweep style picking where each finger plays a string in ascending order then descending.Finger picking pattern example 6

General finger picking tips

1. Stay relaxed and take breaks before pain or fatigue set in.
2. The more you practice the more skill, hand strength and control you will build.
3. Unless you are trying to become a classical guitarist, don't be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you.
4. Experiment plucking strings with your finger nails of your picking hand for cleaner tone production.

Hybrid picking

Hybrid picking is a way of picking using both a pick and the fingers at the same time. When hybrid picking, you hold the guitar pick between the thumb and index finger to pick some strings and the rest of the fingers are free to pluck the other strings. Sometimes hybrid pickers use a special thumb pick that you wear on the your thumb instead of a normal guitar plectrum.

I'm not an expert in hybrid picking so I can't really tell you too much more about it. I just want you to know the technique exists so that you can experiment or look into it further if you are interested.

In summary

That covers just about all the basics of finger picking I can think of. If I missed something please let me know. As with other guitar things, practice finger picking until it becomes second nature to you and most of all have fun!

fingerstyle guitar for beginners

Posted November 23, 2016, 10:26 am in: Beginner guitar lessons

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