How to get started with fingerstyle guitar AKA fingerpicking

Hey, what’s up? Ladies and gentlemen Tyler Preston here with another lesson for you in this video. We’re going to be learning how to get started with fingerstyle guitar. So let’s get to it. Now. If you’re brand new to fingerstyle guitar what you’re going to encounter very quickly is that your left hand or your fretting hand is way more advanced and has a lot more coordination than your right hand because while you’ve been in your early weeks and months of learning guitar. You’ve been focusing all on getting these fretting

Here’s to move around independently of each other while on the other side. You just been kind of doing these big motor motions with your pick and now we’re going to work on getting similar coordination going on with our picking hand with are picking fingers. And so what we’re going to cover in this lesson is how to position your hand for fingerstyle guitar and then we’re going to talk about the ascending finger-picking pattern and we’re going to talk about how to accomplish chord changes with that and

then as a little bonus reach goal at the end of the lesson, we will include a slightly more complicated Baseline to the exercise that you can take and work up to as you practice this technique over the next couple days or weeks. However, however long you can practice it. So let’s get into hand positioning for positioning your fret or your picking hand for finger-picking. What you need to do is take your thumb your first second and third finger.

And we’re going to not worry about the pinky finger. Okay, lots of classical guitar players use their pinky. But in the folk Blues Country Americana world where I’m from we don’t really use our pinky. Some players will use it to brace against the guitar. I don’t personally do that. It’s perfectly fine technique. You might find that you like to do that helps you with your positioning in any case we’re going to use these for I call them the claws. Okay get the thumb and we got the claws. So we’re going to take our 1 2 3 4

and we’re going to place them on the for Middle strings of the guitar. So that would be thumb on the a string first finger on the D string second finger on the G string and third finger on the B string your thumb should stick out a little bit from the other fingers and your Clause should each have their own independent track in which to move. You don’t want everybody clumped up in a row you want to kind of let your wrist drape should have sort of that shape going and you want to have it nice and

Loose okay. So that’s our fingerstyle positioning and I call this home position. All right the middle for Strings and whenever you don’t know where to go with finger-picking whenever you’re picking up a new piece or whatever. This is where you should begin is with home position here on the middle for Strings. And then for this exercise we’re going to be using the C and the a minor chord shapes. So let’s go ahead and grab our c chord and then we’re going to focus on our right hand and

we’re going to pick thumb 1 2 3 thumb 1 2 3 nice and slow.

Got that once you got that down. You can start to speed it up a little bit.

As you speed it up, you’re going to find that it gets a little bit harder to maintain coordination. I always advise that students use a metronome here to practice the subdivision of their eighth notes in this case evenly and get themselves in the Rhythm, but I’ll be honest don’t tell anybody but I didn’t practice with a metronome when I was getting started with a guitar and I turned out just fine. So use a metronome, but you don’t have to use a metronome.

The important thing is that you want to make sure that your rhythm is consistent and that your volume is consistent. So as you’re working your way through the exercise really work on being relaxed be gentle go slow do not rush this you got to take time in this process to let your hands acclimate to this this new set of actions and to get used to it to where it becomes part of your muscle memory. Okay, because developing the muscle memory on a simple exercise like the ascending pattern is what’s going to be key.

Key to developing the muscle memory to play a far more complicated patterns in the future. Okay. So once you’ve got the ascending pattern going on its own no chord changes just on the C you’re going to go ahead and start incorporating a chord change by playing two bars of c and then changing to a minor. The reason we’re using a minor here is because we don’t have to change any strings that were using we’re going to continue using the middle for Strings and we just have to move one.

Fingers, that’s the simplest chord change that we could possibly come up with to practice this ascending finger-picking pattern. So got to Anchor fingers are first and second finger stay in the same position and our third finger is going to move up to the second fret on the G string and then we continue picking the same middle for Strings.

So from the beginning, we’ll go one two, three four and switch now, we just keep doing that for a while. If you want to add a little bit of variation. You can practice doing some volume swells.

Practicing with your Dynamics is a great way to add musicality.

And so you work with that for a while. All right now if that’s all that you if

So go ahead and work for that.

So go ahead and work with that for a while. That’s probably enough for you if you’re brand new for finger-picking.

So go ahead and work with that for a while. That’s probably enough for you to chew on if you’re brand new to finger-picking. But if you’re looking for a little bit more of a challenge within this exercise, the next thing that you could do is start to incorporate a moving Baseline and what we would do to do that is incorporate the B note that guy right there the second fret of the a string in between the a minor and the Sea, so how would we do that? Well, let me go ahead and play it.

Are you I’m using another chord shape in there. This one is called LG’s. Is it a g /b now I guess it’s not a g / P. It’s kind of an odd chord progression or

So they go that’s the ascending pattern and a quick exercise for how to practice it now that’s probably enough for you. If you’re brand new to finger-picking. So go ahead and chew on that for a while and then come back here. I’m going to have more finger-picking lessons coming out in the next few days. So do be sure to subscribe but if you’re looking for an additional challenge, the next thing to do here would be to incorporate a moving Baseline within the same for string and two chord framework that we’ve set up.

All right. So previously we were playing and doing quite a lot of these guys in that and switching chords. Now, we’re going to move through the chords progression a lot faster and we’re going to incorporate the G sus 4 Chord /b it’s kind of a mouthful. Okay, but it’s a fairly easy shape that I’ll show you in just a moment. So ultimately the slightly more advanced version of this should sound like this.

Okay. So let’s go ahead and break that one down. What I’m doing is I’m plucking the same ascending pattern one, two, three four, and then I do my first change which is down to that Funky G sus 4 /b which is what I showed you all the all you do to do that is lift your third finger place your second finger down a string keep your first finger in position. It’s a nice chord. It’s a really great one for songwriters.

And then the last chord there. I noticed that I was using an A Minor 7 not an A Minor. So to play the last chord we go ahead and raise our second finger up one string again. So we’re basically playing a sea without the sea in there. We change the route. So now we’ve got one two, three four, and then we just go back up to the Jesus for and then see again.

All right, so that’s really it for this lesson. I hope you have enjoyed it and learned a lot. Be sure to subscribe. I’m going to be releasing more fingerstyle finger-picking videos in the days to come and until next time good luck and happy strumming.

Tyler Preston

Tyler Preston

National touring singer-songwriter & music teacher. I'm a country boy at heart, but I paid my dues singin' the blues. Find me on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.