Fingerpicking

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Fingerstyle guitar is the technique of playing the guitar by plucking the strings directly with the fingertips, fingernails, or picks attached to fingers, as opposed to flatpicking (picking individual notes with a single plectrum called a flatpick) or strumming all the strings of the instrument in chords. The term is often used synonymously with fingerpicking (although "fingerpicking" can also refer to a specific stylistic subset).

Right Hand Position

In most fingerstyle techniques the thumb is used to pluck the bass notes and maintain a steady rhythm while the index, middle, and ring fingers are used on the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st strings respectively to play a melody and/or fill-in notes. Some players use the little finger of the right hand to anchor the hand on the guitar body below the strings while others advise against it and prefer to simply hold the hand above the strings.

Fingerpicking Tablature

Unlike regular guitar tablature, fingerpicking tablature, especialy melody driven, may have time notation expressed. This is usually accomplished by creating tabs using tablature software instead of ascii (simple text) based tabs. Knowing how to read musical notation will greatly benefit you if you want to advance in fingertyle and fingerpicking techniques. It is common in beginners tabs to denote which finger of the right hand a note is plucked by using the letters T, I, M, R (thumb, index, middle and ring, respectively).

Picking Patterns

Most fingerpicking techniques can be defined by a "picking pattern". Picking patterns vary in complexity and can be grouped in three different types.

  1. Arpeggios
    A basic arpeggio pattern will consist of plucking the bass root note on the first beat of a measure followed by a series of treble notes to complete the measure.
  2. Alternating Bass
    In alternating bass patterns other bass notes will be plucked throughout the measure in addition to the treble notes.
  3. Melody Driven Picking
    In melody driven picking the thumb will hold a steady rhythm on the bass notes while the fingers pick out a melody on the treble strings, adding in fill-in notes according to a pattern or arbitrarily.

Arpeggios

  1. Down and Up - (T - I - M - R - M - I)
    Downuppattern.png

  2. Standard Arpeggio (4/4) - (T - I - M - I - R - M - I - M)
    Standardpattern44.png

  3. Standard Arpeggio (3/4) - (T - I - M - I - R - M)
    Standardpattern34.png

Alternating Bass

  1. Outside-In (T - M - T - I)
    Outsideinpattern.png
    NOTE: Here the 3rd string is used as a bass note to keep the pattern when playing a D chord.
  2. Inside-out (T - I - T - M)
    Insideoutpattern.png

  3. Outside-In Pinch (T/M - T - I - T - M - T - I)
    Outsideinpinchpattern.png

  4. Alternating Bass Arpeggio (T - I - T/M - I - T/R- I - T/M - I)
    Altbassarpeggiopattern.png

Melody Driven Picking

In melody driven picking the thumb will hold a steady rhythm on the bass notes while the fingers pick out a melody on the treble strings, adding in fill-in notes according to a pattern or arbitrarily.


Links

  • Guitar THIS Beginner guitar tool: chords, scales, placement, hands-on visual learning