Aug 10 2015

Fingerstyle Guitar Technique

By: Frank Macri

Posted in: Guitar Basics


Playing fingerstyle is a right hand technique that allows the fingers of the right hand to pluck the strings individually, opposed to strumming them with a pick. Using fingerpicking techniques will allow guitarists to combine melody, bass lines, and harmony to create a complete sound.

Center the palm of your picking hand over the sound hole (acoustic) or between pick-ups (electric) of the guitar. Curl your fingers at your second knuckle as in figure one, and turn your hand so the fingertips rest underneath the strings (your second knuckles point towards the floor). Your hand should be in a loose claw-shape. When plucking a string, you should use your thumb when playing the Sixth, Fifth and Fourth strings(figure 2), use your index (1st finger) when playing the 3rd string, middle finger for the second string and ring (3rd finger) for the first string.

Figure 1.

Figure 2.


The 12 fingerpicking examples below in figure three are played over an E chord. Practice each pattern slowly and in eighth notes. Once you feel comfortable with each pattern apply it to a chord progression then slowly work on building up your speed. Important points to remember when practicing fingerpicking:

  1. Make sure your picking hand fingers are curled at the second knuckle. Never let your fingers straighten out.
  2. Your palm should move very little in the fingerpicking process. All movement should be done with fingers.
  3. Your fingers should move back into position as soon as they’ve picked the appropriate note.
  4. If strings are ringing very quietly, it means you aren’t picking hard enough.

Figure 3.

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