Fingerpicking Basics 101

—————————-INTRODUCTION————————

Fingerpicking is a really neat way to spice up the sound of slower praise songs. It takes a lot of practice to nail, but it adds a nice touch, especially when you are playing praise songs solo.

—————————HELLO-FINGERS————————-

Fingerpicking guitarists have many interesting quirks. First of all, we have special names for our fingers. The letters in parenthese are the abbreviations I will use in the tablature.

RIGHT HAND – Pulmar (P): Thumb Index (I): Index Middle (M): Middle Anular (A): Ring

A second quirk of fingerstyle guitarists is what we play with. When I said “nail” in the introduction, I meant it. To get a pick-like sound with your fingers for cheap, I suggest that you grow your fingernails out a couple of millimeters and file them at an angle so that they glide off of the strings when you pluck them.

You get pretty strange looks when you pull out a file to give yourself a manicure, but it is VERY, VERY necessary. Also, you have to be careful to avoid breaking your nails, so wear a glove when you work outside or play frisbee, etc.

**SPECIAL NOTE**

When you start playing fingerstyle, it might be a good idea to invest in some ball-end nylon strings if you don’t already have a classical guitar. This will help you from breaking your fingernails while you play If you don’t want to grow your nails long OR get nylon strings, you could buy some fingerpicks, but they’re fairly hard to use.

—————————-HOW-TO-BEGIN————————

First one must learn the proper placings of the fingers. A,M, & I are confined to picking the lower three strings, and P jumps around on the top string.

EXAMPLE 1:

e}–A———————————————————–
B}–M———————————————————–
G}–I———————————————————–
D}————————————————————–
A}————————————————————–
E}–P———————————————————–

OK try to pluck the strings AT THE SAME TIME. Try not to move from the middle joint, but from the knuckle. This is very difficult, so don’t worry if you are unable to master it quickly.

*SPECIAL DIFFICULTY* Getting your ring finger to move properly is hard. Some of my friends cheat by using their index and middle fingers on the 2nd & 1st strings, respectively, and pluck the 3rd string with their thumbs.

————————-PATTERNS——————————-

There are different fingerstyle patterns to use. I’ll write 4 of them out using a basic G – Em – C- D pattern. I’ll put the beat underneath the notes & I’ll also give a suggested fingering over the tablature.

Meter: 4/4

Pattern 1: P I M I A I M I P I M I A I M I P I M I A I M I

e}———3——|———0——|———0——|
B}—–0——-0–|—–0——-0–|—–1——-1–|
G}—0—0—0—0|—0—0—0—0|—0—0—0—0|
D}—————-|—————-|—————-|
A}—————-|—————-|-3————–|
E}-3————–|-0————–|—————-|

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

P I M I A I M I

e}———2——|
B}—–3——-3–|
G}—2—2—2—2|
D}-0————–|
A}—————-|
E}—————-|

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

Pattern 2: A A P I M I P I M I

e}—–3——-3–|—–0——-0–|—–0——-0–|
B}—–0——-0–|—–0——-0–|—–1——-1–|
G}—0—0—0—0|—0—0—0—0|—0—0—0—0|
D}—————-|—————-|———2——|
A}———2——|———2——|-3————–|
E}-3————–|-0————–|—————-|

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

A A P I M I P I M I

e}—–2——-2–|
B}—–3——-3–|
G}—2—2—2—2|
D}-0————–|
A}———0——|
E}—————-|

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

Meter: 3/4

Pattern 3: P I M I A I P I M I A I P I M I A I P I M I A I

e}———3–|———0–|———0–|———2–|
B}—–0——|—–0——|—–1——|—–3——|
G}—0—0—0|—0—0—0|—0—0—0|—2—2—2|
D}————|————|————|-0———-|
A}————|————|-3———-|————|
E}-3———-|-0———-|————|————|

1 & 2 & 3 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 1 & 2 & 3 &

Pattern 4: A A A A A A A A P I M I M I P I M I M I P I M I M I P I M I M I

e}—–3—3–|—–0—0–|—–0—0–|—–2—2–|
B}—–0—0–|—–0—0–|—–1—1–|—–3—3–|
G}—0—0—0|—0—0—0|—0—0—0|—2—2—2|
D}————|————|————|-0———-|
A}————|————|-3———-|————|
E}-3———-|-0———-|————|————|

1 & 2 & 3 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 1 & 2 & 3 &

You can get more finger picking exercises here: http://www.guitarplayerworld.com/techniques/acoustic-fingerpicking/