Fingerpicking for Beginners

beginner fingerstyle guitar Nov 11, 2023

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As a seasoned guitar instructor, I've witnessed countless beginners grapple with the art of fingerpicking. But fear not, for I have discovered the ultimate technique that will have you fingerpicking within minutes – yes, literally within five minutes, or even less.

Allow me to share with you the secrets that have transformed my students' understanding of fingerpicking. Place your guitar lying flat on your lap. This exercise focuses solely on the manipulation of your dominant hand, without any interference from the fretboard. Let's dive into the specifics.

Firstly, let's discuss the positioning of your fingers. Your thumb will be responsible for strings six, five, and four. As for the remaining strings, three, two, and one, they will be plucked by your first, second, and third fingers respectively. I recommend placing your first finger on the third string, your second finger on the second string, and your third finger on the first string. Your thumb should rest lightly on the sixth, fifth, or fourth string – this is referred to as resting position.

Now, you might be tempted to revert to familiar chord structures, but I implore you to resist that urge. Instead, place your thumb on the sixth string and your ring finger on the first string. For those who are familiar with the technical terms, this utilizes the P-I-M-A finger-picking methodology. However, for the sake of this tutorial, we'll stick to the simpler terminology of thumb, one, two, and three.

To delve deeper into the intricacies of fingerpicking, I encourage you to check out my comprehensive Fingerpicking guide, which offers a plethora of exercises and a more extensive exploration of this technique. You can access the PDF for free by following the link provided below.

Now that we've established the basics, let's address the issue of visual dependence. Many beginners believe that they should quickly transition to playing without looking at the guitar. However, there's no rush. Your eyes are your allies, and utilizing them to guide your fingers is crucial. Over time, you'll naturally develop a sense of intuition, enabling you to play without fixating on your hand.

Returning to the exercise at hand, it involves a repetitive pattern: plucking strings six, three, two, one, and then two, three. As mundane as it might seem, I advise you to refrain from incorporating chords prematurely. Mastering this pattern is crucial, as hasty progress often leads to stunted growth in the long run.

Embrace the process, and don't let the monotony deter you. Practice precision over speed, and before you know it, this sequence will become second nature. While the initial pattern might seem repetitive and dull, rest assured that it serves as the foundation for more intricate finger-picking techniques down the line.

Remember, patience and persistence are key. By dedicating just a few minutes of focused practice each day, you'll be amazed at how quickly your finger-picking skills will progress. So go ahead, lay your guitar on your lap, and let your fingers create magic on the strings. With commitment and a willingness to learn, you'll soon find yourself effortlessly fingerpicking your way through melodies and riffs you never thought possible.


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