How To Fingerpick Guitar: The Essential Techniques For Beginners

Learning how to fingerpick guitar will enhance your versatility as a player. Once you can learn to fingerpick, you can do solo performances already.

Moreover, jam sessions would always welcome your talent. Aside from that, your flexibility to transition between genres would improve as well.

Fingerpicking is an essential guitar skill. But it is still a suitable technique even if your craft is advancing already. If you are using an electric guitar, fingerpicking will allow you to sound like Les Paul or Jimi Hendrix.

Well, it is a dream that you can achieve as long as you learned all the essential guitar techniques.

In this article, we will teach you the basics of fingerpicking. We hope that you can learn them quickly. Also, don't rush things.

We recommend that you should take your time practicing them. In this way, you will be able to incorporate the skill to your senses fully.


How To Fingerpick Guitar

How To Fingerpick Guitar

Training Your Fingers

Before anything else, you should start training your right hand first. Otherwise, you won't be able to get the exact and proper movements for fingerpicking.

Below are the correct placements of your fingers when you are fingerpicking. Also, don't forget that your wrist should be arched slightly while your fingers are curving.

  • The third finger should be on the first string
  • The second finger should be on the second string
  • ​The first finger should be on the third string
  • Thumb on the sixth string

Take note that this particular finger pattern is for right-hand players. But you can also use this particular placement even if you are left-handed. You just have to position each of your fingers to the corresponding strings correctly.

Training your fingers this way is crucial for fingerpicking. Specifically, it emphasizes the primary source of power for the movements of your fingers should be from the knuckle of your hand.

The fingers of your hand have three sections, right? Therefore, the knuckle is the part that is connected directly to your palms.

  • Position your fingers properly. Next, start lifting your first finger. In this way, it will hover on the top of the third string.
  • Next, you should swing back your first finger towards your palm. Moreover, you should do this without plucking and touching the string.
  • ​Always maintain the curviness of your fingers. Also, do not move it too much so that you won't be able to touch the other strings. Starting this point, you will be making movements already.
  • Note: By disallowing your other fingers to touch the strings, you are isolating the muscles of your first finger. Of course, this is an important aspect in fingerpicking. Specifically, the swing of your first finger is comparable to a pendulum.

Meanwhile, the momentum is dependent to the knuckle of your hands. Now, you should repeat this exercise for one finger at least ten times.

  • After you can complete the exercise, you can already put back your first finger on the third string. You should do the same to the rest of your fingers.
  • Put your second finger on the second finger and repeat the same exercise. Your third finger should also do the same exercise, as well. Meanwhile, you should not worry about your fourth finger.

Specifically, the latter will just jive along with your third finger. In fact, your fourth finger doesn't have too much use on fingerstyle. The only exception is when you are playing a flamenco guitar.

  • Your thumb should follow the same exercise as well. If you move your thumbs, you can notice it can do three joints. When fingerpicking, the joint that you should use is the one that is closer to your wrist. Moreover, always put your fingers on the right portion of your thumb.

Fingerstyle Technique: 4/4 Time

One of the most basic fingerstyle patterns is the 4/4. We recommend that you should try this pattern with the use of an open string. After that, you can already apply to it to other forms of chord progression.

  • First, makes sure that your fingers are in the right position. Specifically, your thumb will play the six string, and the first finger will play the first one. Meanwhile, your second finger will hover on the second string during your third finger on the first string.
  • The notes that you will play here will be on the 8th. Therefore, you need to use the "1-2-3" pattern two times in succession. In this way, you will be able to create a 4/4 fingerstyle pattern.

Chord Progression

After you finished the 4/4 time pattern, you can already integrate it to a simple chord progression. In this tutorial, we will just do the G-to-C chord.

When fingerpicking, you will notice that your right thumb is playing the fifth string rather than the sixth string. Fingerpicking plays the lower notes with your thumb instead of strumming them.

Strumming the G and C chords would not usually use all of your fingers. But you still have to position them accordingly. The biggest reason for this is so that you can exercise the proper positioning of your fingers.

Moreover, if you accidentally play some of the strings, they would just blend into the chord. It would produce a good sounding tone as a result.


Learning how to fingerpick guitar is essential for every guitar players. It lets them explore other fundamentals of music. Furthermore, fingerpicking improves their versatility as guitar players.

They would be able to take on various genres without adjusting too much. Also, fingerpicking enables their instrument to assume different roles.

Don't worry if you don't get the steps on the first try. After all, there is no such thing as overnight success. The best thing that you can do is to practice continuously.

You won't be able to progress if you don't put enough motivation. Just be patient and enjoy what you are doing!

We hope that you learned from this simple tutorial? Do you have any other techniques in fingerpicking? Share it with us in the comment section below! Don't also forget to share this article to your social media accounts!

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