Here is something fun for you today. It is the A to Z of fingerpicking and there are nuggets of good stuff throughout with tips to help with learning guitar so enjoy.


A – Accuracy


Fingerpicking can be tricky. To improve faster, you must spot the errors that trip you up and fix them as soon as you possibly can. Follow the “five times rule” (where you play something five times in a row without errors – if there are mistakes, start again) so as to erase errors quicker and make accurate playing a habit.


B – Bass


Beginners often fail to ensure the bass notes “ring out” when fingerpicking. I listen out for this a lot with students as it makes the music lack depth and sound emptier than the Hotel California when they finally kick everyone out.


C – Classical


There is a lot to take from the classical world of guitar such as their ideas on position and posture. I teach the classical position but with a strap (the shockingly named “classical with a strap” position). I recommend everyone at least try it. Good for all playing and especially effective for fingerpicking as it helps your picking hand get in a better position.


D – “Double movements”


The multiple micro-movements fingers make which slow chord changes down. If your chord changes are slow, stop picking for a few minutes and focus purely on the fretting hand changes. Always ensure the fingers move from chord to chord in a slow and smooth motion.


E – Emmanuel


As in, Tommy Emmanuel. A modern-day legend of fingerstyle. He is becoming more and more popular but is still a bit of a hidden gem. Check out his super fun Beatles medley if you haven’t already. The man is on fire when he plays.


F – Fundamentals


Before you try to play faster than the aforementioned Tommy Emmanuel after too many sugar-loaded cappuccinos, slow down and focus on the fundamentals. Things like posture, tone, technique, timing, all make a difference bit by bit over time. Combined, these little differences add up.


G – Guitar


Yes, “G” being for guitar is super obvious (I could have said “glissando” or “grazioso” if I was being clever), but the simple truth is, it is key to play a guitar that suits you and inspires you to play it. If you have large fingers, a narrow neck guitar will be hard to fingerpick, and the opposite is true too.


H – Hope


Fingerpicking is often about beautiful music that gives us joy and hope. No matter what, you should always keep hope too. Sometimes learning guitar can feel impossible. If so, slow it all down and remember to keep it simple and fun – nothing is impossible.


I – Improvisation


One of the beauties of fingerpicking is the limitless options we have available to us. Tonnes of chords, patterns, melodies, etc. to play with. Spend a few minutes here and there improvising. Although hard at first, it gets easier, it’s fun, and creativity is proven to help reduce brain age.


J – James Taylor


A true master of the art of fingerpicking and one of the best fingerpickers in mainstream music. His playing, songwriting, and musicianship are second to none and he is inspiring from a listener’s point of view and that of someone studying guitar.


K – Knuckles


Your knuckles should be curled in both hands from the distal joints (joint nearest the tip). This will help your fretting hand play notes clearer and help your picking hand create a better tone. It can seem obvious, but it’s a very overlooked point for many.


L – Looking


As in “looking back and forth” as you play. Doing this ruins the flow of the music and can be really bad when fingerpicking. It is hard, but try looking at one hand at a time when playing and look at the other hand only when you really, really need to – this will help to build spatial awareness.


M – Melody


The most important thing when playing any fingerstyle arrangement is melody. If the melody is not loud and proud, the music will never sound as good as it could – no matter how many fancy bells and whistles are thrown on top.


To be continued tomorrow…

As it is a little longer than I like my posts to be, I have split this into two parts.


Check out part 2 tomorrow for the rest (plus to see how I fit letters such as V, X, and Z into a fingerpicking context).


For more on fingerpicking and tips for learning guitar, check out my book, which includes step-by-step lessons on all of the above…

Along with 10 fun fingerpicking patterns, the specifics of good technique, and much more…

You can find out more below.

Fingerstyle 101 (2nd edition)


Have a great day and stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow.


Dan Thorpe

Guitar Domination


P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.

Add Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.