Back in the days when I was a long-haired 20-year-old grungy looking guy, I wanted to give fingerpicking a go.

I loved my big heavy rock bands but knew even then that deep down it was the deeper sounding acoustic music that moved me more.

I started with Nirvana’s Unplugged in New York and then discovered Neil Young’s Decade and listened to a lot of different stuff in between.

After hearing the likes of James Taylor, and then others such as Paul Simon, Nick Drake, and Lindsey Buckingham, I decided I wanted to learn how to fingerpick.

I remember finding a picking pattern on the net and going to town trying to learn it.

It was a lovely Travis picking pattern.


The trouble is, I had no idea how to play it.


Travis picking, if you don’t already know, is where you alternate the bass notes with the thumb while letting the fingers play the treble strings.

From what I remember, I think I used the thumb for the first pluck and then tried to do everything else with the fingers!

I also kept switching strings with each finger and to make matters worse, the bass notes which need to be rock solid and steady all the time, were either too dull or too rushed, or more likely, both.

It was a mess.

After a few days of trying, I gave up on fingerpicking and went back to the big rock stuff, but deep down I didn’t like that I did that.

In my head, I thought, “I’ll go back to fingerpicking one day”.

Eventually I did, but damn, I wished I had done so all those years earlier.

I wouldn’t have had to spend so much time catching up later on.

Anyway, the errors I made are common with most who try to fingerpick, and many just plod along for a long time, building up bad habits along the way.


It’s probably a good thing looking back that I did stop trying to fingerpick before any bad habits kicked in.


That meant when I did eventually get proper training on how to fingerpick, I was raw but ready to go and a bit more of a blank canvas.

My advice to you is, if you have bad habits with your fingerpicking, don’t fret, they can be fixed but don’t wait around to fix them.

…And, if you are raw and want to try fingerpicking the proper way, don’t mess about trying to learn it on your own, get something that will help.

If you do, you will probably save yourself a tonne of time, which is what I wish I had done.

Find out more about my book and how it will help below.

Fingerstyle 101 – learn how to fingerpick the proper way!


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.

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