05 Mar Learn fingerpick
You Should Learn finger pick through These Tips
Every guitarist should take a run at finger picking as it’s a great way to learn timing, accuracy and the ability to maintain what can sometimes be complicated and challenging patterns. And when done well, the fingerpicking style makes excellent music. Plus, there will be some guitar songs where you’ll have to use finger picking to get the right effect. Here are some things to help get you started.
Think of your thumb as the bass player in the band.
For most patterns, your thumb will play the sixth, fifth and fourth strings. It’s a great idea to learn what string is the bass note for each chord you play. Then you can make sure that string is the first string you play when putting together a fingerpicking pattern. Starting with the bass note gives the music shape and consistency and helps the listener recognize the chord being played.
Here is a simple finger picking pattern you can use with virtually any chord: play the bass note (as in the fifth string in an Am chord) with your thumb, the 2nd string with your index finger, the 5th string with your thumb and the 1st string with your middle finger. This is called an “alternating thumb” pattern and is perhaps the most well known and most often heard fingerpicking pattern.
Two fingers or three?
Most guitarists use only the index and more so the middle fingers (and their thumb) when finger picking. This works well for most songs and players. Adding your ring finger into the mix can be a challenge (your index finger moves up to play the third string) but if done well, can bring excellent results. However, you may not need it. A great rule is if you don’t need the extra finger, don’t include it.
Keeping a steady rhythm is crucial.
This is a bit more difficult than strumming the guitar as you don’t have the arm motion to rely on. If it helps, tap your foot or count in your head as you get your pattern going. Focus on playing each note (string) with the same volume and keep the tone consistent as well.
Make sure that with any fingerpicking style you choose, you keep the pattern consistent.
Changing the pattern too often is confusing and typically doesn’t make excellent guitar music. Remember, there is an active math component to music, and things have to follow specific rules to be musical.
Don’t forget the melody.
Most arrangements have a distinct melody to be played. Typically, the tune occurs on the top three strings of the guitar and is performed with the fingers while the thumb plays the bass notes of the chords and keeps the rhythm steady.
Even if you want to become a Heavy Metal guitar god, learning some fingerpicking patterns can only make your music better. So master a few fingerpicking patterns and develop better musicianship at the same time. If you are entirely new to fingerpicking, try to find some simple finger picking tablature. Even better, if you can, work and find some sheet music that has the fingering listed above each note or chord.