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Ditch your pick and start fingerstyle today with three guitar chords and this lesson

fingerpicking
(Image credit: Future)

Guitar skills: Whether you’re a regular fingerstyle player or it’s a technique you’ve never tried, we always recommend paying attention to the basics. This short lesson shows you the best ways to approach fingerpicking, but with one vital caveat – these are general 'rules' that you'll often find yourself breaking when you play. 

Still, get these fundamentals down and you'll be covered for a multitude of playing situations. 

Basic technique 

Fingerpicking

(Image credit: Future)

Standard fingerstyle technique is to use your thumb for all three bass strings, while your first, second and third fingers take one treble string each.

Fingerpicking

(Image credit: Future)

1. Take it easy

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This open E arpeggio is a great way to practise. Play three downstrokes with your thumb, then pick up with your first, second and third fingers.


2. Gee'd up

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With the E chord under your belt try this exercise with G. There’s more thumb movement here, so make sure to practise slowly until you get a feel for it.


3. Ay up! 

tab

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Don’t worry too much about the bass note – aim to play the treble-string tune. Alternate between your ‘i’ and ‘m’ fingers, but be ready to vary your pattern too.

Melodic fingerpicking tip

Fingerpicking

(Image credit: Future)

Single-note melodies have a different sound to arpeggios - and this picking approach is ideal: rest your thumb on a bass string to hold your picking hand in place as your first, second and – occasionally – third fingers outline a melody. 

Guitar Skills: Better acoustic fingerpicking in 20 minutes