Play Guitar: How to Finger-Pick Part 1

Today we begin our look at how to finger-pick.

Finger-picking is a great way to add variety to your playing and will help you become a well-rounded player.  On top of that, once you get the basics of finger-picking down, you’ll be able to play songs that you wouldn’t otherwise

In finger-picking you use your right-hand fingers to sound the notes without the use of a pick.  Finger-picking is a very effective technique to simultaneously play notes that lie on non-consecutive strings.  This technique is also great for playing arpeggios when you want to let the notes ring into each other.

The Fingers
Spanish or Latin designations are used to symbolize your right hand fingers.

Finger picking diagram of right hand

Finger picking diagram of right hand

Spanish/Latin English Strings Direction
p pulgar/pollex thumb 6, 5, 4 down
i indice/index index 3 up
m medio/medius middle 2 up
a anular/annularis ring 1 up

The free-stroke is a very common way to pick individual strings in an arpeggio, or simultaneously sound the notes in a chord.

Here are some general rules for finger-picking:

·    The thumb (p) picks any notes on the 6th, 5th or 4th strings.

·    The index finger (i) plucks the 3rd string.

·    The middle finger is responsible for notes on the 2nd string.

·    The ring finger plucks the 1st string.

·    The thumb plucks the strings with a downward motion.  Use the left side of the thumb and/or the thumbnail to sound the notes.

·    The index, middle and ring fingers, pluck their respective strings with an upstroke.  The tip of the finger and/or fingernail should be used to produce clear notes.

Bear in mind that there are many exceptions to the above rules.  Context should be the final judge.

In part 2 of  “How to Finger-Pick” we will look at some specific exercises to begin to build your finger-picking chops.


Play Guitar: How to Finger-Pick Part 1 — 3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Play Guitar: How to Finger-Pick Part 2 | Play Guitar | Guitar Lessons | Acoustic Guitar Lessons | Electric Guitar Lessons

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