Welcome to my blog on fingerstyle guitar. I am a guitarist and teacher based in London, UK and this is my web space. I have been playing guitar for over fifteen years and teaching for ten of those. I have a degree in Music from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and a Licentiate Diploma in Guitar Teaching from the London College of Music, part of the University of West London. My teachers have included John Mills, John Williams and Gary Ryan.
My main interest is fingerstyle guitar playing, which is a catch-all term for any style where your fingers play individual notes rather than chords, such as classical and flamenco guitar styles or folk fingerpicking. Some of my favourite players are Leo Kottke, Pierre Bensusan, Michael Hedges and John Fahey.
I hope you like what you find here!
Fingerstyle guitar is the technique of playing the guitar by plucking the strings directly with the fingertips, fingernails, or picks attached to fingers, as opposed to flatpicking (plucking individual notes with a single plectrum called a flatpick) or strumming all the strings of the instrument in chords. The term “fingerstyle” is something of a misnomer, since it is present in several different genres and styles of music—but mostly, because it involves a completely different technique, not just a “style” of playing, especially for the guitarist’s picking/plucking hand. The terms “fingerstyle” and “fingerpicking” also apply to similar string instruments such as the banjo.
Fingerpicking can be regarded as folk guitar playing done by finger instead of a pick. It can also be found in many classical guitar pieces from many different composers.
Often, the guitarist will play the melody notes, interspersed with the melody’s accompanying chords and the deep bassline simultaneously. Some fingerpicking guitarists also intersperse percussive tapping along with the melody, chords and bassline. This enables a single guitarist to provide all of these important song elements simultaneously.
I got a lot of requests for a lesson on fingerstyle guitar. Many of you want me to teach you how to play the style that inspired me to learn guitar. I am talking about the style of guitar playing heard in the music of John Mayer, Jack Johnson and Ed Sheeran. This is a very popular style of music on YouTube because it sounds great and it is pretty easy to play.
You don’t need any kind of special skills or even that much talent to get good at fingerstyle guitar playing. If you can move your hands independently, you can learn how to do fingerstyle playing just with some practice and persistence.
I usually play fingerstyle with one finger per string, most often my thumb and index finger. I also use my middle finger sometimes if there are three notes in one string that are close to each other. It comes down to being able to move your fingers independently of each other and knowing what notes go together when combined on a single string.
If you have problems moving only one finger at a time, I suggest practicing using your thumb only first and then expanding from there by adding more fingers gradually. It’s no different than learning how to type where they teach you one letter after another until you get used to typing whole words.
I wanted to write a blog on fingerstyle guitar, but I wasn’t sure what to write about. Then I realized that I’ve been playing fingerstyle guitar for over 20 years and have developed a lot of thoughts and opinions on the subject.
This is my first time writing a blog. I think it will be fun!
Fingerstyle guitar is all about the thumb, fingers and nails, so naturally proper nail care is important. You can get away with not having proper nail care if you play classical guitar or use a pick, but even then you’re probably limiting your potential without proper nail care. My nails aren’t perfect in this video, but they’re decent enough for me to do this piece:
I play fingerstyle guitar, so I understand how much work it can be to learn new songs. One of the most important skills for an acoustic guitar player is the ability to play in different keys. If you’re going to jam with other musicians or play in a band, you need to know how to change keys easily.
If you want to learn to play in other keys, I recommend using a capo. A capo is simply a small metal clamp that you put on the neck of your guitar at any fret and allows you to play in any key without having to learn new chords.
When you use a capo, the strings get tightened and raised closer to the fretboard, thus making it easier to press down and play. This means that you can play barre chords with less effort!
The best part about using a capo is that you don’t have to learn any new chords when playing in a different key.
In this series of lessons we’ll be learning the basics of fingerstyle guitar. We’ll start with some basic right hand patterns and left hand coordination exercises that will prepare you for playing some simple songs. Over time we’ll gradually add more right hand techniques, new left hand approaches, and learn more advanced songs.
A few things to keep in mind while your learning fingerstyle guitar:
* Don’t get frustrated if it takes a while to get it sounding good. Developing fingerstyle technique takes a lot of practice!
* Try to practice at least a little every day.
* Don’t rush things. Make sure you’re playing each exercise as cleanly as you can before moving on to the next one. It’s easy to get excited and move on before you’re really ready!
Alright, let’s get started!
It can be argued that the guitar is the most popular musical instrument in the world. There’s a good reason for this: it’s small, portable, relatively inexpensive and sounds great! Its versatility has made it an excellent choice for music-lovers of all ages and backgrounds.
The guitar can be divided into two main parts: the neck, which contains the fingerboard, and the body. The six strings are attached to the body through either a bridge or tailpiece (classical guitars have a tie block) and run up over a nut before passing over the fingerboard.
The strings are stopped against the fingerboard by pressing them down with one or more fingers of the left hand while plucking or strumming them with one or more fingers of the right hand. The guitar can also be played by strumming chords directly over (or behind) the sound hole.