Music: Practice & Theory Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What are some good methods to learn fingerpicking?

Please suggest some tips or guides so can I start with fingerpicking.

Thanks in advance.

share|improve this question
hi @Kashminder. questions requesting outside resources are likely to be removed, but the rest of the question is perfectly fine, so I've altered the first part of your question :) – Alexander Troup Feb 13 '14 at 11:01
Fingerpicking is a wide term, it can mean any number of things. Do you have any specific kind of music in mind? Or, as they say. "both kinds, country and bluegrass"? – n.m. Feb 14 '14 at 8:23
i want to learn some simple fingerpicking which i can use in pieces of a song like nothing else matters and to live is to die by metallica. – kashminder Feb 15 '14 at 1:59
up vote 4 down vote accepted

It varies on which level you are currently. Basically there are two parts in playing finger-picking guitar. Left hand techniques and right hand techniques. I will try to explain them in brief.

Also there are many types of playing styles in fingerpicking. Like classical, blues fingerpicking and hybrid picking where you use a flatpick as well as fingers. You can use acoustic, classical, electric or virtually any kind of guitar and You can chose depending on which type of music You want to play.


Left hand techniques: These will be same whether you learn finger picking or not.

  • Learn to play chords.
  • Learn to play individual notes while holding a chord shape
  • Learn to change chord quickly

Right hand techniques:

  • Learn to play patterns (T-1-2-3, T-3-2-1, T-2-1-3 etc.) holding one chord.
  • Go very slow and practice a lot. You might find you can play a pattern but after sometime you pickup the guitar again You might notice you have forgotten it all. Its ok and it will be easier with time.
  • Play the pattern and try to change the chord without pausing the pattern. As a beginner you will have problem with it at first. Go slow and turn on Your metronome. You will get it with time.


Left hand techniques:

Again these will be same whether you learn finger picking or not.

  • Form and quickly change chords.
  • Hammer on, pull-off, slide, bend etc.

Right hand techniques:

  • Learn to play alternate base pattern.
  • Finger independence. Takes time so it will come with practice.
  • Playing songs not based on pure patterns.
  • Slap, strum with fingers, palm mute

Books and resources

On right hand, You can play with Your fingernails, flash of the finger tips, both or can use finger picks.

How to hold the guitar varies from techniques as well. Also from your personal preference.

share|improve this answer

Start with Travis picking. It is an easy approach to basic finger picking that will ge a foundation which other techniques come from. The song Landslide and Dust in the Wind has a Travis pick technique. Here is site with some basics

share|improve this answer

Perhaps the book, "Classical Guitar for Dummies" can help it contains the proper finger picking position and techniques for plucking the strings fingerstyle.

From what I understand though the pinky should rest on the highest string and each next figner goes up the strings up to the A which should have your thumb on it. Use your thumb to play bass E when needed and you should be fine. Proper form for plucking is to make a triangle with your thumb and index finger and rest your fingers on the strings like so.

share|improve this answer
"pinky should rest on the highest string" That's not good advice. Pinky finger of the right hand is not normally used, and anyway, the righ hand should be free, no finger shoud rest on the strings. – leonbloy Feb 13 '14 at 14:40
@leonbloy is right, that is not proper technique. Though, the recommended book is good and will teach proper technique. – Fergus Feb 13 '14 at 18:45

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.