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I’m a beginner…like I know absolutely nothing about fingerstyle. I can play somewhat beginner level flatpicking. Now when I tried to fingerpick for the first time ever by copying YouTube artists’ right hand positions, I noticed that my right ring finger is absolutely unable to make a decent sound while plucking the high E string.

I can try picking a bit harder, but when picking other strings simultaneously, there is almost no sound from the high E. How do guitarists get such good sound quality for the high E? If you could list some useful exercises ( keep in mind: I haven’t done absolutely anything in fingerstyle so please keep it basic) and also some YouTube videos for people who want to start fingerstyle, I would be really obliged.

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  • Is it a “thin” / “weak” sound you are currently getting on string 1, or a “twangy” / “brittle” sound? Jun 22 at 21:04
  • Extremely weak. I don’t have nails, that may explain it I guess Jun 23 at 3:06

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The most obvious explanation is that your ring finger is weaker than your index and middle fingers. You can strengthen your ring finger by using it more. Play scales by picking with your ring finger and one other finger in alternation. You should do this with all finger combos (index/middle, middle/ring, index/ring) but spend more time on those that include the ring finger so it can catch up. This will be great for your coordination and finger strength.

You might also want to give some attention to your fingernails. Generally, when fingerpicking, you will contact the string with a combination of flesh and nail. The flesh helps with muting and the nail helps with attack (nature's plectrum). If the nail is too short, you'll get a duller (fleshier) sound. If the nail is too long, it can sound brittle. If the nail is jagged or rough, you'll get an uglier and/or out-of-control sound.

If you plan to play fingerstyle a lot, you'll probably want to grow your nails a little and shape them so that they make smooth and consistent contact with the strings -- no grabbing catching. Each person's hands and fingers and nails are different, so you'll need to experiment to find what works for you.

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