Does anyone know any songs that incorporate basic percussive techniques that someone beginning to learn percussive guitar could attempt? Failing that, any resources for beginning to play percussive guitar? I wish to be able to play the style of Mike Dawes, Jon Gomm, Andy McKee etc.


After continuing my practice for the 5 years since my post, I thought I'd backfill a little on how I did it. I began with Andy McKee's Drifting, as this is a reasonably simple tune, that contains fairly complex but fundamental techniques. I started with YouTube videos of tutorials, and then began to use the tab to make sure I understood. Once I had this mastered, I took on Rylynn and his version of Africa by Toto. I also took on "Gloria" by Jon Gomm, as again it is simple but fundamental in it's style.

Mike Dawes has been a fantastic learning opportunity for me, and going through from "Somewhere Home" which is relatively simple, but contains a bit more nuance and subtlety than other pieces, to "Boogie Slam" which is a little more McKee-esque. With all of these pieces, I took a similar approach. I would begin by learning the key melodic and rhythmic patterns, before getting them up to speed. Once I could actually play the piece, I went back with a fine-tooth comb to find the additions that really made the piece what it is, and focussed on each of them until I could play accurately and at full speed. The more pieces I played, the more techniques became natural, and the faster I can now pick up new ones.

I'm now trying to develop my own style and begin to write my own pieces in this genre, but the artists I mentioned above have helped me no-end to get this far.

2 Answers 2


I suggest starting with some basic rhythmic patterns on the guitar body, practice all your standard drumming patterns e.g. paradiddles and the likes.

Once you've got a solid base for the percussive stuff going on, start trying to incorporate more fretting hand work to bring some harmony in, whether it's just tapping work or you are playing the strings while doing percussive things with your other hand.

Keep working on basic patterns and combinations until you can add more complex rhythms and speed etc.

For a practice song, maybe Teardrop by Massive Attack might be a good starting point. Rodrigo and Gabrielas music is also good for this, although it tends to be on the faster end...


Personally, if you're just looking for beginner PERCUSSIVE techniques (not beginner finger-style or anything else.), I would honestly recommend Rylynn by Mr. McKee.

I started learning that for music school auditions a few years ago when I had absolutely 0 knowledge about percussion in guitar, and I think it was a great learning experience. For me, I have always just liked DOING the thing I wanted to do. So even though I had no idea how to play this style, I set out and learned Rylynn. (DISCLOSURE: that is really due to my self-taught-musician upbringing so I really didn't have another option. But, I love learning my favorite songs while solidifying my knowledge of universal techniques for this style at the same time.)

The "intro, verse, and chorus" (if you can really call the sections by those titles) are very focused on melodic ideas and complicated finger-style patterns with a simple click throughout (slapping strings 6, 5, & 4 depending on a bunch of stuff). There are a few instances where he clicks while flicking his finger to strum simultaneously and there are a few pinch harmonics at the end.

All around, it's a beautiful piece that isn't very focused on percussive technicality.


McKee's Drifting. It seems fairly complicated, but once you have the rhythm down, it all comes together fairly easily and it is full of percussion.

Calum Graham's 12:34. Another fairly simple, yet beautiful, song that can teach you some techniques while still letting you focus mainly on finger-style and melody.

But, everyone learns differently. If you prefer to just build up slowly to the point of already knowing the techniques in a given piece, then I would agree with Robbie Averill.

That being said, I had the great fortune of attending Andy McKee's Musicarium (look it up) and all of the instructors had a pretty similar mindset of "just try". If you struggle, just keep trying and eventually you'll get it.

NOT TO SAY THAT YOU SHOULD FORM BAD HABITS. Be careful that you pay close attention to the small nuances that make the techniques work. And don't practice mistakes (obviously).

But, it's up to your learning style. Everyone is different, so you do you. Hope that helps.

  • 1
    +1 for the tips. It reflects how I actually went about it over the last 5 years since I posted this question. So jealous of you going to Andy's Musicarium, I bet that was an incredible experience! Sep 2, 2019 at 16:01

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