I want to start learning fingerstyle, but I don't know where to start. Some people say it's very hard.

Please tell me how to start – what songs could I learn first, etc..

  • At a foundation level it is harder because of instead of one plectrum you have to learn how to play with four but I cannot say that playing well with a plectrum does not have it 's own challenges.
    – Neil Meyer
    Apr 23, 2016 at 15:18
  • You certainly shouldn't be scared about fingerstyle, it's not that hard. If you're motivated to learn it, you will probably manage to do so. Apr 23, 2016 at 23:15
  • Are you asking about fingerstyle on acoustic guitar, or using fingers and thumb to play classically? There's a big difference.
    – Tim
    Oct 9, 2016 at 17:59

2 Answers 2


The best resource I have found to develop the right-hand finger picking technique is the 120 Arpeggio study from Giuliani. Here is a link. This is a collection of arpeggio's that are an excellent way to develop your picking technique.

With that, I would also do scales. For finger picking, there are six basic ways to practice your scales. Off course, you will do well do these with a metronome. It gives a structured way to improve speed.

  1. Strong Free Stroke

That is where you use the thumb for the first four low strings (E, A, D, and G), ring for B and Middle for high E

  1. Regular Free Stroke

Here you use the thumb for the first three strings (E, A, and D), Index for G, Middle for B and Ring for the high E.

  1. IM Apoyando

Here you use your Index and Middle finger in an alternating manner. There are two variations Apoyando (Or Rest Stroke as it is sometimes known.) With this technique, you rest your picking finger after it has plucked the note on the next string. It gives the notes a more pronounced, almost forced quality.

  1. IM Tirando

Here you have the same alternating IM picking but you do not rest your finger on the strings after they have plucked (Free Stroke). Tirando is the opposite of Apoyando and where Apoyando sounds thick and Tirando sounds light.

  1. P.I.M.A.N

This is Spanish shorthand for the fingers it stands for Pulgar, Indice, Medio, Annular, and Nuno. This refers to all five the picking fingers. When you include the pinky you open new possibilities with your rasquedo. You will pick with the thumb for the two low strings (E and A), Index is for D, Middle is for G, Ring is for B and pinky is for high E.

  1. Alternating PIMA

Here you have the PIMA method but instead the fingers keeping to specific strings you use your fingers one after the other note for note.


With chords the same as with scales you have to do your chord changes in time. I would tell my newbies to set the metronome at its lowest setting and practice changing your chords with the metronome. 60 bpm at first easy open chords.

It is good to use half positions early on as it educates the less intelligent left-hand fingers. The economy of movement is also better so you can easily change up to barre chords.

If you have these three concepts down then you can go on to things like rasquedo and tremolo but as a good first step, this is a good guide.

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    I think you made a typo in your explanation for strong free stroke. It should probably be index for B and middle for E. Dec 14, 2016 at 1:28

Fingerstyle is...different. I took up guitar very late in life and for my own pleasure, and so only learned fingerstyle. I can't strum worth a damn, so for me fingerstyle is easier.

The key, I think, is learning how to keep the rhythm of an alternating bass in the thumb. I would start by trying to learn so-called Travis picking, where you play a fixed pattern in which the thumb and the fingers alternate to "activate" a chord. Once that comes, then you can start figuring out how to move chords, play melodies, etc.

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