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Fingerstyle Tips Please!

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(@Anonymous)
New Member
Joined: 1 second ago
Posts: 0
 

Before I ask my questions I want to warn you that these clips are terrible as far as I am concerned! This is why I posted them here and not in the HEAR HEAR section (Admins, please leave here).

OK....I began fingerstyle playing about 2 days ago (yesterday I didn't practice at all). Here are 2 clips:

Fingerstyle Take One

Fingerstyle Take Two

I have the capo at the 2nd fret and using basic open chords. First I am trying to establish some sort of melody/pattern to anchor my playing. Is there some sort of "rules I should know about fingerstyle (I know you can play what you want but I am looking for BASIC instruction here). Secondly, I read somewhere that there are picking patterns for the right hand similar to strumming patterns with a pick...Could someone provide them if they DO exist?

Lastly, what other suggestions do you suggest for me to improve my fingerstyle (I can only go UP from here! :oops: :roll: Any lessons you may know of that might help would also be great!

It's ironic that when I am strumming with a pick I can nail the open chords perfectly and when I fingerpick it's like starting all over again! (Many "thumps" in these recordings :oops:. Also, I know I should plan out my chord progression better but to me chords don't sound the same as they do when strumming them...if that makes sense? If I strum I may plan my chords one way but when fingerpicking sometimes that same progression doesn't sound right...is that normal?

Thanks


   
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(@hummerlein)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 168
 

As far as progressions, you will find cool things as you keep on going. A progression can sound good or bad depending on the picking pattern entirely. Just try different things. You can add more stuff in between chord changes while fingerpicking, little melodic bits and stuff. So it doesn't have to be all one chord, then the next chord, etc.

Try some basic patterns like p m i a m i a, or p i m a m a i (hold first or last beat for one quarter note, the rest are eighths). Those are kind of fun. Experiment, though.

Make sure you have good right hand technique, don't let your wrist get cramped/overly tight. Relax.

That's all the advice I can come up with :)


   
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(@davidhodge)
Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 4472
 

First off, you're right in that there are all sorts of ways to go about fingerstyle. There are more "suggestions" than "rules," and a lot of them are covered in the text of the lesson on House of the Rising Sun, so apologies in advance if this is redundant.

Generally you want to give each finger an assignment. From high to low:

E - ring finger

B - middle finger

G - index finger

D - thumb

A - thumb

E - thumb

As far as patterns go, it's a lot like strumming in that you are better off starting out very simply (as in the aforementioned House lesson), usually using straight arpeggios, and then taking on more and more complex patterns.

Then next thing a teacher will get a student working on are the basics of Travis style picking. Start with an Am chord and, using only your thumb at first, play the A string and the D string (where your finger is on the second fret) on alternating beats. Essentially you're getting your thumb to serve as a metronome, making it keep steady time for you:
Beat:
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

E - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
G - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D - - - - - 2 - - - - - - - 2 - - -
A - 0 - - - - - - - 0 - - - - - - -
E - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Now begin adding your fingers in the offbeats (the eighth notes that come between the bass notes you're playing with the thumb). In this example, try to use your middle finger on the B string and your index finger on the G:
Beat:
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

E - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B - - - 1 - - - - - - - 1 - - - - -
G - - - - - - - 2 - - - - - - - 2 -
D - - - - - 2 - - - - - - - 2 - - -
A - 0 - - - - - - - 0 - - - - - - -
E - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

When you feel good about this, try switching between Am and C, the pattern of which would be:
Beat:
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

E - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B - - - 1 - - - - - - - 1 - - - - -
G - - - - - - - 0 - - - - - - - 0 -
D - - - - - 2 - - - - - - - 2 - - -
A - 3 - - - - - - - 3 - - - - - - -
E - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

When you're comfortable with a five-string chord, then try a four-string chord such as D, Dm D7 or F (or Fmaj7). You'll obviously want to shift your pattern up a string so that your thumb is playing the D and G strings. Yes, that is in contradiction to the first "rule" but it's an exception that most people will use in this case. If you're adventurous, try doing the D pattern with your thumb playing just the D strings and using your fingers for the other strings.

Then you can go on to six string patterns. A typical pattern for Em might be this:
Beat:
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

E - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B - - - 0 - - - - - - - 0 - - - - -
G - - - - - - - 0 - - - - - - - 0 -
D - - - - - 2 - - - - - - - 2 - - -
A - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
E - 0 - - - - - - - 0 - - - - - - -

And if you want more of a challenge, get more fingers and strings involved:
Beat:
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

E - - - 0 - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B - - - - - - - - - - - 0 - - - - -
G - - - - - - - 0 - - - - - - - 0 -
D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A - - - - - 2 - - - - - - - 2 - - -
E - 0 - - - - - - - 0 - - - - - - -

This is, of course, just scratching the surface. But the thing is that your fingers will get used to playing their patterns and then you simply don't think about chord changing. One hand does its job (picking) while the other does its job (fretting).

Hope this helps get you started or at least helps you feel that you've got some solid ground to stand on.

Peace


   
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(@pearlthekat)
Noble Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1468
 

i have a book called Progressive fingerpicking Guitar by Gary Turner and Brenton White. It's $23.95. If you want to PM me your address, I can let you borrow it for a while.


   
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(@Anonymous)
New Member
Joined: 1 second ago
Posts: 0
 

WOW! That was fast! And a LOT of information too! David I appreciate you going through the time to type all that out! I'll try this tomorrow as well as check out House of the Rising Sun Lesson. I also saw your Silent Night lesson and I think that also was fingerstyle, correct?

hummerlein, thanks for the information as well! However what does p m i a m i a mean? I know m=middle, i=index, I am assuming p=pinky? and a=thumb?

pearlthekat, thanks for the offer..I'll keep that in mind. I may see if Amazon has the book as well.!

Thanks everyone!


   
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(@davidhodge)
Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 4472
 

In classical guitar notation:

P = thumb

i = index finger

m = middle finger

a = ring finger

You won't often see the pinky called for in fingerstyle, although many guitarists will occasionally use it in hybrid picking, which is using a pick (held with the thumb and index) for the bass notes and your other fingers for the other strings.

When you're done with these exercises, the next thing a teacher would usually get you going on would be "pinching," which is simultaneously using the thumb and a finger to pick notes. Bookends is a good beginner's piece for this.

And (should I ever manage to get some free time) I'm hoping to have beginner's lessons for each stage of fingerpicking up sometime. Maybe even sometime relatively soon...

There are many books on fingerstyle. You usually can't go wrong with the Progressive Series, and any by Mark Hanson are usually well worth it as well.

And one truly good source for fingerstyle are classical books. Most of these (up until fairly recently at least) are notation only. But they can teach you tons...

Peace


   
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(@chigger-fruit)
Eminent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 20
 

Fingerstyle comes easy to me since i've been playing piano since i was six so my fingers are pretty well coordinated with one another, just learning my left hand fingerings is the problem. I personally learned the top three fingers belong to the index, middle, and ring finger (lowest to highest string), and the thumb played the bass notes. Of course, i switch the positioning if i had to do a pinch with the low E and D strings. One key pointer - don't be scared to use more than just your index finger. That'd be the equivilant of playing the piano with your two pointer fingers: it works for simple things like chopsticks, but i dont' think you could play Sonatina K. 353 by Mozart with just that. If you're not used to it, using your ring finger will awkward, but stick through it and it'll eventually feel natural. A song i use to practice my finger picking is Pachelbel's Canon in D in this tab: http://www.guitaretab.com/p/pachelbel-johann/14091.html

It works a lot of different techniques, so it's a very good piece to learn and practice from. As for left hand, rules go the same as usual, try to find patterns and chord formations to make it easier on yourself.

Good luck!

Edit: Oh yes, it also helps me to practice a fingerpicking song for about 10 minutes. Then i play a regular song for fun, or maybe practice a new one a bit, or maybe go watch some tv, then go back to the fingerpicking one. It feels so much easier for some reason.


   
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