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How to finger pick

In this guitar lesson you will be putting a simple finger picking pattern with some basic chords. The chords that you will be using are A, D, E and F# minor. If you don’t know these chords yet you should take some time to look at the chord diagrams that we have given you. Once you have all of the basic chord shapes down you can use the basic finger picking pattern that you will be learning to play through the progression presented to you in this lesson. We have given you the TAB and sheet music so that you can see exactly what is happening. Remember, when you see a T I M or A on the sheet music those letters represent your thumb index middle and ring fingers on your picking hand.

The finger picking pattern that you will be using in this progression is pretty simple. You will start with your thumb and follow with your index, middle and ring fingers. The bass note that you will be playing with your thumb changes from chord to chord but it will always be the root of whatever chord you are playing. Your index, middle and ring fingers will always be playing either the 4th, 3rd and 2nd strings or 3rd, 2nd and 1st strings depending on which chord you are playing.

The progression that you will be playing through is A D E F# minor D E A. You should play through the finger picking pattern twice for each chord. Every time you see a particular chord you will be playing the same strings for that chord. For example, every time you see an A chord you will play the 5th string with your thumb and the 4th, 3rd and 2nd strings with your index, middle and ring fingers. Try that right now. Make an A chord and play the 5th string with your thumb followed by the 4th string with your index finger, 3rd string with your middle finger and 2nd string with your ring finger. Play this over and over again until you get a nice smooth rolling action going with your thumb and fingers on your picking hand.

The finger picking patter for the other chords in the progression is the same but the strings that you will be picking change a bit from chord to chord. When you move to the D chord you will be playing the 4th string with your thumb and the 3rd, 2nd and 1st strings with your index, middle and ring fingers. Every time you see an E chord you should play the 6th string with your thumb and the 3rd, 2nd and 1st string with your index, middle and ring fingers and every time you see an F# minor chord you should play the 6th string with your thumb and the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd strings with your index, middle and ring fingers.

It may take you a while to hit the correct strings with you thumb and fingers when changing from chord to chord, but if you practice consistently you will see you’re your thumb and fingers will start to remember which strings to play and where those strings are.

How to finger pick

“I want to help you get started on the guitar with step-by-step lessons for FREE!” – Nate Savage

What came first – the chicken or the egg? This infamous dilemma of causality has been fascinating scientists, philosophers, theologians, cartoonists, and basically everyone else for millennia; was the egg a result of the chicken, or the chicken a result of the egg? Here at Guitar Head we’re a little more laid-back (no pun intended) about the whole thing. Whichever came first, they’re both delicious!

There’s a not dissimilar question in our world as well. What came first – the guitar or the plectrum? Well weirdly it was actually the plectrum. Although perhaps not so weird when you consider that the earliest examples were used for playing the classical Greek lyre, and later examples were fitted into harpsichords (yes, the strings in those things are plucked rather than struck!).

In fact, musicians have been picking away at stringed instruments with everything from feathers to bits of turtle shell for thousands of years. Guitarists were actually fairly late to get in on the act, with finger and thumb picks (primarily designed for banjos or mandolins) initially being far more commonly used to play steel-string guitars than the standard ‘flat pick’ that we’re all familiar with today.

It’s perhaps a near certainty that any guitarist reading this popular guitar blog (especially the beginners) will have been playing exclusively with plectrums from the start. This is completely understandable and totally sensible, since finger-style playing is traditionally a feature of Spanish or Classical guitar playing, including Flamenco and Bossa Nova styles, all of which can be accomplished relatively painlessly when you’re using nylon strings. But ‘tradition’ naturally has its limits…

Pickin’ things up

As you might imagine, the world is full of individuals who have been happy to buck conventional playing trends for years – Jeff Beck and Mark Knopfler are just two examples of virtuoso guitarists who for years have habitually avoided conventional picks even when soloing using steel-strung instruments. But this still falls under the heading of ‘Finger-style’, whereas we’re focusing on something much more basic and far more rhythmic here!

What is guitar fingerpicking?

Fingerpicking’ is a type of Finger-style playing, but should definitely be regarded as a distinct technique in its own right. Having developed from early ragtime styles, through blues, country, jazz and even folk, it also covers a pretty broad spectrum of methods and genres for rhythm guitar playing. All of which generally rely on the same principles with your picking hand;

How to position for fingerpicking?

  • Positioning your hand over the strings in a slightly ‘cupped’ shape, with your thumb away from the fingers, is a good starting point for any fingerpicking style. Ideally you won’t need to move the hand at all – remember it’s the digits that should be doing the work!
  • The thumb (T) is mainly used to pluck the lower strings (4th, 5th and 6th)
  • Your index (I), middle (M) and ring (R) fingers tend to cover the higher strings (1st, 2nd and 3rd). Your fourth finger gets a break!

One final general rule; let the plucked strings ring out throughout the duration of whatever chord you’re playing, or at least until you come to a natural rest or break in the music.

So now let’s actually try 3 amazing fingerpicking styles!

Claw picking

Probably the simplest method of fingerpicking. So-called because you’re making a ‘claw’ shape with your hand, and using three fingers to pluck the strings simultaneously.

This is basically alternating between picking the lowest 2 strings with your thumb, and ‘clawing’ the three indicated higher strings with the index, middle and ring fingers. Play it straight for a country feel, and experiment with some swing to make it jazzy!

Arpeggios

Otherwise known as ‘broken chords’, which you may have already tried playing with a pick (certainly if you’ve had a go at ‘Halleluiah’!), these are just as easily performed with your fingers.

This is just a case of working through the digits of your picking hand sequentially, starting at the thumb, moving through to your third finger, and then back again. The key here is to try and keep the rhythm constant – listen to ‘Hand On Your Heart’ performed by José González for an example of this technique at its absolute finest.

Travis picking

We’ll end with the king of the country picking styles, named after the legendary Merle Travis. It’s versatile (works in blues, folk, country, you name it…), good for impressing non-guitarists (looks seriously complicated), but is actually far easier than it looks – you only need your thumb and 2 fingers!

Just take things one step at a time…

  1. Begin with picking those bass notes with your thumb, one at a time. Repeat this until you’re comfortable.
  2. Now add a ‘pinch’ on the first beat with your middle finger. Repeat this until you’re comfortable.
  3. Drop in the first off-beat note with your index finger. Repeat this until you’re comfortable.
  4. Drop in a whole load of other off-beats to form a ‘roll’. Repeat this until your fingers fall off or a string breaks…

There are very few chords this technique won’t work over. Trust me – Travis picking can keep you entertained for hours!

Wrapping it up

And there you have it – three new ways with your instrument that won’t mean losing yet another plectrum. Or hopefully any fingernails. Until next time…

We picked up this golden nugget of guitar playing advice in an interview with Kurt Vile. Like most good advice, it’s surprisingly simple but not necessarily obvious.

How to finger pick

Learning how to do some basic fingerpicking can really open up your world as a guitar player. You’ll have a great way to accompany yourself as a solo singer, you’ll be more welcome at a back porch jam session, and you can even add some hill-country blues licks to you electric guitar toolbox that will quickly have you sounding like Keith Richards.

Luckily for you, there’s one simple technique that you can learn to open up this fingerpicking wonderland–the alternating thumb method.

The Alternating Thumb Pattern

Earl Scruggs popularized this style of playing with his self-titled banjo method in the mid-20th century. He called it the alternating thumb pattern. A lot of times you’ll hear it called “Travis Style Picking.” It’s the heart of the Earl Scruggs style of banjo, but it’s equally useful on the guitar. It’s really simple, and it’s not that hard.

All you have to do is keep a steady alternating bassline running with your thumb as you move through a chord progression. Once you have that down, you’ve got a sturdy foundation that you can use to start building a library of fingerpicking patterns with your index, middle, and ring fingers. But as soon as you have a steady, alternating thumb, you’ll have a lot of new options.

How to finger pick

How to Practice

Start by running through some chords and plucking the lowest string in each chord followed by the second lowest string in each chord with your thumb. Keep alternating back and forth several times then switch to the next chord. I like to practice with the old folk standard “500 Miles,” which goes like this:

E > F#m > A > F#m > A > B7

It’s a simple progression that sounds great with an alternating bassline. Once you have that thumb steady, then start plucking the chords on the offbeat with your index finger and middle fingers. Once you’ve got that steady, you can start rolling between the chords with those same three fingers. If at any point you lose track of the bassline, strip it down and get that steady again before moving forward.

If you don’t believe us, just listen to our buddy Kurt Vile. Check out this video. Around 3:10 they start talking about fingerpicking and Kurt says:

Here’s a video illustrating how to practice this:

Lock into this until you zone out. It’s great way to meditate. Pick up the guitar everyday and just do this for a few minutes. The goal is to get that thumb rock solid. Once it can’t be shaken your options will start to open up.

Now Do Some Tricks

Once you can play through chord changes fluidly and keep the alternating thumb going, you can start to learn different patterns of rolling your fingers and mixing and matching them. A great example is in Bob Dylan’s version of “Baby Let Me Follow You Down” on his first album. He uses the alternating thumb along with plucked chords to give it a country blues feel. Just by plucking instead of doing a Scruggs-style roll you’ve suddenly opened up a whole new way of playing.

As long as you keep that thumb on the alternating bassline steady, you can try anything and it will probably sound good. Just keep that thumb steady.

Recommended Listening

In case you need some inspiration to get you excited about learning this new technique, here are some of my favorite fingerpicking songs:

Josh Ritter & Dawn Lands – “500 Miles”
This is an old folk standard by Hedy West, but this is a beautiful version. It’s great chord progression to practice on.

Bob Dylan – “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright”
This is pretty advanced, but we’re trying to get inspired, right! We’ll do a future post with a tutorial on how to play this song.

Bob Dylan – “Baby Let Me Follow You Down”
Great example of using syncopated chord plucking with the alternating thumb technique.

Nico – “Fairest of the Seasons”
Nico – “These Days”
Both of these songs were written and played by Jackson Browne. I used to think he was a cheesy 70s singer until I heard this. Apparently he’s the real deal.

This is a great song that combines the alternating thumb pattern with strummed chords. Just another great example of the versatility of this pattern.

Beck – “Lost Cause”
Beck’s most beautiful song? Perhaps. We’ll teach this one sometime in the future.

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Learn correct fingerstyle hand position, which fingers to use for fingerpicking plus tips and hacks which will get you fingerpicking straight away. I’ll also teach you two short fingerstyle pieces using simple chord shapes which you can use to build fingerstyle technique and fingerpicking mastery!

Fingerpicking is a really cool and useful guitar technique which most great guitar players use sometimes- even if they’re not really known as acoustic guitar or fingerstyle guitarists. It’s a great way to add colour and texture to a song and just has a different sound and attack to playing with a pick or strumming.

1:58 Basic fingerstyle technique involves using the fingers on your right hand (if you play right handed) to pick or pluck the strings on the guitar. Normally the thumb will pick any notes on the low E,A or D string. The 1st or index finger plays the G string, the 2nd or middle finger plays the B string and the 3rd or ring finger plays the high E string.

3:05 It is really important to be consistent in your fingerpicking technique. Use the method above all the time to start with and check you are not deviating from it – at least for now. Being consistent will pay off. You’ll make less mistakes, it will be easier and your fingerpicking will progress much faster than if you are not consistent in your approach.

3:55 Follow these fingerpicking guidelines to avoid slowing down your progress.

4:15 Correct picking hand position for finger picking guitar. Keep your hand close to the strings with your thumb pointing along the length of the string. Each finger should sit right by the string it is going to be picking. Check your hand is not too far away from the strings – this will hold you up!

5:20 Guidelines for finger picking action. Don’t let your fingers snatch at the strings. Just pluck them with a firm but smooth and controlled movement

5:55 Make sure your finger picking is rhythmic, in time and with an even attack across all the strings. This is essential for developing a controlled and musical fingerstyle technique.

8:14 Here’s the first finger picking study demonstrated for you. This is an easy piece to start finger picking with. It uses 3 fingerpicking patterns and a G chord, Cadd9 chord, a D chord and an Em7 chord.

10:15 How to play G, Cadd9, D and Em7 chord shapes used.

12:40 Learning the picking patterns used on the G, C, D and Em7chord shapes and connecting up the sections of the fingerpicking piece.

18:09 Demonstration of the whole finger picking practice piece.

19:34 Awesome practice tip for improving new finger picking patterns and getting them nailed! This practice technique really works.

21:04 More advanced patterns you can use on G, Caddy9, D and Em7 chords. Put these together to play the more advanced fingerpicking example piece.

25:58 Demonstration of the more advanced example piece and tips for better fingerstyle playing and performance.

26:58 Recap on lesson and fingerstyle technique.

How to finger pick

The pick can be a guitarist’s best friend. It’s small, easy to get your fingers around and awesome at producing a clear, crisp tone. Most guitarists will end up using a pick at some stage, but on the off chance you find yourself without one, it can be good to know what to do. For this article, I will be focusing more on another technique known as fingerpicking as well as the correct way to fingerpick on guitar.

Fingerpicking is a great technique to use if you find yourself without a pick, or if you don’t like using one. The best way to learn about it is to try it out, and we’ll help you learn the correct way to fingerpick on guitar.

Take a look at the exercise below:

How to finger pick

The PIMA Formation

So in the above example, you can see the letters ‘p i m i a i m i’ arranged under the first eight notes. This is your fingerpicking pattern. Basically, ‘p’ refers to the thumb on your picking hand, ‘i’ refers to your index finger, ‘m’ is your middle finger, and ‘a’ is your ring finger. Like this:

A good way to familiarise yourself with the pima formation is to just practice saying the names of your fingers while plucking the open strings of your guitar.

  • Use your thumb to pluck the 6th string- this is p.
  • Then use your index finger (i) for the 5th string
  • Your middle (m) for the 4th
  • And your ring finger (a) for the 3rd string.

Repeat this as many times as you need until the names of your fingers start to feel more familiar, and you’ll start to get a feel for the correct way to fingerpick on guitar.

So, if we take a closer look now at the first eight notes from the example above, we see that your left hand is holding a basic A minor chord formation. Your right hand then follows the pattern ‘p i m i a i m i.’ If you’re not familiar with this chord or tablature, don’t worry, I break the exercises down fully below.

How to finger pick

FINGERPICKING EXERCISE – STEP 1
  • The p listed under the 0 means you pluck the open A string with your thumb.
  • Then, use your index finger to play the E note (2nd fret, D string)
  • Your middle finger then plays the next A note (2nd fret, G string)
  • Then you use your middle finger again to pluck the E note (2nd fret, D string)
FINGERPICKING EXERCISE – STEP 2
  • How to finger pickUsing your ring finger this time, play the C note (1st fret, B string)
  • This is followed by another E note (2nd fret, D string), which is again plucked by your index finger.
  • Then your middle finger plays the A again (2nd fret, G string)
  • And finally, you return to the E (2nd fret, D string), plucking with your index finger

It might feel like your fingers are tripping over themselves at first. But just repeat this fingerpicking pattern using the first eight notes of the exercise for as long as you need. Once you start to feel comfortable and confident with this picking pattern, move on to the next eight notes. Remember, the picking pattern stays the same throughout the exercise, even though the notes are changing slightly.

There you go! Now try applying this picking pattern to some of the songs you already know. If it seems difficult at first, try not to get frustrated. It’s like when you learn a new chord- at first your fingers might feel awkward or uncomfortable but the more you play, the more natural it’ll feel. Fingerpicking is its own technique so it’ll take practise to become proficient at it. Rest assured that once you get the hang of it, you’ll open up a whole new set of ways to expand your playing.

Still confused? Check out this video we found for more tips and tricks on how to master the fingerpicking technique!

Our website and blog has lots of free articles to help you practice the correct way to fingerpick on guitar. We cover hallelujah lyrics and notes, country song chord progressions, and fireflies spotify guitar chords that’ll help you practice the pima technique. Keep practicing and keep trying, and you’ll learn the techniques here very quickly!

In this guitar lesson you can ditch your pick as we take a look at some of the basics of playing fingerstyle guitar.

Whether you are a rock, country or folk guitar player (or other) …many of types of music use guitar fingerpicking as part of the style.

Guitar Fingerstyle Basics

(Video Guitar Lesson)

Training Your Right Hand Fingers

Before you even start playing, I’m going to show you an exercise that’s going to train your right hand to make the correct motions for fingerpicking.

1. Put your right hand thumb on the 6th string.
2. Put your right hand 1st finger on the 3rd string.
3. Put your right hand 2nd finger on the 2nd string.
4. Put your right hand 3rd finger on the 1st string.

Keep your fingers curved with a slight arch in your wrist.

The whole idea here is that the main power of your fingerpicking motions should come from the big knuckle of your right hand. Your fingers have 3 sections, so I’m talking about the section attached directly to your hand.

How to finger pick

You need to keep all of the segments of your fingers curved.

Now lift up your 1st finger so it’s hovering just above the 3rd string. Without plucking the string, swing your 1st finger back up towards the palm of your hand. Keep your finger curved and make sure you don’t accidentally sound any of the strings. You are going to be making bigger movements here than you will when you are actually playing, but you are exaggerating the motions at the moment.

By keeping all of your other fingers down touching the strings, you are helping to isolate the muscles of one particular finger. Your first finger is swinging like a pendulum from the point of your big knuckle. Do this at least 10 times before moving on to the next finger.

How to finger pick How to finger pick

Now put your 1st finger back down on the 3rd strings, lift up your 2nd finger and go through the same process.

Put your 2nd finger back down on the 2nd string, and do the same exercise with your 3rd finger. Your 4th finger is just going to tag along with your 3rd finger here. You don’t really use your right hand 4th finger in fingerstyle playing, with the exception of some Flamenco strumming techniques.

Do the same exercise for your thumb as well. Your thumb has 3 joints of motion, and the one you are going to be using is up near your wrist.

Always keep your fingers to the right side of your thumb.

Fingerstyle Guitar Pattern #1 in 4/4 Time

The 1st fingerpicking guitar pattern we are going to look at is in 4/4 time. Try this first with the open strings, and then you can plug it into some different chord progressions.

Hover your right hand fingers just over the strings you are going to be playing (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th). Then play the 6th string with your thumb, 3rd string with your 1st finger, 2nd string with your 2nd finger, and 1st string with your 3rd finger.

You are playing 8th notes here, so you will need to play the T123 pattern 2 times in a row to get one measure of 4/4 time.

The numbers you see below are the right hand fingers to use, and not the frets like you would see normally in tablature. The “T” stands for “Thumb”.

Fingerstyle Guitar Pattern #1 – Chord Progression

Now let’s plug that fingerpicking guitar pattern into a chord progression. In this case, just going from a G to a C chord. Notice how on the C chord your right hand thumb is playing the 5th string instead of the 6th. For basic fingerpicking guitar patterns, your thumb will play the lowest note you would normally strum if you were using a pick.

Even thought you are not playing all of the strings you would normally strum in these 2 chords, still place all of your fingers on the chord. For instance, even though you are not playing the 4th string in a C chord for this fingerpicking pattern, I want you to still place your left hand 2nd finger on the 4th string at the 2nd fret.

You are doing this for a couple of reasons. One is that if you accidentally play the 4th string, the note will be part of the chord and sound good. The other is that C is already a familiar chord shape, so it’s easier just to place your fingers down in a way they are already used to.

Fingerstyle Guitar Pattern #2 in 3/4 Time

The next basic fingerpicking guitar pattern is in 3/4 time.

Fingerstyle Guitar Pattern #2 – Chord Progression

And now try playing this 3/4 fingerpicking guitar pattern going between a G and C chord.

What we have covered in this basic fingerpicking guitar lesson is really just the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of different fingerstyle patterns and techniques to explore. The next thing you might try is to plug these basic fingerpicking guitar patterns into some other chord progressions. Then start to seek out some songs where you might be able to put your new found fingerstyle guitar skills to work.

Be sure and also check out my video guitar lesson covering Travis Picking. This is another very common style of fingerpicking.

Guitar Finger Picking Q & A

Q: What about resting your right hand pinky on the guitar for better support?

A: I don’t really rest my right hand pinky on the guitar, because I find that it hinders the movement of my 3rd finger in this style of fingerpicking. There is another style of fingerpicking called “travis picking” that doesn’t use your 3rd finger as much, and so there are some guitar players who play in that style that often brace their right hand pinky.

Once you have got to grips with some basic chords. There are basically 2 ways you can play them. You can either get your wrists in gear and strum the hell out of them, or you can delicately fingerpick them. The style of the song really dictates what style you should use when playing. In this article, we are going to learn how to fingerpick a ukulele and a few fingerpicking patterns that once you get to grips with will make you very equipped to play more difficult songs in the future.

What We Will Learn

  • What fingerpicking offers
  • Where do I put my fingers
  • Using 2 fingers
  • Adding the 3rd finger
  • Using 4 fingers
  • Alternative Patterns
  • Twenty One Pilots Lane Boy ( Advanced )

Why Should I Fingerpick

While its great to sing your heart out while strumming along to your favourite songs. Fingerpicking allows you to play things a bit more delicately and allows you to be somewhat more emotive with your playing. It also adds more dexterity to your non-fretting hand which will make flying up and down the fretboard at lighting pace while doing your best Jake Shimabukuro impression a lot easier.

Where do i put my fingers?

In almost all finger patterns you want to assign your fingers to a certain string. I usually use my thumb for the G and C. My index finger for the E and my middle finger for the A.

How to finger pick

How To Fingerpick A Ukulele using 2 fingers

Let’s take a look at how to fingerpick using 2 fingers. This is what a simple pattern would look like with a two-finger style. Your thumb will control the G and C strings and your index finger controls the E and A strings.

How to finger pick

In two-finger style, you can also use your thumb to control the first 2 strings or the first 3 strings. It totally depends on what is comfortable for you.

Try playing this simple pattern using just 2 strings. If you not sure how to read tab, you can check out my guide here.

If playing the fretted notes is a struggle for you right now, you can just play all the open notes like this.

Playing fast for the sake of playing fast is silly.

You might not expect a lesson focused on speed building from a laid back finger picker like me. And while I stand by my comment about playing fast, the truth is you do need to work on your ability to play fast. For two reasons:

  1. Having the physical ability to play fast makes the slower stuff a breeze.
  2. The speed is there when you need it.

The key is, play fast when it counts. You don’t have to play fast all the time, but having the ability to break out a fast run when you need it comes in handy.

If you want to build speed, start slow. But be consistent.

Build Finger Picking Speed

The exercise in this lesson is certainly on the bluegrass side of things. It sounds like a banjo roll – not very bluesy. But, this little exercise has helped build up my speed in my picking hand. And the sheer repetition builds muscle memory.

If you practice this for a while, your fingers will start to take on a mind of their own. You will eventually be able to play this exercise on autopilot.

Performance Notes

As with any speed building type exercise, I recommend you start out slow on this one and just keep at it.

How to finger pick

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I have had this exercise in my bag for quite a while and at first, I was playing it very slowly. It takes time just to get the fingers coordinated enough to play this little ditty.

I kept practicing it over the years and eventually, I was able to get my speed up. Nowadays it’s a bit of a self-challenge to see just how fast I can get it.

Playing Fast is…

Remember: Playing fast just to play fast is silly. I stand firm in that. But, when you use your speed to play something powerful – that’s what it’s all about.

Hopefully, you’ll find this exercise will help you build finger picking speed, coordination and agility that will in turn, help you tackle fast (but soulful) runs and licks.

How to finger pick

Here’s a topic that guitarists like to debate: what is the best technique?

The honest, “too-long, didn’t read” answer is that it depends!

There is a huge range of factors to determine the technique that will be used. From what piece of music you want to play to what kind of strings are on the guitar or what tone you want to emulate – even what style of music you are playing can be a determining factor.

In this article, we’re going to break down these somewhat similar and yet profoundly unique techniques, their pros and cons, and their applications.

Flatpicking

This technique, as most will likely be familiar, is performed by using a pick – more formally known as a plectrum (bet you didn’t know that!). When flat-picking the strings are plucked using the pick which is held between the thumb and index finger of the strumming hand.

The nice thing about flat-picking is that it gives you a great, clear, and loud tone. It can take a lot of time and dropped picks to develop the technique, but it is well worth it. Flat picking is a technique that is especially ideal for playing electric guitar as that crystal clear pluck is more easily transmitted by the pickups – even if the player isn’t picking over them perfectly.

One of the few drawbacks of flat-picking is that it isn’t possible to play certain songs or styles that require 2 strings plucked which aren’t side by side. Flamenco and classical guitar arrangements not only use these techniques frequently – they are a main characteristic of the sound.

With that said, there are some flat-picking techniques that are very difficult if not impossible to replicate with the bare hand. For example, the song Surf Rider by The Lively Ones was famously featured in the film Pulp Fiction. It employs a flat-picking technique known as double picking. I’d hate to see the callouses on the finger picker who managed to get that riff down!

Finger Picking

This technique involves employing the bare hand – usually the fingertips and thumb tips to pluck the strings. Some people use their fingernails – but usually on the softer strings found on a classical acoustic guitar. Fingerpicking is a technique that allows the player a great deal of technical flexibility that is employed by genres like classical and flamenco.

Fingerpicking is extremely versatile and can be done on any guitar, and can emulate most styles. One of the very few drawbacks of fingerpicking is that the tone is somewhat softer than a flat pick – especially when played on an electric guitar. While this is often very suitable in fingerpicking’s home territory of classical and flamenco, it isn’t always ideal for playing rock or blues or other more distorted genres as the softer tone can become muddy in the distortion.

That isn’t always the case however, some folks are very good at playing with their fingernails, and while it may send shivers down my neck, if you’re comfortable playing like that, all the power to you. Of course, there is one other option for those players who would love the versatility of having a flat pick attached to each finger, but aren’t committed to brandishing a set of long nails.

Finger Picks

Not the same as fingerpicking (although understandably confusing) finger picks are essentially a set of 5 flat picks which attach to the fingertips. These can provide the player with the most versatility in style, tone, and technique. I suppose they would be limiting for someone who loves to finger tap out Van Halen solos, but that is about the only time you couldn’t use them.

Aside from that fingerpicks can have a bit of a learning curve – but what doesn’t. The nice thing about them is there is rarely a time you won’t be able to use them, so while it may be a difficult technique to learn, you won’t have to step out of your comfort zone at an inopportune time.

The Big Conclusion

Ultimately, it really just comes down to what you are comfortable with. If you are happy with your sound and set in the groove of your technique – then there’s obviously no need to switch. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, they say. If you think you might be missing out on some tone or control, however – learning a new technique can be an amazing way to expand your horizons as a player.