#1
Hey guys!
I'm still a newbie when it comes to music theory and playing the guitar. And so,naturally,I'm very curious too.

So I'm constantly surfing youtube for covers too see how different guitarists interpret various songs. Most people I see usually play the similar progressions/notes....but every once in a while there's this awesome dude with like (probably) years of experience who nails that song with the bass and everything. They don't need to have that drum kit or bass backing them up to make the song feel "whole" as the others do.

Ofcourse I'm talking about fingerpicking arrangements. How do you approach a song when you already know the chords and such,but you want to play it in a fingerpicking style? Are there some theory on this?
#2
I don't play that style, but what you would want to do is at least play the melody and the bassline. You may want to add some other chord tones too. Maybe play a chord melody (the highest note of the chord is the melody note).

Take advantage of open strings. Play the song in a key where most bass notes can be played on open strings and it makes it a lot easier. That way you can avoid awkward chord voicings.

Also, pay attention to the basic groove of the song and try to play similar rhythms. Some people also use their acoustic guitar as a percussion instrument (well, at least that's a good way to impress the ladies).
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#3
fingerpicking for twenty years.....grab some basics and play them to death. wildwood flower is really a great start cause its all right hand with only a few left hand changes. just concentrate on getting every left hand finger up to speed before learning the complicated stuff. O and igor presnyakov.....yeah igor
#4
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Take advantage of open strings. Play the song in a key where most bass notes can be played on open strings and it makes it a lot easier. That way you can avoid awkward chord voicings.


To this I will add that a capo is your best friend, and never rule out returning your guitar, whether it's dropping the low E to the tonic if you are playing in C or D (or dropping the A to G for that key) or as actually changing to an open tuning.
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#5
Most folks start with the most-basic "Travis picking" or "Pattern picking". This involves using a simple, syncopated pattern or "roll" and changing chords over that.
As you get beter, you can add in the standard embellishments, bass runs, hammers, pulls, etc...... And eventually single note lines and melodic lines.

For great examples of this type of playing, listen to most any of the artists from the Folk Revival era; Dylan, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Joan Baez, many more.
The ultimate expression would likely be guys like Chet Atkins, who played very sophisticated stuff indeed in this style.

Most fingerstyle jazz artists play a little differently, adapting a classical-guitar technique to play more sophisticated chords.
#6
mhm....you guys keep on commenting with helpful tips Thank you

Theogonia777 : So you mean to drop the Low E and the A string to the key tonic the song is in? For the bass line? And the deal with a capo....say if you place the capo on the 5th fret...would your guitar then be in the key of A? Or is it just that if you strum any chords or finger pick them they'll only sound higher?
Last edited by Oddly_Phrygian at Mar 20, 2015,
#7
Think of it this way. When you play fingertyle you want to use as many open strings as possible. So if you are playing in G major, D major or C major, it's great because all of your open strings are in those keys. If you play in A major, all but G are in that key. G is fine though since it is your b7 which is commonly used in country, folk, and bluegrass. E major has all but D and G, which is the b7 for D and G is the b3, which is also common.

All those keys work well enough. Also if you notice in all but C you have the root on an open string, which is ideal. Generally with basslines though you want lower notes, particularly with open strings. So if you want to play in D, you could lower the low E to a D so you have your root on a nice low open string. You could do the same with C as well. For a G you might also consider lowering the A string for the same reason.

Of course, lowering strings is certainly not a requirement but it may help sometimes and give some interesting new ideas.

As far as a capo, some keys like Bb or Eb or C# have little to no open strings available. So in this case, you could use a capo to give you the right open strings. For Bb, put a capo on 1 and play as if you were in A or capo at 3 and play like you were in G. For Eb, capo at 1 and play like D or 3 and play like C.

You can also play in easier keys with a capo. So if you want to play A you could play open, or you could capo 2 and play like G.

Keep in mind that you don't want to capo too high most of the time since then you lose low notes that you need for bass. Also they make partial capos that only cover some strings which might be fun to mess with.
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#9
Quote by theogonia777
Think of it this way. When you play fingertyle you want to use as many open strings as possible. So if you are playing in G major, D major or C major, it's great because all of your open strings are in those keys. If you play in A major, all but G are in that key. G is fine though since it is your b7 which is commonly used in country, folk, and bluegrass. E major has all but D and G, which is the b7 for D and G is the b3, which is also common.

All those keys work well enough. Also if you notice in all but C you have the root on an open string, which is ideal. Generally with basslines though you want lower notes, particularly with open strings. So if you want to play in D, you could lower the low E to a D so you have your root on a nice low open string. You could do the same with C as well. For a G you might also consider lowering the A string for the same reason.

Of course, lowering strings is certainly not a requirement but it may help sometimes and give some interesting new ideas.

As far as a capo, some keys like Bb or Eb or C# have little to no open strings available. So in this case, you could use a capo to give you the right open strings. For Bb, put a capo on 1 and play as if you were in A or capo at 3 and play like you were in G. For Eb, capo at 1 and play like D or 3 and play like C.

You can also play in easier keys with a capo. So if you want to play A you could play open, or you could capo 2 and play like G.

Keep in mind that you don't want to capo too high most of the time since then you lose low notes that you need for bass. Also they make partial capos that only cover some strings which might be fun to mess with.


This is spot on.
#10
I used to teach beginners Classical, and generally we'd start with something like "Blackbird" by The Beatles. There are tough parts of it, but you can omit them, just choose parts of songs that you feel will challenge you but allow you to have fun and gain speed/accuracy as you do it.

"Landslide" is another fairly simple one.

As always work your way up to more difficult stuff, and as you do that start specializing, like moving in a true Classical direction, Bach has a lot of good ones, or more of a Country, Jazz, Metal, whatever interests you as you progress.

Generally the thumb will play the bottom three strings, the first three fingers the top three strings, although I have adapted to moving that down a string and using the thumb on E and A, which allows me to have the pinky involved. I've been playing a while, so that is a mod I've made to the technique to do it more how I like, versus the "proper" or most common way.

It's also important to think about the guitar a bit like a drum and involve stuff like muted fret noise, harmonics, even thumping the bridge once in a while. You might study some strumming songs that would challenge your up-and-down.

Blues and soul has more of a triplet-timed, or 6/8 type feel with a strong 1 and 3 beat. Country and a lot of rock has a more even 4/4 type feel. I compare country to the sound of a train, very "BOOM-chicka.."

Oddly Reggae has a similar feel to Country that way. I've thought about playing some Country songs in a Reggae feel, or vice versa for fun. Never did it yet.

Just listen to music and see if you can pick up on the rhythm. That's where your right hand comes in. Different stuff: country vs reggae, will have different tempo, different accents and so on. After a while you'll be able to identify it by ear. Most music you'd be familiar with has a 2, 3, or 4 - type feel.

Your picking thumb, the "downstroke" usually, accentuates the beats while the third finger, the "upstroke" in most cases, carries the "and" of the beat.

If 4/4 is counted "One and Two and Three and Four and" then downstroke on the number, up on the "and"

Good fingerstyle will incorporate both Classical-influenced counterpoint bass/melody with traditional folk strumming patterns like Rhythm-and-Blues, Reggae, Country, etc.

Seems like a lot to know, but start with some favorite songs, and listen, listen, listen. Get those hands and feet moving while you listen, and see if you can figure out how a song would be strummed, picked, or plucked while you listen!
#11
i HIGHLY recommend learning banjo, it changed how i play and think about bass and guitar thoroughly

kristen will agree if she's in a good mood and will allow people into her exclusive banjo shredder club today
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#12
Banjo definitely helps learning fingerpicking on guitar but only to some extent.

Banjo is tuned and played in a way where any open note will always sound acceptable unless you are playing melodic style and it is obviously not the right melody note. This is really not as true on guitar. Banjo is also very picking hand oriented, with the right hand doing 90% of the real work unless you are playing elaborate melodic style or single string style tunes in which case the right hand only does 80% of the hard work.

The key difference in philosophy though is that fingerpicking guitar tends to play two independent voices (melody and bass) whereas the banjo only plays one voice consisting either of a simple melody with interspersed chord tones or open notes thrown between or just a very elaborate melody played melodic style, which will usually be a fiddle tune like Arkansas Traveller, Lonesome Fiddle Blues, Blackberry Blossom, Devil's Dream, etc played verbatim or close to it with minimal filler notes.

Still, there are many guitar tunes played in this style such as Jerry Reed's signature breakdown that he does with Chet Atkins.

In short, learning banjo would definitely help a lot with right hand technique, but perhaps not as much with left hand technique and probably not much at all in terms of the two voice thing.

Compare it to learning Spanish. Learning Portuguese I would help you learn Spanish, but being fluent in Portuguese doesn't automatically make you know Spanish, especially depending on the dialects.

Learning new instruments is always a good idea and can help to change your perspective on playingyour current instruments, similarly to how learning metal could put a new perspective on your jazz playing or vice versa.
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#13
Start with the basics and learn some simple bits of music to work on, and work at first toward perfection of the piece and fluidity.

In Classic guitar they teach you to place the guitar on your left leg (or right leg if you play lefty) and to elevate the leg a bit. They sell those stupid foot rest thingies, but I always hated them! Why not just use a book, or what I do, set your left foot on top of your right one. Point is to get the neck elevated at a 30 degree angle or so, and lifting the left (fretting hand) foot does that.

Now think about how the fingers on the left hand touch the strings. Ideally, again classical technique, they should be perfect 90 degree angles to the frets at all times. The thumb should be parallel with the frets and the fingers should be like little arrows pointing straight into the fret board.

The tendency is to move the meat of the fretting hand in towards you and angle the thumb as you do so. This is easier, I suppose, and so you'll tend to do it when you get tired, but do your best to fight it!

Learning and practicing this proper technique is important because it will always give you a baseline for how to fret chords. Does a chord not sound right? Think of how you are sitting, and how you position your hand. Chances are it will fix it!

For the right hand the thumb is your bassist and the index, middle and ring play the high strings.

If you really want to be classical then grow your fingernails a bit, but not more than an eighth inch (2-3 mm) or so. I do this, but the bad side is the DO BREAK!!

Women complain, "I broke a nail!" AND I FEEL THEIR PAIN!! It sucks breaking a nail. It hurts.

That just improves your sound a bit. Better tone. You can trim your nails if you like. I just like the sound of it.

Good luck.