#1
So the other day I found a guy on YouTube named Igor Presnyakov. I was not only captivated by the music, but the style he was playing as well. The style happened to be fingerstyle guitar... Or also known as fingerpicking. I decided to take all three of my guitars to the shop Wednesday to have them fixed. My Floyd Rose was in sad shape, my single cutaway ESP's string just broke, and last,but not least my acoustic which hadn't been played in quite a while. Thursday just happened to be when I got off of school for the Summer and what better way to kick it off than starting my journey on fingerstyle guitar playing. After spending close to all day looking for easy songs to play I realized something, and it wasn't what you would think... I tried playing Hurt by Johnny Cash,... I was struggling to even fingerpick that song. I said, "Jeez... I really must suck at fingerstyle guitar....." But then it hit me, it wasn't my fingerpicking, cause I had just played the part on Nothing else matters where all the strings were open. I realized why I sucked at guitar ever since June of last year which was just 4 months after I started. I realized that it was not my fingerpicking, lead guitar skills, or anything else! I realized that I skipped a key fundamental as a guitarist.... And that was learning my chords and learning them the right way. I saw the only chord I could play with ease out of the 3 measly chords I learned, was the C chord. I learned the G chord and D7 chord, but I soon stopped there. I could switch from the G and D7 chord without hesitance, but my fingers were so high off the fretboard that it took so long to switch and it sounded horrible while strumming. 

After watching a video from this one guy, he explained what chords to play through very well. I started on switching from my Am and Em chord yesterday and I am already seeing improvements just after two days of practice! I look forward to becoming a much better guitarist. 

Does anyone have anymore tips on this stuff? Thanks!
Last edited by intheJungle at May 20, 2017,
#2
I'm a primarily-acoustic fingerpicker, and I think that good set up is very important, especially for a beginner. You don't want to be fighting the guitar all the time. I would say learn all the basic chord major, minor and 7th open chords, and at least the F shape in barre chords, and practice switching smoothly between them. My style is alternating bass, and I think that will take you a long way in fingerpicking, You can start learning the basic picking patterns on just one chord, and work upwards from there. It eventually becomes muscle memory, with little conscious input.

Here's an example, the first one I came to in a Google search . He is using an open tuning, but you could do it on, say, an E major chord:
http://www.acousticguitarplaying.info/11-alternating-bass-fingerstyle-guitar-patterns/
#3
There's an old, true saying ... knowledge is power, and this is very true in music.  With knowledge comes confidence, and also encourages more awareness of what you are doing, what you need to explore further.  The best bit ... it is huge fun, developing this.  Another fundamental truth (which many deny) ... you're only as good as your chord knowledge (this applies equally to lead guitar).

Ultimately, you'll realise that chord shapes are the way they are due to the tuning of the guitar, and the intervals used in the chord to create that particular flavour (e.g major versus minor sound).  The sooner you learn about intervals, and their shapes and sounds, the faster you'll move on.  They massively reduce the learning effort.
#4
Been a follower of Igor for many years now. He's an exceptional classically trained guitarist. It'd not only take years and years of technical practice but also an incredibly sound knowledge of music theory and composition. His ability is aided so strongly by his composition skills which can largely be attributed to such a sound musical knowledge. Just my 2 cents on endeavoring to play in a similar style to Igor. 
#6
Hey man, best of luck. I think fingerstyle is probably one of the more difficult types of playing. You're having to co-ordinate 3 fingers and a thumb at any one time, not just a single pick. And likewise, with the left hand you are almost always playing over some sort of chord shape and almost never playing just single notes.

However, it's massively rewarding, and the guitar just sounds so beautiful when played this way, even the electric, but especially the acoustic. I got hooked on it a few years ago, and though I'm probably not as far along as I'd like (I had a lot of bad habits I had to unlearn as well as RSI) it has still been a lot of fun, with very few down moments.

Tips? Well, yeah, quite a few:

1. With your right hand make sure you're operating the finger from the first knuckle. Imagine waving goodbye with your fingers. When you do this you bend them from the first (big) knuckle. This is how you want to bend them when playing fingerstyle too. It's the most relaxed way to play. Let your fingers curl into a C shape and then operate them from that first knuckle. The middle knuckle will play a small role, that cannot be helped, but avoid having the middle knuckle do all the work. The end knuckle should always stay pretty damn relaxed, so that when you brush your finger over the string it looks like the finger is bending backwards at that end knuckle ever so slightly.

2. Make sure the fingers on the right hand are curled enough that when you pluck the string it doesn't hit the string above. Imagine plucking at a roughly 45 degree angle rather than parallel to the guitar body.

3. Keep the left hand relaxed by not tensing the thumb. Relax your left arm as you play so that it feels heavy. Let that weight pull your fingers onto the fretboard. Don't use your thumb as an opposing force and end up pinching the neck - bad! That's too much tension! Always go slow when learning to switch between chords. You want those fingers to move gracefully, not forcefully. Think of it as yoga for the fingers. It'll be slow at first, but if you learn this way you will learn to play with very little tension which make things a whole lot easier.

4. As for fingerstyle, start with some patterns. Look up fingerstyle pattern lessons and learn a few. Once you have a pattern down, use that pattern and play it through any chord progression you like.

5. Once you've got a good number of patterns down, look for some patterns which include hammer on's or pull offs. These are a little more challenging because you don't play the string with your right hand as you hammer on or pull off. Always take it very slow, 1 note every few seconds if you must. Speed will come naturally.

6. I would then look at learning some simple fingerstyle tunes which go beyond simple patterns, and instead contain some melody. Perhaps check out Guitar Nick (google him). Don't stretch yourself too hard, but it will be difficult! It took me weeks to get my first tune down (and even then it was rough). Take it one bar at a time.

7. And yeah, just keep learning songs. It's the best way to work up your skillset.

After that you might want to look into creating your own arrangements. Probably best to start looking at music theory at that point. Fingerstyle often uses chord shapes, but you don't often need to finger the whole chord, only the strings you need to play. I would look at learning triads and adding a bass note into the triad (so it becomes a triad with a forth note in the bass). But this is getting quite far ahead now. Best of luck.
Last edited by gweddle.nz at May 22, 2017,
#7
Don't worry, you will have to go back and relearn everything eventually. Several times, probably.