3 Simple Fingerpicking Patterns That Rock! - Part 1

Most guitarists know set strum patterns, but not many can pick up the guitar and play through 3 set fingerpicking patterns. Now it's time to learn some.

Ultimate Guitar

The 'London' Picking Pattern

The first pattern we will go through is one I nickname the "London" pattern.

The "London" pattern is a classic "Travis picking" pattern and is probably the most famous of them all.

I call it the "London" pattern because it is heavily influenced by Ralph Mctell's classic song the "Streets of London."

If you have ever heard the Kansas song "Dust in the Wind" you will also know it from that song too as well as countless other fingerpicking classics.

Example 1 - C major, G major, D major chords

Click here to listen to this example in action.

Example 1 shows how you play the pattern on 3 different chords:
  • Root note on the A string - C major
  • Root note on the low E string - G major
  • Root note on the D string- D major
    YouTube preview picture
This classic pattern starts off with a:

Quarter note "pinch" - root note (played with thumb) and B string (played with middlte finger) togeher.

We then follow that up with another bass note which is played with the thumb on the D string.

Once the first two notes are played, pluck the:

G string (with index finger)
Root note (with thumb)
B string (with middle finger)
Alternate bass note (with thumb)
G string (with index finger)

That all sounds like a lot.

You must take your time with this pattern and get the order comfortable before you even attempt to change chords or try the second example.

The D chord is the exception to the rule where everything is shifted up a string higher from the C chord.

Compare the pattern in the notation above for the C and D chords for clarity.

Example 2: A real world play-along

The second example above is a piece based around the mode of E Dorian.

Once we have reached the Am chord it then shifts into the key of A minor.

This piece is inspired by a variety of styles of music and has quite a few chord changes.

Dorian is a mode commonly used in jazz and blues, but this fingerpicking pattern is used often in folk.

We therefore have an interesting "hybrid" piece. My advice to you is to break it up into two sections when learning it.

Start off my mastering the section from:

Em A  Em  G  G/F#

Once you have mastered this part, learn the section starting from the A major chord in bar 7.

If you struggle with chord changes, break it up further into two bar chunks.

For example, keep repeating the:

Em A

Back and forth.

Then master the:

Em G G/F#

This pattern is super flexible and sounds very cool at fast speeds and slow tempos too, so keep it slow at first. It will still sound great.

Do not rush it.

If you want to play this pattern with any other chord, simply ask yourself, how many strings are in the chord?

Then match the pattern to the chord with the same amount of strings.

Eg. A C major chord has five strings in the chord. An A minor chord also has five strings. Therefore, play the exact same pattern for both of those chords.

The book features this pattern in more depth plus 7 other really cool and very usable fingerpicking patterns.

Thanks and good luck!

About the Author:
By Dan Thorpe. GuitarDomination.net Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 or alternately, you can download my brand new eBook.

11 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I liked it Thank you very much. I just started out and this is really beautiful. I'm looking forward seeing more Picking Patterns from you
    I hope that part 2 & 3 will use more 'obscure' patterns, this one is so common that even I already knew about this one. But I like the style of your article, looking forward to part 2 and 3! @steventhomas198: This article only contains one pattern (with two examples), hence the 'part 1' in the title. Not calling you simple though, I made the same mistake after just reading the title and scanning through the article. When you actually read it you'll find out
    Cool exercise. My picking skills are just below this level, so this was right up my alley. Took me about 45 minutes to go from hardly able to pick the London picking pattern on one chord to being able to play the whole Real World Play Along fairly well at full speed.