Fingerpicking: Quick & Easy

Showing different exercises that can help with learning and mastering finger picking.

Ultimate Guitar
Learning chords? Easy. Learning strum patterns? Simple. Learning how to fingerpick? Not so much. Fingerpicking is simply using your fingers instead of a pick to play riffs on a guitar. It is usually used for simple lead guitar parts, such as, acoustic sets, adding an extra layer of sound to a song, and even for a single guitar set. An experienced guitarist can easily finger pick his/her way through a song and keep a nice flow through it all. One of the first things that you must learn with finerpicking is that you MUST relax your fingers. When finger picking, your hand must be able to reach the high e string and the low e string without much effort. A simple exercise to practice for this is making chord formations and picking from the high E down to the D string repeatedly using your ring finger, your middle finger, your index finger, and your thumb. Start off slowly and as you go along progressively speed up. By keeping your hand relaxed and doing this simple exercise your fingers will become faster and more accurate. Now as you move on you will learn that simply playing one string at a time isn't really enough for you. You will maybe encounter songs that require you to play two strings at the same time without playing any strings in between them. What you do in this situation is very simple. Instead of trying to use your index finger and another finger, such as your middle or ring finger, use your thumb and any finger that you feel comfortable using to play the other string. An exercise you can do to master this isn't very different from the previous one. Form a chord, and then use your thumb and index finger to pluck the D and G strings only. Then use your thumb and middle finger to pluck the A and B strings only. Lastly, use your thumb and your ring finger to play the high and low E strings only. Your thumb will always play the lower note. Do this slowly and, like the previous exercise, keep your hand relaxed. Start slow and slowly start speeding up. One last tip on both of these exercises. Once you master each one start to switch up your chords as you play. By doing so you learn how to keep the sound flowing, and how to transition from chord to chord easily and smoothly while you finger pick. After doing this try mixing both of the exercises together or even make up a couple exercises of your own. Always remember to keep an open mind to learn and to keep on playing! You can only get better if you practice and pick up on new techniques that work for you. Goodbye for now!

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    decent idea for a lesson, but severely lacking. it wouldve been a LOT better if you showed tablature exercises for examples
    I suggest learning Blackbird by The Beatles. Good way to learn fingerpicking.
    playing some songs like Stairway to heaven and opeth's songs are great way to learn fingerpicking too.
    @pAWNlol thank you for the advice! I thought I was missing something.