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Fingerstyle Basics: Acoustic Guitar

Welcome to this introduction to finger style acoustic guitar; a playing style that has found it’s way into every genre of music.

Whether it be as an accompanist or solo player, finger picking is a dynamic technique without limitation.

Below, and in the video, I have laid out some simple exercises reminiscent of how I got into the style, over ten years ago.

These exercises are designed to be fluid, giving you a chance to put your own mark on them. Once you can play them to a standard you are happy with, take the same right hand patterns and apply them to any chord sequence you like, or start mixing up the order your finger pluck the strings in.

It will take some time to find the right hand position that’s most comfortable for you and to build dexterity, particularly in your ring finger, which isn’t used to doing anything.
Repetition and time spent with the instrument is key here. Muscle memory will be your biggest friend with your favourite finger patterns becoming automatic; just don’t get stuck in the same few patterns!

The rolling arpeggio exercise uses the conventional way of showing which fingers to use as follows PIMA. P= Thumb, I = Index , M = middle, A = ring
Mixing pinching, strumming and rolling techniques will give your playing rhythmic variety and depth.

Experimentation is key to having fun and getting the most out of finger style guitar. Try growing your right hand finger nails out for a little more clarity and attack.
Finally, to understand more about this technique, like many others, you have to study the great players of the style, whether it be classic blues players or modern acoustic soloists.

Have fun!

Fingerstyle Exercises


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