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Master the finger picking style on an acoustic guitar

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Master the finger picking style on an acoustic guitar

1. The hand position

  • Keeping the hand still over the strings is an essential skill for acoustic guitarists, who may be used to moving their hands up and down in a strumming motion.
  • Simply practicing getting the hand into the right position and holding it there for extended periods can help, although it may feel uncomfortable and tiring at first.
  • For right-handed guitarists, the best thing to do is to extend the little finger outwards and use the tip of it to anchor the hand in place on the soundboard.
  • Use this anchor point to swivel the right hand, as required from time to time, without losing the feel for where you are.
  • Placing the pinkie finger about an inch beneath the bridge is good starting point.

2. Fingering strings

  • The thumb will play the bass notes of the chord or tune.
  • Finger picking guitarists use their thumbs to play the bass E string and the A string, therefore producing simple two-note bass progressions.
  • Usually, the index finger, the ring finger and the third finger are all used to play individual strings at higher frequencies.
  • For beginners, this means setting the index finger over the G string, the ring finger over the B string and the third finger on the top E string.
  • As players advance, they can play with these rules a little to create some new patterns.

3. Playing arpeggios

  • Make a chord with the non-picking hand on the fretboard and play an arpeggio of that chord with the other hand, sounding the notes out in a cascade one after the other.
  • Try striking the thumb on the lowest note, followed by the ring finger, the index finger and then the third finger.
  • For another arpeggio pattern, try using the thumb on the A string, then play the strings under the index finger, the third finger, and finally the ring finger.
  • The same chord will be played, but it will sound different in each case.
  • Practice repeating these arpeggio picking patterns.
  • By adding some grace notes with slides and hammer-ons, players can start to sound rather advanced after just a few hours practice with the finger picking style.