Most Basic Finger Picking

First let's explore the simplest version of a finger picking pattern.

Let's start out with our A minor chord, and you already know that we have our root note in the open A string. Let's play that with our thumb. Make sure you're not trying to force a lot of volume out of it. It'll be soft and gentle and that's okay! In between the thumb strokes we'll pick the B string with our index finger.

It's good to have this bass note in the thumb, but your index finger could play any note of the chord, like the high E string, G string or D string. All those options are perfectly usable if you like how they sound. It's also okay to use your middle finger if you prefer.

I'll use a bit of a loose approach so I'll hit a couple of the surrounding strings as well in both my thumb and my index finger. If this makes it harder for you, please don't even worry about it. If it makes it easier for you and you like how it sounds, it's a great option.

Let's keep our picking hand pattern exactly the same and switch to a C major chord. Keep your thumb on the A string, and then just for fun, try the other options for your index finger.

If it's too hard to make the change in both your left and your right hand, you can always keep the picking pattern the same.

We'll play each chord for 4 bars. Then we'll repeat both chords, and finally end on a gentle thumb strum of the A-minor chord that we let ring to end the example.

Anders Mouridsen
Instructor Anders Mouridsen
Any Style
Most Basic Finger Picking song notation

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Questions & Answers

How do you stabilise your right hand on the guitar? And is this the same using an electric? 1 month ago
Mike Olekshy 1 month ago

Hello Datapoint - thanks so much for your questions. There are many ways to position your hand on the guitar for fingerpicking. Some guitarists simply float their hand over the strings. Others might rest their pinky onto the guitar below the high string, or rest their palm on the low string if there are no notes being played there. Usually, this will change depending on the context of the music. And yes, you would use these same techniques on the electric as well. Hope this helps!

I know it's called finger picking...but, can I use a guitar pick for this excercise instead of my fingers? 2 months ago
Mike Olekshy 2 months ago

Absolutely! The intent of the lesson is to teach this using your fingers, but this is a great exercise for string skipping using a pick.