Tips on How to Play Fingerstyle Guitar

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Fingerstyle guitar is a very popular approach to playing the instrument. However, many students don’t know whether they should learn to play with a pick or just use their fingers.

There is no definitive answer to this “problem”. It’s all based on preference. Some students find it easier to use their fingers as this enables them to play three or four notes at a time especially if they’re playing on non-adjacent strings. They also find they hit the desired notes more easily since they have greater control over their fingers compared to constantly having to maneuver a pick. On the flip side, others have trouble maneuvering their fingers and prefer using the pick to strike the notes. The pick is also occasionally preferred to avoid the finger stiffness that periodically sets in. Nonetheless, a well rounded guitarist needs to learn both. For this post however, we will provide a few tips on how to play fingerstyle guitar for beginners.

Fingerpicking Basics

Here are a few basic rules that need to be followed to help you learn how to play fingerstyle guitar and become proficient at it.

1. Warm up exercises

Guitar warm up exercises are very important before the start of a guitar practice session more so for beginners learning how to play fingerstyle guitar. Keep in mind there are warm up exercises for both fingerstyle and playing with a pick. Be careful not to just pick any. Effective warm up for fingerstyle playing helps strengthen the fingers and to control the instrument much better. This makes the learning process much easier. online guitar lessons

2. Start slowly

A common mistake among beginners that often kills their guitar playing progress is trying to play with great intensity instead of taking it slowly and gradually increasing their speed over time. When it comes to learning fingerstyle guitar patterns, hitting the right chords and sequences is more important than speed. Don’t rush! Patience is critical especially in the beginner phase. Once you master a pattern your speed will automatically increase.

3. Use all your fingers

Your thumb, index, middle, ring and pinky finger all have to coordinate in most cases in beginners learning how to play fingerstyle guitar in order to play the D, A and low E string and E, B and G strings. However, as the name suggests, fingerstyle playing is considered a style so there are no rigid rules. You can mix and pick fingers as you choose. Many guitarists recommend using all fingers though as it makes the play more effortless.

4. Repetition

You’ve heard the saying practice makes perfect. Well, the same is true for beginners learning fingerstyle guitar patterns. Repetition helps with increased long-term memory and recollection. Be prepared to go over and over and over again certain guitar patterns until you can play them without any music instruction

5. Have fun

The endorphin rush flooding our bodies when we string out successive melodious notes is what guitar playing is all about. If you’re just learning fingerstyle patterns enjoying yourself is vital to quick mastery. One tip is to keep your learning sessions short. 15-20 minutes is sufficient. This will enable you sustain your interest in the instrument long-term. You’ll also avoid mental fatigue. This will enhance your concentration in each session and provide you with a fuller learning experience.

If you want to get more proficient at playing in general, check out our reviews of online guitar lessons here.


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