Today I am going to be tackling the basics of fingerpicking. This is an essential technique for acoustic guitar players; however it is just as important to electric guitar players regardless of style. First off let’s look at the chords we are going to use in this lesson.
Next we need to look at the labeling of our left hand. Example 1 shows the standard naming system is; p for the thumb, i for the index finger, m for the middle finger, and a for the ring finger.
Example 2 is a basic fingerpicking pattern. Hold the E minor chord down through out so that the notes sustain you will use a p – i – m – a (thumb, index, middle, pinky) picking pattern. The thumb ascends from the sixth to the fourth string then descends backwards to the fifth string. Try using this fingerpicking pattern with all of the bar chord forms and open chords you know.
Example 3 is almost the same as example two. You are still holding the E minor chord through out however the picking pattern is now p - a - m – i (thumb, ring, middle, index). Again, try using this fingerpicking pattern with all of the bar chords and open chords you know.
Example 4 is a straight ahead I – vi – ii – V7 progression in the key of G Major. In the first three measures the picking pattern is P – i – m – a (thumb, index, middle, pinky) from example 1. Beat four of the first three measures is p – a – m – i (thumb, ring, middle, index) from example 2. In measure four you will have to change from the D7sus chord to the D7 chord at beat 3. The picking pattern in measure four is a continuous is P – a – m – i (thumb, ring, middle, and index) from example 2.
Some great examples of fingerpicking technique I would suggest the following recordings.
• Dust in the Wind from Kansas
• Tears in Heaven from Eric Clapton
• The Wind from Cat Stevens
• More than Words from Extreme
• Going to California from Led Zeppelin
• Blackbird from The Beatles
• Bron Y Aur from Led Zeppelin
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