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Beginner guitar: how to play fingerstyle guitar

Beginner guitar: How to play fingerstyle acoustic guitar
(Image credit: Future)

Compared with simple strumming, the beautiful and intricate sounds of fingerstyle acoustic guitar are a step up, technically speaking.

Still, you shouldn’t be intimidated by this way of playing. Follow a few simple tips and try out our practice exercises here and you’ll be able to tackle countless numbers of fingerpicked songs. 

We’re presenting the most essential skills here, so make sure to devote some practice time to them.

Organise your picking hand

(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: Future)

Your thumb (marked p in the tab) picks the three bass strings, while your first (i), second (m) and third fingers (a) each play one of the top three strings. 

Our Ed Sheeran influenced riff is a great way to practise staying disciplined. Also try using your thumb on the third string in the F and Dm chords.

Easy practice drill

(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: Future)

This flowing arpeggio pattern is great for accompanying a vocal part. It’s also a good drill to practise your fingerstyle skills with. 

Make sure your picking fingers hover close to their respective strings – this keeps movement to a minimum and helps with speed and fluency.

Use hammer-ons and pull-offs for hooks

(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: Future)

This passage uses hammer-ons and pull-offs to create a hooky riff – a creative way to take basic fingerstyle skills to the next level. 

Make sure your fingers cover their assigned strings at first, then try playing the two-note shapes with your first and second fingers.