Guitar Lesson: Getting Into Playing Finger Style Guitar

For this article a few highlights and comments about finger style guitar, how it is being used and how you can apply it to your own playing style.

I use the term “Finger Style” here in a general way, read it for anything you can play using your fingers instead of a plectrum.

  Alternating Thumb and First Finger of Picking Hand:

Technique is a wonderful thing, it will help your fingers to play anything you want, but for this to happen your technique needs to be solid and grounded on a few basic principles for it not to let your playing down. A solid technique can be acquired through a lot of playing and consistency in your playing. Assuming that your plectrum technique is in place, let us take a same approach with finger style as what you already do with the plectrum: Play alternate picking style using your thumb and first finger. This idea will work very well for single string ideas such as melodies, riffs and licks. Go slow in the beginning, just play thumb for any note which is on the beat and for the off beat use your first finger. You can also use thumb all the way through for most ideas which are being played on the low E, A and D string.
Try just using thumb, then alternate between thumb and first finger. Try to be as precise as you can and set up a rule for yourself where you can come back to. After a while this method will become second nature and you will be able to play using your fingers in this way without thinking, similar as to how you use the plectrum now.

More Advanced Ways to Play Finger Style:

The alternating style between thumb and first finger is an easy way to grasp how to play finger style. There are many different ways to execute your melodic ideas using your fingers. A good way to introduce you to various ways of finger style is to look at some tutor books which deal with Folk style guitar playing, or Classical style. The advantage of using tutor books is that your reading skills will improve at the same time as well.

  Guitar Tone and Finger Style:

Using finger style will give you a different tone, for some it may sound more mellow or smooth, but your playing can sound smooth using a plectrum as well. Once you are used to plectrum- and finger style you have a choice over which technique to use. The music you play should decide on what sounds best.

For later blogs I will create a few examples which will demonstrate various ways how to use your fingers.
Stay tuned and hope to catch you soon again,