How to Get Started on The Road to Play Fingerpicking Guitar

Playing the guitar by fingerpicking often takes effort to master; how would you explain those guitar tabs, fingers that have a mind of its own, and your long nails? But with time, you will manage. You just need a lot of patience, determination, an open mind, and a sensitive ear.

Fingerpicking, as the title says, means to play separate tunes on your guitar by using your fingers. This is entirely different from strumming, wherein you use either your thumb or some other finger to strum all the six strings on your guitar. Fingerpicking entails the use of either separate strings or two strings but not all the strings at once.

How to Get Started on The Road to Play Fingerpicking Guitar

So how do you learn fingerpicking? Learn and understand guitar tabs. There are many websites that would offer a helping hand for you to understand guitar tabs, but to give you a bird's eye view on the strange world (at first) of the guitar tabs, imagine six lines displayed horizontally, (called a tab staff) and each horizontal line means a string on your guitar. The very bottom of that staff represents the "E" string, then going higher to the next "A" string, then the "D" string, until the highest horizontal line, which represents the top "E" string.

After you begin learning about guitar tabs you will then question what are those numbers that lay in the middle of the horizontal lines. Let's take an example: Let's say you have the number "2" on the line that represents the "E" string. This means you have to pluck the "E" string, with your fingers pressing down on the 2nd fret of the "E" string. Simple right? This goes for any other number, except 0. When you see the number "0", it means that it is an open string, wherein you will pluck wherever the number is based but you will not press down on any fret. Hence, 0.

Guitar tabs at its most simplest form.

Learning guitar tabs is easy, but after you learn it you will face difficulties on plucking the guitar, like which fingers to choose. Well, that depends, but more or less you would start with a thumb. Let's give another example: suppose those guitar tabs mean that you have to pluck the chord "D". So, on the "G" string, I'll place my first finger; guitarists often use mostly the thumb. Then for the next string, you may place the second finger, or your index finger, on the "B" string, and then for the top "E" string, wherein you may place your third finger. After what the guitar tabs says, you can now proceed to pluck separately each string.

Most guitarists I know don't understand the difference between short nails and long nails and how it can affect their performance when it comes to fingerpicking, though it's quite obvious. But even though professional musicians can play the guitar with long nails, the beginner is often faced with long nails as interfering with his performance, like a nail that plucked accidentally a string that isn't supposed to be plucked. So the underlying tip here is: whatever nail type suits you, stick with it.

So what are you waiting for? Grab the nearest guitar and practice those tabs!

Learning to play guitar is fun and rewarding so if you enjoy fingerstyle guitarist like Tommy Emmanuel go ahead and get started on your journey to becoming one of them. You could be playing the Cannonball Rag sooner than you think!

by Jay Laican; Thursday, April 5, 2012 @ 12:42 PM [1483]

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