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Guitar Finger Picking Techniques

Mar 26, 2008
A great part of learning the guitar is focused on using the left hand. Presuming that you are right-handed, the left hand will be used to fret the strings in order to achieve your notes. However, after saying that, learning to use the right hand is just as important. It is your right hand that achieves the string vibration, therefore making music, so this action is vitally important. In order to undertake the picking, you can strum, use a plectrum, otherwise known as a pick, you can even use your fingers and fingernails, or your thumb. It is also possible to use a plastic finger pick.

Of course, when you decide to utilize your thumb for the purposes of picking, you will be playing it with a downward motion. And then of course, the motion will be upwards when you utilize the other four fingers. The action should always come from your arm, rather than moving your fingers and thumb. You should hold your arm and hand in a comfortable position over the guitar so that your fingers are just over the strings. Now you need to extend your fingers to see if you are able to touch each string with each finger.

When finger picking, the trick is to catch and release the string in one clean movement. The sound will be muted if you do not achieve this. The clear sound will be ruined if you accidentally brush against any other strings. You need to move smoothly, so it is essential to keep your hand and shoulders relaxed.

Practice as often as possible, each time attempting to maintain a constant rhythm between all of the notes that you are picking. It is true that it may take a little practice to master a good finger picking technique, but stick with it, because you will want to use it on a frequent basis. Whilst finger picking is more commonly seen with classical, Spanish and acoustic styles of guitar playing, it can in actual fact be used in many other forms. Always ensure that you can successfully undertake a few smooth chord changes before you begin to practice finger picking. By doing this, you will find that your overall style is largely enhanced with finger picking.

Below is a simple finger picking exercise across an E major chord.

- First, place your fingers of your left hand on the E chord shape.
- Then position your right hand over the strings.
- With your right hand, use a T123 pattern (T means thumb) to play the strings.

It is not necessary for all finger picking to be played in a pattern, but it is much more helpful for first timers to do so.

There are various different finger picking patterns available, so try a little variety, never focus on only one. However, after saying that when you are learning repetition is important. It is always helpful to dig that sound and movement into your head so that before long it will be possible for you to play it without even thinking. Begin slowly and ensure that you are completing the pattern without mistakes. Keep your practice session short to prevent boredom. Approximately 15 minutes at a time is enough.
About the Author
Kevin Sinclair is the publisher and editor of MusicianHome.com, a site that provides information and articles for musicians at all stages of their development.
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