Fingerstyle guitar introduction

Greetings and welcome to! On this website I document what I have discovered and learned on my journey of learning to play fingerstyle guitar. If you have any thoughts, ideas, feedback or just want to say hello, please reach out to me at mail [at] fingerstyleguitar [dot] rocks. Happy music making!

What is fingerstyle guitar?

Fingerstyle guitar is a technique of playing acoustic and electric guitars using your fingers, instead of a pick. Sometimes it's also called fingerpicking, travis picking (named after Merle Travis) or cotton picking (named after Elizabeth Cotten). Playing the guitar with your fingers offers a wide range of possibilities that are not available when using a pick. In fingerstyle guitar, the thumb typically plays the bass line while the fingers play one or more melody lines, creating the illusion of multiple guitars playing at once.

On the acoustic guitar, fingerstyle is primarily played on steel string guitars. Some artists also use nylon string guitars, but this is rather the exception. Although nylon string guitars are almost always played with the fingers, this style of playing is referred to as classical guitar, rather than fingerstyle. The techniques used in classical guitar are very different from those used in fingerstyle guitar. However, there are exceptions to this rule, as some artists successfully combine both techniques in their playing.

The first step in learning fingerstyle guitar and at the same time the most challenging aspect is developing thumb independence. This means ensuring that your fingers, while playing the melody, are not affected by the movements of your thumb, which is playing the bass line. While it may seem simple, achieving thumb independence is a long process that can take months or even years, let alone improvising in this style, but more on this later!

Fingerstyle guitar lessons