How to Finger Pick a Guitar

By Contributor ; Updated September 15, 2017
Finger Pick a Guitar

How to Finger Pick a Guitar. Guitar finger picking expands your versatility as a musician. Use it as an alternative to a guitar pick or combine the two pick styles. To start, practice by just finger picking the open guitar strings then fret chords. Skip around and create some patterns.

Hold your guitar comfortably with your finger-picking hand over the sound hole. Your thumb should be straight, with your hand's knuckles facing up so you're looking at them.

Keep your wrist straight but relaxed and softly curl your fingers, hovering them above the top three strings or gently resting them on the strings; index finger on the third string (G), middle finger on the second string (B) and ring finger on the first string (E).

Use your thumb to pick the sixth, fifth and fourth strings (E-A-D). Move your thumb at the second joint and pick the string near the first joint and the fleshy part of the thumb in a smooth down-and-forward motion.

Pick your top three strings now by keeping your fingers curled but relaxed, and pick up and toward your palm.

Practice the pinch technique by taking your thumb index finger and picking two strings at once, for example, the fifth and first string, in a pinch-like motion.

Start finger picking some chords now, experiment with the pinch technique and combine different dyads.

Continue finger-picking chords but now simultaneously pick the top three strings. Practice producing a clear and even chordal tone. Balance this sound with bass thumb-picked notes and roam around your chords.

Tip

The picking movement comes from your thumb and fingers, not your wrist. You don't have to strictly use your thumb for strings six, five and four or your fingers for strings three, two and one. Get the feel for finger-picking then create different combinations.

Warning

Don't let the thumb or fingers stop on the adjacent string. This technique is called the rest stroke.

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