Fingerpicking Magic 101 – Foundations

Fingerpicking done right from the beginning.

The Completion Level of Your Training.

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1 – Start Here

Note From The Author

Level: 2

Who is This For?

I designed this course for two kinds of learners.

Those wishing to learn fingerpicking guitar and are just starting out.

Those who have some experience, are not satisfied with their progress and wish to go back to the basics and improve their technique.

In both cases I am working with the assumption that you can play basic open chords and can change from one to the other.

If you are a complete beginner (newbie) it would benefit you to go through the Basic Guitar Chords And Songs course, or something equivalent.


What You Will Learn?

In this strategic learning module you learned how to do basic fingerpicking properly with a relaxed hand and good technique. In addition will cover a number of patterns that can be used for a variety of music and provide a structure to practice the basic technique.

Finally we’ll cover a brief introduction on playing chords and melody together as a foundation for learning solo style guitar playing if you so choose.

How to Get the Most Out Of Your Strategic Learning Module (SLM)

How to Get the Most Out Of Your Strategic Learning Module (SLM)

Firstly, if you are a member of Real Guitar Awesomeness please post any questions you have about this learning module in the Members Only Facebook Group.

 

  1. Read the entire SLM once – Read through this entire SLM, watch any videos and download the resources.  Don’t execute on the steps until you have finished reading the entire SLM.  This will help you understand the progression of the steps and put them into context.
  2. Complete the steps – This Learning Module is a checklist.  Each step builds upon the next.  Complete each step in order.

Lastly, here’s how to use the Strategic Learning Module interface.

View the example Learning Module below…

SLM-Example-Image1. Progress Bar – The Progress Bar shows you the percentage of the Learning Module you have completed.

2. Check boxes – Click the check box to indicate completion of a Course Step or Course Section.

3. Course Sections – A Learning Module is a series of steps that lead to the completion of milestones.

4. Course Sections – A Learning Module is a series of steps that lead to the completion of milestones.

5. Arrows – Use the Arrow Buttons to open and close the Course Steps in the Learning Module.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese Finger Trap

One of the biggest problems with learning fingerpicking occurs when students try to do something that’s more difficult than they can do accurately considering their skill level. This almost always causes them to tense their hand. This tension becomes a habit that’s difficult to break.

It’s kind of like one of those Chinese Finger Traps where you stick your fingers in a little wicker tube. The harder you pull the more the tube tightens on your fingers. With fingerpicking you want to push yourself to get better but you cannot play smoothly and easily unless your hands are relaxed.

 

chinese-finger-trap

The solution is to start with simple exercises using proper technique and hand position. Then pick up speed and complexity little by little while keeping your hand relaxed.

In this lesson I’ll show you a simple exercise that you can use to practice using the C chord and the G chord. We’ll also use the thumb and all three fingers on the right hand. Remember to be patient and just take it step-by-step.

 

 

 

What is a P I M A?

WHAT THE HECK IS P I M A?

To talk about which fingers in the right hand to use we’re going to label them. This is a system that gets its roots in classical guitar. The letters are referring to Spanish words. It’s a system that’s been around for many years and seems to work well. Let’s go with it.

 

guitar-hand

P – Thumb (Pulgar)

I – First or index finger (Indice)

M – Middle finger (Medio)

A – Ring finger (Anular)

 

 

1 – Start Here

Note From The Author

Level: 2

Who is This For?

I designed this course for two kinds of learners.

Those wishing to learn fingerpicking guitar and are just starting out.

Those who have some experience, are not satisfied with their progress and wish to go back to the basics and improve their technique.

In both cases I am working with the assumption that you can play basic open chords and can change from one to the other.

If you are a complete beginner (newbie) it would benefit you to go through the Basic Guitar Chords And Songs course, or something equivalent.


What You Will Learn?

In this strategic learning module you learned how to do basic fingerpicking properly with a relaxed hand and good technique. In addition will cover a number of patterns that can be used for a variety of music and provide a structure to practice the basic technique.

Finally we’ll cover a brief introduction on playing chords and melody together as a foundation for learning solo style guitar playing if you so choose.

How to Get the Most Out Of Your Strategic Learning Module (SLM)

How to Get the Most Out Of Your Strategic Learning Module (SLM)

Firstly, if you are a member of Real Guitar Awesomeness please post any questions you have about this learning module in the Members Only Facebook Group.

 

  1. Read the entire SLM once – Read through this entire SLM, watch any videos and download the resources.  Don’t execute on the steps until you have finished reading the entire SLM.  This will help you understand the progression of the steps and put them into context.
  2. Complete the steps – This Learning Module is a checklist.  Each step builds upon the next.  Complete each step in order.

Lastly, here’s how to use the Strategic Learning Module interface.

View the example Learning Module below…

SLM-Example-Image1. Progress Bar – The Progress Bar shows you the percentage of the Learning Module you have completed.

2. Check boxes – Click the check box to indicate completion of a Course Step or Course Section.

3. Course Sections – A Learning Module is a series of steps that lead to the completion of milestones.

4. Course Sections – A Learning Module is a series of steps that lead to the completion of milestones.

5. Arrows – Use the Arrow Buttons to open and close the Course Steps in the Learning Module.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese Finger Trap

One of the biggest problems with learning fingerpicking occurs when students try to do something that’s more difficult than they can do accurately considering their skill level. This almost always causes them to tense their hand. This tension becomes a habit that’s difficult to break.

It’s kind of like one of those Chinese Finger Traps where you stick your fingers in a little wicker tube. The harder you pull the more the tube tightens on your fingers. With fingerpicking you want to push yourself to get better but you cannot play smoothly and easily unless your hands are relaxed.

 

chinese-finger-trap

The solution is to start with simple exercises using proper technique and hand position. Then pick up speed and complexity little by little while keeping your hand relaxed.

In this lesson I’ll show you a simple exercise that you can use to practice using the C chord and the G chord. We’ll also use the thumb and all three fingers on the right hand. Remember to be patient and just take it step-by-step.

 

 

 

What is a P I M A?

WHAT THE HECK IS P I M A?

To talk about which fingers in the right hand to use we’re going to label them. This is a system that gets its roots in classical guitar. The letters are referring to Spanish words. It’s a system that’s been around for many years and seems to work well. Let’s go with it.

 

guitar-hand

P – Thumb (Pulgar)

I – First or index finger (Indice)

M – Middle finger (Medio)

A – Ring finger (Anular)

 

 

2 – Basic Technique

Watch The Lesson 1 Video

Proper Technique Makes For Smooth Fast Picking Over Time

Developing Proper Technique From The Beginning

To get started place your thumb (p) of the right-hand on the fifth string of the guitar. Now place the first finger (i) on the third string, middle finger (m) on the second string and ring finger (a) on the first string. Have your fingers resting on the strings with your hand relaxed and fingers slightly bent.

Let’s practice the basic movement in the right-hand. Don’t worry about any chords in the left and yet. Push your thumb down through the fifth string until it comes to rest on the fourth string. Pull the first finger through the third string toward the middle of your palm. I like to think of pulling “through” the string on the way to your palm as opposed to “pulling “on” or “out”.

Now pull the middle finger through the second string toward the middle of your palm. Stay relaxed. Finally pull the ring finger through the first string.

The basic movement is that the thumb presses down and the fingers pull gently into your palm with just enough energy to play the string with a nice clean motion. The entire hand days at pretty much the same distance from the strings throughout this motion.

It’s important to note that the entire hand does NOT pull away from the strings to make the sound. This “bouncing”motion that many beginners do makes it difficult to play smoothly. Just pull your fingers gently into your palm. Then replace all the fingers including the thumb and start over.

 

Guitar Learning Tip:

Your hand should stay even to the strings as your fingers pull into your palm. Avoid the temptation to let your entire hand bounce up and down from the face of the guitar.

 

 

Practice with Chords

Practice with Chords

After you’ve spend some time practicing the basic movement it’s time to try it with some chords. Start by making the C chord in your left hand. Now place the fingers in the proper position on the right-hand. Press this thumb through the first string and then each of the fingers one at a time starting with the first finger.

Now replace the fingers and repeat the same pattern. First the thumb, then first finger, second finger and third finger. Repeat this a few more times and see if you can began to reduce the time it takes to replace all the fingers on the strings in the right-hand.

The idea is to get a fluid motion. You want to get a slow steady pulse going with no hesitation between each of the notes.

 

Adding the G Chord

Finger the G chord in your left hand. Though there are many ways to finger the G chord any fingering that you prefer is fine for this exercise.

Place the thumb on the sixth string. That’s where the root note of the G chord is… the G bass note. Placed your fingers on the top three strings like you did with the C chord… first finger on the third string, middle finger on the second string and ring finger on the first string.

Now press the six string with your thumb and pull off the fingers one at a time with an even motion. Replace your fingers and thumb. Repeat this entire process several times. Again you’re trying to get the motion even and without hesitation. Go as slow as you need to.

 

Resources:

Several Ways to Finger the G Chord

 

Put It All Together

Put It All Together

Now for the fun part. You’re going to play each chord two times then change to the next chord. Here’s what one time looks like: thumb, first finger, middle finger and ring finger. That’s four guitar notes. Do this motion two times, then move to the next chord.

Okay, here goes.

  1. Place your left hand on the C chord and your right-hand in position. Remember the thumb goes on the fifth string for the C chord.
  2. Pluck all four notes, replace the fingers and pluck all four notes again.
  3. Now change the left hand to form the G chord. Place your right-hand in position with the thumb on the six string.
  4. Pluck all four notes, replace the fingers and pluck all four notes again.
  5. Rinse And Repeat. Go back to the C chord and repeat the process.

fingerpicking-exercise-lesson-1 (1)

 In the above diagram I’m using both standard music notation and tablature. If you’re unfamiliar with tablature this lesson I created in the resource section maybe just what you need.

Resources:

The Skinny On Tablature

Practice Tips

Practice Tips

Go slow and try to get the notes as even as possible. You’ll probably find that the most difficult parts to keep even are 1) placing your fingers back on the strings, and 2) when you change chords. In the beginning you’ll need to work on the right-hand first and get comfortable with the motion of plucking the strings and replacing the fingers. Little by little with practice it will become one fluid motion.

It will be easier to focus on changing chords smoothly once the right-hand is more coordinated. Be patient with yourself… but persistent. Keep coming back at it a little bit each day. Check in with your right hand regularly to make sure you’re staying relaxed. Stop and shake out your hand if you need to… then start up again.

 

Persistence Is The Key

There was a time when I could just barely imagine what it would be like to play simple fingerpicking patterns without struggling and straining. Now I can play complex fingerstyle patterns without even thinking about my right hand. It’s just a habit they came from years of practice and playing the guitar.

I want you to know that you can do this just as well as I can. You do need to make a choice somewhere along the way to just keep coming back at it… persistence!. What seems difficult gives way to repetition.

The tips that I’ve given you and the method for practicing are meant to shorten the process. I want to give you the benefit of my experience. I believe you can get to the same place quicker than I did if you take advantage of my experience.

But whether slow or quick if you are persistent you will play beautiful fingerpicking patterns on the guitar and not only impress your friends and family but have a wonderful time doing it.

2 – Basic Technique

Watch The Lesson 1 Video

Proper Technique Makes For Smooth Fast Picking Over Time

Developing Proper Technique From The Beginning

To get started place your thumb (p) of the right-hand on the fifth string of the guitar. Now place the first finger (i) on the third string, middle finger (m) on the second string and ring finger (a) on the first string. Have your fingers resting on the strings with your hand relaxed and fingers slightly bent.

Let’s practice the basic movement in the right-hand. Don’t worry about any chords in the left and yet. Push your thumb down through the fifth string until it comes to rest on the fourth string. Pull the first finger through the third string toward the middle of your palm. I like to think of pulling “through” the string on the way to your palm as opposed to “pulling “on” or “out”.

Now pull the middle finger through the second string toward the middle of your palm. Stay relaxed. Finally pull the ring finger through the first string.

The basic movement is that the thumb presses down and the fingers pull gently into your palm with just enough energy to play the string with a nice clean motion. The entire hand days at pretty much the same distance from the strings throughout this motion.

It’s important to note that the entire hand does NOT pull away from the strings to make the sound. This “bouncing”motion that many beginners do makes it difficult to play smoothly. Just pull your fingers gently into your palm. Then replace all the fingers including the thumb and start over.

 

Guitar Learning Tip:

Your hand should stay even to the strings as your fingers pull into your palm. Avoid the temptation to let your entire hand bounce up and down from the face of the guitar.

 

 

Practice with Chords

Practice with Chords

After you’ve spend some time practicing the basic movement it’s time to try it with some chords. Start by making the C chord in your left hand. Now place the fingers in the proper position on the right-hand. Press this thumb through the first string and then each of the fingers one at a time starting with the first finger.

Now replace the fingers and repeat the same pattern. First the thumb, then first finger, second finger and third finger. Repeat this a few more times and see if you can began to reduce the time it takes to replace all the fingers on the strings in the right-hand.

The idea is to get a fluid motion. You want to get a slow steady pulse going with no hesitation between each of the notes.

 

Adding the G Chord

Finger the G chord in your left hand. Though there are many ways to finger the G chord any fingering that you prefer is fine for this exercise.

Place the thumb on the sixth string. That’s where the root note of the G chord is… the G bass note. Placed your fingers on the top three strings like you did with the C chord… first finger on the third string, middle finger on the second string and ring finger on the first string.

Now press the six string with your thumb and pull off the fingers one at a time with an even motion. Replace your fingers and thumb. Repeat this entire process several times. Again you’re trying to get the motion even and without hesitation. Go as slow as you need to.

 

Resources:

Several Ways to Finger the G Chord

 

Put It All Together

Put It All Together

Now for the fun part. You’re going to play each chord two times then change to the next chord. Here’s what one time looks like: thumb, first finger, middle finger and ring finger. That’s four guitar notes. Do this motion two times, then move to the next chord.

Okay, here goes.

  1. Place your left hand on the C chord and your right-hand in position. Remember the thumb goes on the fifth string for the C chord.
  2. Pluck all four notes, replace the fingers and pluck all four notes again.
  3. Now change the left hand to form the G chord. Place your right-hand in position with the thumb on the six string.
  4. Pluck all four notes, replace the fingers and pluck all four notes again.
  5. Rinse And Repeat. Go back to the C chord and repeat the process.

fingerpicking-exercise-lesson-1 (1)

 In the above diagram I’m using both standard music notation and tablature. If you’re unfamiliar with tablature this lesson I created in the resource section maybe just what you need.

Resources:

The Skinny On Tablature

Practice Tips

Practice Tips

Go slow and try to get the notes as even as possible. You’ll probably find that the most difficult parts to keep even are 1) placing your fingers back on the strings, and 2) when you change chords. In the beginning you’ll need to work on the right-hand first and get comfortable with the motion of plucking the strings and replacing the fingers. Little by little with practice it will become one fluid motion.

It will be easier to focus on changing chords smoothly once the right-hand is more coordinated. Be patient with yourself… but persistent. Keep coming back at it a little bit each day. Check in with your right hand regularly to make sure you’re staying relaxed. Stop and shake out your hand if you need to… then start up again.

 

Persistence Is The Key

There was a time when I could just barely imagine what it would be like to play simple fingerpicking patterns without struggling and straining. Now I can play complex fingerstyle patterns without even thinking about my right hand. It’s just a habit they came from years of practice and playing the guitar.

I want you to know that you can do this just as well as I can. You do need to make a choice somewhere along the way to just keep coming back at it… persistence!. What seems difficult gives way to repetition.

The tips that I’ve given you and the method for practicing are meant to shorten the process. I want to give you the benefit of my experience. I believe you can get to the same place quicker than I did if you take advantage of my experience.

But whether slow or quick if you are persistent you will play beautiful fingerpicking patterns on the guitar and not only impress your friends and family but have a wonderful time doing it.

3 – Next Level

Fingering The D Minor Chord

Fingering The D Minor Chord

In this lesson we will be using the D minor chord. If you’re not familiar with that chord it would be best to practice it first. To play the D minor chord put your first finger on the first string, first fret. Now stretch your second finger over to the third string, second fret. Finally place your pinky on the second string, third fret.

An alternate fingering for this chord is to use your third finger in place of your pinky. In other words your third finger is on the second string, third fret. I usually prefer the version with my pinky but they are both useful and there is no right or wrong.

 

beautiful-d-minor-chord (1)

 

Watch Lesson 2

:

Do I Need Fingernails for Fingerpicking?

Do I Need Fingernails for Fingerpicking?

This is a common question I get from students learning to fingerpick. The short answer is you do not need to have nails to do fingerpicking. Now for the longer answer 🙂

When you fingerpick without nails the sound is softer and less distinct. What I mean is that the individual notes are not as clear. When you use nails it adds a little bit of bite to each note and makes it clearer and more distinct. To some degree it depends on the style of music you’re playing, but generally I prefer the sound with fingernails.

Now to be clear I’m not actually picking just with my nails. I’m hitting the string with the flesh of my finger first and then the string to rolls off the tip of my nail. In essence I’m using both the fleshy part of my finger and the nail to get the sound I want. If I use just the nail the sound would be very tinny and not very pleasant.

To do this properly not only takes lots of practice but you’ll need to shape and smooth your nails regularly. I recommend if you’re just starting out to practice without nails. As time goes on you can decide if you want to grow your nails and shape them in the appropriate way for fingerpicking.

 

guitar-finger-nail

 

As a side note: if you want to play either classical or flamenco guitar properly you would definitely need to grow your nails and learn to shape them properly. It is not uncommon for a good classical guitar teacher to spend an entire session or two on shaping your nails properly.

Understanding The Written Musical Notation


Understanding The Written Musical Notation

The fingerpicking exercise on this video is in 4/4 time. That means that each quarter note gets one beat and there are four beats in a measure. Since we are playing eight notes in each measure it means that each note is actually one half of the beat. Take a look at the written out diagram below to understand better what I mean.

 

eight-note-diagram (1)

In the video I count: one and two and three and four and. Each of the numbers indicates one note and every time I say “and” I’m indicating one note also. This is a common way of talking out eight notes.

Resources:

If musical notation is new to you it would help to watch my video Understanding Musical Symbols.

 

Preparing for Fingerpicking Exercise #2

Preparing for Fingerpicking Exercise #2

It’s helpful to practice some of the individual chord changes with the fingerpicking pattern before tackling the full exercise. Try this:

 

  1. Practice playing C to G with a simple straight down strum. Strum the C four times, then switch to G and strum it four times. Use either your thumb or a pick and strum straight down. Practice changing chords without slowing down or speeding up. Spend just a few minutes on this before doing the next step.
  2. Practice C to G with fingerpicking. Now do the same thing with the fingerpicking pattern. Play slowly and again be sure not to slow down when you change chords. Now you’re practicing changing chords and fingerpicking at the same time.
  3. Repeat the process with D minor to G. Now do the same thing with these two chords. First practice changing with a simple straight down strum. Then practice using the fingerpicking pattern.

 

If you spend just a few minutes on each of these steps it will help you tremendously when you practice the entire exercise.

 

Time to Practice The Entire Fingerpicking Exercise

Time to Practice The Entire Fingerpicking Exercise

Now that you are prepared properly it’s time to play the entire exercise.

I recommend playing the exercise several times through before trying it along with the video. It does help to watch the video first so you have a good mental image of what you’re trying to do.

 

  • Placed your fingers in the proper right hand position and your left hand on the C chord. Play two fingerpicking patterns on the C chord. Switch to the G chord and play two fingerpicking patterns.
  • Repeat C to G.
  • Next move the left hand to finger the D minor chord. Place the fingers in position and play two fingerpicking patterns using the D minor chord. Now switch to the G chord and play two fingerpicking patterns.
  • Repeat D minor to G.
  • Go back to the beginning and repeat the entire process.

 

fingerpicking-exercise-2

Some Guitar Practice Reminders

Some Guitar Practice Reminders

Even though it’s a little bit difficult to play the exercise slowly at first it’s important to get the proper technique. Pick up the speed little by little. If you find that your technique is starting to get off track it’s time to slow down again and work on it.

The other important aspect of practicing these exercises is to keep from getting really tense. Now it’s probably impossible to stay completely relaxed but you want to keep working at breaking the tension before it gets too bad. If you’re right hand gets really sore it’s time to take a little break and come back at it later

 

3 – Next Level

Fingering The D Minor Chord

Fingering The D Minor Chord

In this lesson we will be using the D minor chord. If you’re not familiar with that chord it would be best to practice it first. To play the D minor chord put your first finger on the first string, first fret. Now stretch your second finger over to the third string, second fret. Finally place your pinky on the second string, third fret.

An alternate fingering for this chord is to use your third finger in place of your pinky. In other words your third finger is on the second string, third fret. I usually prefer the version with my pinky but they are both useful and there is no right or wrong.

 

beautiful-d-minor-chord (1)

 

Watch Lesson 2

:

Do I Need Fingernails for Fingerpicking?

Do I Need Fingernails for Fingerpicking?

This is a common question I get from students learning to fingerpick. The short answer is you do not need to have nails to do fingerpicking. Now for the longer answer 🙂

When you fingerpick without nails the sound is softer and less distinct. What I mean is that the individual notes are not as clear. When you use nails it adds a little bit of bite to each note and makes it clearer and more distinct. To some degree it depends on the style of music you’re playing, but generally I prefer the sound with fingernails.

Now to be clear I’m not actually picking just with my nails. I’m hitting the string with the flesh of my finger first and then the string to rolls off the tip of my nail. In essence I’m using both the fleshy part of my finger and the nail to get the sound I want. If I use just the nail the sound would be very tinny and not very pleasant.

To do this properly not only takes lots of practice but you’ll need to shape and smooth your nails regularly. I recommend if you’re just starting out to practice without nails. As time goes on you can decide if you want to grow your nails and shape them in the appropriate way for fingerpicking.

 

guitar-finger-nail

 

As a side note: if you want to play either classical or flamenco guitar properly you would definitely need to grow your nails and learn to shape them properly. It is not uncommon for a good classical guitar teacher to spend an entire session or two on shaping your nails properly.

Understanding The Written Musical Notation


Understanding The Written Musical Notation

The fingerpicking exercise on this video is in 4/4 time. That means that each quarter note gets one beat and there are four beats in a measure. Since we are playing eight notes in each measure it means that each note is actually one half of the beat. Take a look at the written out diagram below to understand better what I mean.

 

eight-note-diagram (1)

In the video I count: one and two and three and four and. Each of the numbers indicates one note and every time I say “and” I’m indicating one note also. This is a common way of talking out eight notes.

Resources:

If musical notation is new to you it would help to watch my video Understanding Musical Symbols.

 

Preparing for Fingerpicking Exercise #2

Preparing for Fingerpicking Exercise #2

It’s helpful to practice some of the individual chord changes with the fingerpicking pattern before tackling the full exercise. Try this:

 

  1. Practice playing C to G with a simple straight down strum. Strum the C four times, then switch to G and strum it four times. Use either your thumb or a pick and strum straight down. Practice changing chords without slowing down or speeding up. Spend just a few minutes on this before doing the next step.
  2. Practice C to G with fingerpicking. Now do the same thing with the fingerpicking pattern. Play slowly and again be sure not to slow down when you change chords. Now you’re practicing changing chords and fingerpicking at the same time.
  3. Repeat the process with D minor to G. Now do the same thing with these two chords. First practice changing with a simple straight down strum. Then practice using the fingerpicking pattern.

 

If you spend just a few minutes on each of these steps it will help you tremendously when you practice the entire exercise.

 

Time to Practice The Entire Fingerpicking Exercise

Time to Practice The Entire Fingerpicking Exercise

Now that you are prepared properly it’s time to play the entire exercise.

I recommend playing the exercise several times through before trying it along with the video. It does help to watch the video first so you have a good mental image of what you’re trying to do.

 

  • Placed your fingers in the proper right hand position and your left hand on the C chord. Play two fingerpicking patterns on the C chord. Switch to the G chord and play two fingerpicking patterns.
  • Repeat C to G.
  • Next move the left hand to finger the D minor chord. Place the fingers in position and play two fingerpicking patterns using the D minor chord. Now switch to the G chord and play two fingerpicking patterns.
  • Repeat D minor to G.
  • Go back to the beginning and repeat the entire process.

 

fingerpicking-exercise-2

Some Guitar Practice Reminders

Some Guitar Practice Reminders

Even though it’s a little bit difficult to play the exercise slowly at first it’s important to get the proper technique. Pick up the speed little by little. If you find that your technique is starting to get off track it’s time to slow down again and work on it.

The other important aspect of practicing these exercises is to keep from getting really tense. Now it’s probably impossible to stay completely relaxed but you want to keep working at breaking the tension before it gets too bad. If you’re right hand gets really sore it’s time to take a little break and come back at it later

 

4 – Fingerpicking Patterns

Watch The Lesson 3 Video

 

 

 

Practice The Pattern With C and G

Practice The Pattern With C and G

In this play along video you’ll get some practice with this fingerpicking pattern using just two chords… The C chord and the G chord. Play along with this video until you can keep up with my playing about 80% of the time. Then go ahead and check it off and move on to the next exercise.

It’s helpful to find a balance between trying to get it perfect and moving on too quickly before you’re ready. If you move on too quickly the later exercises will be very difficult and you’re likely to start tensing up your fingers. On the other hand if you try to get it perfect you’ll never move on.

Usually it’s best to go for around 70 to 80% of what you think would be completely accurate playing. You’ll make up that last 20% or so as you progress through the next exercises.

 

Play Fingerpicking Exercise #3

Play Fingerpicking Exercise #3

Now since you’ve practice the fingerpicking pattern with just two chords you’re ready to play the entire exercise. Referred to the lesson three video when needed, but it’s best to memorize the chord progression.

You’ll find with a little effort it’s actually easier to play without looking at the music or watching the video. The “little effort” I’m talking about is using your memory muscle.

As usual go for around 70 or 80% and then check it off and move on to the next section.

 

FM-Exercise-3

 

4 – Fingerpicking Patterns

Watch The Lesson 3 Video

 

 

 

Practice The Pattern With C and G

Practice The Pattern With C and G

In this play along video you’ll get some practice with this fingerpicking pattern using just two chords… The C chord and the G chord. Play along with this video until you can keep up with my playing about 80% of the time. Then go ahead and check it off and move on to the next exercise.

It’s helpful to find a balance between trying to get it perfect and moving on too quickly before you’re ready. If you move on too quickly the later exercises will be very difficult and you’re likely to start tensing up your fingers. On the other hand if you try to get it perfect you’ll never move on.

Usually it’s best to go for around 70 to 80% of what you think would be completely accurate playing. You’ll make up that last 20% or so as you progress through the next exercises.

 

Play Fingerpicking Exercise #3

Play Fingerpicking Exercise #3

Now since you’ve practice the fingerpicking pattern with just two chords you’re ready to play the entire exercise. Referred to the lesson three video when needed, but it’s best to memorize the chord progression.

You’ll find with a little effort it’s actually easier to play without looking at the music or watching the video. The “little effort” I’m talking about is using your memory muscle.

As usual go for around 70 or 80% and then check it off and move on to the next section.

 

FM-Exercise-3

 

5 – Alternating Bass Notes

Watch Lesson 4

Playing Alternating Bass Notes – D & G

Playing Alternating Bass Notes – D & G

Here’s a practice play along video to help you get the hang of using alternate bass notes.

 

A Little Theory – Root And 5th

A Little Theory – Root And Fifth

In case you’re not familiar with the terms “root and fifth” I thought I’d explain a little here.

The terms “root and fifth” refer to the position of the note within the chord.

The root of the chord is the note that the chord is built on. If the chord is a C chord the root of the chord would be the note C.

The “C” can refer to both the chord and a note. In other words you can have a C major chord, and you can have a C note. The C note is what we’re calling the root note of the C chord. The root note of a chord is a very common note to use as a bass note.

 

Root-5th-Example

 

I’ve said this in several different ways because I’ve had people confused about this in the past.

To make sure it’s clear here’s a few more examples:

  • the root note of the Fm7 chord is the F note
  • the root note of the G7 chord is the G note
  • the root note of the D chord is the D note
  • the root note of the E6 chord is the E note

Do you see the pattern? The chord is always named after the root note.

Now don’t get confused between root note and bass note. Even though the root note often makes a good bass note it is not always the bass note.

 

Now For The 5th

The of the chord is another common note used in the base. You can find which note is the fifth by counting up from the root note. You would count up five notes.

I give you an example. The fifth of the C chord is the note G. I counted up from C. That’s C, D, E, F and then G. One, two, three, four, and five.

Here’s another. The fifth of the D chord is the note A. I counted up from D. That’s D, E, F#, G and then A. One, two, three, four, and five. Remember the musical alphabet only goes from A to G and then starts over.

Did you notice I said F sharp (#) and not just F? That’s because in the key of D the note F is naturally sharp.

Now to be able to count up accurately for any chord you will have to know your key signatures. Key signatures tell you which notes are flat and sharp in any key.

I’ll show you what I mean.

The fifth of the B chord is the note… F#. I counted up from B. That’s B, C# D#, E,and then F#. One, two, three, four, and five. In the key of B the note F is naturally sharp.

A complete study of key signatures is beyond the scope of this short theory lesson, but I encourage you to look for opportunities to learn more about this.

 

Just One More Thing…

Another way to arrive at the fifth is to count intervals. I consider understanding intervals to be one of the first and most important things to learn about in music theory. If you’re new to understanding intervals check out another short introductory lesson I’ve created that you can find below.

 

Resources:

Guitar Theory Lesson 1 – Basic Intervals

 

 

Practicing More Chord Changes

Practicing More Chord Changes

Two more sets of chords like you did in the previous lesson Playing Alternating Bass Notes with D and G chords.

First practice with the chords A and D.

 

FM-Practice-A-and-D

For the A chord use the bass notes A (the open fifth string) which is the root of the chord. For the fifth of the chord use the E (open six string).

Then practice in the same way using the G chord and the A chord.

FM-Practice-G-and-A

Once you’ve done this you will have practice all the movements of the chords in this exercise. You’ll be well-prepared for exercise number 4.

 

Play Exercise #4

Play Exercise #4

Okay, it’s time to play the exercise from memory. Go ahead and review the video if you need to and use the chart below, but work to where you can play it without looking. Once you can do that, even slowly, you can go ahead and check off this one.

 

FM-Exercise-4

5 – Alternating Bass Notes

Watch Lesson 4

Playing Alternating Bass Notes – D & G

Playing Alternating Bass Notes – D & G

Here’s a practice play along video to help you get the hang of using alternate bass notes.

 

A Little Theory – Root And 5th

A Little Theory – Root And Fifth

In case you’re not familiar with the terms “root and fifth” I thought I’d explain a little here.

The terms “root and fifth” refer to the position of the note within the chord.

The root of the chord is the note that the chord is built on. If the chord is a C chord the root of the chord would be the note C.

The “C” can refer to both the chord and a note. In other words you can have a C major chord, and you can have a C note. The C note is what we’re calling the root note of the C chord. The root note of a chord is a very common note to use as a bass note.

 

Root-5th-Example

 

I’ve said this in several different ways because I’ve had people confused about this in the past.

To make sure it’s clear here’s a few more examples:

  • the root note of the Fm7 chord is the F note
  • the root note of the G7 chord is the G note
  • the root note of the D chord is the D note
  • the root note of the E6 chord is the E note

Do you see the pattern? The chord is always named after the root note.

Now don’t get confused between root note and bass note. Even though the root note often makes a good bass note it is not always the bass note.

 

Now For The 5th

The of the chord is another common note used in the base. You can find which note is the fifth by counting up from the root note. You would count up five notes.

I give you an example. The fifth of the C chord is the note G. I counted up from C. That’s C, D, E, F and then G. One, two, three, four, and five.

Here’s another. The fifth of the D chord is the note A. I counted up from D. That’s D, E, F#, G and then A. One, two, three, four, and five. Remember the musical alphabet only goes from A to G and then starts over.

Did you notice I said F sharp (#) and not just F? That’s because in the key of D the note F is naturally sharp.

Now to be able to count up accurately for any chord you will have to know your key signatures. Key signatures tell you which notes are flat and sharp in any key.

I’ll show you what I mean.

The fifth of the B chord is the note… F#. I counted up from B. That’s B, C# D#, E,and then F#. One, two, three, four, and five. In the key of B the note F is naturally sharp.

A complete study of key signatures is beyond the scope of this short theory lesson, but I encourage you to look for opportunities to learn more about this.

 

Just One More Thing…

Another way to arrive at the fifth is to count intervals. I consider understanding intervals to be one of the first and most important things to learn about in music theory. If you’re new to understanding intervals check out another short introductory lesson I’ve created that you can find below.

 

Resources:

Guitar Theory Lesson 1 – Basic Intervals

 

 

Practicing More Chord Changes

Practicing More Chord Changes

Two more sets of chords like you did in the previous lesson Playing Alternating Bass Notes with D and G chords.

First practice with the chords A and D.

 

FM-Practice-A-and-D

For the A chord use the bass notes A (the open fifth string) which is the root of the chord. For the fifth of the chord use the E (open six string).

Then practice in the same way using the G chord and the A chord.

FM-Practice-G-and-A

Once you’ve done this you will have practice all the movements of the chords in this exercise. You’ll be well-prepared for exercise number 4.

 

Play Exercise #4

Play Exercise #4

Okay, it’s time to play the exercise from memory. Go ahead and review the video if you need to and use the chart below, but work to where you can play it without looking. Once you can do that, even slowly, you can go ahead and check off this one.

 

FM-Exercise-4

6 – Up/Down Arpeggio Pattern

Watch the lesson 5

:

Cool Chord – F Major 7 (#11)

Cool Chord – F Major 7 (#11)

 

FM7#11-chord

Finger this chord several times and strum each of the notes to make sure there sounding.

Then strum the whole chord quickly so you can hear what it sounds like. Kind of wild isn’t it? That sound is called dissonance.

It will make more sense when you play it in context of the chord progression. That’s because chords with dissonance sound better when you resolve the dissonance to the next chord.

 

 

Practice The Spanish Guitar Progression

Practice The Spanish Guitar Progression

 

Spanish Guitar Progression With Fingerpicking Pattern

Spanish Guitar Progression With Fingerpicking Pattern

Go ahead and play the entire progression with the fingerpicking pattern. You can review the lesson five video if you need help, but try to get where you memorize the pattern so you can focus on getting the fingerpicking smooth.

 

FM-Exercise-5

E sus 4 Chord

E sus 4 Chord

Here’s another cool chord that you may want to add to the end of this progression. Let’s consider this optional at this point. You can hear what it sounds like at the end of the lesson five video.

 

Esus4-chord

6 – Up/Down Arpeggio Pattern

Watch the lesson 5

:

Cool Chord – F Major 7 (#11)

Cool Chord – F Major 7 (#11)

 

FM7#11-chord

Finger this chord several times and strum each of the notes to make sure there sounding.

Then strum the whole chord quickly so you can hear what it sounds like. Kind of wild isn’t it? That sound is called dissonance.

It will make more sense when you play it in context of the chord progression. That’s because chords with dissonance sound better when you resolve the dissonance to the next chord.

 

 

Practice The Spanish Guitar Progression

Practice The Spanish Guitar Progression

 

Spanish Guitar Progression With Fingerpicking Pattern

Spanish Guitar Progression With Fingerpicking Pattern

Go ahead and play the entire progression with the fingerpicking pattern. You can review the lesson five video if you need help, but try to get where you memorize the pattern so you can focus on getting the fingerpicking smooth.

 

FM-Exercise-5

E sus 4 Chord

E sus 4 Chord

Here’s another cool chord that you may want to add to the end of this progression. Let’s consider this optional at this point. You can hear what it sounds like at the end of the lesson five video.

 

Esus4-chord

7 – Famous Up/Down/Up Pattern

Watch Lesson 6

:

Practice The Basic Pattern

Here’s a play along video to help you practice the basic pattern with different chords. Feel free to stop the video at any time and practice separately and then come back to it.

 

Adding The Infamous F Chord

Adding The Infamous F Chord

If you’re already comfortable with the F chord just check this off and move on. If not here’s some help:

 

Pachelbel Canon Progression

Pachelbel Canon Progression

In this exercise I want you to practice the chords by themselves without the fingerpicking. Just strum each chord four times. Each of the slashes in the diagram below represent one strum. This is a fairly standard way to write a chart for a chord progression.

Go as slow as you need to. I recommend using a metronome to help you stay on time. Start slow, then little by little turned up the speed on the metronome to challenge yourself.

From time to time check each chord to make sure all the notes are sounding. It will become more obvious when you start the fingerpicking.

In case you’re wondering what were doing is isolating different elements and practicing them separately. Then when you put them all together will be much easier.

 

pachelbel-canon-progression-1 Here’s a way to get even more benefit from this practice.

Instead of playing each chord four times I want you to play the chord just two times. This will give you more practice changing chords.

Make sure and practice it slowly at first and only after you feel fairly comfortable with the first exercise.

 

pachelbel-canon-progression-2

 

 

Adding The Fingerpicking Pattern

Adding The Fingerpicking Pattern

Let’s put it all together. You can review the lesson six video and use this chart to help you and tell you memorize the progression.

 

FM-Exercise-6

 

The Value Of Memorizing

The Value Of Memorizing

Memorizing the exercises is an important aspect that will help you tremendously. Unfortunately I found many students reluctant to put in the extra effort to memorize and get stuck following the charts or playing along with the videos.

There are two important benefits to memorizing:

  1. Once you’ve memorized the exercise you can put your full attention on working out the details like relaxing, playing smoothly and not pausing between chord changes. As long as your attention is divided between looking at something else and trying to pay attention to what you’re doing it will be very difficult to really play it properly.
  2. When you start using your memory muscle your mind becomes sharper and it becomes easier to memorize exercises and songs in the future.

 

The thing is it’s not really as difficult as you might think. Here are some tips that will help you.

  1. Chunk it down. Memorize small sections at a time. For example if you’re trying to memorize an exercise that is eight measures long start by memorizing four measures. Then memorize the next for measures. Finally put the two parts (chunks) together.
  2. Look for repeating patterns. Many times you’ll see sections of an exercise or song actually repeat. You don’t have to memorize everything as if it’s all new and different. Look over the entire song or exercise first to see if there are sections that just repeat. Then look over the material again and see if some sections are very similar to each other. It’s easier to remember what’s different if the sections are almost alike.
  3. Work on memorization when you’re fresh. Don’t try to memorize when you’re tired at the end of the day. You’re really swimming upstream. Work at it when your mind is fresh. For many people that’s early in the morning. I find my best times are early in the morning and after a break in the afternoon.
  4. Be consistent. Try to work at memorization a little bit each day, or at least several times a week. It will become less difficult much faster if you come back at it over and over consistently.
  5. Listen first. If you have an audio version of the song or exercise listen to it several times to get a clear audio image in your mind of what you’re aiming after. If it’s only written at least you can look it over and get a clear visual image of the entire material.
  6. Look for standard chord progressions. One of the benefits of learning common chord progressions is that it makes it much easier when the song or exercise uses one of those progressions.

These are just a few tips that have really helped me and my students. Different things work for different people and I encourage you to experiment and see what really works for you.

 

Resources:

Here’s a link to a wiki article that I like that puts the memorization process into a step-by-step system.

Memorize Sheet Music

 

Here’s my lesson on Common Chord Progressions with even more resources.

Play the Guitar Faster Using Common Chord Progressions

 

 

7 – Famous Up/Down/Up Pattern

Watch Lesson 6

:

Practice The Basic Pattern

Here’s a play along video to help you practice the basic pattern with different chords. Feel free to stop the video at any time and practice separately and then come back to it.

 

Adding The Infamous F Chord

Adding The Infamous F Chord

If you’re already comfortable with the F chord just check this off and move on. If not here’s some help:

 

Pachelbel Canon Progression

Pachelbel Canon Progression

In this exercise I want you to practice the chords by themselves without the fingerpicking. Just strum each chord four times. Each of the slashes in the diagram below represent one strum. This is a fairly standard way to write a chart for a chord progression.

Go as slow as you need to. I recommend using a metronome to help you stay on time. Start slow, then little by little turned up the speed on the metronome to challenge yourself.

From time to time check each chord to make sure all the notes are sounding. It will become more obvious when you start the fingerpicking.

In case you’re wondering what were doing is isolating different elements and practicing them separately. Then when you put them all together will be much easier.

 

pachelbel-canon-progression-1 Here’s a way to get even more benefit from this practice.

Instead of playing each chord four times I want you to play the chord just two times. This will give you more practice changing chords.

Make sure and practice it slowly at first and only after you feel fairly comfortable with the first exercise.

 

pachelbel-canon-progression-2

 

 

Adding The Fingerpicking Pattern

Adding The Fingerpicking Pattern

Let’s put it all together. You can review the lesson six video and use this chart to help you and tell you memorize the progression.

 

FM-Exercise-6

 

The Value Of Memorizing

The Value Of Memorizing

Memorizing the exercises is an important aspect that will help you tremendously. Unfortunately I found many students reluctant to put in the extra effort to memorize and get stuck following the charts or playing along with the videos.

There are two important benefits to memorizing:

  1. Once you’ve memorized the exercise you can put your full attention on working out the details like relaxing, playing smoothly and not pausing between chord changes. As long as your attention is divided between looking at something else and trying to pay attention to what you’re doing it will be very difficult to really play it properly.
  2. When you start using your memory muscle your mind becomes sharper and it becomes easier to memorize exercises and songs in the future.

 

The thing is it’s not really as difficult as you might think. Here are some tips that will help you.

  1. Chunk it down. Memorize small sections at a time. For example if you’re trying to memorize an exercise that is eight measures long start by memorizing four measures. Then memorize the next for measures. Finally put the two parts (chunks) together.
  2. Look for repeating patterns. Many times you’ll see sections of an exercise or song actually repeat. You don’t have to memorize everything as if it’s all new and different. Look over the entire song or exercise first to see if there are sections that just repeat. Then look over the material again and see if some sections are very similar to each other. It’s easier to remember what’s different if the sections are almost alike.
  3. Work on memorization when you’re fresh. Don’t try to memorize when you’re tired at the end of the day. You’re really swimming upstream. Work at it when your mind is fresh. For many people that’s early in the morning. I find my best times are early in the morning and after a break in the afternoon.
  4. Be consistent. Try to work at memorization a little bit each day, or at least several times a week. It will become less difficult much faster if you come back at it over and over consistently.
  5. Listen first. If you have an audio version of the song or exercise listen to it several times to get a clear audio image in your mind of what you’re aiming after. If it’s only written at least you can look it over and get a clear visual image of the entire material.
  6. Look for standard chord progressions. One of the benefits of learning common chord progressions is that it makes it much easier when the song or exercise uses one of those progressions.

These are just a few tips that have really helped me and my students. Different things work for different people and I encourage you to experiment and see what really works for you.

 

Resources:

Here’s a link to a wiki article that I like that puts the memorization process into a step-by-step system.

Memorize Sheet Music

 

Here’s my lesson on Common Chord Progressions with even more resources.

Play the Guitar Faster Using Common Chord Progressions

 

 

8 – Review

Watch the lesson 7 Video

:

Basic Pattern p-i-m-a

Basic Pattern p-i-m-a

I put each pattern in a separate lesson in this section so you could check each one off. I just love checking things off and I’m hoping you do to.This is all just for fun… Don’t get too serious on me 🙂

Play pattern number one about 10 times using the C chord, then do it another 10 times using the G chord. If you feel your at about 70 to 80% of playing it correctly, even slowly, go ahead and check this off.

If it’s not there yet go ahead and watch the Lesson 8 – Review video and work on it some more. Come on back here when you’re ready.

 

FM-Pattern-1

¾ Pattern p-i-ma-i-ma-i

¾ Pattern p-i-ma-i-ma-i

Play pattern number 2 at least 10 times using the D chord, then another 10 times using the A chord. Check this off when you’re ready.

 

FM-Pattern-2

 

Alternating Bass Note p1-i-m-a-p5-i-m-a

Alternating Bass Note p1-i-m-a-p5-i-m-a

Play pattern number three using the G chord, then with the D chord, and finally with the A chord. 10 times each… You know the drill.

 

FM-Pattern-3

¾ Arpeggio Pattern p-i-m-a-m-i

¾ Arpeggio Pattern p-i-m-a-m-i

Play pattern number four using the A minor chord, then the G chord, and finally the E chord. 10 times each.

For extra credit do 10 times on the FM7 (#11) chord.

 

FM-Pattern-4

4/4 Arpeggio Pattern (Pachelbel Canon Progression)

4/4 Arpeggio Pattern (Pachelbel Canon Progression)

Last one (sounds like pushups in ROTC). Do 10 times on the E minor chord, then 10 on the A minor chord.

For extra extra credit do 10 times on the F chord. You can do either the full bar or the partial bar.

 

FM-Pattern-5

8 – Review

Watch the lesson 7 Video

:

Basic Pattern p-i-m-a

Basic Pattern p-i-m-a

I put each pattern in a separate lesson in this section so you could check each one off. I just love checking things off and I’m hoping you do to.This is all just for fun… Don’t get too serious on me 🙂

Play pattern number one about 10 times using the C chord, then do it another 10 times using the G chord. If you feel your at about 70 to 80% of playing it correctly, even slowly, go ahead and check this off.

If it’s not there yet go ahead and watch the Lesson 8 – Review video and work on it some more. Come on back here when you’re ready.

 

FM-Pattern-1

¾ Pattern p-i-ma-i-ma-i

¾ Pattern p-i-ma-i-ma-i

Play pattern number 2 at least 10 times using the D chord, then another 10 times using the A chord. Check this off when you’re ready.

 

FM-Pattern-2

 

Alternating Bass Note p1-i-m-a-p5-i-m-a

Alternating Bass Note p1-i-m-a-p5-i-m-a

Play pattern number three using the G chord, then with the D chord, and finally with the A chord. 10 times each… You know the drill.

 

FM-Pattern-3

¾ Arpeggio Pattern p-i-m-a-m-i

¾ Arpeggio Pattern p-i-m-a-m-i

Play pattern number four using the A minor chord, then the G chord, and finally the E chord. 10 times each.

For extra credit do 10 times on the FM7 (#11) chord.

 

FM-Pattern-4

4/4 Arpeggio Pattern (Pachelbel Canon Progression)

4/4 Arpeggio Pattern (Pachelbel Canon Progression)

Last one (sounds like pushups in ROTC). Do 10 times on the E minor chord, then 10 on the A minor chord.

For extra extra credit do 10 times on the F chord. You can do either the full bar or the partial bar.

 

FM-Pattern-5

9 – Combining Patterns

Watch Video 8

:

Practice The Basic Pattern

Practice The Basic Pattern

Go ahead and try the basic pattern using the A minor chord. Now play it again using the D chord. If you need help go the lesson 8 video and play along. Then come back here and try it without the video.

Once you can play the basic pattern and switch between the A minor in the E chords go ahead and check off this lesson.

 

FM-Exercise-7

Latin At Dusk – Basic Pattern

Latin At Dusk – Basic Pattern

It’s time to play the entire song using your new fingerpicking pattern. Refer to the lesson a video if you need help.

 

FM-Exercise-8

 

 

Alternating Patterns

Alternating Patterns

Let’s try alternating patterns. The two patterns are:

 

  1. p – i – m – i – ma – i
  2. p – i – ma – i – ma – i

 

9 – Combining Patterns

Watch Video 8

:

Practice The Basic Pattern

Practice The Basic Pattern

Go ahead and try the basic pattern using the A minor chord. Now play it again using the D chord. If you need help go the lesson 8 video and play along. Then come back here and try it without the video.

Once you can play the basic pattern and switch between the A minor in the E chords go ahead and check off this lesson.

 

FM-Exercise-7

Latin At Dusk – Basic Pattern

Latin At Dusk – Basic Pattern

It’s time to play the entire song using your new fingerpicking pattern. Refer to the lesson a video if you need help.

 

FM-Exercise-8

 

 

Alternating Patterns

Alternating Patterns

Let’s try alternating patterns. The two patterns are:

 

  1. p – i – m – i – ma – i
  2. p – i – ma – i – ma – i

 

10 – Solo Guitar Intro

Watch Video 9

:
FM-Exercise-8

F Major 7 (FM7)

F Major 7 (FM7)

Here’s the fingering for that F major seventh chord I talked about in the video. Go ahead and make the chord several times until you feel comfortable with the fingering. Then you can check it off and on to the next lesson.


FM7-ver2-chord

 

Play With The Sheet Music

Play With The Sheet Music

Now that you’ve had a chance to play along with the video go ahead and try playing with the sheet music. This will give you a chance to memorize it in sections.

Course is always if you need help go back to the video.

FM-Exercise-8

Latin At Dusk Solo

:

10 – Solo Guitar Intro

Watch Video 9

:
FM-Exercise-8

F Major 7 (FM7)

F Major 7 (FM7)

Here’s the fingering for that F major seventh chord I talked about in the video. Go ahead and make the chord several times until you feel comfortable with the fingering. Then you can check it off and on to the next lesson.


FM7-ver2-chord

 

Play With The Sheet Music

Play With The Sheet Music

Now that you’ve had a chance to play along with the video go ahead and try playing with the sheet music. This will give you a chance to memorize it in sections.

Course is always if you need help go back to the video.

FM-Exercise-8

Latin At Dusk Solo

: