Fingerpicking patterns

Here are exemples on fingerpicking patterns to use for the guitar, including tabs and sound. In general, the thumb are use tfor the three lowest (hikiest) strings and index, long and ring finger is used for the string 3, 2 and 1. The little finger are normally not involved in fingerpicking.

Pattern 1

This is a good starter pattern. This is a very simple, but efective way to create a finger pattern. It is also a good method for training on using the thumb on 4-6 strings and the fingers on 1-3 strings. Exercise this pattern on open strings until you can play it without looking on your right hand.

Exercise on pattern with open strings:
Tab fingerpicking pattern


Musical example with chords:

Tab fingerpicking pattern three chords


The first notes in all parts are accented. This is a fundamental pattern and it is a good idea to try it on other chord progressions until you can execute it in your sleep.

Pattern 2

This is similar to the first pattern. This is some more difficult since you are not going in the same direction.

Exercise on pattern with open strings:
Tab fingerpicking pattern


Musical example with chords:

Tab fingerpicking pattern three chords


Also, this pattern is a good idea to drill by using it for other chord progressions.

Pattern 3

This pattern increase the complexity some, but without being to demanding.

Exercise on pattern with open strings:
Tab fingerpicking pattern


Musical example with chords:

Tab fingerpicking pattern three chords


It is possible to include chords with the root on the fourth string as well.

Pattern 4

A new concept is introduced in this fingerpicking pattern: two notes played simultaneously. Two notes are played in the beginning of each part. This creates a richer sound with the blend of bass and treble.

Exercise on pattern with open strings:
Tab fingerpicking pattern


Musical example with chords:

Tab fingerpicking pattern three chords

In the open strings exercise introduction, the 6th string is not included, but as shown in the musical exemple it can be.

Pattern 5

This last acoustic guitar fingerpicking example is inspired by the Bob Dylan song "Boots Of Spanish Leather".


Tab fingerpicking pattern three chords

The first notes in most of the bars are accented.

Pattern 6

In this example a plectrum is used and also an electric guitar. It's advisable to use a plectrum here since fingerpicking on the lowest three or four strings can result in a lot of scraping sound.

Exercise on pattern with open strings:
Tab fingerpicking pattern


Musical example with chords:

Tab fingerpicking pattern three chords

As always, it can be beneficial to exercise this pattern with other progressions.

Pattern 7

A plectrum is used again. The pattern is based on triad shapes constructed on the 3rd, 4th and 5th strings.

Exercise on pattern with open strings:
Tab fingerpicking pattern


Musical example with chords:

Tab fingerpicking pattern three chords


A final word: There are no rules concerning fingerpicking. What sound good are always right. A crucial step to become better is, like mentioned above, to learn to play without looking on the right hand.

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