Technique Study - Fingerpicking

  • 03/31/2016
  • JamPlay, LLC
"Fingerpicking" is a technique used by many different players in a wide variety of styles. There are various ways to utilize the fingers in our right hand to produce some very pleasing sounds that would not be possible with the pick alone. The most useful thing about this technique is the ability to play more than one note at a time (on non adjacent strings) much like a pianist would do.

Generally in this style, the thumb would be assigned to the bass strings and the remaining fingers to the treble strings. However, players such as Mark Knopfler tend to use only the thumb and first, occasionally incorporating the second.

In order to build technique, repetition is essential (accurate repetition! It is possible to repeat a mistake so you learn it!) If accurate means slow initially, then practice it slow. Good luck!

Lick Breakdown

Lick 1
In this lick the percussive elements of the guitar are used to full effect. Ensure the left hand really damps the strings well, when the chord is not sounding. In this example, I used the fingers in my right hand to rake through the strings.

Learn to Fingerpick
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Lick 2
This lick sees the use of hammer-on and pull-off to great effect (bar 1) as well as a steady bass rhythm whilst playing a finger picked top line (bar 3). The main thing here is to assign the thumb to the bass notes and the remaining fingers to the top strings.

Learn to Fingerpick
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Lick 3
Mark Knopfler uses his fingers to great effect to create a less aggressive sound on the guitar. Making use of his thumb and first finger, he creates a distinctive sound and a real sense of control that is not like that of a pick.
Learn to Fingerpick
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