Crafting Fingerstyle Melodies

Genre and Style Guitar Course from Trevor Gordon Hall

Crafting Fingerstyle Melodies. Fingerstyle guitar is a broad term that can incorporate percussive elements of playing as well as Chet Atkins/Jerry Reed amazing flurry of notes approach and so much more in between. What the percussive traditions open up are ways of viewing harmonics and various sounds incorporating the full guitar into playing, and the Chet Atkins/Jerry Reed style open up ways of finger patterns and stringing together open strings to build speed and assemble blazing lines mimicking banjo rolls and more. This course is meant to navigate through gems found on both sides of the tradition shining light on how to use those ideas for opening up more ways to polish and enhance melodic playing.

38 Lessons

Complete course with step-by-step lessons and practice examples.


Course filmed with 6 cameras for the perfect angles.

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Full Course Breakdown

All of us guitarists love patterns and shapes. In fact most guitarists learn to play melodies primarily with scales found in specific boxes shapes or left hand finger patterns. This approach is helpful to a point but can make the fretboard feel segmented, disconnected and scattered causing the player to feel stuck. By fully embracing the idea that there are multiple ways to play a single note, this course hopes to tie the fretboard together and deepen exploration of all the colorful melodic potential the guitar has to offer. This course explores open string, harmonic, and arpeggio ideas aimed at expanding each players mobility and ability to craft melodies on the guitar. While taught from the perspective of fingerstyle guitar in standard tuning, this course offers tips that can be useful to players of all styles and tunings acoustic or electric.

Begin the Course

Crafting Fingerstyle Melodies: Series Introduction

Fingerstyle guitar is a broad term that can incorporate percussive elements of playing as well as Chet Atkins/Jerry Reed amazing flurry of notes approach and so much more in between. This course is meant to navigate through gems found on both sides of the tradition, shining light on how to use those ideas to polish and enhance melodic playing. By fully embracing the idea that there are multiple ways to play a single note, this course hopes to tie the fretboard together and deepen exploration of all the colorful melodic potential the guitar has to offer.

7:02 Runtime

0.0 Difficulty


Proper Placement

We are working towards polishing and crafting melody in this course. This can be difficult to develop without looking at possible inefficiencies in how we are holding our arms, hands, and guitar. In this lesson we will talk through how to use the natural movements of arms, hands, wrist and fingers to our advantage. This will allow us to start from a neutral position and help ensure we are not fighting against our own limbs with unnecessary tension when playing.

5:21 Runtime

1.0 Difficulty


Building Finger Intuition

Working towards how to really craft melody we will focus on using good right hand technique while switching left hand chords. This is important to gain comfort with because as we move on to other left hand fretboard changes, the right hand should develop an auto-pilot stable technique.

28:11 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Crossing Strings

Melody is our goal. Playing it well and with color. In this lesson we will focus on a very important technique to help cross strings with ease and confidence. Melody requires one note after another regardless of where you play it so crossing strings with precision can make or break the flow.

15:01 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Course Overture Exercises Pt 1

This batch of exercises serves as a sort of overture for what the rest of this course will cover. Each exercise will start with a D chord and add on a different ending. Each ending will highlight a specific idea that we will explore in more detail as we work towards crafting a melody. They will start fairly simply and work up in complexity.

19:18 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Course Overture Exercise Pt 2

Let's expand the second half of each exercise with more movement in the left hand. It’s important to keep notes ringing as long as possible. We will cover how to use these exercises to start thinking about independent notes not just chord blocks.

20:32 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


String Crossing Arpeggios

Now, we will talk about how to pivot over strings with thumb while crossing as well as a moveable shape you can use anywhere on the fretboard. The pattern will always play one note per string string until you get to the high E and then turn around and go back down.

22:52 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty

View this Lesson

Arpeggio Chord Shapes

In this lesson, we will take the same right hand finger patterns and change up the left hand. If we have a major pattern, a minor pattern, a dominant, and an inversion of major, we can play almost any progression using arpeggios. We will start with these and then move them around the fretboard.

23:12 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Connecting Arpeggio Chords

Working towards melody will require good understanding of various chords in arpeggio form. We are working up to a full etude that will hop all around the fretboard while still maintaining same patterns we have been discussing.

25:02 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Moving Arpeggio Chords: A Major - F# Minor

Now we'll be expanding on more changes with the same shapes while building to our Etude. We will start with our now familiar Major 9 pattern and move into placing the minor 9 pattern on low part of the neck. This will require some stretching, so remember to always analyze thumb position. Pay attention to not just the finger sequence but the overall shape.

23:42 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Moving Arpeggio Chords: A Major - F# Dominant

Let's expand again! On to the A Major and F# Dominant shapes.

19:12 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Moving Arpeggio Chords: D Major - B Dominant

"Hopefully now you're starting to get the hang of this! Let's look at the D Major - B Dominant shapes in this lesson. It’s important to remember you want to be able to play each arpeggio starting from any point in the shape. "

17:17 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Moving Arpeggio Chords: F - E Dominant

We want to continue our goal being comfortable with every shape we have learned on different parts of the neck. This lesson will highlight putting some of these shapes in open position, as well as deepening more practice of other positions.

17:52 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Moving Arpeggio Chords: D - A 1st Inversion

Now on to Dmajor to A First Inversion. Be sure to play each exercise and listen for the sound color of each. What do these sounds make you think of? What mental image or mood or feeling? These can better help you remember them and then apply when you need that color or mood in your own playing or composing.

16:20 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Moving Arpeggio Chords: D - A 1st Inv. Bm - A 1st Inv.

Let's move on to the last shapes in this section: D - A First Inversion - Bm-A First Inversion.

18:02 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Creating Apreggio Progressions Etude

Now let’s put all of those shapes together in a progression. You can see how much mileage you can get out of one right hand crossing string picking pattern.

22:57 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Understanding Open Strings

Using open strings can sometimes be a confusing proposition. Normally when we ascend in pitch we go up fretboard OR to higher strings but now when using open strings sometimes you have to go to a higher string for a lower pitch, or a lower string for a higher pitch. Let your ear guide you and fingers will follow!

34:09 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Banjo Roll Technique

Now we will take the same right hand patterns we've been working on with a few minor tweaks, and add in some open strings. This will change the way we approach playing scales and melodies. Go slowly and be careful to follow the right hand fingerings as we seek to emulate the picking patterns of a banjo.

22:49 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Rethinking Melody to Include Open Strings

The concept of utilizing the open strings we have available will be very important in your fingerstyle journey, so make sure you go slow and learn this new way of thinking. Open strings throw a lot of confusion into our normal scale pattern thinking but as we build you will see how important this is for crafting our melodies. Enjoy those ringing strings!

34:27 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Traids and Open Strings Etude

Now that we have some open string ideas let’s shift to some arpeggio triad shapes incorporating what we have covered so far. Each small chunk of this etude can be seen as its own exercise so have fun breaking it down or playing it altogether. This one gets the fingers cooking so expect a workout burn as you play it.

19:51 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Adding Harmonics and Open Strings Pt 1

Let's put all of this together with harmonics not just being used for color but for sustaining melody notes similar to a piano sustain pedal. This frees us up to really extend sustaining life of the melody and gives us freedom for color and expression

18:56 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty


Adding Harmonics and Open Strings Pt 2

In part two, be sure to practice getting clean right hand and left hand harmonics. Go only as fast as you can play evenly in tempo making sure you don’t memorize gaps between the notes and the harmonics.

19:40 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty


Arpeggios with Open Strings and Harmonics

Remember, this course is all about finding different ways to play a note. In this lesson, we look at some arpeggio shapes, but look to use our open strings and harmonics to accomplish the goal of the course.

25:47 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty


Coloring in a Melody

Coloring a melody can be a multi faceted task on the guitar. We can use harmonics, open strings and fretted notes. Here we look at some ways to affect a melody and get some of these concepts under our fingers.

34:19 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty


Triad Melody Etude Pt 1

Let's now take a look at the Triad Melody Etude. This etude incorporates chord movements, open strings and harmonics - all things we have been working on!

21:17 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty


Triad Melody Etude Pt 2

In this lesson, we will finish up learning the Triad Melody Etude. Be sure to take each section slowly and spend plenty of time with it, and you will have it down before you know it!

25:41 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty


Modulating Melody Etude - Part 1

This etude will fully explore what we have been discussing. It modulates keys a few times while still using harmonics, open strings and thinking melodically.

21:23 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Modulating Melody Etude - Part 2

Now, the next section of the Modulating Melody Etude.

13:56 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Modulating Melody Etude - Part 3

Now we come to the last part of the Modulating Melody Etude. Try playing each section together slowly and make sure to let harmonics ring out as long as possible. Sometimes this requires being extra careful with left hand when switching to new chords not to stop the string from resonating. Let you ear guide you.

21:03 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Taking Care of Your Hands

Playing fingerstyle can put a lot of demands on your hands and arms. Being able to take proper care of yourself is a must! In this lesson, Trevor shows us some of his go to exercises and tools for keeping his hands in the best possible shape.

18:47 Runtime

0.0 Difficulty


Nail Care

Trevor is always asked about his nails! In this lesson, he gives a comprehensive, step by step tutorial of exactly what his regimen is regarding his nails. A must see for any fingerstyle player!

18:15 Runtime

0.0 Difficulty


Structured Spontaneity

“Inspiration is for Amateurs..The rest of us just show up and get to work”... In other words, don't simply wait for inspiration to strike, instead put the work it and it will come! Learning how to practice can be just as challenging as what you are actually practicing. Here, Trevor gives us a detailed look into his practice routine that he has spend years refining!

11:39 Runtime

0.0 Difficulty


The Meeting at the Window - Song Lesson, Part 1

In this lesson, Trevor takes us through his song, "The Meeting at the Window". The lesson begins with a complete playthrough, followed by an in depth teaching of the first section of the song.

24:47 Runtime

4.0 Difficulty


The Meeting at the Window - Song Lesson, Part 2

Now, the middle section of Trevor's song, "The Meeting at the Window".

15:01 Runtime

4.0 Difficulty


The Meeting at the Window - Song Lesson, Part 3

Trevor wraps up the teaching of his song, "The Meeting at the Window".

10:39 Runtime

4.0 Difficulty


That Old Familiar Pain - Song Lesson, Part 1

Now we get to take an in depth look at Trevor's beautiful song, "That Old Familiar Pain". Trevor will go through the piece step by step. This this first part, we get a complete playthrough, followed by the teaching of the first section of the song. Enjoy!

25:07 Runtime

4.5 Difficulty


That Old Familiar Pain - Song Lesson, Part 2

Trevor teaches us the middle section of his song "That Old Familiar Pain".

16:41 Runtime

4.5 Difficulty


That Old Familiar Pain - Song Lesson, Part 3

Trevor wraps us his song "That Old Familiar Pain" by teaching us the last section of the songs, which includes a little bit of percussion!

18:53 Runtime

4.5 Difficulty

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  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Playing since 1995
  • 130 lessons at JamPlay

Reviews & Feedback 94/100 with 194 ratings

A good teacher who anticipates the challenges encountered by the student and helps prepare their solutions. Excellent.


All of the above- I liked the teacher, it is easy to understand and it's just what I needed! Thanks Trevor!!

Laurietz guit

The goals are well explained !


Cool guy, takes it step by step, good pace for beginners :)


creative peaceful atmosphere


difficult to stretch, but helpful to have repetition. Encouraging to have his understanding that this might be difficult even though it seems so basic. I'm just starting again after not playing for almost a year, and even this is challenging!


Great explanations and very helpful


I like the teachers style, Im not sure if Im good enough for this couse yet though.


I like the way he teaches! I’ll keep practicing.


I like this guy, he explains the basic but important exercises.


I needed this and watching him play was exceptional.


looking forward to learning from Trevor


So far this is my favourite course


Trevor, you have opened the door to get better at my fingerpicking! Thank you!!