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Fingerpicking Exercises For Guitar – Part 1

Awesome Fingerpicking Exercises For Guitar (Part 1)

I often get requests for fingerpicking exercises on guitar. There's something really special about fingerpicking that people are drawn to. Maybe it's because the parts sound bigger than just a single guitar. Or maybe it's the unique rhythm you get.

I've found that people are intimidated by fingerpicking. And I'll admit that jumping right into a song can be quite the challenge. So like every technique on guitar, I always recommend exercises to build a skill. I have 6 total exercises I'm going to show you, but I'm only going to show you 3 today to keep things manageable. 

We'll use the same 2 chords for the exercises to keep things simple. We'll use a 4 finger G chord, and a Cadd9 (I'll show you both in the video).

Fingerpicking Exercise #1

This is a bass note arpeggio exercise. You'll play the bass note with your thumb, and the arpeggio with your first three fingers. I'm going to be calling out string numbers and not the fret numbers. So grab a G or C chord as we're going and play the strings as called out.

OK, go ahead and fret a G chord and play the bass note on the 6th string with your thumb. When you do this make sure it's not a forceful slap or pluck. It should be an even velocity to play the note cleanly. Finding the right pressure for all of your fingers will take some time.

The rest of the pattern will be the 3rd string with your index finger, 2nd string with your middle finger, and 1st string with your ring finger.

So 6, 3, 2, 1. 6, 3, 2, 1. 

Now move onto the C chord. You'll play the same high strings, but your bass note will be on the 5th string.

Play strings 5, 3, 2, 1. 

Take it slow at first, then try to keep a steady rhythm. If you're new to fingerpicking it's going to take some time to get your fingers used to this.

Fingerpicking Exercise #2

As you're going through these exercises, try to play around with different positions for your right hand. Everyone's anatomy is different so what my hand position looks like might be different for you. 

This exercise is going to be similar to the first exercise. The difference is that we're going to alternate the bass note. So let's try just that part. Let's start with the G chord. Play the bass note on the 6th string with your thumb. Now play the 4th string (which should be an open string) with your thumb as well.

Do this a couple times to get used to the jump in strings. 

The arpeggio will be the same. You'll play the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st strings with your first 3 fingers. Here's what the string pattern will look like for the G chord:

6, 3, 2, 1

4, 3, 2, 1

The C chord is the same idea. But you'll play the 5th string and then the 4th string for your alternating bass notes. Here's what that looks like:

5, 3, 2, 1

4, 3, 2, 1

Again, start slow with this and try to build to a steady rhythm. 

Fingerpicking Exercise #3

For the last exercise we're going to use the same alternating bass notes as exercise #2, but change up the melody notes.

For the G chord you'll play the 6th string with your thumb, 2nd string with your middle finger, 4th string with your thumb, and 1st string with your middle finger also. There's a reason I'm using my middle finger for both and I'll show you that in part 2 of this lesson.

Here's the pattern for the G chord:

6, 2, 4, 1

6, 2, 4, 1

You're skipping strings a bit on this one. Now the same thing for the C chord. 5th string with your thumb, 2nd string with your middle finger, 4th string with your thumb, and 1st string with your middle finger.

5, 2, 4, 1

5, 2, 4, 1

Practice Fingerpicking A Little Every Day

Even if these don't seem too challenging it's good to slow them down and practice them. This really helps you focus on the details and that's extremely valuable. The idea with these exercises is to start slow and build speed over time. Get it to a point where you can play it cleanly and steadily. Then you can use a metronome to build up your speed. 

Have fun with these. Part 2 will be coming out soon so keep an eye out for more fun exercises to build your fingerpicking technique!


Did you find these exercises helpful, or were they too easy? It's helpful for me to know how easy or difficult you want these exercises and lessons. That makes sure you're getting the most out of these lessons! So let me know in the comments and look out for more great daily lessons.

Ready for more? Fingerpicking Exercises for Guitar - Part 2 

>> Check Out Day #11 : D7 Chord Guitar (Day 11)

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  1. I am terrible at finger picking, but this has broken it down into 3 exercises that I can build on! Thank you…..

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