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Fingerpicking Exercises On Guitar Part 2 (Day 12)

Four More Great Fingerpicking Exercises For Guitar

If you're into fingerpicking I have a treat for you. We're going to check out a few more fingerpicking exercises to build on your technique. Being proficient in fingerpicking doesn't just happen overnight. It takes time to build this skill. That's where these exercises come in. These are designed to teach you techniques and build your skill, and confidence, in fingerpicking.

(If you haven't seen part 1 of the fingerpicking exercises I would encourage you to go back and check that out, then come back here.

Exercise #1

One of the more common techniques in fingerpicking is called a pinch. This is pretty much what it sounds like. You play two strings at the same time with a pinching motion. Let's keep it consistent with Part 1 and use just the G and C(add9) chords.

Form a 4 finger G chord. Now with your thumb you'll play the 6th string and with your middle finger you'll play the 2nd string. Go ahead and try that. How did it sound? They should be played at the same time. Make sure you're not pinching too hard so the strings slap.

Now let's add an alternating bass note to that. Using the G chord pinch the 6th string and 2nd string. Then play the 4th string with your thumb. Now do the pinch, then the 4th string. 

Moving to the C chord, do a pinch with the 5th string and 2nd string. Then play the 4th string with your thumb. Pinch, 4th string, pinch 4th string. 

Now try to play both the G chord and the C chord together. Do this a few times until you can play the whole thing cleanly.

Exercise #2

We're going to build on the pinch exercise and add in the 1st string. The timing of the 1st string is going to be played on the "and" of the 2nd beat. So if you were counting 1-2-and-3-4, you would play it in between the 2nd and 3rd beat. If you're tapping your foot, the "ands" are where you lift your foot. The 1-2-3-4 are what you tap your foot to. 

Using the G chord, you'll pinch the 6th and 2nd strings, play the 4th string as the alternating bass note, then before pinching again you'll play the 1st string. You can use your middle finger to pick this note. 

Confused? Don't worry! Here's what it looks like if you were counting 1-2-and-3-4, 1-2-and-3-4:

Pinch-4th string-1st string-pinch-4th string

The C chord will be played the same way. Pinch-4th string-1st string-pinch-4th string. 

Definitely check out the video to hear the timing. Practice this between both chords. When you have it sounding pretty good you can move onto the last exercise!

Exercise #3

The last exercise builds on exercise #2. It's actually the same thing with one extra note. You're going to play the 2nd string again on the "and" of the 3rd beat. So in between the 3rd and 4th beat. Let's count it out first.

1-2-and-3-and-4, 1-2-and-3-and-4

Adding our techniques, here's what it looks like:

Pinch-4th string-1st string-pinch-2nd string-pinch

This is a little trick since you pinch and play the 2nd string right after. You can use your middle finger for that, or you can use your ring finger. 

Of course, check out the video to hear the timing on this. I always find it helpful to hear what it should sound like.

Exercise #4

The final exercise adds another note to what you've been learning. The whole pattern is called Travis Picking. That's where you have an alternating bass note with more melody notes being played at the same time.

This time we're adding the 3rd string on the "and" of 4. So if we count it out:

1-2-and-3-and-4-and, 1-2-and-3-and-4-and

With our techniques it would look like this:

Pinch-4th string-1st string-pinch-2nd string-pinch-3rd string

The real trick here is to not think about what you're playing. If you do you'll get lost. I know it sounds counter intuitive but it's true. You have to think about it to get the pattern down. But you want to get to the point where you're not thinking about it when you're playing. That's when it becomes more natural. And that's when you'll be able to build speed it. 

So take each of these exercises one at a time. When you're feeling comfortable with one, more onto the next.

And if you're not sure about the timing, or if you haven't counted through a measure before, give the video a watch.


Thanks for joining me for day 12 of my 30 day guitar coaching challenge. Can you do me a favor? Leave a comment and let me know how easy or difficult this lesson was. Your feedback helps me tailor these lessons to you. And definitely let me know if there are any other lessons you'd like to see!

>> Check Out Day #13 : Guitar Chord Families

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  1. This was an excellent lesson showing fingerpicking exercises. I especially liked hearing the end result when you sped it up to demonstrate how this exercise could sound, so we have a goal. I also liked having a different lesson every day, and starting with various warm ups. Do you have a diagram of the specific C Chord that you are using for this exercise? Perhaps you can demonstrate the different styles some day, such as Flamenco, blues, jazz, country, percussion, at the end of one of your exercises each time.

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