Love the gentle, pretty sound of fingerpicking on an acoustic guitar? Guitar teacher Jerry W. shares three simple fingerpicking patterns you can use to start making beautiful music today…
Many guitar players focus only on strumming patterns or guitar solo licks and miss out on the beauty and simplicity of fingerpicking. Although fingerpicking can be quite complex, a lot of music can be played with just a few simple fingerpicking patterns. Since most music is written with four beats per measure, I will show you two simple patterns for music with four beats per measure and one pattern for music with three beats per measure.
When you’re fingerpicking it is very important to make sure that your thumb is playing the bass note of the chord, which is either the chord name or the note after the slash in the chord symbol. This is a whole separate topic that I do not have time to cover in this short post so I will assume you understand guitar chords and which string is the bottom note in a chord. To help you understand how the pattern works on a variety of chords I will demonstrate each pattern using the chord progression A D A E.
Fingerpicking Pattern 1
This first pattern is simple and elegant, and as an added benefit it works with a wide variety of musical styles. The use of the bass note on beats one and three and the two note chord on beats two and four give this a boom-and-chick-and-boom-and-chick-and sound. I have notated it below in both standard and tablature notation.
Fingerpicking Pattern 2
The second pattern is a little more complex but it creates a wonderful flowing sound that is beautiful for songs that need a soft, light touch.
Fingerpicking Pattern 3
This third fingerpicking pattern is simply a variation on the first pattern but now written so it works with music that is three beats per measure.
I hope these three patterns have sparked in you an interest in fingerpicking patterns for the guitar. Just like with any other musical technique, if you practice these diligently you will find that they become second nature to you and soon you will be using them to accompany your favorite songs.
Before I end, let me throw in three more patterns as a bonus for reading to the end. If you take any of these patterns and replace the last note of the pattern with the bass note you will find yourself with a wonderful new pattern that has a little more bass energy. Keep experimenting and you will be able to come up with many new patterns of your own. Enjoy your new fingerpicking patterns for guitar!
Jerry W. teaches classical guitar, composition, trombone and trumpet in Grosse Pointe, MI. He received his Bachelor of Music in Theory and Composition from Cornerstone University and went on to receive both his Masters and PhD in Music Composition from Michigan State University. Jerry has been making music and teaching students for over thirty years. Learn more about Jerry W. here!
Photo by Neta Bartal