How to Easily Play Fingerstyle Guitar Patterns Even If You've Never Played Them Before
Article Written By Allen Hopgood
The art of fingerstyle guitar playing offers you, the guitarist another way to express the music that's inside of you. Although it can be very intricate, musically, it is very rewarding to get these patterns under your fingers. Generally speaking though, why a lot of guitar players shy away from this style of playing is that they feel there is too much going on at once to get the fingers to play the patterns, so they stick to just strumming away on their guitars. But it doesn't have to be this way for you.
In this short article you are going to learn a very simple procedure of how to play a fingerstyle rhythmic pattern. This pattern will allow you to play a wide range of songs that you can easily get under your fingers so you can quickly add them to your song repertoire.
The general rule of fingerstyle playing is that your fretting hand thumb does the bass work and covers the notes played on strings 6, 5, and 4. Your index finger plays any note on the third string. Your middle finger covers string 2 leaving your ring finger to play all notes on string one.
What stops most people attempting to play fingerstyle guitar is that they see this:
Looking at this they feel overwhelmed. They think it’s too hard, or they feel they don't have the ability to do it. You will learn that you can easily play this pattern and it’s not difficult to learn (or any pattern) when you break it down into bite size chunks.
The reason you want to break it down into small sections is because, attempting to play the entire pattern in full, straight away, is too complicated for your hands to do straight out of the gate. So grab your guitar and you'll learn step by step how to break it down so your can easily learn how to play it.
The driving force of any fingerstyle pattern is the bass notes of the chord. These notes are played with your fretting hand thumb. (the 'P' in the diagrams represents your thumb) The rhythm must remain steady and even as this is what your listener will 'lock' onto.
So in the next diagram you will see you have four notes that are played in even quarter notes – 1 beat each for a total of four in every measure.
Set your metronome or drum machine to approx 84bpm at first to get used to playing these notes with your thumb and in time. Do not go any further until this is comfortable for you.
Once you can move your thumb back and forth across the two strings and keep time you will now add one more note only in the next diagram - the 'and' beat of two which is played with your index finger.
Your thumb will keep doing the bass notes of the chord – 1, 2, 3, 4 and with adding the note played on the ‘and’ of beat 2 with your index finger. You will now have a rhythm of 1, 2 and, 3, 4. Play along with your metronome again with the figure below until you are comfortable with it.
The next step is too add another note to what you have already – the 'and' of beat three. This next note is played on the second string with your middle finger. Keep your thumb steady as you work on getting this new rhythm going. Again keep going with this new rhythm pattern until it is comfortable for you.
One more note to add now and you are almost there! The final note of the pattern will be played again with your index finger on the third string. Keep everything relaxed and steady and repeat the pattern as many times as you need to.
Now you can do it! Don't you feel a great sense of accomplishment? By simply taking the process of breaking the entire pattern down into small sections, you have kept it easy to understand and play for your brain, hands and fingers. Doing this every time you see a fingerstyle pattern that at first looks 'hard', will reward you with how quickly you can end up easily playing it.
Once you have the pattern down on the C chord add other chords like Am, F and G to create a great sounding chord progression. Don't forget to alternate these chords around to create different sounding chord changes that you could easily start turning into your own songs.
About the author:
Based on the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia, Allen Hopgood, after years of many gigs, today runs his own guitar school, teaching and helping people play great guitar.