If you have been learning to play the guitar for a while, you might be feeling like spreading your wings a bit. Maybe a little fingerpicking. It’s a bit of a jump from straight out strumming but the rewards are in listening to yourself play music that you used to think was difficult and in the reaction of your audience to your new-found virtuosity.
If you can’t afford to take lessons from a local guitar teacher, you could try copying some material from CDs of some of the folk artists from the nineteen sixties. Peter, Paul And Mary and The Kingston Trio kind of stuff. You will need to start simply, just working out the chords they are using, then trying some arpeggios to see if you can get an idea of the picking patterns the guitarist is using. Don’t get too overawed by what you are hearing on these records, fingerpicking is a lot simpler than it appears when you are listening to it for the first time.
Part of the joy of being a fingerpicking guitar player is your pride in your soloing skills and the speed of your fingers. You will probably need to find some exercises available on the internet that are specially designed to increase picking speed. The routine of practicing exercises to increase speed will help you ti develop some skill at making up your own solos.
When you are practicing your fingerpicking try to make use of the big muscles in your forearm. Try to keep your wrist as relaxed as possible. For the left hand, hold your fingers over the fretboard in an arch shape and allot one finger to a particular fret. In the first position, the first finger will play notes at the first fret, the second finger, the second fret and so on. Try and keep to this discipline as most newbies let their fingers go all over the place as they learn new music.
For the right hand you use the thumb, first (index), second and third (ring) fingers which are shown on fingerpicking tabs as p, i, m and a, respectively. The thumb (p) plays the bass notes on the fifth and sixth strings and the other three fingers play melody and incidental notes on the first, second and third strings. The fourth string can double as a bass string or melody string, so you can work out for yourself how you use it and which fingers you use according to the key you are playing in.