Fingerpicking is an integral part of playing guitar, especially for beginners having an acoustic guitar. However, many beginners and even experienced guitarists are unaware of the proper technique of fingerpicking.
Many little mistakes make a significant impact on sound quality while learning and using proper techniques can improve the output. So, let us learn some techniques of fingerpicking to avoid mistakes and improve the technique to play better.
Maintain the right length of nails
Most guitarists don’t maintain their nails that affect their fingerpicking technique and produce variation in sound quality. Fingernails make a big difference in the sound quality of your playing technique. The fingernails of your fretting hand should be short enough so that you can use them to play chords. Your nails should be of consistent length and cut smoothly.
Play the melody notes
There are two ways of fingerstyle guitar. In a first way, a singer plays the guitar and fingerpicks the notes from within the chord. Another way is to play it solo and play both chords of guitar and melody that the singer sings. The problem with these techniques is that guitarists tare stressed about playing the chords and don’t pay much attention to the melody.
The right way is to pay attention to the melody and then play the chords or the bass notes under the melody.
Get into a Flow and Groove
It is easy for any player to get lost in the melody notes while fingerpicking that they forget the important groove. Players pay attention to the groove while strumming but not while fingerpicking. If you lose the groove, all the pull-offs and chords will not save you. Therefore, it is essential to beat, metronome, and foot tap while fingerpicking a guitar.
Finger independence means you can switch between your thumb and other digits to freely move your fingers. Players can use their thumb and pick the fifth string and then add the melody notes in between using their fingers. Also, they can position the thumb of their pick hand near the fretboard so that it won’t collide with the fingers.
The pinch technique refers to the pattern starting with thumb and the third finger that picks two strings simultaneously. As with other fingerpicking techniques, it is best to learn it with an easy to play a chord and then use it for different shapes. For example, you can start on the C chord and later try on different shapes when you get the hang of the same.
This is another technique of fingerpicking in which players start by practicing the bassline. The bassline alternates between the fourth, fifth, and sixth strings. A player picks all these motes with his thumb moving downward. The player keeps repeating until it becomes its second nature, and he or she adds one melody at a time until they get comfortable with the whole pattern.
Slowdown as you practice
It is essential to slow down while practicing the fingerpicking techniques as slowing down helps you to uncover the mistakes and correct them. Doing something very steadily can help you to find your errors in your technique so that you can find their solution at the right time.
Position of your fingers
The position of your fingers has a significant effect on the fingerpicking technique and the quality of sound. It is essential to keep your fingers relaxed and slightly bent as if you are holding a tennis ball. The wrist should point in a downward direction, and the hand can be positioned between the bridge and the neck of the guitar.
If keeping your fingers and hand in this way feels uncomfortable, you need to practice more with your fingerpicking technique. If your hand feels tired, it is best to take a break and play again after some time.
Practice the p-i-m-a pattern
It is best to practice the p-i-m-a pattern, which means you can use the string combinations like 5-3-2-1, 6-3-2-1, or 4-3-2-1. You can also move your thumb from 4th to a lower string every time you play the pattern.
Use the Hand’s muscle memory
Most guitar instructors and guitarists talk about muscle memory, but when it comes to their fretting side, they just think about it. It’s very unusual that in relation to the picking arm, somebody will think about muscle memory.
It is very surprising as the picking hand needs a lot of work in my experience to be able to build enough muscle memory to constantly pick the correct strings every time.
An easy way to build up the picking hand’s muscle memory is to take every picking pattern and sit down there and play it over and over again slowly while keeping a chord with the fretting hand.
Everything in this world takes time to master. One cannot learn to play guitar in a single sitting. However, you should have a shallow learning curve as a beginner. It means the improvement you can make is always in proportion to the time you spend on your practice.
These are some tips to improve the fingerstyle while playing guitar. You can use them on your existing guitar or a new guitar. If you want to purchase a new acoustic guitar, you can find the musical instruments for sale on a physical or online store. Beginners can practice these tips with the help of a guitar instructor or an experienced guitarist.