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Home : Basics : Finger Picking
Finger Picking Patterns and Technique:
The fingers of the right hand are often used to play repetitive patterns similar to those
produced by cross string picking. Picking with the right hand is also used whenever non-
adjacent strings need to be plucked (the pick can strum adjacent strings together, but
cannot play the 6th and 1st strings together, for example). Fingerstyle technique is used
whenever separate bass and treble lines are played together on a single guitar. It is also
used produce a specific tone and sound. Country chickin' pickin' and Merle Travis/Chet
Atkins style are common examples of fingerpicking in common use.
In popular music, the fingers typically play a repetative pattern while the left hand
changes chord shapes. Below are some examples. Learning the right hand patterns below,
and applying them to other chord progressions you play is a great way to become more
familiar with the techinique.
(EXAMPLES)
Classical guitarists invariably use their right hand fingertips to pluck the strings. Virtually
every proficient classical guitarist today also uses long fingernails on the right hand as
individual "picks" to pluck the strings. Most guitarists who have only a casual interest in
fingerstyle guitar don't like to grow out right hand fingernails, and this works fine in the
beginning. If you do develop a more serious interest in classical guitar or finger picking,
however, you will want to learn how to properly develop right hand technique for
effective use of the fingernails.
Nail care and grooming is a serious issue for professional finger style guitarists. Nails
produce a louder, and generally accepted "better" sound than the flesh of the finger tips.
They also make fingerstyle guitar playing MUCH easier. If you really want to learn how
to play with your right hand fingers, it is worth the effort to grow out your right hand
fingernails.
File your nails with the "diamond dust" type files that are available at most drug stores.
Don't use crosscut metal files - they create a rough surface on the nail. File your nails so
that there are no corners or rough edges. You may want to experiment with different
lengths and shapes. Every player has a unique way of shaping nails for his/her particular
technique. Just make sure that there are no nicks, points, or grooves that catch or click on
the string. Most players use fingernails
that extend 1/32 to 1/8 of an inch above the fingertip. If you want to learn more about the
classical guitar technique and music, refer to the Classical Guitar <http://guitarz.org/>
lesson.

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