How to Fingerpick for Beginners

perfect guitar for fingerpicking

You came across this article for one reason and one reason only. You want to learn how to fingerpick. While fingerpicking may seem intimidating at first (at least it was for me) there are some basics you should learn to make fingerpicking easy!

In this article, we will be looking at proper fingerpicking hand positions and some basic picking patterns.

I also recently compiled a list of fingerpicking songs to learn. You can check it out here.

If you are looking for your first finger style song to learn, I would suggest learning Zoe Jane as it is a simple song and sounds great.

It is definitely worth learning and will help you get into fingerpicking.


If you are looking for the highest quality videos to help you out learning the guitar, check out JamPlay. They have the BEST teachers on the internet. Many guitarists from large bands teach their own songs!

new guitarists must learn music theory

Fingerpicking Hand Position

To fingerpick correctly, a guitarist will use his thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers for picking. The thumb plucks the 6th (E), 5th (A), and 4th (D) strings. The index finger plucks the 3rd(G) string. The middle finger plucks the 2nd (B) string. The ring finger will pluck the 1st (E) string.

Like all rules, there is times that this will not stand true. Your fingers may play other strings than the ones listed below.

Below are some pictures of a guitarist using the correct fingerpicking hand position:

Here are some tips:

Make sure your hand is relaxed.

Make sure your wrist is not crooked or bent.

Your First Fingerpicking pattern

Outside-In

So the first pattern you will be learning is called the “outside-in” We will going to apply this pattern to an A minor chord

You are going to first pluck the root of the chord (a note) with your thumb. Usually with fingerpicking patterns, you will want to pluck the root of the chord first. Then, you will also pluck a c note with your middle finger. Next, you will pluck an E note with your thumb. Lastly, you’ll pluck an A note with your index finger. Here is the pattern tabbed out.

Can’t read tab? Checkout this article where I explain how to read tab for beginners.

T M T I T M T I
e ---------------------- |----------------------
b -------1--------------|-------1--------------
g ------------------2---|------------------2---
d -------------2--------|-------------2--------
a --0-------------------|--0-------------------
e ----------------------|----------------------
1 & 2 & 1 & 2 &

When first starting out, work on steady, consistent timing. Once it becomes easier, you can than pick up your speed. As you continue to pick up speed, maintain steady, consistent timing.

Let us add a chord change.

Once you have the previous tab down, lets switch from an A minor chord to a c major chord.

T M T I T M T I
e ----------------------|----------------------
b -------1--------------|-------1--------------
g ------------------2---|------------------0---
d -------------2--------|-------------2--------
a --0-------------------|--3-------------------
e ----------------------|----------------------
1 & 2 & 1 & 2 &

Start off slow.

If you have never done any fingerpicking before, you will not be able to play as fast as the examples above. Start off slow and work your way up to a faster pace. The most important thing is that you are consistent in your timing and accurate in plucking the strings.

Do I need fingernails?

No you do not need fingernails, however, fingernails do contribute to a nicer sounding guitar sound. If you grow fingernails you will produce a brighter and sharper tone. If you don’t use fingernails, you will have a mellow sound.

Some fingerpickers will grow out their fingernails to get a bit more “leverage” in their picking. Those who fingerpick with their nails will produce a brighter and sharper sound. Those who just pick more with the skin on the tips of the fingers will produce a more mellow sound. So fingernails aren’t necessary for fingerpicking, but they may contribute more to the type of sound you want to create.

After your first practice fingerpicking, you will have blisters. DON’T STOP! Continue to play till they hurt. This is how you build up callouses. I found that after playing a bit the pain would go away. So once again if they hurt, don’t stop.

What to do next?

Well after you learn the basics of Outside-In fingerpicking, you should check out my list of 100 fingerstlye guitar songs here

This list that I compiled has a large assortment of songs that are fun to play on the guitar.

Remember, practice is essential when learning the guitar. You must practice EVERYDAY to continue to improve. Never give up. Don’t become a failure. YOU CAN DO IT.

Thanks for reading the article

Need assistance playing the guitar? Check out JamPlay. Their teachers can and will help you learn through the best guitar teaching videos on the internet.

Why struggle try learning from tab, when you can learn from a professional guitarist?

JamPlay has a 7-day money back guarantee so if it’s not for you, claim a refund and get your money back.

Don’t sit back and procrasanate

Check it out today and further your guitar journey.

JamPlay is one of the best resources on the Internet for guitarists to learn the instrument. There are endless video lessons of songs and techniques from the best players around.

It is a virtual community filmed and recorded with the most professional quality and right now All Axess has a partnership for a free trial. Head on over to Jamplay.com to peruse their materials and get your free trial now!


If you are looking for a new guitar check out West Music. They have the best prices on all the main brands.

Whether you are looking for an electric, acoustic or bass guitar they have you covered.

Their staff is friendly and are more than capable of helping you out for all your needs!

Best of luck learning these songs. Rock On M/

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