Complete Beginner's Guide to Fingerpicking Guitar | Chris Murrin | Skillshare

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Complete Beginner's Guide to Fingerpicking Guitar

teacher avatar Chris Murrin, Fingerpicking Guitar Lessons

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Beginner's Guide to Fingerpicking Introduction


    • 2.

      Finger Selection


    • 3.

      Pattern 1


    • 4.

      Pattern 2


    • 5.

      Pattern 3


    • 6.

      Pattern 4


    • 7.

      Mixing it Up


    • 8.

      Fingerpicking Chords


    • 9.

      Applying The Patterns


    • 10.

      Thumb Indepence


    • 11.

      Thumb Indepence Part 2


    • 12.

      Putting It All Together


    • 13.

      Building Speed


    • 14.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Here fingerstyle guitarist Chris Murrin teaches you how to get started with fingerpicking on guitar. In this 27 minute course Chris takes you from the very beginning of fingerstyle and shows you how to develop great technique. By the end you will be playing with all your fingers on your right hand and fingerpicking across all six strings. The main objective of this course is to set you up so you can learn any fingerpicking song in the future with great technique. 

This course is perfect for people that are brand new to fingerpicking and can even be taken by students that have never played guitar before. It lays the essential foundations you truly need to master the art of fingerpicking.

If you enjoy this class why not check out '20 Essential Super-Beginner to Beginner Fingerpicking Patterns'.

Meet Your Teacher

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Chris Murrin

Fingerpicking Guitar Lessons


Hello, I'm Chris.

I'm an acoustic guitarist/professional music teacher and incredibly happy to be here on Skillshare. The first course I've uploaded is for people that are brand new to fingerpicking and it teaches you how to develop great techniques that will ultimately allow you to play any fingerpicking song with the correct fingering.

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Level: Beginner

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1. Beginner's Guide to Fingerpicking Introduction: [MUSIC] Hi, I'm Chris, and thank you for checking out my complete Beginner Finger-Picking Guitar Course. This course is designed to get you on the right track with finger-picking. If you know absolutely nothing about finger-picking, or you're brand-new to it but really want to learn, this is truly the course for you because it's going to set you up to build great technique, develop really really good right-hand skills for finger-picking, which is absolutely essential. I see so many people who are finger-picking just step off in the wrong direction and build poor technique, and it's very understandable why, because it is confusing, and you must get it right from the start, you really really must. So in this course, we go through the real fundamental, essential finger-picking techniques that you need to work on in order to grow into a really successful finger style player. Okay? Once you learn the right-hand techniques, you will be set up and ready to learn virtually any finger-picking song that's ever been written. I really look forward to taking you through the course and I hope that you find all the information really, really useful and it gives you lots of practice, lots to work on. If you have any problems along the way, please don't hesitate; send me a message and I'm very, very, very happy to help you as best I can. So once again, thank you very much and I really hope you enjoy the course. Cheers. 2. Finger Selection: Okay, so the first thing that we need to speak about is the right-hand. We're just going to be focusing on this hand for the first few lessons, and we're not gonna pay any attention to the left and at all really, because we need to develop great technique in our right-hand. First off, let's name the fingers. On the right hand. We call this the thumb, and then we have our first finger, our second finger, and our third finger. This will be the fourth finger, but we don't use this finger very much, at all really, it's very rare that I'll use my first finger. What I'm about to show you is which finger you should use on each string. This is just a general guideline, but however it is, it does apply very often, so if you'd learn this well, it's going to set you up for using great technique and good fingers selection for many finger picking songs that you're going to learn in the future. Let's get straight down to that. Now, the thumb plays the E string, the A string, and the D string. Okay, so thumb, thumb, thumb. Remember that it plays the bass notes. Now the first finger almost always plays the G. The second finger almost always plays the B and the third finger almost always plays the high E. Okay, at least for now, the most common change would be the high E string here where you might play that with your second finger instead of your third finger. To be honest, it's absolutely fine if you do that, later on but as I said, to build out great technique, let's focus on using our third finger on the high E string and apply this method here. Once more you've got thumb, thumb, thumb, and then first finger, second finger, third finger. Okay, so that's the first thing that you really must learn. As I said, it will set you up for great technique as you move on. Okay, so then with your thumb that plays down, so down towards the ground on E, same on the A and same on the D string, so down, down, down, and then your first finger on the G, like a claw position, plays up. Second finger is going to play up, in that claw position and same with your third finger. Your hands kind of in this position, okay, all the time and you can rest your palm here against this bridge here or some people even like to put their little finger here. It just seems to feel comfortable or you can have your hand completely out away from the guitar and just hovering above the strings. Any way is fine and everyone finger picks slightly differently. That's the first thing that you really must grasp. E, A, D with the thumb, G, B, and then E, one two three. 3. Pattern 1: Now we know which fingers you should play on a strings, that says he stopped playing some strings. The first pattern that we're going to do, is going to go thumb, first finger, second finger, third finger. It's going to start on the E string here and it goes like this. We don't have to worry about I left handed to, I'm just going to rest it here where it feels very comfortable. I recommend doing the same, keeping out paper but not touching the strings. I'll play the E string down with the thumb, then we're going to play the G, first finger at the up. Second finger at the base string at up and the third finger on the high E string, I'll play out. Now, just before you do that, do you have now is a new right-hand. It doesn't actually matter if you do it, and I don't have any finger nails at all. I used the flesh of my fingers to play the notice. All of that is just being played really with the tips of my fingers. If you do have more finger nails on your right hand, by all means you can use those. Do you just pluck the strings with your fingernails? Well, that's going to do, it would give you a brighter sound. If you have fingernails and you use them, will give you a nice bright sound. If you didn't have fingernails, you'll get a warmer sound from it. That's really the only difference, in case you're wondering there. Here's a pattern, I'll move it around a few times. Using really a four main finger picking fingers here. You starts on the E string and you pay down, and then the G. Now these three fingers there waiting, ready to go. I start in this position, all my fingers around in position on each string down with the thumb, and then put up with the first finger on the G , up with the second finger on the B, and up the third finger on the high higher strim. Very slowly, just repeat that. Keep all the strings ringing out, very slowly and don't be tempted to rush. It's taking very slow and just get used to that. See if we can get the most to sound out together and a consistent volume for each one, you don't wants the base tune really loud and the other's really quiet. You don't want something like this. Try get a consistent right away for it. Practice that round, round to your fingers start building up a dexterity and get used to it. Once more down on the E string, up on the G, up on the B, and up on the high E string. Loop that round and round until you start to get comfortable with it. 4. Pattern 2: Now you're comfortable with that. Let's start where we'll keep it similar but with some mixing up these fingers here. We'll do those in different order. The first pattern we did was thumb, one, two, three. Now, we're going to thumb, and we're going to go three, two, one. So in reverse, and the thumb's always going to be playing the e-string. Still no left hand going on here. First time we played e-g-b-e. This time let's go, e, high e, b string, g string. So we're going in reverse, thumb, three, two, one to. That's going to fill slightly more peculiar. See, you may have found the way easier, but you need to learn how to do it in the opposite direction as well. So that's the next part. The exact same approach as before, but in reverse, a thumb, three, two, one, e, high e, b, g. Again, trying to keep the volume consistent and how much pressure you apply on each string consistent across all of them and this is absolutely crucial for building that great technique that we're after. So we'll call this one and then try the other one as well and see how they both sound. 5. Pattern 3: Okay, so hopefully that wasn't too bad and you're comfortable with that. Let's try another one now. This time the pattern's going to be thumb, three, one, two, okay? Mix it up a bit, thumb, three, one, two. So that's going to be the [MUSIC] E string, the high E string, the G string, and then the base string. Okay. Thumb, third finger, first finger, second finger. Thumb, third finger, first finger, second finger. Nice. Even tension, right away across. Please don't be afraid to take it very, very slowly. Okay, so that's the next one you can practice. So far we've done [MUSIC] thumb, one, two, three, and then we did [MUSIC] thumb, three, two, one. This one is [MUSIC] thumb, three, one, two; thumb, three, one, two, keeping your fingers nice and curled in that cruel position as you play through. 6. Pattern 4: There's one more pattern that I'm going to show you before we move on to the next section, and really start spicing things up and getting a little bit more musical with it. This one is like the others, but its thumb, second finger, first finger, third finger. Thumb on the E string, second finger on the bass string, first finger on the G string, and then, third finger on the high A string. Just like before, we repeat that round and round, nice and slow. Again, gradually start building out your speed. The speed is not too important at all at this moment, but when you're ready to, just gradually start picking up the speed a little bit. You got four very good fingerpicking patterns there to really learn where the strings are on your right hand and start building out that strength and dexterity. Continue to practice all of those. 7. Mixing it Up: Hopefully you're pretty comfortable with those four patterns. What we're going to do now is put them all into an exercise where we're going to actually run the way through each pattern, and we're going to change between them each time. So play each one once and then change. I'll show you what I mean. Pattern one we had thumb one, two, three, pattern two was thumb three, two, one. Pattern three was thumb three, one, two. Pattern four was thumb two, one, three. Start with pattern one, we'll do that once. Move to pattern two, do that once. Pattern three, do that once. Pattern four and do that once. Take it very slow, there's a lot to think about here and you want to be able to repeat this ongoing and that will really help your dexterity. Here we go. Pattern one. Pattern two. Pattern three. Pattern four. Again. One. Two. Three. Four. Once more. One. Two. Three. Four. Okay. See if you can master that. 8. Fingerpicking Chords: It's time to start introducing some chords and getting this more musical sounding. This first part that we're doing here. All of it is over an e minor chord. We'll play the e, open e, open g, open b at open e. That is an e minor chord there, like this. We just didn't play the e-string or the D-string. However, I recommend that when you're playing that you still hope that chord down. Its just good technique. The more you play for yourself, the more you see why, because the fan can come in and play some of these nodes as well. Despite we didn't play, these two strings here. Let's from now on, hold that down on an E minor chord. But anyway, we can move these patterns around codes out. We take a G chord for instance. But there's, for anyone that doesn't know, that's a third fret on the high string, second fret on the a string, third fret on the high E string there. You start all the strengths. We can do the exact same pattern on that. Let take the first cut back to the first passing from 1, 2, 3 and just do it on the G. You can practice that sitting here all the notes during out really nicely. We're going to do it on a, on a G chord, and we're gonna go to an E minor chord. That would be exactly the same as before, but we're actually holding the chord down. It may feel a bit silly holding the nose down and not playing them, but just bear with me and just just trust me that you should pity remap. You got G, E minor. Then from there we're going to get to a C chord. After that it's going to be a D chord. C chord is third fret on the a string, second fret on the D string, and then first fret on the B string like this. Then you don't strum that they're a string, sorry, the E string, you don't play the E string. This is our C chord. Now, we keep the same pattern with our right hand. But we always play the lowest note first in the court. In this case, that's going to be a string. You found it a little bit more to do here because it has to go from plane, the E string and the G and the E minor, and then to the a on the C chord. This time instead of being E G B E , we're going to play A, G, B, E. You might want to practice that. Save, you could do that. Then I picked a D chord, which is second fret on the G string, second fret on the high E string, third fret, the base string. I picked this chord because the lowest note in here, this chord is the D string. We miss that A, that A stream. I pick that because now your thumbs can pick, wants to do and has to change strengths and learn where these strings are. On this one we're going to play D G B E D G B A. Just a pattern one, we're going play G, twice on each chord, E minor, and then C, I've had that D and back. See if you can get the thumb to move and land on the base note is correctly and take it very, very slow because you want to get the chord changes. Perfect on time. C by the A string. Then D, by the D string. Then back to G. 9. Applying The Patterns: The next step would be to add some of those previous patterns that we've done. Let's go ahead and do that. On the G chord, we could play, let's take pattern three, which was thumb three, two, one. Let's take that and see how it would sound. By the way I'm playing my G here with my second, third finger at fourth finger there. It doesn't matter either way if you put it like this the traditional way or like this, it doesn't matter this time I'm just doing it like this. Anyway, that's a three, A minor, C and D. I could also do Pattern two. Let's do pattern two now, which is thumb three, two, one. That's a really good exercise right there. What we're going to do is go through all of the patterns that we've gone through so far and try them on these chords. 10. Thumb Indepence : Hopefully you are comfortable with that and you're changing between the course nicely and on time and you feel that your right hand is really starting to develop. Now what we're going to do, is we're going to start working more on the thumb. We're just going to isolate the thumb for the time being, because you really must develop a nice, strong, accurate thumb. It's so important to being successful with finger picking. We're going to take those same chords that we've done, which were, G, E minor, C and D. What is very common to do is not just play the lowest note on a chord. You can actually jump and play other base knots from the chord. That's exactly what we're going to do here. It's going to get a little bit harder, but it will start to sound more musical and slightly more interesting. If we take this G chord here, what we're going to do is, to start off with, we'll play the E string. That's going to skip over the A string and play the D string mix. So I have E, D, E, D, E, D, E, D. Then when we go to the E minor chord it will be exactly the same. Hold on the E minor chord and we play. E, D, E, D, E, D. E minor. Then we go to a C chord again. This time we don't have to skip over a string, we're just going to play the A string and then the D string so this. Then D, we'll play the D string, but then instead of going up we're going to go down. So we play the D to the A string, D, A. So I'll put all of that together so you can hear it. It'll sound like this. That's with the G. This is really developing what we'd call thumb independence. This will really help you in the future with many songs because many finger picking songs do this. Let's start working on our thumb. In the next lesson we're going to start bringing in these three fingers and really start making it sound more interesting. 11. Thumb Indepence Part 2: Now we've got our thumb working. Just independently by the thumb, let's start bringing these fingers and we're going to go right back to the first finger picking pattern, which is thumb 1, 2, 3. But instead of just playing on a G chord, E, G, B, E, E, G, B, E. What would do his fonts for play that will play it through once like that. Say E, G, B, E and then we'll play again, but the bass note has go through the D string. Okay? So we play E, G, B, E and then D, G, E, E. That's going to be a little bit tricky, so I recommend just doing it on a G chord, even an E minor chord, and just get used to that. So nice and slow. Gradually build up a bit of speed. Okay? Go to any minor chord and do the same thing. Nice and slow. Same on the C chord. So this time I'm going to play A, G, B, E and then skip to the D, G, B, E. Okay? Then we'll go through the D chord and will play D, G, B, E. Then to the A string A, G, B, E so take from what we did in the previous lesson with the thumb, we've added that in to these patterns here. So this is what it sounds like when it's all put together. So as you can see that there's more going on there and you're really starting to skip across all the strings. So I hope this isn't too tricky and do give it some good practice. 12. Putting It All Together: Hopefully, you're okay with that and it's not too tricky. Of course, what you can do is go through the other patterns that we've done and try this on them. In the previous lesson we did, it was really essentially it's still just pattern one firm 1,2,3, but the firm was alternating. You can do that with all the other patterns. Just as an example, I'm going to do pattern four, which is firm 2,1,3 but you must go for all the other patterns and try them and see if you can get them to work, and I'll show you that that really would lead to great technique in the future. Let's do pattern four which was firm 2,1,3 skip to the D-string, D- D-G- E. Then to the E-minor, same pattern. I meant the D, A, B, G, E, D, B, G, E, I meant the D which would be D, B, G, E, A, B, G, E. Very slowly, I'll walk you way through all of the patterns. 13. Building Speed: Once you've practiced these patterns enough, naturally, the speed will start to come, and it will start to sound really cool. Don't worry if you can't play fast for a good amount of time, it really doesn't matter at all. What is important is that you build great technique, that is crucial. But once it does start to come, you'll start to sound really good. I just want to give you a really quick demonstration of what it sounds like up to speed. 14. Final Thoughts: That's it for the course, thank you very much for watching. I really hope that you've found it really useful, and that you've got plenty to practice. You feel like you've learned a lot, so then you can continue to practice this stuff and get better and better. I'm sure you know this, but it's really about regular practice. Daily practice is really what is going to make you better. If you can, you must find time. Five to six days a week to commit to practice, even if it's just 20 minutes. If you do that, you commit to it for six months to a year. You'll really see the difference by the end of it. So if you can, that's going to make a huge difference. It's much better to daily than sort of for two hours on a Sunday and then not practice for another six days after that. Please go find regular time for practice. As the saying goes, it will make a huge difference. I really hope you enjoyed everything that I've covered here is just a tip of the iceberg. We did four persons with a right hand. But you can come up with your own patterns. You can use any combination of fingers on your right hand that you want. They're all going to work. Then we did these four chords, G, E, minus C and D. Of course, these are going to work on any course you already know, in any course that you learn in the future. Expand and keep learning and keep trying and keep being curious. I really truly hope that you continue to get better and better, which you will if you practice, you really well. Thank you very much for watching. I'm incredibly grateful and hopefully I'll see you again. cheers, bye-bye.