Are you interested in understanding how Sungha Jung achieves his mastery of fingerstyle guitar? Here is what you need to know in order to play songs like Sungha Jung.
If you are interested in playing K-pop or Animé songs on fingerstyle guitar, then Sungha Jung is your man. When I started playing guitar, I didn't know much about fingerstyle as I played almost exclusively classical guitar. Then, after watching some of Goliath Guitar Tutorials showing how to play songs by Sungha Jung, I was hooked.
To play fingerstyle music by Sungha Jung, first get a solid understanding of fingerstyle techniques, from basic plucking and fretting to advanced techniques such as barre chords, legato playing, harmonics and percussion. Then, choose a song that you would like to learn and pay extra attention to rhythm and note accuracy during your practice.
Learn Basic Fingerstyle Guitar Techniques
To play a fingerstyle song or arrangement by Sungha Jung, you should have the basics of fingerstyle technique. This means having proper fretting hand technique and rock-solid right hand technique before tackling a song by Sungha Jung.
If you haven't learned these already, start with playing chords, such as the "cowboy" chords. Start with the minor chords, which are A minor (Am), D minor (Dm), and E minor (Em).
Next, learn the major chords which are C, A, G, E and D major, as well as F. You will learn to play these chords in Play Fingerstyle Guitar Now!, the best course to learn to play fingerstyle guitar.
Instead of strumming the basic chords, learn to play the bass note with the thumb and the other notes in the chord with the index, middle and ring fingers in a block pattern. This involves playing all the notes of the chord at the same time. Or, play an arpeggio, which is a fingerpicking pattern that involves playing each note of the chord individually.
Find Easy Fingerstyle Guitar Songs To Play
When you are starting to learn to play guitar like Sungha Jung, I recommend starting with easy fingerstyle songs. If you aren't interested in classical music, there are some popular songs such as More Than Words by Extreme which are good for beginners.
Once you get good at playing arpeggio patterns, you can play a song that moves at a faster tempo such as Dust In The Wind.
What Are The Techniques Sungha Jung Uses To Play Fingerstyle Guitar?
Most songs by Sungha Jung use techniques such as legato playing, barre chords and glissando. Sungha Jung also includes basic percussion and natural harmonics in most of his music.
The basic percussion that Sungha Jung plays in almost all of his songs is a thumb slap. Perform a swinging motion of your wrist and tap the bass strings with your thumb on the second and the fourth beats.
Some of the advanced techniques that Sungha Jung uses in his fingerstyle guitar songs are:
Use the techniques found in the song that you want to learn as a starting point to decide which technique to learn.
Learn To Play a Song By Sungha Jung
To play guitar like Sungha Jung, you will need to choose an original song or a cover by Sungha Jung to learn. I recommend going for one of his earlier arrangements or songs, because his more recent original songs tend to be more technically demanding. They have fast licks, and include special techniques such as slap harmonics and tapping.
Some songs even use alternate tunings. So, stick to a song that has basic fingerpicking and perhaps a basic thumb slap on the second or fourth beats. If you are stuck choosing a song by Sungha Jung, check out this list of Sungha Jung’s top tunes.
Can a Beginner Player Learn Sungha Jung?
Some of Sungha Jung's original tunes are straightforward and suitable for a beginner player. Here are some easier Sungha Jung songs that are suitable for beginner players:
And there are tutorials on my channel if you are interested in learning them.
If you are unfamiliar with techniques such as harmonics, tapping, or playing fast repeated notes, it will be difficult for you as a beginner to play Sungha Jung's more complex animé arrangements such as Unravel or Racing Into The Night.
Find Accurate Tablature and Start Learning
Now that Sungha Jung has official tabs posted by his Korean publisher, for a few bucks you can get accurate tabs and start learning without having to transcribe by ear. It's important you have accurate tablature and follow the exact right and left hand finger patterns that he uses.
But having accurate tablature is not the only part to learning how to play a guitar song by Sungha Jung. You will have to do a lot of listening, ideally by carefully following along with the tablature. You'll want to listen for timing, and take note of the special techniques that you hear him using.
Here are the steps to learning to play a fingerstyle guitar song by Sungha Jung:
- Break down the song into individual sections (chorus, verse, bridge, etc.)
- Choose a section of the song to learn first
- Practice the individual section of the song, first with the tablature and then without
- Move on to a different section until you have learned them all.
- Pay attention to variations – not all song sections are exactly the same!
- Do a complete run through of the song and string all the sections together.
It's critical that you start by learning small sections of the song instead of starting from the beginning and playing through the whole song, without doing any memorization.
Also, when you are working on memorizing a song, regularly check back with the tablature. This ensures you haven’t missed any important sections. The biggest challenge that I have when learning songs by Sungha Jung is bringing everything up to speed, and memorization.
If you are having trouble performing the Sungha Jung original song or arrangement for your friends, check out my online course Play Fingerstyle Guitar Now! You will learn all the techniques that you need to play his songs with ease, as well as exercises specifically tailored to learning his playing style.