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Don't even bother getting started learning fingerstyle guitar until you have mastered this skill.

If you are a beginner who is interested in learning to play fingerstyle guitar, don't start right away trying to learn a fingerstyle guitar song.

Instead, I recommend you first master playing basic chords, otherwise known as “cowboy chords”, before tackling any finger picking.

In other words, start learning basic fingerpicking exercises only after you have learned to play basic chords without any buzzing or muffled notes.

Basic chords include the following:

  • Em
  • Am
  • A7
  • Dm

You should start learning fingerstyle guitar only after having a solid understanding of how to play basic chords. Learn to detect and fix any buzzing or other muffled sounds before progressing to another chord.

Play a chord once using a downward strumming motion and listen carefully to your tone quality.

If you notice any of these unpleasant sounds when you strum a chord, check that you have properly placed your fingers on the fretboard and that you are using adequate pressure.

Can A Beginner Learn Fingerstyle Guitar?

Once you are able to perform basic chord shapes without hearing any buzzing or muffled notes, you can progress to fingerstyle guitar. Start by playing simple fingerpicking patterns over your chords.

basic fingerstyle position
If you are a beginner, learn to play basic fingerstyle patterns after strumming.

Before progressing to fingerpicking, you will also want to make sure that you are holding your guitar in the proper position.

It’s OK to angle the guitar slightly so that you can view the fretboard, but it’s a bad idea to have it angled such that you can’t properly pluck the strings or place your fingertips without touching adjacent strings.

In Play Fingerstyle Guitar Now!, you will learn how to properly place both the fretting hand and the plucking hand for fingerstyle guitar.

How Do I Start Learning Fingerstyle Guitar?

Start by playing arpeggios, which involve playing across the notes of a chord, rather than one note at a time. 

Another easy fingerpicking pattern involves alternating bass and treble notes, such as the beginning of Hey There Delilah.  Another example of easy fingerpicking pattern is the repeated block chord, such as the one found in Jeff Buckley’s version of Hallelujah.

Once you have mastered playing fingerstyle chords, the next step is to combine simple melody and bass notes to play simple fingerstyle songs.  This is the essence of chord melody music, where you can play the melody with the fingers and the bass notes with the thumb.

Should I Learn Strumming or Fingerstyle First?

I recommend that you practice strumming simple rhythms with some basic chord changes in your first few weeks of playing guitar, before tackling fingerstyle guitar. This will help you develop better chord changes.

Strumming is generally much simpler than fingerstyle guitar, and you can learn to strum very simple rhythmic patterns with quarter notes and eighth notes in your first few weeks of learning guitar. 

You can strum these basic rhythmic patterns with your thumb or with a pick. Once you have learned how to play simple rhythms with chord changes, you can progress to playing simple finger picking songs. You can continue learning strumming as you continue with your fingerstyle journey.

Strumming In Fingerstyle Guitar

Furthermore, some fingerstyle guitar songs such as those by Sungha Jung contain passages where you have to strum fairly quick rhythmic patterns.

So, it’s worth it to understand how to strum many different sorts of rhythmic patterns.

Strumming in fingerstyle guitar often uses the rasgueado technique. This is a method of strumming borrowed from flamenco guitar that involves using the fingernails to strike the strings, instead of a pick.

What Is The Best Way to Learn Fingerstyle Guitar?

The best way to learn fingerpicking guitar is with an online course, such as Play Fingerstyle Guitar Now! This course offers a structured curriculum that covers everything from fingerstyle basics to advanced techniques and styles.

With dedication and practice, along with high quality video lessons, you can develop your fingerstyle guitar playing and achieve your musical goals.

An understanding of rhythm and chord shapes will help you as you progress with playing fingerstyle guitar. Being able to recognize chord shapes will help you learn and memorize songs faster.  

On the other hand, one of the most common incorrect elements in fingerstyle tablature is rhythm.

To start learning fingerstyle guitar, I recommend following a curriculum such as Play Fingerstyle Guitar Now! involves playing both melody and guitar with the fingers.