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lazmo
01-29-2012, 10:56 PM
Since Iím now playing more acoustic than electric, I have started to try to get my head, hands and fingers around playing fingerstyle... and even though I am crap, Iím loving the challenge.

Some comments first of all...

Fingerstyle is great to play quietly when all my girls are tucked up in nigh nighs, as just using my fingers (no picks or nails) is much quieter than when I play with a flatpick, which is usually pretty loud. So, it is a 24/7 thing that I can do anywhere in the house and doesnít need to happen at a reasonable time in my music room.

Using a metronome has already proven helpful in getting more consistency with my picking. I just set it to quarter-notes and wind the tempo back to a pace that I can actually get it down... then as I improve I bring the tempo incrementally up.

Fingerstyle really highlights when you donít fret all the notes correctly, particularly in chords. With chord strumming, the badly fretted note just doesnít sound and the other notes cover the clam up. With fingerstyle it just goes ďthungĒ ... very yucko.

My Wife for some reason loves me playing fingerstyle... so, maybe my flat-picking sucks, although I think she just loves the delicacy and flowing-ness... is that a word?

Since I have only made fingerstyle an actual mission a few days ago, I just typed ďhow to play fingerstyleĒ into google and done a few lessons off there. In a few weeks I go in for a hip operation, and I'll be off the bike for six weeks minimum, so I think it would be great to capitalise on that downtime by making fingerstyle a goal while layed up.

OK, now the questions...

Whatís the best way to approach it? Iíve never had a guitar lesson but have had many drum lessons, so Iím not adverse to lessons, though finding the right teacher may be hard. Is there a standard set of patterns, like drumming rudiments, for fingerstyle? Are there certain patterns that are like building blocks? Iím not in any rush, so Iím happy to really focus on a couple of things and really get on top of it rather than being all over the place. Are there any classic songs that employ the right patterns, so that I can use them as an aid to get it all down?

Sorry for the barrage :)

kugelblitz
01-29-2012, 11:04 PM
Hey, I'm in the same boat as you, playing acoustic almost exclusively. I'm picked up a couple of books of fingerstyle and I'm working through them. It's really challenging but a lot of fun. Some of the patterns take weeks for me to master.

Turbo Gerbil
01-29-2012, 11:49 PM
kinda depends what you mean exactly by "fingerstyle". If you are just talking patterns to use instead of strumming, thats not such a big deal. If you are talking independent bass and lead lines, then that takes a bit more work.

This book is a pretty good starter though.
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51%2BIKnhdy0L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

http://www.amazon.com/Fingerpicking-Styles-Guitar-Happy-Traum/dp/0825603439

DoctorBob
01-30-2012, 06:50 AM
Due to tinnitus I switched to fingerstyle acoustic from electric three years ago and for me it was an epiphany.Get yourself a nice 1&3/4 neck guitar for ease in playing.Plenty of stuff on You Tube to use as models.Learn some classic stuff-Kottke etc thats on there . Experiment with alternate tunings. For me, the big jump was learning that even in standard tuning you can play a tremendous amount of open string stuff up the neck (I do play some Bluegrass so I understood the concept of '"Floaters").Write some songs-you probably have melodies floating around in your head just like the big name guys do. Have fun...I just love fingerstyle

musicofanatic5
01-30-2012, 09:05 AM
"Using a metronome has already proven helpful in getting more consistency with my picking. I just set it to quarter-notes and wind the tempo back to a pace that I can actually get it down... then as I improve I bring the tempo incrementally up."

This is key in learning anything, and I am astounded at how many guitarists I encounter that are resistant, as if they are "too organic to be tied to some mechanical beat"

The thing I spent the most time on at first, is the alternating bass with the thumb, whilst playing a synchopated pattern with the fingers. Slow with the metronome produces results.

zombywoof
01-30-2012, 10:05 AM
For the past six or so years I have pretty much stuck with acoustics. But I have always played with my fingers - both electric and acoustic.

What I love about playing with my fingers is you can really get that one man band thing going -melody, harmony and bass.

You surely can play soft and low but I tend to play just as rude and aggressive with an acoustic as I am with an electric. I love digging into an acoustic to get some grit and heft. But in the end you do whatever is best for you. There is no one right way to play.

The one thing for me though that was a biggie was getting into my head how to use the right thumb. This is what defines power and rhythm. Or rather than use it to keep a steady rhythm you can just use it to accent a melody and play bass runs. But for me, it is the thumb that will make or break ya.

lamenlovinit
01-30-2012, 11:16 AM
Due to tinnitus I switched to fingerstyle acoustic from electric three years ago and for me it was an epiphany.

Look into earplugs like "Hearos" High Fidelity plugs while you're at it. Priced at $10 bucks online they really protect you. You can hear everything perfectly until you hit a certain level then they attenuate. I quite literally HAVE to wear them when I play my National Radiotone Bendaway or I feel it later with ringing and if this makes sense to you "numbness" in my hearing, but not with my other national guitars. I think it's the unique "punch" that guitar has.

Look into them. Cheap way to not make things worse than they are now and still enjoy playing
.

'58Bassman
01-30-2012, 12:28 PM
Since Iím now playing more acoustic than electric, I have started to try to get my head, hands and fingers around playing fingerstyle... and even though I am crap, Iím loving the challenge.

Some comments first of all...

Fingerstyle is great to play quietly when all my girls are tucked up in nigh nighs, as just using my fingers (no picks or nails) is much quieter than when I play with a flatpick, which is usually pretty loud. So, it is a 24/7 thing that I can do anywhere in the house and doesnít need to happen at a reasonable time in my music room.

Using a metronome has already proven helpful in getting more consistency with my picking. I just set it to quarter-notes and wind the tempo back to a pace that I can actually get it down... then as I improve I bring the tempo incrementally up.

Fingerstyle really highlights when you donít fret all the notes correctly, particularly in chords. With chord strumming, the badly fretted note just doesnít sound and the other notes cover the clam up. With fingerstyle it just goes ďthungĒ ... very yucko.

My Wife for some reason loves me playing fingerstyle... so, maybe my flat-picking sucks, although I think she just loves the delicacy and flowing-ness... is that a word?

Since I have only made fingerstyle an actual mission a few days ago, I just typed ďhow to play fingerstyleĒ into google and done a few lessons off there. In a few weeks I go in for a hip operation, and I'll be off the bike for six weeks minimum, so I think it would be great to capitalise on that downtime by making fingerstyle a goal while layed up.

OK, now the questions...

Whatís the best way to approach it? Iíve never had a guitar lesson but have had many drum lessons, so Iím not adverse to lessons, though finding the right teacher may be hard. Is there a standard set of patterns, like drumming rudiments, for fingerstyle? Are there certain patterns that are like building blocks? Iím not in any rush, so Iím happy to really focus on a couple of things and really get on top of it rather than being all over the place. Are there any classic songs that employ the right patterns, so that I can use them as an aid to get it all down?

Sorry for the barrage :)

Google 'John Stropes' and 'American Finger-Style Guitar'. He heads that department at UW-Milwaukee and it's the only degreed course like it. He's a great player and teacher. He has done several books of transcriptions and, in fact, is the only one who transcribes Leo Kottke's music who Leo's OK with. Extremely nice guy, too.

www.stropes.com

lazmo
01-30-2012, 09:38 PM
kinda depends what you mean exactly by "fingerstyle". If you are just talking patterns to use instead of strumming, thats not such a big deal. If you are talking independent bass and lead lines, then that takes a bit more work.

I will probably end up doing both, but focussing on patterns to start with... but having said that, I'm only a few days into it and already I'm mucking around with playing some bass lines with my thumb.

"Using a metronome has already proven helpful in getting more consistency with my picking. I just set it to quarter-notes and wind the tempo back to a pace that I can actually get it down... then as I improve I bring the tempo incrementally up."

This is key in learning anything, and I am astounded at how many guitarists I encounter that are resistant, as if they are "too organic to be tied to some mechanical beat"

The thing I spent the most time on at first, is the alternating bass with the thumb, whilst playing a synchopated pattern with the fingers. Slow with the metronome produces results.

Years and years of metronome work on the pads has done wonders for my drumming and it certainly does the trick for guitar too. I just set my little Boss or Seiko on the guitar next to the pre-amp controls and off I go. Like you say "Slow with the metronome produces results"

Crazyquilt
02-02-2012, 08:20 AM
I've hacked about with fingerstyle acoustic for ages, but I was never successful in getting anywhere until I picked up Mark Hanson's The Art of Contemporary Travis Picking. (http://www.amazon.com/Art-Contemporary-Travis-Picking-Fingerpicking/dp/0936799005/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1328194957&sr=1-2) I am one of those people who learns best from having a system broken down into small parts -- fundamentals -- before I can apply it musically. This is what Hanson does with picking patterns.

However, this is only a first step; eventually, the goal is to break the patterns so you can play whatever melody/harmony/bass parts you desire -- but that's a longer term proposition, in my experience. After a few years of hard work, I've got a reasonable amount of independence, but it all started with Hanson's patterns.

I started with bare fingers, and focused on using them accurately. Then, because, as noted, the thumb is so important, I added a thumbpick (I recommend starting with a Fred Kelly Slick Pick; there's less adjustment from a bare thumb than there is to a more typical thumbpick.) Recently, I started using fingerpicks, because I'm a lefty who plays righty, and I just didn't have enough strength to get my playing as clean and clear as I'd like with bare fingers. First AlaskaPiks, and now regular metal fingerpicks. Now I rarely play a reso without them, although I don't mind playing a flat top acoustic with just a thumb pick. Still -- if I can make the adjustment, anyone can. However, I'm a big John Fahey fan, and most of the American Primitive guys (eg Fahey, Jack Rose, Glenn Jones, and to a much lesser extent Kottke) use fingerpicks, so I had that sound in my head, pushing me to use them as well.

Your wife might not feel so affectionate towards your fignerstyle if you used a dread or a reso and a full set of picks. It might get loud, indeed.

lamenlovinit
02-02-2012, 10:09 AM
Your wife might not feel so affectionate towards your fignerstyle if you used a dread or a reso and a full set of picks. It might get loud, indeed.

:rotflmao Yes indeed. When I wind up any of my Nationals with a full set of picks it's a wall of sound. And with a resonator, you don't necessarily have to crank it to sound good, in fact tricones can play very sweetly and quietly, but you do need to commit to your picking for it to sound good. Tentatively "brushing" the strings sounds pretty awful. So the next thing you know you get caught up in it and you are WAILING! :p

musicofanatic5
02-02-2012, 01:06 PM
I will probably end up doing both, but focussing on patterns to start with... but having said that, I'm only a few days into it and already I'm mucking around with playing some bass lines with my thumb.



Years and years of metronome work on the pads has done wonders for my drumming and it certainly does the trick for guitar too. I just set my little Boss or Seiko on the guitar next to the pre-amp controls and off I go. Like you say "Slow with the metronome produces results"

Drummer, eh? I think it was Lenny Breau or some fingerstyle master I read about saying he would practise paradiddles and other drum rudimental patterns with his fingers.

As concerns the use of picks, I think a thumbpick is good, but always encourage anyone starting out to learn with bare fingers. I try to keep just enough nail length to employ them when I want the extra attack, but mostly go with (heavily calloused) flesh. It's such a beautiful, warm sound and lets the sound of the guitar (instead of the sound of picks/strings) dominate. This, presuming a good sounding guitar is being employed.

Charley2004
02-02-2012, 04:56 PM
This site may be of some help.

http://www.guitarnick.com/index.html

lamenlovinit
02-02-2012, 05:14 PM
As concerns the use of picks, I think a thumbpick is good, but always encourage anyone starting out to learn with bare fingers.

I would agree with this in a way. But personally I generally advocate all pics or none for folks new to fingerpicking.

The main reason is it's just way too much for a newbie to control the dynamics. The thumb pick will generally overpower the volume of the fingers, and it's pretty much guaranteed with an arpeggio played with the thumb! After you get to know your thumb and fingers bare, you can control the awesome power of the thumb pick. :p

So yes, bare is a great way to start. With a full set of picks the learning curve is usually really slow and frustrating. Getting control of that extra quarter to a half inch hanging off the ends of your fingers takes a lot of time...

Wolfboy1
02-03-2012, 07:30 AM
TrueFire has some EXCELLENT courses, give them a look when you have a few minutes to spare.

http://truefire.com/search.html?cx=011618892582561821646%3Aif98gofherg&cof=FORID%3A11%3BNB%3A1&ie=UTF-8&q=finger+style

This one in particular might be a great place to start:

http://truefire.com/beginner-guitar-lessons/fingerstyle-blues-handbook/FH_mast.jpg

About the Lesson

http://truefire.com/beginner-guitar-lessons/fingerstyle-blues-handbook/FSBH1-box-lowres.jpgFingerstyle Blues Handbook introduces you to "steady bass," the key technique in many contemporary and classic blues styles. You will learn how to quickly achieve finger and thumb independence so you can play chords and solos with your fingers while your thumb maintains the groove. You’ll learn single note and double stop blues licks, blues chord voicings, descending bass lines and vamps, and how to play eight, twelve and sixteen bar blues in the keys of E, A, D, A minor and E minor. Each of the twenty lessons features a fingerstyle blues tune that you learn and add to your repertoire.
This course provides a solid foundation for playing solo fingerstyle blues guitar and taking on David’s more advanced New School Fingerstyle Blues course also from TrueFire.
http://truefire.com/beginner-guitar-lessons/fingerstyle-blues-handbook/hamburger_150.jpgFingerstyle Blues Handbook features 40 video lessons, text overviews, notation, interactive Power Tab and is presented in TrueFire’s multi-media video player for Windows and Mac, featuring zoom, frame advance, looping and other useful tools.
Here's how Fingerstyle Blues Handbook is presented:

The course is presented across twenty progressive lessons, starting with a foundation of basic moves and then adding on building new techniques and skills.
Hamburger overviews each new technique and move with tips and exercises for nailing the skill before taking on the lesson's arrangement.
Hamburger then performs a solo fingerstyle blues arrangement using only the techniques and moves covered in the lesson.
All twenty solo fingerstyle arrangements are broken down note-by-note, move-by-move along with tips for nailing the arrangement.
With the included Power Tab, students can "see" and "hear" the notation played out. Tempo can be adjusted without changing pitch and any section can be looped.
http://truefire.com/beginner-guitar-lessons/fingerstyle-blues-handbook/

lazmo
02-04-2012, 06:53 PM
Wolfboy1Ö that looks very interesting.

As mentioned, Iím about to go in for a hip operation and will be unable to work for one to two weeks, with a total recovery time around six to eight weeks.

The Fingerstyle Blues Handbook, seems like it is a perfect package for me to focus on, particularly initially when I wonít be able to get out and about... stuck at home.

I hope they are nice and quick on the delivery side of things as Iím in AustraliaÖ

ThanksÖ

Wolfboy1
02-06-2012, 08:05 AM
Good luck with your surgery!

Send an email to nancy@truefire.com and tell her Wolfboy1 offered you 10% off as a "recovery special" and that you need your order ASAP due to Surgery. She should hook you up!

I will let her know you might be contacting her.

RobbyRobinson
02-06-2012, 12:22 PM
The technique I learned from John Cephas goes like this: Low(E) and High(E) simultaneously, (D), (G), (A), (B), repeat. I'm not sure if that'll translate written out in this fashion, but if it does, remember to put a swing on it! It's good for practicing because it incorporates each string. Also, I like the movement from outside, in, and back again. As you progress, however, try to let your fretting hand dictate your picking hand so that you can pull off fancy melodies. Then you'll be in one-man band territory for sure.

frquent flyer
02-06-2012, 12:48 PM
Another book which I liked is The Anthology of fingerstyle guitar.

lazmo
02-07-2012, 08:26 PM
This site may be of some help.

http://www.guitarnick.com/index.html

Charley2004... thanks for the link, that is a great site.


Wolfboy1... when you purchase their lessons, do you get the Instant Download or the DATA-DVD$ or both? Does the Instant Dowload contain everything that the DATA-DVD has, but in soft copy form? Or is there extras in the DATA-DVD?

Thanks to everyone... I am really enjoying having a go at fingerstyle.

The one thing in my favour is that my left hand has 30 years of guitar playing experience, so nearly all the effort and re-learning is with my right hand fingers.

elterrell
02-14-2012, 07:28 PM
kinda depends what you mean exactly by "fingerstyle". If you are just talking patterns to use instead of strumming, thats not such a big deal. If you are talking independent bass and lead lines, then that takes a bit more work.

This book is a pretty good starter though.
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51%2BIKnhdy0L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

http://www.amazon.com/Fingerpicking-Styles-Guitar-Happy-Traum/dp/0825603439

Just curious if this book is in tab or written out in staff.

Brion
02-18-2012, 09:20 PM
Just curious if this book is in tab or written out in staff.
It has Both Standard Notation and Tab

Strum und Twang
02-25-2012, 02:52 PM
Entering the thread late, but I had the chance a few years ago to study with David Hamburger at a workshop at the Kerrville Folk Festival - I highly recommend his materials. He's tasteful, challenging, and has a knack for teaching.

kkregsg
03-23-2012, 11:08 PM
An excellent pair of instruction books (with CD) is Mark Hanson's Contemporary Travis Picking, and The Art of Solo Fingerpicking. Work your way through those and you will be well on your way to being an accomplished fingerpicker. It's all about the steady thumb bass and turning your other fingers loose. Hanson starts with thumb and 2 fingers and patterns, then adds in the ring finger variations.
Mark is a teacher here in Portland, Oregon, and I've had the pleasure of seeing several of his performances.
Best of luck. Check out his website at AccentOnMusic.com.
Kirsten

poolguitarblog
03-24-2012, 02:29 AM
Pumping Nylon book and Dvd by Scott Tennant is very good.
Escuela razonada de la guitarra by Emilio Pujol is the best. (also in English)
I've studied both classical and electric guitar at the Conservatory in Holland.

djdrdave
04-29-2012, 06:31 PM
For reference

arthur rotfeld
04-29-2012, 06:52 PM
For popular songs, check out Lawrence Juber's publications, always well crafted and thoughtful arrangements (from Hal Leonard).

For standards, there are Mel Bay's publications of the impeccable Barry Galbraith arrangements.

For classical, well, check out the various studies from Sor, Carcassi, etc.

nchesher
04-30-2012, 07:43 AM
Wait until you start tackling Travis picking.

Cream
04-30-2012, 06:15 PM
Entering the thread late, but I had the chance a few years ago to study with David Hamburger at a workshop at the Kerrville Folk Festival - I highly recommend his materials. He's tasteful, challenging, and has a knack for teaching.Bingo. I spent awhile with this vid alone. Feels like I'm in the room with him. He meanders a little bit when he talks but it's all interesting stuff so it's all good.

zwcWHsolTgE

Timcito
05-02-2012, 11:19 AM
My own beginnings in fingerstyle consisted of deciding which fingers I would allocate to which strings and then noodling around with various songs and moves I knew in order to get my picking hand familiar with its new routine. In my case, I decided to go with a classical fingering. That meant that in most cases the thumb would cover the three base strings, the index on the G string, the middle on the B, and the ring on the top E. This is obviously not the only way. Many pickers do the same but use only the index and and the middle finger to cover the top 3 strings, while many of the old blues players used just the thumb and the index finger to cover all the strings. I liked the thumb and three fingers because each finger had its string, which made things simpler at the beginning. But I do think there was a value for me in making this decision and playing around with it.

Having said that, if Mark Hanson's "The Art of Contemporary Travis Picking" had been available to me then, back in the 80s, I surely would have got it and worked through it!