Fingerstyle Guitar Arrangements: Free Guitar Lessons, Beginner Guitar Lessons OnLine

Fingerstyle Guitar Arrangements

Fingerstyle Guitar | Arrangements - In this free guitar lesson learn about the fingerstyle guitar arrangements and how to assemble the lead, rhythm, bass and accompaniment portions of a song.

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  • Fingerstyle Guitar Arrangements Tips
  • Sample Chord Tab

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Fingerstyle Guitar Arrangements:

Arranging a song can be one of the more difficult tasks performed by a guitarist/musician. Besides the actual composing of the score, it is the arrangement that makes or breaks a song.

Think about it. Certainly you have heard a great song performed poorly and you loose your enthusiasm for that song. Is that the fault of the composer? No, not at all. It is the fault of the arranger. Good composers know this and keep a short list of great arrangers to get the most out of their songs.

Usually the bones of a song are very simple. There are often very few lead notes or melody notes and the chord patterns are often very simple as well. This leaves a lot to the disgression of the arranger to make this song sound the way the composer intended. This is called embellishing a song.

Fingerstyle Guitar Arrangements:
Progression of Steps

In this lesson series we will cover the basic steps you should always follow to arrive at an arrangement of a song that you would like to add to your repertoire of songs. We will cover each of these steps in a separate lesson, bringing you through the steps one-at-a-time until we arrive at the finished product.

Fingerstyle Guitar Arrangements:
Step One (which is this lesson)

Determine which song you wish to play and gather as many facts about the song that you can. This can involve a search on the internet, finding a song in a songbook you may already have or purchasing sheet music for the song.

Fingerstyle Guitar Arrangements:
Step Two: The Rhythm Track

This means you have to find the chords and place them in the musical score. This lesson will give you all the information of chord placement and we will give you an example to follow.

Go to the lesson: - Rhythm Guitar.

Fingerstyle Guitar Arrangements:
Step Three: Alternating Bass Track

Although this is a very easy step in the process, it is also one of the more important steps you make. The alternating bass is the driving element in the timing and tempo of the song.

Go to the lesson: Alternating Bass Guitar.

Fingerstyle Guitar Arrangements:
Step Four: The Lead Guitar Track

If you already know the song this may be easy. If not, you will need to find a simplified version of the song on the internet or music.

This should NOT be another arrangement that someone has already done. It should only be the basic melody and nothing more, as we want to build from this simple framework.

Go to the lesson: Lead Guitar.

Fingerstyle Guitar Arrangements:
Step Five: Accompaniment

This step puts it all together and adds all of the frills to the song. We use fill-ins, thirds, triads, runs, ornamentals and lots of other goodies to bring some real life to the piece.

Go to the lesson: Accompaniment and Final Arrangement.

On to Our Lesson: The Basics

There is some basic information that we have to determine for the song before we can write even one note.

Key Signature:

In what key is the song played? I.E. key of C major, G major, E major or one of the relative minor keys etc. You may find that the song may be written in a key that does not lend itself well to a guitar arrangement.

The song could be written for piano, saxophone, or any number of other instruments that will make playing this song difficult on the guitar.

Another reason that a key signature could be altered is that the score was developed for a particular singing artist and the key was determined by the range of their vocal abilities. If this is the case we may have to transpose the song into another key.

The easiest way to transpose a song in to use a program similar to Guitar Pro or some other notation program. You can enter the song in the original key and when you are done, with one keystroke you can change the key signature and all of the notes automatically change to the new key.

This is also great for investigation of which key would be most appropriate for your arrangement. If the song was played by a band that has guitars as part of the band, it likely that you will be ok with the original key.

Also, note if the guitarists play with a Capo or not. Sometimes they do this to again be sensitive to the vocal range of the singers in the group.

Timing: What is the timing of the song?

Is it 4/4, 2/4, 3/4 or any of a multitude of others? It is often easy to tell 4/4 for 3/4 as the 3/4 timing is waltz and easy to pick out. It is much harder to recognize 2/2, 2/4 or some of the other less common timings.

It seems that 75% of the songs are played in 4/4 or common time.

Tempo: How fast is the song played?

Again, if you lay down the rhythm track in a software program, you can change the tempo infinitely to suit you needs for both practicing and your final arrangement.


What are the chords played in the song? If you know the song key you will already know (6) of the major chords to be played or possibly played in the song. For example. If the song in in the key of C major.

We know that the possible chords to be used are C, F, G7 and in the relative key of A Minor they are Am, Dm and E7th. We will cover this more in the next lesson: Rhythm Guitar.

For more lessons in this series, just select a lesson from the pull-down menu and select the GO button.

If you would like all of the PDF files, plus our "Guitar Notes" electronic teaching and the actual Guitar Pro file, you can purchase it for $2.49.

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