Fingerstyle Guitar Lessons - Righthand Techniques
Learn how to play fingerstyle with these free online guitar lessons. We provide fingerstyle guitar tabs and free guitar tabs for your learning convenience as well as tab books for purchase
While fingerstyle guitar involves equal involvement from both hands, we will concentrate on the right hand in these Free OnLine Guitar Lessons . What makes fingerstyle guitar unique is the fulness of sound you are able to get from playing many notes at the same time for both lead and rhythm playing.
The fingers that are used vary from player to player. Merle Travis for instance used only his right hand thumb and index finger to achieve his unique sound.
Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed and many more (including myself) use the Thumb, Index, Middle and Right fingers to play the notes.
This is the method employed by the traditional classical guitar musicians as well. Here is the fingering you will normally see in notation and tabs regarding the right hand:
Thumb = t
Index Finger = i
Middle Finger = m
Ring Finger = a
Here is what it looks like in tablature and notation music scores:
Fingerstyle Guitar Lessons
Classical guitar players always play with their fingernails to sound the notes. This means the nails have to be shaped and extend beyond the fleshy part of the finger tip. Here is an example of a well shaped and length nail.
While some acoustic (and classical guitar) players use only their nails, more often on the steel string acoustic guitars, musicians will use a thumb pick and then fingernails for the remaining fingers.
The reason for this is because of the physical makeup of our hands, the thumb is usually required to have a longer nail and this creates a problem for many of us who do other things than play guitar all day long, resulting in constantly broken thumb nails.
This is a tough problem to overcome. One of the biggest culprits to broken fingernails are the pull-up door handles on newer automobiles. If you do not grasp them firmly and they "flick" your nails, you sill have one or more broken fingernails and saying "&% $?#@"
Fingerstyle Guitar Lessons: Carina Ricco
The position for your right hand is essentially the same for playing classical guitar or fingerstyle guitar. The wrist is angles downward toward the strings so the fingers come in contact with the strings at close to a 90 degree angle or perpendicular to the strings.
This of course is not a hard and fast rule. many times guitarists will play alternating bass notes at the same time they play lead guitar with fingerstyle guitar. In order to emphasize the lead notes the bass is muted with the palm of the right hand.
This is a great technique (especially for electric guitar) and the first major artist to use this was Merle Travis. Chet Atkins enhanced it and turned it into a fine art.
By using the muted bass technique you are forced to place your hand at a less severe angle to the strings as shown below. In other words the wrist is not cocked at as much of an angle and the wrist joint and is almost straight inline with the forearm.
Fingerstyle Guitar Lessons - Doyle Dykes
The pinch is accomplished exactly how it sounds. You pinch your right hand thumb and fingers toward each other to play a chord. This is how pinched chords appear in notation and tab. Usually (but not always) a pinch consists of, at the most 4 notes, because that is the total number of fingers that are available.
More often a pinch can be just the thumb and index finger or the thumb index and middle fingers.
Although this style will be the subject of many pages all by itself, we will give you the essence here to tantilize you for future indulgement.
The passage below shows an alternating bass for a couple of chord changes. Pay close attention to the right hand fingering as that is what we are concentrating on in this Fingerstyle Guitar Lesson.
This passage of the firest measure and a half is written in all quarter notes (one beat per note) to keep things simple. Be sure to use your chord forms throughout this exercise so make things as simple and effortless as possible.
Let's start with the "C Major chord". Finger the chord with your left hand. the first note of chord played is the Root of the C Major chord or "C". Play it with your right hand thumb by stroking it downward (indicated by the "T" below the tab.
The next or second beat of the measure is chord of the actual C Major chord. These notes are played all together with the right hand thumb playing the 4th string the index playing the 3rd string, the middle playing the second and the ring finger playing the 1st string.
Next play the G on the 6th string for your 3rd beat of the measure, followed by the same chord with the same 4 fingers playing the chord.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in fingerstyle guitar playing. Visit our page on Fingerstyle Guitar Lessons - The Alternating Bass for a lot more information on this technique, including free guitar tabs and our exclusive "Tab Notes" electronic teaching method.
Your next step should be to visit our Fingerstyle Guitar Lessons page on the Care and Shaping of your fingernails.
Chet Atkins - Fingerstyle Guitarist