Guitar Lessons

Guitar Fingering

The ability to play the solos on here depends largely on the facility of your "picking" hand.  These arrangements were influenced by classical guitar technique, employing the thumb (T), index (1), middle (2) and ring-finger (3), referred to throughout the text as the "pick-hand".


The customary designations found in guitar music for the thumb and fingers of the picking hand are:



Generally speaking, the thumb plays all the "bass" notes on the three low strings(6-5-4) while the melody and harmony lines are played out on the top three strings(3-2-1) by the index, middle and ring fingers.


With this finger alignment, it is quite natural for the thumb to play all the bass notes on the three bottom strings, the index finger all melody and harmony notes on the 3rd string, the middle finger all the melody and harmony notes on the 2nd string and the ring finger all melody notes on the 1st (top) string.


The pick-hand directions have been left open to the discretion and preference of each player.  Due to the personal nature of guitar playing, there are many ways to play a finger-style arrangement. The size and structure of hands, as well as their innate ability and dexterity, varies from person to person, and what works well for someone else, may not work well for you. 

As long as you fully use all of your fingers in an intelligent manner, any "system" can work for you. Carefully planned, well thought out fingerings can make a major contribution to the successful performance and overall accessibility of a piece. Your choices should be based on what you can play most easily, while at the same time producing the best sound. 


NOTE: For the novice, there are two types of "strokes" for sounding the strings of the guitar; the "free stroke" and the "rest stroke." To this end, seek out publications that deal with specific performance techniques.  Your progress will be quicker and more rewarding if your fingers are properly trained from the onset. There is much to glean from "classical" technique, even if you have no intention of becoming a bona-fide classical guitarist.

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Lets Compare Flat Picking And Finger-style Guitar Methods


The classical guitar, with it’s nylon strings, has a unique sound, along with it’s own characteristic technique, repertoire and stylistic approach. Playing this nylon-string guitar is very different from the many "plectrum" (with a pick) styles of guitar playing.


The pick-hand technique involves the thumb (T), index (1), middle (2) and ring (3) fingers working independently, allowing polyphonic pursuits. The main and obvious advantage that finger-style has over playing with a "flat-pick," is the ability of each finger to "control" a string.  This finger-style method enables a player to produce melody, harmony and (rhythmic) bass line simultaneously, on any string set. You can easily play arpeggios (used in all styles of music) with numerous finger and thumb combinations, that can provide an endless source of melodic and rhythmic variations. Finger-style playing opens a world of musical possibilities that the flat-pick simply can’t deliver. (conversely, flat-picking has its advantages) Despite their differences in technique, a large percentage of ALL guitar repertoire is in the keys of G, C, D, A, E, (F), and their related minor keys. This is because these "idiomatic" keys are related to the open strings.  The open-string chord, with its resonating sound, is the heart and soul of blues, folk, rock, and C&W, as well as flamenco and classical guitar music.


Anyone who has picked up a guitar has tried their hand at some or all of these 1st position chords: G, C, D, A, E, Am, Em, Dm, (G7, C7, D7,A7, E7, B7).  With their progressions and related keys, these open-string chords are the essential elements in the structure and creation of "pop" music.


Perhaps the relative ease with which these chords are learned, along with the portability and global popularity of the instrument, may explain in part, why the guitar has dominated popular music for the last 50 years.


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