How To Learn Guitar Fingerstyle

If you have been using pickups to play the guitar, the fingerstyle is a whole new skill you have to learn. However, if you are used to using pickups, it can be difficult to make the switch to playing the fingerstyle. 

When you learn to play guitar fingerstyle, it may feel like you are learning to play guitar all over again. And there is nothing better than mastering your art and getting to a level where you are skillful enough to explore different genres with the fingerstyle. 

While this may take a while, there are various tips you can use to get you closer to mastery. 

How To Learn Guitar Fingerstyle (Try This First)

Playing guitar fingerstyle is easier when you know where to place your hand and how to position your fingers. First, you need to adjust the angle of your hand by ensuring that it is higher above the strings than it usually is when strumming.

There are different ways to position your fingers but there is a general rule that any beginner in fingerstyle should follow. Practice your finger position and switch between the strings with your fingers to get the skill.

6 Ways To Play Guitar Fingerstyle

If you are a beginner guitarist or a pro guitarist who wants to explore the fingerstyle, the more you practice the better your chances of learning quickly. 

Follow these tips to learn guitar fingerstyle quickly: 

Position Your Hand

How you position your hand when playing guitar fingerstyle matters and determines how well you play. Whether you are right-handed or left-handed, here are a few tips on how to position your hand when playing guitar fingerstyle:

Place your wrist higher above the strings than you would normally do when playing with a pick.

  • Rest your forearm lightly on the guitar’s top side
  • Place your fingers appropriately on the strings
  • Place the thumb on the 6th string
  • Your index finger should be on the 3rd string
  • The middle finger should be on the 2nd string
  • Your ring finger should be on the 1st string

Practice the positioning of your hand and fingers on the guitar often. This helps you master the positioning and helps improve your skills.

Practices the Patterns

You can implement the pattern you feel most comfortable with when playing guitar fingerstyle. However, there is a basic pattern that you can follow to get it quickly:

  • The thumb – lower A, D, and E strings
  • Index, ring, and middle finger – G, B, and E upper strings

Memorize How the Strings Feel

Memorizing how the strings feel helps the muscle know the movements when playing. This ensures that your hand masters how to play guitar fingerstyle faster. Once your fingers memorize how the strings feel, it is easier to play faster without losing the initial feeling. 

Make Better Use of Your Thumb

Once you get the positioning of your fingers correctly and memorize how the strings feel, move your thumb to different strings. Start slow and then increase the speed as you get used to it. You can do this using a video of a familiar song to practice.

Ensure the Other Fingers Get Used to the Strings

Practice with the rest of your fingers as you have practiced with the thumb. Practice with each finger on the recommended strings to help them get used to playing.

Practice With Videos Of Pro Fingerstyle Guitarists

Now that you know the basics of where to place your fingers and how to position your hand, it is easier to follow through with guitar videos. Try and practice with a familiar song or a guitar video.


Can Fingerstyle Be Self-taught?

It is possible to teach yourself fingerstyle. There are lots of materials you can read and watch to learn how to play guitar fingerstyle. With the materials and practice, it becomes easier to learn. Self-teaching is not only fun but it also saves you the cost of paying for guitar lessons.

Which Is Better For Beginners, Strumming Or Fingerstyle?

In fingerstyle, you need to understand and practice how to position your fingers. It takes time to master the strings with fingers and practice the style.  On the other hand, strumming is easier because you do not have to master how the strings feel or how to position your fingers. It is easier for beginners to strum than to fingerstyle.

Do You Need Long Nails For Fingerstyle?

Nails are not essential to play fingerstyle. You can have them long or short, according to your preference. However, if having long nails helps you improve the fingerstyle, there is no harm having them long..


Perfecting guitar fingerstyle comes with knowing how to position your hand and fingers and more practice. If you have videos you can watch and practice with, the journey becomes easier. Mastering how the strings feel with your fingers also helps you know how to maneuver around the strings and improve your skill.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you teach yourself fingerstyle guitar?

The straightforward answer to this question is a bold **yes**. Many self-taught guitarists have gone on to master the art of fingerstyle guitar playing. It all comes down to having a basic understanding of rhythm and chords. Once you’ve mastered these aspects, stepping into the domain of fingerstyle playing is a progressive journey of familiarizing yourself with different fingerpicking patterns. Drawing from my own experience when I was learning guitar, breaking down popular fingerstyle songs into bite-sized sections to practice helped me a lot. You will be amazed at how these small practices can transform into a coherent musical piece over time.

Is it hard to learn fingerstyle guitar?

Now, is fingerstyle guitar hard to learn? Like any other skill, it can be a bit challenging in the beginning, but with consistent and dedicated practice, it gradually becomes more accessible. The secret lies in your right hand’s development, creating muscle memory through practice and repetition. My journey was very much the same, slowly but steadily, my fingers started moving to the right chords, almost instinctively. In essence, **the perceived difficulty is significantly decreased by consistent practice over time**.

How to learn fingerstyle guitar easily?

There isn’t a universally agreed, silver bullet for learning fingerstyle guitar ‘easily,’ as this quite heavily depends on the individual’s dedication, learning orientation and practice level. However, a structured approach involving starting with basic fingerpicking patterns, progressively moving towards complex ones serves as a working method. Personally, I have found online resources, YouTube tutorials particularly very useful. You can find countless lessons, targeting different skill levels. Check out these fingerstyle tutorials. Don’t forget, patience and consistent practice are your best allies here.

Can a beginner learn fingerstyle?

**A beginner can absolutely start learning fingerstyle techniques.** However, if you’re new to playing guitar in general, I would recommend starting with a pick as that’s often more comfortable for new learners. Learning strumming techniques before diving into fingerstyle can provide a solid base and enable you to transition more easily into intricate fingerstyle patterns. On a personal note, I too started with a pick and gradually made my way to fingerstyle, and the transition was smooth because the fundamentals were in place. Just keep practicing, and remember, everyone proceeds at their own pace, which is completely fine.


I'm Johnny, the guy behind Guitar Manifesto. I've been playing guitar since my teens and now that I'm in my 40s, I'm all about sharing what I've learned to help you become a better guitarist.

Recent Posts