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The Woodshed : Basic Finger Picking for Guitar

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JJ Rocks Article # 96:
From St. Croix Music Magazine, Issue # 21 June, 2008

Here is a very simple and basic finger picking pattern for beginning and intermediate guitarist that can be used with a pick and fingers or fingers alone. This pattern is a must for songs like Dust in the Wind and many other songs that use that kind of technique. You can start by just practicing the pattern on open strings. It wont sound very musical this way but its the best way to understand what your picking hand should be doing. So here we go.

First you have to think of your strings in groups of fours. The 6th, 5th, 4th and 3rd will be the lower group. The 5th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd will be the middle group. And you 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st stings will be your high group. I always like to start with the middle group first, so lets begin with the pattern.

Step # 1:

If you are using a pick play the open 5th string with your pick and the open 2nd string with your third finger at the same time. If you dont use a pick then use your thumb in its place. Dont forget to play both strings simultaneously and let ring for a quarter note.

Step # 2:

Now go to the 4th and 3rd strings. Pick the 4th string and then play the 3rd string with your second finger. Play these strings separately using eighth notes (down and up with your foot).

Step # 3:

Now back to the 5th and 2nd strings again but this time play them separately. Its just like step #1 but do not play them both at the same time and use eighth notes again.

Step # 4: just go back and replete step # 2.

Now you have four patterns. Two are almost the same (step # 1 and step #3), and two that are exactly the same (step # 2 and step # 4).

Once you get the pattern apply it to an open C chord, then Am. Then try it on any chord that falls on the middle four strings. After you can play that well just move it to the higher four strings for chords like open D, Dm or F (half barre). Then try again on the lower four strings for chords like E or Em. For chords that cover all six strings like E or G of your favorite barre chords you can experiment on different groups of strings until you get the sound thats in your head.

Dont forget to have fun. You cant be thinking about being a rock star and be seriously practicing at the same time. Theres a time and place for everything so think about what you are playing if you want to be good and save your dreams of stardom for the mirror.

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