10 Easy Fingerpicking Songs For Beginners
Ready to venture into the mesmerizing world of fingerpicking? Great! Fingerpicking (or fingerstyle) is that sweet technique where you pluck the strings individually with your fingers instead of using a pick. It adds a personal touch to the music, like you’re literally caressing each note. Let’s dive into some fantastic, beginner-friendly fingerpicking songs to get you started.
1. The Importance of Fingerpicking
Before we hit the songs, let’s chat about why fingerpicking is such a big deal. Apart from looking super cool, fingerpicking allows for intricate patterns and simultaneous melody and rhythm playing. It brings out the multi-dimensional essence of a guitar, proving you don’t always need a full band for a rich sound.
2. Warm-Up: Getting Those Fingers Moving
Finger independence is vital for fingerpicking. Here’s a simple exercise to warm up:
- Pluck the high E string with your ring finger, the B string with your middle finger, and the G string with your index. Go slow and ensure each note rings clear.
3. Five Classic Fingerpicking Patterns For Beginners
Before hitting the songs, practice these patterns. Remember, go slow:
- Thumb and One Finger: Pluck the G string with your thumb and the B string with your index finger, alternating between them.
- Three-Finger Roll: Using your thumb, index, and middle finger, roll through the D, G, and B strings.
- Alternating Bass: Play a chord, then alternate the bass note (played with the thumb) between two strings while keeping a steady rhythm with the other fingers.
- Pinch Technique: Pinch two non-adjacent strings at once.
- Cascade: Play strings in sequence from low to high, then high to low.
4. Top Fingerpicking Songs To Begin Your Journey
1. “Horse With No Name” by America
This song mainly uses two chords, making it beginner-friendly. The plucking pattern is simple, and it gives you a feel for alternating bass notes.
2. “Blackbird” by The Beatles
Don’t freak out! While it may seem complex, “Blackbird” is built on a foundation of straightforward patterns. This song is great for practicing the pinch technique and offers a beautiful melody.
3. “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas
This iconic tune is all about the cascade pattern. It might take some time to get the speed, but once you do, it sounds amazing!
4. “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton
Slow, melodic, and soulful – this song helps you work on your dynamics and feeling while fingerpicking.
5. “Freight Train” Traditional, arranged by Elizabeth Cotten
A traditional fingerpicking masterpiece, this song introduces you to the alternating bass technique.
6. “Guaranteed” by Eddie Vedder
From the Into the Wild soundtrack, this number is calm, serene, and perfect for practicing your fingerpicking rhythm.
7. “Is There Anybody Out There?” by Pink Floyd
This might be a lesser-known track, but it’s a gem for anyone looking to master fingerstyle. The melodic lines will really test your finger independence.
8. “Shape of My Heart” by Sting
A classic from Sting that is not only melodious but also great for working on intricate finger movements.
9. “Annie’s Song” by John Denver
Simple, beautiful, and straight from the heart. This song gives you ample space to experiment and add your own flair.
10. “The Boxer” by Simon & Garfunkel
A folk classic, this one introduces you to the world of travis picking – a technique where you maintain a steady bass pattern with the thumb while playing the melody with the other fingers.
5. Tips To Ace Fingerpicking
- Stay Relaxed: Tension is a fingerpicker’s enemy. Keep your wrist and fingers relaxed.
- Nail Care: This might sound weird, but having well-maintained nails can help produce a clear, ringing sound.
- Start Slow: Don’t rush. Begin with a slow tempo and then increase your speed gradually.
- Consistent Practice: Like any guitar technique, the more you practice fingerpicking, the better you’ll get.
6. Moving Beyond The Basics: Techniques To Elevate Your Fingerpicking
Now that you’ve got a repertoire building up, here are some techniques to refine your fingerstyle:
1. Thumb Slap: Adds rhythm to your playing by lightly ‘slapping’ the lower strings with your thumb.
2. Percussive Hits: Lightly tapping the guitar body with your picking hand creates a rhythmic, drum-like effect.
3. Harmonics: Lightly touch a string over a fret (usually 12, 7, or 5) and pluck it to produce a bell-like tone.
4. Travis Picking: As mentioned earlier, this is a continuous alternating thumb pattern, a foundational technique for many fingerpicking styles.
7. Final Words of Wisdom for the Budding Fingerpicker
Alright, before we wrap this up, a few words of encouragement and advice:
- Experimentation is Key: Don’t get too caught up in playing a song exactly as it was originally played. Experiment and make it your own.
- Stay Patient: It’s common to feel like progress is slow, especially with fingerpicking. Remember, every guitarist, even the greats, started somewhere.
- Seek Inspiration: Listen to fingerpicking legends like Chet Atkins, Tommy Emmanuel, and Mississippi John Hurt to fuel your motivation.
- Engage with Others: Join fingerstyle communities, attend workshops, or simply jam with friends. Sharing and learning from others can be immensely beneficial.
Well, there you have it – from basics to a bit more advanced, your path to becoming a fingerpicking sensation is all set. Embrace the journey, enjoy the melodies, and most importantly, have fun! Fingerpicking isn’t just a technique; it’s a way to make your guitar sing its heart out. So, keep those fingers dancing, and the music flowing!