20 Guitar Fingerstyle Patterns


You can also play the following patterns with the guitar pick instead of your fingers. Look at the LEGEND nearby for the picking and fingering notations used in the diagrams.

Learning guitar fingerstyle patterns is an excellent way to add new dimension to your playing you can practice them over the chord progressions just like the strumming patterns.

Unlike the strumming patterns, where you hit multiple strings simultaneously, fingerstyle patterns are played string by string most of the time, this method delivers a more lyric and soft sound.

Commonly you use clean electric or acoustic guitar to play this sort of thing, another approch worth noting is that you can use your distorted electric guitar sound with palm muting to play this thing in heavier styles and still have clarity in your music.

The patterns go more or less from simplest to more advanced ones.

Pattern 1

Pattern 2

The dotted lines in the diagrams represent relative positions of the strings, and the lowest line will not necessarily be the low E string. For example for the open C chord it would be the 5th string, for the open D chord is the 4th string.

Pattern 3

Diagram of Guitar Finger Picking Pattern

Pattern 4

Note that you "can't" play the pattern 2 and 3 straightforward as they depicted here let's say on the D open chord, because these patterns spread over 5 strings and the D open chord is played using just 4, be flexible to adjust patterns to your situation and trust your ears. For example, you can skip skipping the string before the 2nd note in the pattern 3 and move the rest of the notes one string lower:

By the way this new formation sounds better with some songs, so don't be bound by the diagrams, feel free to exchange notes, alternate bass note from one string to the next on each even bar like in the pattern 15 and so on...

Pattern 5

Pattern 6

Arpeggiato

Pattern 7

Pattern 8

Pattern 9

Diagram of Guitar Fingerpicking Pattern

Used in Wasting Love by Iron Maiden

Pattern 10

Pattern 11

Pattern 12

Pattern 13

Pattern 14

Pattern 15

In this finger style pattern the thumb alternately switches between the two lower bass strings.

Pattern 16 - Traditional Waltz

waltz fingerpicking pattern

Pay attention that waltz has 3/4 time signature, it means that duration of the 1 bar is equal 3 quarter notes, and not 4 notes as with more commonly encountered 4/4 time signature.

Pattern 17

Pattern 18

Good for intros and bridges

guitar finger-picking pattern for intros

Pattern 19

Pattern 20

If you want to learn some easy to play for beginners fingerstyle tunes, check out: Classical Guitar Sheet Music and Tabs for Beginners Page

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Cynicmunchkin Says
August 7th, 2011 at 2.49 AM

does it have to updstroke downstroke for the first pattern?

electric-fire Says
August 11th, 2011 at 5.53 PM

The downstroke symbol looks like a "table" and the upstroke like "V" on the tab.

Rail Y Says
January 11th, 2013 at 11.23 PM

forgive me but I am new to finger picking, I thought p. I. m.a. was base, 3, 2, 1, strings, you only have 5 strings showing in your diagrams, not six, so I am really confused, could you help me figure this out.

electric-fire Says
January 12th, 2013 at 12.21 AM

It's because these patterns have relative locations here, and you can play them starting from the lower E or A string depending what fits better to your situation.

The lines do not indicate specific strings, they only show "how many strings" one finger pick located away from another.

As an example, if you finger pick on the open A chord, you could start playing a pattern from the A string; and the G open chord could be played from the E lower string.

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