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How can I arrange a finger style song on the guitar?
I donât recommend it for beginners, because itâs a lot HARDER TO LEARN, than strumming with a pick! Itâs up to you, depending on how you feel, and what you want to do, with your fingers and hands. If you want to progress, quickest, and easiest, then my advise is, no, donât start with fingerpicking. Start by learning simple strumming techniques with a pick, in your right hand, if you are right handed, left if youâre left handed. You can master strumming, fairly quickly, in a week, or up to a month, all of the most basic strumming techniques. After all, there are only 2 flatpick strums, the upstroke, and the downstroke. Everything else, in strumming technique, is just a little spice added to the basic strum. Fingerpicking usually takes a lot longer, months or years to learn, not just spice, but a whole, new different spice rack. It took me about 30 years of playing, before I got a good handle on finger picking. By contrast, I learned how to strum well, with a pick, within a month or two. By yearâs end, I could strum most types of strumming. It didnât take all that long to perfect it. There were some flat pick strumming that mystified me, like the acoustic guitars, on Lucky Man, by ELP, just kind of baffled me, for a long time, until I became determined to master it, and then by closely examining what the heck Greg Lake was doing, on Youtube, I did. It really isnât hard, but itâs got a little extra oomph and verve in it, in just the right rhythmic spots. Thatâs usually the case, for any strums that will look difficult to you. Just punch up a Youtube vid, of how t strum it, live, and figure it out, imitate their acoustic or electric players. Watch their arms and hands, and how t do it. Pay attention to the rhythmic intervals, where the strumming starts, stops, and any quick strokes of the pick, wherever t do it. Most of the ones that look hard, arenât too difficult, but if you tap out the beat on the song, like tap your hand on your leg, or a table, it will help you figure out how t are doing the strokes, within the rhythms. Sometimes a song has unexpected rhythmic changes, like some Talking Heads songs, or sudden vigorous beats (like Steely Danâs chorus on their âMy Old Schoolâ song), or other rhythm shenanigans, that you can figure out, by paying closer attention, to dissect the rhythms, for the strokes in your strums. Learning fingerpicking is much harder, as you have to train 2â5 fingers to do the right things, at the right time. I learned, quickly, a basic, 2 finger technique. I used that for a very long time, with either the thumb and pointer finger, or the pointer (2nd finger) and the 3d finger. Thatâs not too hard, but itâs simple. The 2 finger, finger picking technique, is commonly taught to beginners, but it is still a bit hard, but you could use it, and get by with it, for as long as you want. Many years later, I took a workshop, at a guitar festival in San Francisco, where I learned how to exercise, and control, the other fingers, and now I can use any, or all, 5 fingers, for my fingerpicking, which creates a lot more texture, in my playing. I can do most anything, finger picking wise, now. I canât play the Tommy Castro finger picking techniques, heâs way too good, so I donât recommend his instructions, except for more intermediate and advanced players, but not for beginners (unless you are insanely disciplined, and a super fast learner, with incredibly dexterous fingers, that can slice and dice cucumbers, radishes, carrots, and beets, with your bare hands!) However, you can always punch up his free section of vids, to see what he does (he does charge $ for his full instructional videos). Itâs beautiful, fast, intricate, and hard. He does a lot of traditional blues, country, folk, fingerpicking stuff, and his own beautiful compositions. The 5 fingers finger picking technique also allows one to replicate what someone like James Taylor does, his style of guitar playing, which I like a lot. That was a big part of my motivation to learn it. Itâs become 2nd nature now, like shifting gears in a car (oh, wait we all have automatics, now. Itâs ok, I like them better too, and donât want to go back to the old days). But I donât recommend learning the 5 finger finger picking technique when youâre a beginner, itâs unwise, as most people will be unable to do it. Try it after youâve been playing 2â5 years, at least. Now, itâs just easy to incorporate finger picking in my playing, without thinking about it too much. I use it in songs that I know have that in it, or songs that lend it to that sound, or when I donât feel like using a pick, for whatever reason. Finger picking is more complicated than flat pick strumming, and there are a fair number of finger picking techniques. Thereâs folk and country finger picking, blues finger picking, and jazz fingerpicking (the latter being over my head, too hard for me to shoot for, but nice if you get instruction to learn it, if you like it, but it isnât for beginners, try it when youâre an intermediate player). Classical guitar fingerpicking is another much more complicated, intricate, and specific technique to learn, that takes a lot longer to master. Like centuries. Because you have to invest in a nylon string classical guitar, and really dedicate yourself, grow out your fingernails, and howl at the moon, at the right time. Nowadays, you can get instruction online, easily enough, but all of it will remain far harder to master, than any other finger picking techniques. Before the Net (BFN, cue the dramatic music), you had to get a teacher to instruct you, there was no way around it. There were plenty of good books, on the subject, back then, but taking a live workshop helped me understand it, much faster, and much better. Now, you donât have to do that anymore, you can find what youâre looking for, online. I think, eventually, you should get a live teacher, though, just to make sure youâre doing it correctly, and to help you fix any mistakes, and make it easier and cleaner for you, when youâre finger picking. You can finger pick your nose any time! But donât do it in front of others, as itâs bad form. For the guitar, you can learn it (I mean finger picking the guitar, now, not your ugghhhâŠ nose.) Maybe not any time, learn it at the right time for you, when you can set aside the time needed for it, to master it. But do you want to? Many people are terrific strumming guitar players, who never learn to finger pick, or only do the simple 2 finger technique, at most. You certainly donât have to learn it to be a good, or even, a great player. Same for using a capo, devices, synths, phlangers, and other machinery, or other enhancements or accessories. But then, on the other hand, each item can enhance your sound, and playing experience, so donât rule them out, plan on learning them, someday, if you can, without any pressure, at your own comfortable pace. It takes a while, so you should plan on setting aside time, to do it, like on a vacation from work, for example, for a week, you can immerse yourself, to learn a lot of the basics all at once. Thatâs a good way, to put in the time it takes to master it. It shouldnât be too hard for an intermediate player, though some have trouble with it, or just canât do it, nothing wrong with that. It eluded me for years! Then, I got me a lasso, you know, for herding cows, and went to my trusty geetar, and tossed that lasso around it! It got me my geetar, which I coulda picked up with my bare hands, anyway, but uh I done found out, that lasso was USELESS for learning finger picking! Dang! The pretend cowboy schtick didnât get me, to no finger picking mastery, alone! You have to just toss the lasso away, and bear down, and just practice, with your fingers, the proper techniques. Pretending to be a cowboy is useless. Now, if you love the sound of finger picking, in country music, go for it! Thatâs great motivation to learn the techniques. Iâm more of a fan of the sound in folk rock, or folk music, and that motivates me. Whatâs the finger picking technique like? Kind of, like, just plucking the strings, with each individual finger, naked, the bare hand, with no pick at all, in the right spots on the fret board, in a chord, until you get enough flexibility, and dexterity, to easily pluck the strings, with each finger, in the correct positioning (that part is fairly easy). Thatâs all it is, really! Five fingers on 5 of the 6 strings, one by one. Look for a youtub video, to see the proper technique, but the positioning part is pretty easy. Sounds easy, but you have to develop dexterity, with practice, or else the fingers wonât do it correctly, and then the strings will buzz, and sound out, at the wrong moments, whoops, and itâs fine to make tons of mistakes when practicing, itâs really ok. Donât worry about that, itâll sound creaky at first, thatâs how it is, when we learn how to do it. But, in order to get it down correctly, you have to do it, over and over, the right technique, practice it, until it comes naturally, and fits in, musically, to the chords and songs you play. And then you can be creative, or the polar opposite, boringly robotic, in choosing which strings to pluck, at what moment, in rhythm with the song, and, in the right key, and in the correct notes for the chord progression, and scale. Master all of that, by design and plan, or loosely, intuitively, with your goals in sight, and you will be finger picking sweetly, smoothly, beautifullyâŠ Some people get very mathematical about that part, and if that suits you, you can do so, and go to Math Music Theory Town, and Country, with it! I hear t have Math Frapuccinnos there, if the coffehouses are at all open, these days, in masked Math Town, hehâŠHave fun! Iâm more intuitive, and creative, so I donât go that route, I just play what I think, and feel, will fit best, and that I like best, from the pros and amateurs Iâve listened to or seen. Finger picking? Itâs fun, once youâve learned it. But, uh, it isnât easier to learn with a lasso. If putting on a cowboy hat makes you feel like youâre gonna be a better finger picker, go for it! But, youâll still have to put the practice work in, to train your silly fingers, that are proposing to go in opposite directions, to go exactly in the picking spots, so the strings wonât horribly buzzâŠ Thatâs not easy for most beginners, so I recommend first mastering basic flat pick strumming first. Then tackle a bunch of other basic guitar techniques, like learning all your basic chords. After all, youâll be finger picking in the chords, dâoh! That means you have to know your chords first! Then, learn your barre chords, although, it might be possible to learn finger picking, once you know all the basic chords, but not barre chords yet. But I think itâs better to know your barre chords first, because youâll have a way better handle on mastering the fret board first. There are a lot of other things to learn first on the guitar, before you get to finger picking, such as, mastering flat pick strumming (essential), play all the basic chords & barre chords (essential), & then you can pick and choose among. learning songs, playing in different styles & genres, playing with a capo, playing in alternate tunings, imitating favorite guitar players, etc. Then, throw in finger picking, as one of your choices of things you want to learn. At that point, youâre no longer a beginner, but heading towards being an intermediate player. Then, you can choose, if, and when, you want to learn how to finger pick, and decide, if you just want to learn the easy 2 finger technique, or the harder 5 finger one. Good luck, happy playing, and donât worry about that lasso technique, it donât work! But the cowboy hat technique does work, but only for a very few rodeo and horse whispering folks, so I donât recommend it, for most of us. The rest of us are better off, by just playing air guitar, to our favorite guitarist, then run right over to your guitar, and practice like crazy, well, not too crazy, just calm down, relax, get in tune, and concentrate, have fun, and get it down rightâŠ
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