Fingerstyle Guitar Lessons
When you strum across the
strings with a pick, you play each string in a connected way as far as the distance that you strum across the
strings. When you play with your right hand fingers, you can isolate on just the notes you want to play at any
instant of the performance. Drone bass or alternating bass, staggered and interlocking internal rhythms,
appropriately placed melodies, are all a part of playing fingerstyle guitar. Everything is available from the
traditional folk pattern picking of the 50s and 60s, to the evolved playing of Paul Simon and James Taylor, to
the funky and rhythmic hybrids of Dave Matthews. Rock guitarists like Mark Knopfler and Lindsey Buckingham
play exclusively with their right hand fingers due to the control that it gives them over all their voicings.
In addition, there is the enormous genre of solo instrumental fingerstyle acoustic guitarists which is a
performance world of its own.
The origins of the guitar came through the techniques utilized in classical guitar playing, and
this approach is the principle cornerstone of playing steel-string acoustics and electrics with your right hand
fingers. When you play with your right hand fingers to pick the strings, it can open your mind up in terms of how
to approach playing the instrument. You can play more like a piano player, or even better, like a small orchestra.
This is enormously demanding and completely freeing at the same time. There is so much that you can do in this
style, that you almost need more discipline than in regular playing so as to not attempt to throw in the kitchen
sink, so to speak, and stay focused on what you really want to present.
When you approach playing the guitar with an elaborate fingerstyle approach, one of the first
considerations is how to free your left hand from the demands of holding chords and bass lines. In order to let the
melodies and high inner harmonies soar, many guitarists detune their low E string down to D and play out of a D
chord position using the low D note as a droning bass. A similar effect can be achieved by partially capoing. If
you place a capo across strings 1-5 at the second fret and play out of the D form, you get the same effect of
dropping the D but with the benefit of having all your other chords in their normal position (please note that you
will be playing in the key of E.) Of course the most advanced approach is to play in a myriad number of specialized
open tunings, which allow for varying overtones, harmonics, and reachable chord clusters, as well as elegant drone
I believe this to be the most challenging
approach to playing the guitar and it quite often results in stage time where you are out there all by yourself.
You need to be a really strong player to pull this off, and there are hundreds of technique issues that you will
need to polish. Playing fingerstyle guitar is not for everyone, but if it is the path that is calling to you, make
sure you get as much training as possible, and fingerstyle guitar
lessons with the Guitar Lesson Expert would be a great place to