Fingerpicking 101 and Beyond

Hey Everyone. I would like to digress a bit in this blog. For the past few articles I have been writing about arpeggios across the fretboard. In this blog I would like to discuss basic fingerpicking patterns. One of the most rewarding musical experiences of my career occurred when I was playing classical guitar exclusively for about 10 years. The path was very demanding. The repertoire was a serious challenge and I practiced anywhere between 3 to 5 hours a day. The one thing I noticed about classical guitar that made it different from all the other styles of guitar was the emphasis on technique.

Without certain fingerpicking techniques you could not play the classical repertoire. Although I don’t play classical guitar exclusively and I certainly cannot practice up to 5 hours a day anymore, I still use certain techniques when I fingerpick which I learned from studying classical guitar. This is one of my favorite exercises to develop finger independence in the right hand.

In case you are new to fingerpicking, the fingers on the right hand now have letters to denote which finger patterns you will play in a particular section. The thumb is p, the index finger is i, the middle finger is m and the ring finger. So the right hand now spells out pima. Get used to it. You will be seeing a lot of this. We usually do not use the pinky for typical fingerpicking patterns and songs. In this exercise we finger an open E major chord. We place the finger on the 3rd string, the finger on the 2nd string and the finger on the 1st string. We do not move these fingers from these strings! Pretend they are cemented there. The finger, thumb, will start on the 6th string but will float from the 6th, 5th and 4th strings according to the pattern. There are 6 patterns we will encounter during this exercise: pima, pami, pmia, piam, pmai and finally paim. All these patterns are demonstrated consecutively in the example given. For example, pima is in measure one, pami is in measure two etc. Notice that the thumb, the bass note, moves from the 6th, 5th and 4th string and back again during this exercise. Although this exercise is written in 16th notes, it is very wise to play at a slow pace with a metronome set to about 70 bpm to begin. make sure every note is clear, even and in time. In the next blog, we will expand upon this further.

As always, thank you for reading. Any suggestions or comments are always welcome. Now pick up that guitar and play, just like yesterday y’all.

Richard Rossicone

About Richard Rossicone

Richard W. Rossicone is a veteran of the New York City and Long Island original and cover band scene. He has been playing guitar since the tender age of 8 years old when he attended his first concert, KISS and saw Pete Townshend smash a guitar. He has studied with various instructors over the years which led him to a career in Music Therapy. He began his educational journey at Queensboro Community College where the faculty there opened up a new world to him by introducing him to classical music. He received his A.A. in Fine Arts in 1997 and from there went on to receive his B.A. in Music Therapy in 2001 and his M.A. in Music Therapy from New York University in 2004. He has been Board Certified as a Music Therapist since 2002. Hungry to learn more about different styles on the guitar, Richard decided to continue his studies at C.W. Post University pursuing a second Masters Degree in Classical Guitar Performance and Music History in early 2006, studying under Harris Becker. In addition to his “day job” as a music therapist, he has been teaching guitar, piano and theory part time since 2002 and in 2006 started his own company called Rossicone Music Studios. Richard has grown his business from 15 students a week to over 50 a week at this present time. Richard is also a contributing blogger to and Check out his blog page entitled The Complete Guitarist and visit him on Facebook at Richy Rossicone’s Complete Guitarist Page.
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