How long does it take to learn fingerstyle guitar? When to start fingerstyle guitar? How long does it take to master fingerstyle guitar? Where to start with fingerstyle guitar? Is fingerstyle guitar classical? Can I learn fingerstyle guitar first? If you are a beginner at playing the guitar and are curious about fingerstyle playing, then maybe you should also try it out.
As this playing style is not really for everybody, we also have to check how long one can usually learn the basics of playing the fingerstyle guitar. Are you excited? Let’s check it out.
So, what is fingerstyle playing, and how did it all start? Fingerstyle is one of the techniques of playing the guitar, and it is executed by plucking the guitar strings using your fingernails, fingertips, or picks that are attached to your fingers. Playing the fingerstyle will also include for you to play chords, arpeggios, hammer-ons, pulling-offs, and artificial harmonics. It also includes playing rhythms off the guitar’s body by tapping it.
The fingerstyle is also a standard technique on nylon and classical guitars but is also considered a specialized guitar technique on steel string guitars. Technically, the fingerstyle is similar to playing a classical guitar with nylon strings; however, with a different origin, as fingerstyle is considered to be the American way of playing the guitar by fingering.
History Of Fingerstyle
So again, how did it all start? In the 19th century, musicians, especially guitar players, really loved to play with pianos; however, the piano is also a very complicated instrument, especially since it is very heavy and really huge. As professional musicians would always perform anywhere, bringing the piano with you is really a difficult and almost impossible thing to do, especially at that time.
On the other hand, the guitar is an instrument that is very easy to carry anywhere. So, at the end of the 19th century, Southern Afro-American guitar players started to copy piano ragtimes that were very popular in those days.
The first fingerstyle developed was that the left-hand thumb served similarly to a pianist’s left hand while the other fingers served similarly to a pianist’s right hand. After some time, the slide technique was also included in the playing style, as popularized by blues guitar players, and soon after, the arpeggio technique also became famous with the help of popular musicians like Chet Atkins and many others.
When To Start Fingerstyle Guitar?
Although beginners have the choice the start immediately if they are really interested in learning how to execute the fingerstyle; however, it would still be much better if you have learned some basic skills of playing the guitar before you try to learn the fingerstyle, as it can be difficult, especially for those who do not have yet any background or experience in the guitar yet.
Two things first that maybe you should prioritize if you are a beginner in playing the guitar but would want to learn how to play fingerstyle: first is for you to learn how to play open chords and how does it work, while the second is you must be able to do chord transitions smoothly and cleanly, as these skills are pretty crucial in learning how to execute the fingerstyle playing.
If you mastered the two things mentioned above, and you are already able to strum with guitar chords with ease, then maybe you can already start on your way to learning how to play the fingerstyle technique. Although not impossible, it would really be hard for you to master the fingerstyle technique if you have not yet mastered the two basic things mentioned.
How Long Does It Take To Master Fingerstyle Guitar?
When it comes to how long it will take for someone to master the fingerstyle guitar, there is really no concrete answer for that, and it will depend on the one who wants to learn the specific guitar technique. However, for the sake of academic discussion, a novice in playing the guitar would take six months to a year before he will be able to master the technique. In comparison, an intermediate guitar player can probably master it within three months.
However, the number of months mentioned is still dependent on how the student efficiently studied and learned to play the fingerstyle guitar and the number of hours he would spend every day practicing the said guitar technique. These things are very crucial in one’s development. Experience would also be a huge factor as advanced and professional guitar players can also master the fingerstyle technique within one to two months.
As long as you are doing the exercises correctly and efficiently and you put more time into practicing, there is a better chance that your development in learning the fingerstyle guitar can be expedited.
Where To Start With Fingerstyle Guitar?
To start your journey in learning how to play the fingerstyle guitar, the first thing you should know is where your fingers should be when playing the technique. You also learn what the names of the fingers are and how to position your right or strumming-hand perfectly. These things are important when you have to read the score sheet while also learning how to execute the guitar technique.
There are three main rules in playing the fingerstyle guitar: the first is always keep your thumb in front of your finger and pluck the guitar strings using the side of your fingertips; the second is to pluck the guitar strings with your index, middle, and ring finger with a 45-degree angle; and last is always to keep the right hand on top of the guitar’s sound hole for better dynamics and tone.
The next is to start your fingerstyle guitar technique by also learning how to execute classical fingerpicking arpeggios. As classical guitar players are also known for their impressive ability with fingerpicking techniques, control, speed, and musicality, you should also practice a lot of fingerpicking patterns to make your fingerstyle technique fluid and impressive.
What Are The Other Things You Should Learn To Master The Fingerstyle Guitar Technique?
After learning where to perfectly place your fingers and be able to master the classical fingerpicking arpeggios, the next thing you should do is master the fingerstyle chords. With the technique, you are able to change simple chord progression into a beautiful sounding one.
Mastering how to execute fingerstyle chords would really be a huge help for you in the long run, as it is one of the most basic steps in learning how to play the fingerstyle guitar.
Fingerpicking Chord Progressions
After you can already smoothly play chords using the fingerstyle technique, you start now to play with some chord progressions. You can try out any chord progressions that you know, but you have to do it by using the fingerstyle technique.
As scales are very important for every guitar player to improve, it is also an important thing to learn for those who are interested to learn how to play the fingerstyle guitar. Just like the arpeggios, fingerstyle scales are also important to learn to become a master in playing the fingerstyle guitar.
As the most common music scales are Major scales, Minor Scales, Harmonic Minor Scales, Melodic Minor Scales, Major Pentatonic Scales, and Minor Pentatonic Scales, you should be able to learn them all using fingerstyle, as practicing these scales will only help take your playing to a whole new level.
Practice Simple Fingerstyle Guitar Melodies
After you are used to playing chords, progressions, and scales with the fingerstyle technique, you should try to take your playing to the next level by practicing playing simple guitar melodies using the fingerstyle technique. With the fingerstyle technique, you can mix chords and melodies when playing, so if you do not want to sing, you can still play the song just like the guitar is singing for you.
It is essential that you start with simple melodies and also integrate songs into your guitar playing, so you can get used to how the fingerstyle technique really works when you are a performing musician.
Playing More Popular Songs With The Fingerstyle Technique
When you can already play simple melodies with the fingerstyle guitar technique, the next thing you should do is learn more popular songs while still doing the same technique. It is important that when learning you learn a skill, it should be progressive, so before you go with complex guitar playing, you should master first how to play fingerstyle with simple melodies.
There are lots of classic songs that you can try to learn while using the fingerstyle technique, like the Spanish Romance. There is also Asturias by Isaac Albeniz and Canon in D by Pachelbel. For more modern songs, you can try Hotel California by the Eagles, Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles, More Than Words by the Extreme, and Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin.
Being able to master playing any of these songs will be a huge sign that you have already started to know how to play the fingerstyle technique. So, the more popular songs you master with the fingerstyle technique, the better it will be for your improvement as a guitar player.
Regularly Do Fingerpicking Guitar Exercises
The last thing you should do if you are really interested in becoming a great fingerstyle guitar player is always practicing fingerpicking guitar exercises. It would be best if you practiced symmetrical patterns every day so your fingers could get used to the technique. You can also try symmetrical scale patterns as you progress with your playing.
All in all, these things will be a massive help to you in becoming a good fingerstyle player in the future.
Is Fingerstyle Guitar Classical?
Though you can use the fingerstyle technique in electric and acoustic guitars, its best implementation is on the classical guitar. Classical guitars are also played using the fingerstyle technique, as the nylon strings that are used in these guitars give a warm, mellow, and balanced tone, which is perfect for the fingerstyle guitar playing technique.
Although this does not mean that you can’t do it on electric and acoustic guitars with steel strings, its natural sound can be slightly different from a classical guitar with nylon strings.
Can I Learn Fingerstyle Guitar First?
Playing the fingerstyle guitar technique will make you look like you are a one-person band, which means that it is also not an easy thing to do or even to learn. If you really want to start first in learning the fingerstyle technique as a guitar player, you will need to be able to do some things first, like being able to play chords perfectly, or else it will be tough for you to learn the fingerstyle technique.
So, yes, you can learn the fingerstyle guitar first; however, it is a more difficult journey for most guitar players.
Classical Guitars For Beginners Practicing Fingerstyle Technique
If you are still a novice guitar player who is trying to learn how to play the fingerstyle guitar technique, it may be a better choice to invest in a more budget-friendly classical guitar like the Washburn C5 than high-end ones that are way more expensive.
The guitar has a Spruce top, and its sides and back are made of Catalpa. It comes with a Mahogany neck, and its bridge and fretboard are made from Rosewood. It has a quartersawn scalloped Sitka Spruce bracing for additional durability to the classical guitar.
The Washburn C5 is perfect for playing genres like bossa nova and jazz, especially when you play more on chords, as it has a nice mellow tone. Its fretboard also helps the guitar to have a better response, especially if played softly, as the Washburn C5 is not an excellent choice for playing loud.
If you prefer a more expensive option, the Cordoba C5 would be an excellent option for you. Being under one of Cordoba’s flagship series, the C5 comes with great value for its budget-friendly price. It can also be a good choice for your first nylon-stringed guitar.
The Cordoba C5 comes with a solid Cedar top and has a beautiful-looking gloss polyurethane finish. As solid Cedar is a pretty known tonewood for its impressive resonance, projection, and balance, this classical guitar is really a good choice if you are really serious about learning to master the fingerstyle technique. Its neck is made from solid Mahogany, while its fingerboard is made of Rosewood, which both are pretty dependable wood when it comes to making a guitar.
Acoustic Guitar For Beginners Practicing Fingerstyle Technique
If you are looking for an affordable acoustic guitar to practice with the fingerstyle technique, going for the Takamine GD20CE would be a good move for you. This guitar comes with a solid Cedar top and Mahogany back and sides. Its neck is also made of Mahogany, while its fretboard is from Ovangkol.
This acoustic-electric guitar gives a warm and balanced tone, which is perfect for playing the fingerstyle technique. It is also very comfortable to play with, which is a massive factor to be considered for a guitar to be used in learning the fingerstyle technique. Lastly, it comes with a preamp system that is able to deliver its natural guitar sound.
Top Fingerstyle Guitar Players That You Should Follow
Tommy Emmanuel is an Australian guitar player who many consider one of the greatest acoustic guitar players of all time, and is also one of the best in the fingerstyle guitar technique. Aside from his skills, he is always widely known for his highly energetic performances. Although he was a session player in the early years of his career, he really became famous as he started to become a solo artist.
His inspiration to become a great fingerstyle guitarist is the renowned Chet Atkins. As Tommy is a multi-awarded musician, he is widely known for his works, such as Stevie’s Blues, Song For A Rainy Morning, Angelina, Halfway Home, and many more. He was also one of the performers in the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Widely known as Mr. Guitar, Chet Atkins has been an inspiration to many famous and legendary guitar players like Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Mark Knopfler, and many more. He is one of the famous musicians that helped establish the Nashville Sound, making it a beloved country style that still exists today.
Aside from his 14 Grammy Awards, Chet is also an inductee to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. He is widely known for his works like the Entertainer, Jam Man, Mr. Sandman, Snowbird, and many more.
For the younger generation, the best name that comes up when searching for a fingerstyle guitarist is Sungha Jung. He is a South Korean guitarist that gained popularity with his acoustic covers and originals posted on Youtube. Aside from his solo albums, he also collaborated with famous artists like Jason Mraz, 2NE1, BIGBANG, and many more.
So, how long does it take to learn fingerstyle guitar? When you are a beginner who plans to start learning the fingerstyle technique immediately, then it can reach six months up to a year or even more before you can really master it, but if you already have some experience, then maybe it could take three up to six months only. However, if you are already a professional guitarist, then it could probably take you one to two months to master it.