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Fingerpicking: why is it so hard?

 
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cobascis
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Joined: 21 Jun 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 3:12 am    Post subject: Fingerpicking: why is it so hard? Reply with quote

Take a song like this:


Link


I can't even beginning getting anything close to this. I can play simple shit like 'Blackbird,' but am at a lose for most Elliott Smith stuff. And singing while picking??? No.

Do you guys tend to assign a finger per string? It's so hard.
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serfx
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 3:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i sort of attempt a finger per string.. never really pans out that well though
i've been trying to learn some Drag the River songs that require finger picking..

sadly i have no advice
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taylornutt
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually took a classical guitar class in college, so the one thing I learned was the finger picking. I use my thumb for the E-A-D strings and the index-middle-ring fingers play the G-B-E strings. Pinky finger not used. I can't pick as fast as the guy in the video, but I am able to finger pick and sing.
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SKC Willie
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 4:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

what taylor said is right. EAD is thumb and GBE is index, middle, ring accordingly.

I've been working a bunch of exercises to learn finger picking and mainly hybrid picking because I want to have some mad chickin' lickin' chopz. If you want me to tab some out and make a pdf version, I can do that for it, it really isn't to hard if you practice is 10 minutes every day.
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George
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I still can't use all fingers competently. A few years ago I started with just the thumb and index first cos that's what I could manage; then introduced the index when I started banjo, and now recently I can use use the ring and pinky which are all (just about) comfortable.

Honestly, it was a really long and drawn out process for me - I think everyone just needs lots of experience and to build up one or two fingers at a time. It is really hard.

You also don't need to rigorously assign each finger to each string. If you can play the piece that's the end goal. And that piece looks really hard too, you'd just to rough it out and practice at half speed and build up etc.
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Simon
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I first started out I found it really difficult to fathom but as you get a bit more experienced, it gets easier.

A friend of mine gave me the best advice, he basically said that it doesn't matter what fingers you do or don't use, it's more important that you hit the right notes, at the right time. It's definitely true, especially if you're writing your own stuff because you can make up your own rules. I know you can't apply that rule to every song that has fingerpicking in it, but it's a start.

I can't say that I have a particular technique but I definitely started out just using my thumb for the bass notes and my index for the rest, as long as you can keep the rhythym going on the bass notes then it's just making sure you hit the right notes at the right point after that. Plucking out the melody...

Also, the whole playing the song slowly first, just to get your fingers used to the pattern, is definitely a good technique. I think after that it just comes down to muscle memory and knowing which strings to pluck first, then the rest just follows naturally, without barely even thinking about it.

Practice makes perfect as they say. I'm sure others will be able to give better advice but I'm just going off how I learnt.

Just keep at it, it'll come eventually.
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Joey
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 1:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use my pick for EAD & ring finger for GBE.

My favorite chords to finger pick is..... EADGBE ---> X3003X, X7007X, X(10)00(10)X.... from 3 Libras, APC


Link


Does anyone use their finger nails to pick?.... I'm a biter, I chew em off..... tryin to think of a reason to keep em
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George
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Joey wrote:
Does anyone use their finger nails to pick?.... I'm a biter, I chew em off..... tryin to think of a reason to keep em


The last month or so I've had nails. The tone and dynamics etc make it really worth while for all types of playing in my opinion. Even for riffing I don't use a plectrum now.
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Billy3000
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I learned the fingerpicking technique when I took a classical guitar class in college, so I learned the one finger per string method. 1st finger - G, 2nd finger - B, 3rd finger - e, and thumb for E, A, and D. It felt weird at first, but after I practiced it by just using that method and walking up and down a D major chord string by string, I got really good at it. When I teach fingerpicking to my students I teach them that way, and I tell them to just walk up and down the D chord to get used to it.

The thing to get used to more than the one finger per string, that I've noticed my students have trouble with, and that I had trouble with myself when I was learning was hand position. You have to have your hand positioned just so that each finger falls under the string that it is designated to and so you can just pluck each finger in towards your palm, and get it back into position quickly without much movement. If you get your hand positioned so that your 3 fingers are able to do that reasonably, you can just move your thumb to where it needs to be easily. The thumb is honestly the easiest part to get for finger picking, so I usually suggest you focus on that last, after you get used to your three fingers picking each string.

I'm pretty non-conventional as a teacher, since I was mostly self taught, I don't believe that there is only one way to do everything so honestly I believe in the "If you're hitting the right note at the right time then you're fine" system to an extent too. But from personal experience with trying to teach myself fingerpicking and not doing it correctly, and then learning the "correct" way, it is much much easier to do, especially when you get to playing faster things. It may be harder to nail at first, but once you get it, the payoff is worth it.
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lorez
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

George wrote:
Joey wrote:
Does anyone use their finger nails to pick?.... I'm a biter, I chew em off..... tryin to think of a reason to keep em


The last month or so I've had nails. The tone and dynamics etc make it really worth while for all types of playing in my opinion. Even for riffing I don't use a plectrum now.


george, i have a mate who fingerpicks and he gets acrylic fingernails sorted monthly. Says it makes it a lot easier but he got a weird reaction from the nailbar when he only asked for the one hand to be done
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Benmurray85
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i bloody love finger picked acoustic guitar but yeah i find it hard as fook!

ive ended up using the paul mccartney/stephen fretwell "easy" technique which is smith also uses in the verses of that tune. you use your thumb to pick out bass lines and any moving notes in the chords that you wanna accentuate and the "strum" with your forefinger accross the other strings. its very rudimentary but you can get some great effects with it.

its basically lazt guitar playing but i put quite a bit of work into "proper" fingerpicking and never got there. im happy with my style
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Dinosaur Sr.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can play Angeles, (& I'm not that good.) Angeles is really a pattern-picking song. Once you learn the basic right hand alternating bass pattern it's actually pretty easy. It's almost like a trick--songs that sound impossible aren't actually that hard (Angeles & also Dylan's Don't Think Twice, It's Alright for example). You have to learn the pattern though. You could try playing something like "Landslide" which is pretty easy but basically the same pattern. Then check out Lowdenjim's videos on youtube--they are really good--the below one is for Don't Think Twice, It's Alright. I basically used the video below to teach myself how to fingerpick a year or two ago. Once I got it, I was amazed I could do it--it's really like a trick. It does take a while to get the hang of it though--like a few months.


Link


(You don't necessarily need long nails either--mine aren't long, but you can still learn how to do it--it's just not as loud). (Also, once you get the initial hang of it, one thing that helps is to keep your pinky finger on the top of the guitar--excruciatingly uncomfortable for a week or so while you're learning to keep it there--you'll think it's not a good idea fro your particular hand--but once you're used to it you'll agree, it helps you pick a lot faster & cleaner.)
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cobascis
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome first post! I have sort of gotten angeles down since posting but that helped a lot.

Dig the username, too.
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gaybear
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cobascis wrote:
Awesome first post! .


agreed.

i really need to take more time to practice this stuff
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GreenKnee
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Luckily, I never tried fingerpicking before my mum and dad got me lessons for my 14th birthday. So I got into a good technique before any bad habits occur. I am not excellent at picking, but I think with some practice I could eventually get rather good.

As for Elliott, he's something special. I have XO tattooed on my arm (an E.S album), Tomorrow, tomorrow has the craziest fingerpicking ever.
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