What Is Fingerstyle Guitar? When you’re playing the guitar, it can feel like it’s just you and your guitar playing beautiful music together. More appropriately, it’s between your guitar and your fingers, a feeling reinforced by the fact that your fingers make direct contact with the strings.

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It is where fingerstyle guitar comes in.  It is a guitar-playing technique where the guitarist directly plucks the strings with his fingertips, as well as with picks attached to his fingers. The term “fingerstyle” is often used interchangeably with “fingerpicking.” Although there are differences between these two terms.

Take note that fingerstyle is different from Flatpicking, where the guitarist picks individual notes via a flat pick.

Styles Of Fingerstyle

While there’s a general definition of fingerstyle, it’s done differently by guitarists depending on whether it’s classical or jazz. In the classical fingerstyle technique, you will use your index, middle and ring fingers as well as his thumb in plucking the strings. You can then use it in performing solo pieces of polyphonic and harmony music.

Yes, you can use strumming techniques for emphasis, but the more common method is plucking the chords. You have greater control over the guitar’s characteristics, such as its texture, timbre, and volume, too. Your repertoire can be varied with the fingerstyle technique, also, in terms of rhythms, modes, and keys.

For the fingerstyle technique in jazz, guitarists often perform in chord-melody style wherein a series of chords are played with the melody line on top. The earliest proponents were Carl Kress and Eddie Lang, who used the technique without a plectrum, as well as Kenny Breau, Ted Greene, and George van Eps.

If you want to learn fingerstyle techniques, you should avoid using altered tunings and capos, if possible. You can also learn from reading comprehensive guides, such as Fearless Fingerstyle: A Step By Step Guide To Stunning, Confident And Practical Fingerpicking Guitar Technique. Afterward, you can practice fingerstyle on your guitar and make beautiful music, such as the ones on 100 Most Popular Songs for Fingerpicking Guitar: Solo Guitar Arrangements in Standard Notation and Tab.

What Is Fingerstyle Guitar?

Merits Of Fingerstyle Guitar

Why learn fingerstyle in the first place? While it’s more challenging to learn, it has numerous benefits that will encourage you to pursue learning it.

You don’t have to use a plectrum with the fingerstyle technique, so it’s just you and your guitar. But your fingernails have to be at the right length and condition for it.

You can also play multiple non-adjacent strings simultaneously! Your ability to play both high treble notes and low bass notes at the same time will mean a wider repertoire. You can even play intervals and double stops.

If you like to play unaccompanied solos or to a soloist, the fingerstyle technique is an excellent choice. It is because the style allows for playing polyphonically, with separate harmony, melody and bass parts, and with independent lines.


The fingerstyle technique is among many playing techniques guitarists use as part of their performances. But don’t dismiss it as “just another technique” because it has numerous benefits for your virtuosity as a guitarist! You will find that with hard work, you can become the master of the technique, perhaps join the ranks of the world’s greatest guitarists.

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