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-   -   Fingerstyle v Fingerpicking (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=635731)

Robin, Wales 01-01-2022 06:06 AM

Fingerstyle v Fingerpicking
 
Having read through the recent thread on Fingerstyle on Dreadnaught Guitar, I got to thinking how, on many threads here on AGF, there seems to be a confusion between “fingerstyle” guitar playing and “fingerpicking” guitar playing.

I would say that I fingerpick sometimes but that I don’t play fingerstyle guitar.

I don’t have a definitive definition of either word, and I may be completely wrong on this, but I’d like to put the following up for discussion.

Fingerstyle Guitar: Playing the guitar with thumb and fingers to create a complete musical piece. The guitar is played as a solo melodic instrument. It would look like this:




Fingerpicked Guitar: Using the thumb and fingers to create a rhythmical accompaniment to a song. Refrains of the melody may be played during a piece but fundamentally the guitar spends most of its time as a rhythmic device for song accompaniment. It would look like this:



Feel free to shoot this down!

lowrider 01-01-2022 06:51 AM

You say potato, I say po-tah-to

Brent Hutto 01-01-2022 06:54 AM

I've just about given up on knowing what someone is talking about when they use either one of those terms.

In the Real World (i.e. in person and not online) I can't recall the last time I encountered someone playing what you and I would call "fingerstyle".

1) If it's a performer accompanying songs they will use "fingerpicking" and/or strumming as the song requires.

2) If it's someone busking without singing they are usually "fingerpicking". If they are singing, see above.

3) The random folks seen in guitar stores trying out guitars are either strumming 1st-position chords if they are beginners or they are "fingerpicking" if they can play a little.

4) The one occasion that doesn't quite fit would be the few times years ago I've visited Bluegrass jams. Mostly just straight stumming 1st-position chords but the better players will actually break up their strumming with little bass runs and so forth. No finger-nothin' though!

As for Online World, aside from the sainted Carl Miner it seems like the vast majority of playing and demos seen on YouTube are variations of "fingerpicking" although there is a fair bit of "fingerstyle" mixed in there, as well.

Then we could talk about "flatpicking" in my own person lingo does not mean strumming nor does it mean strumming with a few bass runs and lead-ins. I tend to use that to mean lead playing and solo instrumentals. That is by far less frequently encoutered even in Online World than strumming, "fingerpicking" or even "fingerstyle". In fact it's almost entirely a Bluegrass thing.

Italuke 01-01-2022 07:00 AM

No. Simply no. Too much interweb thinking.

Just play.

ALBD 01-01-2022 07:06 AM

Fingerstyle is just fancy fingerpicking ;)

I def fingerpick

Brent Hutto 01-01-2022 07:34 AM

Scoff if you like but it definitely matters.

When someone asks for help with their "fingerstyle" playing but they're doing what Robin and I would call "fingerpicking" then depending on how someone interprets the terms they will get very different advice.

And if someone buys a Waterloo WL-S they're going to be much happier "fingerpicking" on it than it they're trying to sound like Ed Gerhard.

stanron 01-01-2022 08:11 AM

OK, so what do you call it if someone plays simply when singing and then plays at a much more advanced level for an instrumental break?

Thanks for Pancho and Lefty by the way. That song's so good I wouldn't mind if he just strummed.

Brent Hutto 01-01-2022 08:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by stanron (Post 6894527)
OK, so what do you call it if someone plays simply when singing and then plays at a much more advanced level for an instrumental break?

Depends on what style of playing they are doing during their instrumental breaks. Call it whatever it is.

Mr. Jelly 01-01-2022 08:50 AM

In my mind only I go with fingerpicking is with finger picks and finger style is without finger picks. But, hey, that's just me ......

Bob Womack 01-01-2022 08:51 AM

Technically, "fingerstyle" used to refer to playing with alternating bass notes supplied by the thumb and melody and the remaining accompaniment played with the fingers. It's Chet Atkins style.

Eventually, the practice and the genre became a bragging point, aka, "if it doesn't have alternating bass it isn't fingerstyle." There is an audience out there that loves alternating bass arrangements to the exclusion of all other. They love to relegate the rest of finger plucked guitar music to a lower story, a ghetto, that they call, "just fingerpicking," inferring that without the alternating bass it is inferior.

However, there is a lot of really good music that doesn't feature alternating bass. In fact, there are a lot of people who don't like the rolling, alternating bass genre at all. Classical is one of those styles. There are a lot of steel string compositions that more resemble classical guitar music than technical fingerstyle, and players in those genres get it from two sides: they are eschewed by both classical players and fingerstyle players. And then there is the fact that "fingerpicking" was for years a country practice, and describing a piece as "fingerpicking" was lumping it in with "chicken picking."

If we want to go with modern etymological practice, it might be wise to let the snobbery die and realize that the common tongue no longer differentiates between "fingerstyle," "fingerpicked," and "finger plucked." They are now largely used interchangeably to refer to the practice of plucking with the dominant hand's fingers rather than a plectrum. Philosopher Alfred Korzybski posited that, "A difference that makes no difference, is no difference." Chew on that for a while.

And by the way Ed Gerhard does both classic fingerstyle and whatever that other stuff is called. My favorite work by him is his arrangement of "The Water is Wide," which is way far from classic fingerstyle and closer to classical guitar.

Bob

lowrider 01-01-2022 09:09 AM

I think ''fingerstyle'' is just the way snooty players refer to fingerpicking to make sure you know that they play better than the lesser players.

Toby Walker isn't snooty at all. He calls his playing ''fingerpicking''



A good friend of his once told me that Toby could play the ''Star Spangled Banner'' while eating a baloney sandwich.

I think he was right!

Brent Hutto 01-01-2022 09:11 AM

As usual, Bob, you place this discussion in its larger context beyond just our AGF echo chamber.

In particular when you say, "There is an audience out there that loves alternating bass arrangements to the exclusion of all other" that is what I've been trying to figure out how to say in several of these threads. I live in South Carolina and when I encounter people who either play or want to talk about "acoustic guitar playing" I've learned they invariably have one of two things in mind. They either think of Bluegrass rhythm guitar (with or without taking flatpicked solo breaks) or they are thinking of what you call "alternating bass arrangements".

The stuff Ed Gerhard does in the "Water Is Wide" vein might as well be classical guitar for all the relevance it has to people I've talked guitar with over the years. If it doesn't either have a strummed Bluegrass rhythm guitar part or alternating bass "fingerpicking" it's just not relevant.

Of course I meet tons of people who hear "guitar" and think "electric guitar" but that's a different discussion! As an aside, your reference to "chicken picking" is apt...I hear plenty of that coming from the electric guitar room in music stores.

P.S. I think much of Bob's accounting of things might be due to the simple fact that lots of people respond more to rhythm than to melody when experiencing music. I am quite the opposite, myself.

TBman 01-01-2022 09:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bob Womack (Post 6894553)
And by the way Ed Gerhard does both classic fingerstyle and whatever that other stuff is called. My favorite work by him is his arrangement of "The Water is Wide," which is way far from classic fingerstyle and closer to classical guitar.

Bob

I've been working on that tune on and off, over the last month or so. It's just regular fingerstyle to me.

Classical guitar is another can of worms completely. Body position, guitar position, thumb behind the neck (at times), right hand angle, nail care, no tab, just notation. Its a different world than what I do. Its more like a lifestyle approach to guitar in a way if that makes sense.

I'm pretty simple when it comes to styles - using a flat pick? No. Strumming? No. Using thumb and at least one finger? Ok, its fingerstyle. The style of music is another thing. "Travis picking" uses alternating bass which doesn't have to be that boom chuck genre, but can be.

I think the term "finger picking" is just a non formal way of saying "fingerstyle."

Please pass me the Grey Poupon, thank you :D

rick-slo 01-01-2022 09:21 AM

Those terms contain a lot of overlapping and interchangeability which fuzzes it all up. Personally I prefer saying fingerstyle over saying fingerpicking.

Jamolay 01-01-2022 09:27 AM

Isnít it all just playing guitar?

We have lots of ways to do that. If it sounds good, it is good.


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