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Old 06-06-2012, 05:53 PM
kats45 kats45 is offline
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Default The Art of Fingerstyle Guitar

I'll tell you what...fingerstyle guitar is a lovely art, but it's not very forgiving. Strumming along on a guitar is forgiving, but not so fingerstyle. It forces you to be accurate, and if you're not it will let you know with instant feedback.

Is there anyone else that started with strumming a guitar, then later decided to study fingerstyle guitar? I'm finding that it's revealing my sloppy playing in a painful matter. It might be that how I'm fretting a note is just a little off, or a string gets muffled because I don't have enough arch in my hand to prevent this.

Tone is another issue. Getting a consistently good tone has been difficult. I'll get a buzz here or there or just an unpleasant sound. Are there things you can suggest that will help me clean up my playing?

I will carry on though because this is a lovely art, and one that will clean up my playing (I hope).
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Last edited by kats45; 06-06-2012 at 06:03 PM.
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Old 06-06-2012, 05:59 PM
Wasper Wasper is offline
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I'm starting out in fingerstyle. I only first touched a guitar last year... I learned some chords and stuff, but I really wanted to learn fingerstyle.. So I got myself a teacher. I read you loud and clear with all your problems and then some, lol

Rest assured, it's no easier learning fingerstyle first
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Old 06-06-2012, 06:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kats45 View Post

Is there anyone else that started with strumming a guitar, then later decided to study fingerstyle guitar?
Yes! That describes me perfectly. However, I'm only just beginning to study fingerstyle, and all of the things you wrote could describe what I'm experiencing right now.

I'd love to hear periodic updates on your journey with this.
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Old 06-06-2012, 06:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kats45 View Post
I'll tell you what...fingerstyle guitar is a lovely art, but it's not very forgiving. Strumming along on a guitar is forgiving, but not so fingerstyle. It forces you to be accurate, and if you're not it will let you know with instant feedback.

Is there anyone else that started with strumming a guitar, then later decided to study fingerstyle guitar? I'm finding that it's revealing my sloppy playing in a painful matter. It might be that how I'm fretting a note is just a little off, or a string gets muffled because I don't have enough arch in my hand to prevent this.

Tone is another issue. Getting a consistently good tone has been difficult. I'll get a buzz here or there or just an unpleasant sound. Are there things you can suggest that will help me clean up my playing?

I will carry on though because this is a lovely art, and one that will clean up my playing (I hope).
Hi Kats...
I start beginner fingerstyle players with simple patterns, and insist on slow, steady and firm finger work. Fingerstyle will not clean up your playing, but it will encourage you to clean up your playing.

I start thumb and three fingers, as it is the most comprehensive, and can always be styled back to thumb-n-2 if necessary. We also start with no thumb or finger picks.

I assign the thumb to the bass strings (4-5-6) and the first finger to the 3rd string, second finger to the 2nd string and third finger to the 1st string.

Some patterns we learn are:
|T-1-2-3|
|T-3-2-1|
|T-3-1-2|
|T-1-˛₃-1| (plucking fingers 2 & 3 together)

We start with 4/4 time and quarter notes (one note per beat), and then as confidence and accuracy grow speed them up to eighth notes. This is how to clean up sloppiness at it's root. Don't play any faster than you can play evenly and switch chords without missing beats.

The thumb plays the root note of the chord...so you need to know how to find the roots of chords.

At first I just have them camp out on the root and later begin to play the Root on the first set then an Alternate bass note on every other pattern (5th above or 4th under the root)

Hope this helps...

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Last edited by ljguitar; 06-06-2012 at 06:44 PM. Reason: added a phrase...
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Old 06-06-2012, 07:03 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Hi Kats,

I learned to play from the beginning (1964) with my fingers. To me, that was easier and that's what I wanted to play. I later learned to strum and it seems to me that was a little harder, to learn how to get a rhythm that sounded good and not hokey.

Learning how to play without getting buzzes and dead tones is a constant battle. Even after playing for all these years (48), when I record myself, I hear stuff that is not up to my high standards and have to redo things. Recording myself really helps me stay sharper.

I learned to play by playing with other people's recorded music, so that I could learn from their style of playing. Even today, when I want to play someone's song, I learn to play with their recording. Later, the song becomes my own and I forget about the note-for-note piece I learned from the original recording artist. But if I change a song later (and I usually do, unconsciously), that's OK. Still, by learning other people's styles in detail, I pick up all kinds of knowledge that gets incorporated into my playing.

Have fun!

- Glenn
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Old 06-06-2012, 07:45 PM
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You mentioned the recording, and that's something I'm moving toward doing with one fingerstyle song I've been working on. You hear what you don't hear when you record. I'm also finding that it helps a lot to go real slow. When I make a mistake, I step back and go slower, then I can speed up. If I make a mistake at that speed it's back to going slower.
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Old 06-06-2012, 07:54 PM
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Recordings will tell the truth, but occur only after the direct physical experience of playing. Beginner and intermediate players may listen to recordings and say "yuch," but the changes one needs to make under these conditions will not be fully materialized with this method.

I suggest spending time playing slowly and trying to listen intensely to what you are creating, as you are doing it. Tone, rhythm, volume and accuracy all play a part.

Spend a lot of time doing this, and always play slowly enough to play through cleanly and in tempo.

The feedback-loop between the ears, brain, and hands needs to be developed, so that what the player is creating is intentional. (while it's being created).

One needs to train to listen to oneself, as it's happening. Learn to hear what you currently don't hear while you're playing. I believe that this is a skill that can't be developed with listening to recordings, exclusively. Listen harder while you're playing...

This is a major issue that I see with most beginner to even seemingly advanced students.
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Old 06-06-2012, 07:55 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Hi Kats,

Absolutely, recording is a great learning tool. And good digital recorders -- as software in a computer or portable recorders -- are so good and so inexpensive that most of us have the resources to use this tool.

- Glenn
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:01 PM
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I played as a strummer for many years so rhythm is ingrained in me and helps me with finger style a bit as it forces me to pay close attention to timing and touch so the music comes through rather than a stream of random notes. I'm learning finger style right now and I practice nightly. It's a battle but I am seeing improvement from week to week. It's slow but it's there. I play exactly how ljguitar just described in this thread. I learned that method online at guitar nick.com and I've seen it touted as the best way to start playing finger style.

I've seen videos of guys playing really well with just the thumb and finger #1 but I can't get the rhythm right playing with too few fingers. Last night I began learning how to use all five fingers in a song. I use the thumb for 5 and 6 and then the four fingers down the line for the rest. I thought it would mess me up from what I had learned before but I find I can transition between thumb and 3 and thumb and 4 quite easily. Hooray :-). Lastly, I love this type of music. I'll warm up strumming but 90% of my playing is learning the finger style songs.
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:13 PM
kats45 kats45 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Pattis View Post
Recordings will tell the truth, but occur only after the direct physical experience of playing. Beginner and intermediate players may listen to recordings and say "yuch," but the changes one needs to make under these conditions will not be fully materialized with this method.

I suggest spending time playing slowly and trying to listen intensely to what you are creating, as you are doing it. Tone, rhythm, volume and accuracy all play a part.

Spend a lot of time doing this, and always play slowly enough to play through cleanly and in tempo.

The feedback-loop between the ears, brain, and hands needs to be developed, so that what the player is creating is intentional. (while it's being created).

One needs to train to listen to oneself, as it's happening. Learn to hear what you currently don't hear while you're playing. I believe that this is a skill that can't be developed with listening to recordings, exclusively. Listen harder while you're playing...

This is a major issue that I see with most beginner to even seemingly advanced students.
I think part of this for me is paying attention to my body too. Sometimes I'll notice that a shoulder is tense or my fretting hand is tense, or my finger picking hand is tense. So being in tune with this helps too.
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:14 PM
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As far as learning technique if you pick the right songs to learn, each at the right time, and learn each one well, you will go a long ways a lot faster. However if you want to just enjoy yourself by playing what grabs your interest at the time that's ok too. The road to progress will be longer though.
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Old 06-06-2012, 10:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Pattis View Post
One needs to train to listen to oneself, as it's happening. Learn to hear what you currently don't hear while you're playing. I believe that this is a skill that can't be developed with listening to recordings, exclusively. Listen harder while you're playing..
I strongly agree.

I've been playing fingerstyle for my entire career. It's a style that forces you to play cleaner while paying close attention to all the voices you're producing.

I would suggest to the OP to make sure they're playing a guitar that is made for fingerstyle. Most players prefer a wide nut (1 3/4" or more) and comfortable string spacing down by the saddle. That could make a world of difference.
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Old 06-06-2012, 10:39 PM
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Make sure each note you play rings out with clarity. It's kinda like when you're first learning chords, you'd normally go down and pluck each string while holding down the chord shape, making sure your pressing down on the string with enough pressure, and that each note of the chords rings out. Same thing when approaching fingerstyle.

I just recorded a beginner's "how to make fingerstyle arrangements of song" incase you're interested http://youtu.be/EshOlJRNiXY
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Old 06-06-2012, 10:42 PM
kats45 kats45 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toby Walker View Post
I strongly agree.

I've been playing fingerstyle for my entire career. It's a style that forces you to play cleaner while paying close attention to all the voices you're producing.

I would suggest to the OP to make sure they're playing a guitar that is made for fingerstyle. Most players prefer a wide nut (1 3/4" or more) and comfortable string spacing down by the saddle. That could make a world of difference.
Yes, it does force cleaner playing. I'm playing a Martin OM-21, and it has a 1 3/4" nut width. I'm also playing a Crafter Grand Auditorium body, and it too has a 1 3/4 nut width. I have a couple of Guilds, and even though their nut width is 1 11/16" I am able to use them. It is tighter though.
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Old 06-06-2012, 11:07 PM
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I played for about 10 years, 16 to 26, then a 38 year lapse with short attempts to get back in. I've reclaimed the 10 year ability (which was only the ability to get by to play what I wanted) and just ordered 4 books from Amazon to get better. But in the end, like any sport, I think the fundamentals as mentioned above will take you a long way. Play every chord clean. Snap it. Hammer it. Pull it. In parts of course. Then learn a new one. Learn to play up the neck. I don't know what the books will say. I have been finger plucking all my life. I also used to use a pick and the Carter Family Lick was the first thing I learned but even that was after mimicked it from the 331/3. Clean chords, clean notes, and you can't go wrong.
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