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Basic Fingerstyle Guitar Exercises

Learn some basic fingerstyle exercises from guitarist Adam Smale in this online guitar lesson from Howcast.


I'm going to show you some basic right hand finger exercises to help you going with your finger style approach. Let's start off with your index finger and your middle finger, listed in any instruction book as I and M. What I'm going to do is I'm going to show you two different ways of picking.

The first way is called a rest stroke, where you literally rest your finger on the string above the one you're picking. What I'm going to suggest to you is to move around and get used to playing on different strings. That's a great way to start. I would suggest for all these exercises I'm going to show you to use a metronome and start off slowly and gradually build up the speed.

The second way with the same two fingers is called a free stroke, which is what I mostly use all the time. When I play the free stroke, where you're not resting on the strings, you're plucking the strings without the resting, thusly, free stroke. Do the same thing, maybe play four strokes per string. Remember, you want to go for accuracy. Start off slow. Like I said, use the metronome and gradually build up your speed, and you'll be able to play much faster.

The second way, and this is probably mostly the way I play, and to get the most speed is, I use my thumb and my index finger. On an instruction book, it would be listed as P and I. Basically, what I've done, I've kind of converted playing with a flat pick to finger style. I use my thumb for all the down strokes and my index finger for the up strokes. That would look something like this. [plays guitar]

That way, I can get a lot of speed. Another really good exercise to do is to use fingers P, which is your thumb, I, and M over and over on the same string. That's another great exercise to do. Hopefully, those exercises will help you out and get you on your way.

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