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How to Play Basic Fingerpicking Style Country Guitar

Learn how to play basic fingerpicking-style country guitar from musician Boo Reiners in this Howcast video.


All right in a lot of country music you've got a finger picking technique that you might want to use depending on the song. There are some players that go with the Merle Travis style where you've got the thumb and the index finger.

You might be using a thumb pick. You might be using a finger pick with the thumb pick or you might now have any at all. Some players might anchor lightly one of the fingers that they're not using on the pick guard or somewhere on the top of the guitar. I tend to anchor my third and fourth finger on the top of the guitar to just kind of give my hand some stability.

I can kind of tell where my fingers are without looking. Just because of where my anchor fingers are situated on the top of the guitar. So if you take a G shape like this, just your basic G shape. You can start out with just a pinch using the index, the middle and the thumb. And that's just kind of the style I use, I started out playing that style. Not knowing that a lot of other players were using just their thumb and index finger but also being a banjo player this was real natural for me to use.

Mississippi John Hurt is another finger early finger picker that you might want to check out who would often use three fingers. And of course if you're playing some of the James Taylor hits, you might use your index, middle and ring along with your thumb. You might do some brushes with a fingernail. So there's all kind of different ways to do it. But I think probably one of the best ways to start is just get that pinch going. That gets your coordinated and gets your more comfortable with how your hand should be positioned. Then you can start adding another not with your thumb.

Then you can start doing some rolls. And again I'm doing that pinch generally on the first beat of the measure. So if I'm going 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4. So that's intro to finger picking for country guitar.

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