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Applied Fingerstyle Patterns

The Beginner's Course

Now your fingers are warmed up a bit, we're going to put them to work!

Now we have to work on some patterns to apply to work out which strings to play for which chord...


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Ditch the pick

Your thumb always plays the bass note. It can play other notes later of course, but for these patterns the thumb will always play the bass note of the chord. Now you do remember the notes in your chords way back when we looked at notes in the open position, right?

The two patterns in 4:4 (four beats in each bar) are:

4:4 T121 3212

4:4 T123 2123

And one more, which is has six beats in the bar. Now, we have not looked at that timing yet, but you can think of it like a half bar (2 beats) with each beat divided into 3 (triplets). Many people (including me when I was learning) use it to play ‘House Of The Rising Sun', but the original uses a slightly different rhythm and is actually played with a pick.

6:8 T12 321

Make up your own!
In a bar with four beats there are eight eighth notes (1+2+3+4+). Now, if you put a bass note on beat 1, then you can make up any other pattern you like for the other fingers. It will usually sound better if the pattern is the same in each bar, but sometimes it sounds cool just to make them all up as you go!

Try right now to make up your own eight-note fingerstyle pattern and then play it. It's easy and lots of fun, and will teach you heaps of cool new patterns!

It might seem sometimes that you have more fingers pressing down notes in the chord than
you really need. But leave them there because if you accidentally hit the wrong string (which often happens) then at least it will be a good note. Holding down the whole chord is a great habit to get into. When you are a fingerstyle expert you might not hold them all down all the time, but until then, it will keep you sounding cool.

Next up we are going to re-visit the 12 Bar Blues in BC-194 • 12 Bar Blues Variations

Beginner products you may like from
Justinguitar Beginner's Course DVD set
Justinguitar Beginners Songbook
Justinguitar Beginners Songbook
Beginners Course Book
Practical Music Theory

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Lesson ID: BC-193