At MayosMusic we offer Private, Semi-Private and Group guitar, bass, ukulele, banjo, fretted instrument and auto-harp lessons. Plus, we are a complete luthier service that includes guitar and amplifier repairs/restorations. Through the years we have been asked numerous "Guitar Lesson" and "Guitar Repair" related questions (many repeatedly) by new/current/old and prospective students and customers. Here is our answer to: What is fingerpicking and what are some of its styles and techniques?
"Fingerpicking" is the technique of playing a stringed instrument with the thumb and fingers using your nails, or with finger picks.
When fingerpicking the guitar, there are three preferred pick-hand
styles regarding picks and nails:
*Note* Players almost never
use finger picks and thumb nail combination.
The three styles each have their advantages & disadvantages.
As a teacher/instructor, I recommend to all players
and students that you try all three techniques and become proficient
with all. Then choose the one that best fits your style of
playing and music, based on sound and feel. However, maintain
periodic practice on the other two styles in case you loose a pick,
break a nail, or the music you learn necessitates it.
– There are several styles/makes/models of finger and thumb picks, and
you should find a store with a good selection and give them all a try
until you find the ones that work for you, your style of playing and
– Proper care and maintenance of your nails is critical for good
fingerpicking guitar playing. Eating a healthy balanced diet
helps build the strongest fingernails possible. Keep your
nails trimmed and filled to the desired length and don’t let them get
too long and always be careful and cautious with your picking hand, as
a broken nail can be more than painful, but musically
debilitating. If you should happen to break a nail, super
glue is a great quick fix for holding it together. If need
be, make a patch brace for it with some thin cloth or even a piece of
napkin or tissue, and glue that in place much like fiberglass and resin
make a fiberglass panel.
Instructors hot tip:
Always wear protective gloves (leather) when moving (loading and unloading) your equipment to protect your hands and nails.