hand plucking

Discussion in 'Beginner's Q&A Forum' started by supersujit, Sep 11, 2003.

  1. supersujit

    supersujit New Member

    please give me some tips on hand plucking......!!!
  2. jayanth

    jayanth <.: : Call Quits : :.>

    YOu mean Finger picking right.
  3. esgallindeion

    esgallindeion Minstrel Knight

    If you mean finger picking, then its a skill you'll have to develop on your own. These days I consider myself better at fingerpicking then playing with a plectrum. So make sure you don't lose touch with either of these two.

    6th, 5th and 4th Strings -
    I usually pluck the 6th, 5th and 4th strings with my thumb.

    3rd STring -
    If it is used a lot in the song, then I use my index finger, other wise thumb.

    2nd string -
    If I'm using index finger for 3rd string, then, middle finger. If I'm using thumb for 3rd string, then index finger for second string.

    1st String -
    Likewise. If I'm using middle finger for 2nd, then the ring finger for 1st, otherwise the middlefinger.


    Practise playing chords and scales with fingers till you get used to using your fingers.
  4. jayanth

    jayanth <.: : Call Quits : :.>

    A Little Lot Of Mistakes Mod.

    Sixth String - Thumb
    Fifth String - Thumb
    Fourth String - Thumb
    Third String - Middle Finger
    Second String - Ring Finger
    First String - Pinky

    Try The Intro of Nothing Else Matters using This Technique.If you have long nails It Makes it easier
  5. esgallindeion

    esgallindeion Minstrel Knight

    But I believe that such techniques should come naturally. Have you seen the video of Hotel California (the live one)? He uses his index finger for 2nd string and middle finger for 1st string and thumb for the rest.

    The one that I use usually ..

    6th - thumb
    5th - thumb
    4th - thumb
    3rd - index
    2nd - middle
    1st - ring

    is the classical finger picking style. Or thats what I learnt on the net on some guitar sites. :beer: And I'm too used to it.

    Btw, to get more used to finger picking, try songs like Stairway to Heaven(Led Zep), the Bard's Song(Blind Guardian).
  6. jayanth

    jayanth <.: : Call Quits : :.>

    ok But all the books i read say what I say. Anyways thats a different type of finger picking where the angle of the hand is kind of perpendicular to the Bridge. But try standing up and playing the same you will find a little itch and an ache in the fingers.
  7. scot_hacker

    scot_hacker New Member


    Basically there are two types in plucking technique:

    Apoyando is where you play with your fingers dead straight and bent ONLY at the knuckles. You hold the hand as above the strings as needed and pluck using, again, straight fingers. This takes more time and patience though.

    Tirando is where you bend your fingers at the joints and play.

    In either case your fingers are perpendicular to the strings for maximum clarity of tone.

    :think: Experiments always help.
  8. jayanth

    jayanth <.: : Call Quits : :.>

    This guys has got the things right . The names. Anyways generall the type you choose depends on the comfort not the song. Cause you cannot use the type of plucking which my fellow co mod explained while standing. Try playing someting like Hotel California its tough. With the one i explained i can play Travis - Sing standing.
  9. mmr

    mmr New Member

    meri yaar ki shaddi hai

    ek ladki ki tumhe can u send me the tabs forther siongs
  10. rabi_sultan

    rabi_sultan <Bulla Ki Jana>

    jayanth your wrong, the finger plucking style is more of a style/passionate form of playing than a plectrum.

    to make myself more clearer what i'm trying to say is that there is no right or wrong way of finger plucking. There are many styles you pick the one thats easy for you.

    There are guitarists that play only with their thumbs, then you have Mark Knopfler style guitarists who use the thumb on the top three and the index/middle finger for the bottom three. Then you can have the thumb for the top two, index for fourth, middle for third, ring for second and pinky for the first.

    There is no set way of playing just play with whatever your easy with.

    I normally play with my thumb only but when it comes to arpeggio's and Knopfler style triad strums then I normally play a more free style where i have my thumb for the top three and the rest of the fingers for the bottom three, whatever i feel like plucking at that moment plucks.

    As for strumming there are again many schools of thought, but what depends is the sound you want, you can use the edge of your fingers and perform a sort of 'flick' action which gives a different sound than if you only use your thumb or if you butt up your thumb and index finger and play.

    But the fingers are more versatile (imo) in the sound you can produce from playing compared to the plectrum. If you want speed however the fingers can be just as fast but it takes a lot more harder work. Check out some Chet Atkins stuff if you wanna see speed.

    Some Finger plucking songs:
    Eagles - Hotel California Unplugged!
    Bryan Adams - Summer of '69 Unplugged!
    REM - Everybody Hurts
    Dire Straits - Sultans of Swing
    Eric Clapton - Tears In Heaven
    Any Chet Atkins, Dire Straits or Jeff Beck
    Led Zeppelin - Stairway To Heaven
  11. esgallindeion

    esgallindeion Minstrel Knight

    Quite right...
  12. sayanakaharry

    sayanakaharry Forum Leader

    okay nice bit of info but its help if you could mention what sort of passages can be played apoyando and what passages use tirando. i mean, these are different techniques, so their use must be different too.
  13. rabi_sultan

    rabi_sultan <Bulla Ki Jana>

    like scot_haker said experiment.

    the two are just different hand positions, much like when you strum for rhythm the placement of your point of strumming around the hole will affect the sound, same goes for for the hand positions in finger plucking.

    Bass players mostly play in Apoyando style with their fingers straight plucking from the top. Guitarists such as does Mark Knopfler use a more Tirando style as his fingers are bent slightly.

    But I am a firm believer in that you should play to which you feel the most comfort and can get the best sound as possible, i can't play my bass in the Apoyando style my fingers just don't work that way but then i have a cousin whose been playing for 15 years, he can't stand/play the Tirando style. Its just preference.
  14. rajscorps

    rajscorps Kaput

    Apoyando and Tirando are classical guitar techniques and are not so commonly used with acoustic guitars. They are better known as rest stroke and free stroke and are used to alter the volume. In any case a beginner need not concern himself with these techniques.

    The music is always more important than the technique.

    While it is true you need to develop your own style regarding how many fingers to use, the more identified and accepted method is to use the thumb and three fingers. This allows for a lot more fluency and should definitely be the preferred method of learning. Knopfler perhaps didn't have the tutors and instruction material we have available today, so he opted for a different style. Also, Knopfler is a genius; it wouldn't be wise for any beginner or intermediate player to ape his technique/style.

    Fingerpicking is a separate genre. The most popular technique is Travis picking (Merle Travis). The thumb plays the rhythm in alternating bass while the fingers play the melody. Chet Atkins was amongst the artiest of all Travis pickers. Ry Cooder, de Grassi, Doc Watson, Leo Kottke, Paul Simon and John Fahey are all well established Travis pickers.

    Any leading fingerstyle instructor (Mark Hanson, Stefen Grossman, Arnie Berle, Happy Traum) would advise you to use three fingers. Sure there are guitarists who have developed their own style and use one or two fingers, but as indicated earlier one should always focus on the best method, in view of the fact that there really is no correct method.

    Unfortunately fingerstyle is mostly associated with folk guitar and in our age of rock and roll it obviously has lost its sheen. It’s far more intricate and a lot more speed can be achieved (than otherwise possible with a pick). Download the following song to figure it out yourself. Listen to it and you’ll know why I insist on using three fingers. BTW, this is perhaps amongst the easiest melodies in fingerstyle.


    If you are serious about fingerstyle guitar, the following books are very highly recommended. They are excellent tutorials and I speak from first hand experience. I have other articles running on this forum which delve into different patterns of Travis picking (in particular "Outside In"), and an example song "Dust in the Wind - Kansas" has been used to illustrate the necessity of using as many fingers as possible.

    The Art of Contemporary Travis Picking – Mark Hanson (The song above comes from this book). Mark also happens to be a good friend of mine and we correspond on a regular basis. His website is accentonmusic.com.

    Beginning Fingerstyle Blues guitar – Arnie Berle

    Look up Amazon to read the reviews.

    An excellent website is acousticfingerstyle.com.

    rabi_sultan likes this.
  15. esgallindeion

    esgallindeion Minstrel Knight

    Hmm... quite valuable, what you said. I personally prefer the merle travis method. Chet Atkins is undoubtedly one of the best examples... but the thing about this style which i have observed is that it is best fit for classical playing... I mean, not only the music but also the whole process of playing. Your posture, guitar position, hand/wrist/finger positions should be perfect. By taking all this into consideration, you can seriously find merle travis picking a lot easier.
  16. rajscorps

    rajscorps Kaput

    I am not sure if you are comparing fingerstyle guitar to classical style. Classical guitar is fundamentally different from fingerstyle guitar. Perhaps the only common ground is the use of fingers.

    The use of fingers is actually more dominant in acoustic guitar world than we recognize. Music is about melody, and much better melody can be created when you have four picks (four fingers) instead of one. The attack on the strings is fourfold. As I mentioned earlier its unfortunate fingerstyle is not as popular metal or rock. However, thanks to the likes of King and Clapton the art moves on.

    It’s not such a tedious act really. It takes some practice (what doesn’t?) to perfect but the rewards are flattering. Many jaws drop when I play ‘Freight Train’ which is such a simple composition. People aren’t half as impressed when I play with a pick although I am equally adept at both. Playing with a pick is so commonplace today.

    The key to Merle Travis picking is the rhythm, or the alternating bass. You can find below some examples with MP3s. The alternating bass stands out in the tablature. Please note the instruction laid out is NOT for beginners. A beginner will go nowhere if he started there.


  17. sayanakaharry

    sayanakaharry Forum Leader

    listen to people like django reinhardt, Barney kessel and joe pass and you'll know what finger-style playing can be.
  18. esgallindeion

    esgallindeion Minstrel Knight

    @ rajscorps... chet atkin's version of freight train is an amazing piece. I think I'll try it out.

    By the way, to clear up what I was saying earlier... earlier I used to play fingerstyle a lot. But it was not based on any standard technique but varied from song to song (something like I said in my first post in this thread)... But gradually I stopped fingerpicking... recently, in my guitar club in college, we usually play classical pieces with classical nylon string or flamenco guitars (I have an admira flamenco). So I have started fingerpicking again... To cut a long story short, it is my opinion that if you want the true feel of fingerpicking, then classical music is what you should play, not eagles, dire straits, led zeppelin etc... they are quite good but you don't get the same feeling as you get when playing stuff like Classical gas, Romance, rumba tempestad, canon in d etc...

    Also, could you recommend me some other songs like freight train?
  19. rajscorps

    rajscorps Kaput

    The file attached isn't a Chet Atkins piece. It's an arrangement by instructor Mark Hanson for his book "The Art of Contemporary Travis Picking". Freight Train was orginally composed by Elizabeth Cotten, when she was only 11 years young.

    Travis picking songs are widely available. I'll list out a few common ones.

    Chet Atkins - nearly every song
    Beatles - Julia
    Ry Cooder - Ditty Wah Ditty
    Alex De Grassi - Alpine Medley
    Leo Kottke - Fisherman
    Paul Simon - The Boxer
    Kansas - Dust In The Wind
    James Taylor - Millworker
    Merle Travis - Nine Pound Hammer
    Doc Watson - Deep River Blues, Doc's Guitar
    Blind Blake - Southern Rag

    Chet Atkins, Doc Watson, Blind Blake, Ry Cooder, John Fahey, Leo Kottke, Mississippi John Hurt, Jerry Reed and James Taylor are all popular Travis pickers.

    Classical Gas is a beautiful piece. Chet Atkins and Eric Clapton have their own arrangements of Classical Gas. However, you must listen to the original by Mason Williams. I think it's available over Kazaa. The original has a very different feel to it and is fingerstyle guitar at its best.

    A few other fingerstyle songs come to mind. These are not necessarily Travis picking songs (no alternating bass).

    Eric Clapton - Signe
    Robert Johnson - 32-20 Blues
    Martin Simpson - the Cuckoo Bird
    Mason Williams - Classical Gas
    James Taylor - Fire and Rain

    Eric Clapton has been much influenced by the likes of Robert Johnson and Skip James. Country guitarists such as Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis, Robert Johnson, Blind Blake and others pioneered fingerstyle guitar.

    These are masters of blues guitar and must be heard if you wish to explore fingerstyle. Pick any song by them and you won't be disappointed.

  20. rabi_sultan

    rabi_sultan <Bulla Ki Jana>

    rajscorps i always thought that the Blues style of fingerpicking was totally independent to any of the Travis style and other classical style picking due to the excessive use of slapping the acoustic guitars such as on Tears in Heaven where the 6th string is slapped. Are my thoughts correct?

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