View Full Version : Fingerpicking - Concept Frustration

05-26-2015, 10:03 AM
The way I understand arpeggios is that they involved plucking individual strings (sometime more than one) in differing patterns while fingering a chord. Assuming that definition is accurate...it's challenging...but I understand.

However, when my class starting handing out tab sheets for fingerpicking...I don't see any "pattern". That is, they look to be instructions for fretting individual strings without an "overall guide" like an arpeggio.

With an arpeggio, I may be told to fret a G7, then play differing individual strings for several measures in various patters...but my left hand is still fretting the G7.

With a tab sheet, I just see string/fret designations without an overall guide.

However, when I watch someone play the sheet, it looks like they are placing their fretting in "advance" like I would with an arpeggio.

So...what am I missing?

05-26-2015, 10:14 AM
Does the tab sheet also include chords? Many do. If so, finger the chord and pick the notes as shown in the tab. If no chords are included, look for chord shapes in the tablature, such as by fretting all the notes in one measure.

Fingerpicking patterns generally use chords, but sometimes with a note omitted or a note added. For example, you might pick 3rd string, 2nd fret; 2nd string, 1st fret; and first string open. The chord is G7, but only the 2nd and 3rd strings are fretted.

05-26-2015, 10:56 AM
In this context, there are effectively two "different types" of fingerpicking ;

1) that which picks out just the melody with the picking hand whilst fretting individual notes and/or chords with the other

2) that which is a "substitute" for strumming, where the chords are all the same, but instead of strumming all four strings all at once, the strings are individually picked, often in a repetitive sequence, which could be 1,2,3,4 1,2,3,4, or 1,2,3,4 1,3,2,4, or 1,4,2,4, 3,4, etc etc etc as suits the arrangement, arpeggio style. This will often, by default, include parts of or harmonies to the main melody which is being sung or played on a different instrument. Examples of this style of playing can be seen/heard with many of the self-accompanied singer-guitarists that frequent the "folk circuit", for example.

However, when I watch someone play the sheet, it looks like they are placing their fretting in "advance" like I would with an arpeggio. This implies that although the "tab sheet" just shows which notes need to be played, the player you are watching knows the tune and their instrument well enough to play just the notes they need from within the chord shapes that they quite possibly play almost "automatically".

I've found myself doing this almost by accident in some arrangements where all the notes that are needed for the tune in question are available in the basic three or four chords that one might strum for that tune. However, many "more sophisticated" tunes might effectively need a chord change for every note ... which is fine if you're that good ... but mere mortals often revert to fretting individual notes at that point ;)

Hope this helps :)

05-27-2015, 04:23 AM
Sometimes there's a pattern but you don't necessarily see it. I learned to play Street Spirit by Radiohead years back on guitar to which there's definitely a pattern. I couldn't tell you what it is, my fingers seem to just do it of their own accord these days through repetition.

Often with more complex fingerpicked songs I just amble my way through it and eventually a connection is made and my fingers seem to recognise a pattern that I'm not always consciously aware of.

05-27-2015, 12:30 PM
There are several picking pattern videos on You Tube. HMS has one on their site. I think Aldrine may have one here on UU too. Good luck!