Best Fingerstyle Guitar Lessons (our top pick)
Guitar Tricks Acoustic Courses
The acoustic section of the Guitar Tricks program, both the course and the filtered multi-lesson section, have a ton of great fingerstyle guitar lessons that cover nearly every aspect of the fingerpicking technical and playing style.
Fingerstyle guitar lessons are not super-plentiful, partially because there aren't a ton of players that can do it really well.
It's a difficult way to play as you need to get all of your fingers on your right hand to cooperate much the same way you need to get the fingers on your left hand to cooperate and work together. This is tricky for a beginner and a technically intense way to play, especially if you introduce things like hybrid picking and/or complex arpeggios.
But, in this article, I'm singling out the best fingerstyle lessons from a couple guitar lesson websites that I've used and trust.
We'll be looking at both individual lesson groups and full-fledged courses from JamPlay and Guitar Tricks.
For those in a hurry, here's what I'll cover and recommend:
Fingerstyle Guitar Courses We Recommend
Acoustic and Fingerpicking Courses
Trevor Gordon Hall's Course, Crafting Fingerstyle Melodies
Maneli Jamal's Adventures in Fingerstyle
1. Guitar Tricks Acoustic Courses
The Guitar Tricks acoustic section not only covers a ton of fingerstyle-specific material, but it also gives you a comprehensive look at the acoustic guitar, covering a lot of technique that can help make you a better acoustic player overall.
At the same time, there's a lot of nuanced material and specific courses that address more advanced topics.
For beginner fingerstyle players that want a linear learning path and a more comprehensive introduction to the acoustic guitar style, it's our top pick.
IDEAL FOR: Beginners who want a broad overview of fingerstyle and acoustic technique
2. JamPlay's Crafting Fingerstyle Melodies by Trevor Gordon Hall
Trevor Hall is a fantastic fingerstyle player and teacher who excels at explaining his process and illustrating examples that are fun to listen to. His fingerstyle course on JamPlay is one of my favorites.
His philosophy of being able to play simple things well is a great way to learn any kind of instrument, especially guitar. I'm really impressed with this aspect of his playing and teaching philosophy, where he makes sure you know how to play the right notes in the right way, which is far more in-depth than what you often get in similar instruction. It's worth the price of admission for his course.
He covers a lot of guitar exercises and arpeggios, getting you into the nuanced aspects of playing through each note with your right picking hand. You'll get a much better handle on the melodic side of the acoustic guitar and using your picking fingers to accentuate and embellish chord progressions.
In the more advanced section of this course you'll learn a lot about utilizing open strings and building better melodies with modulation.
Trevor takes you through a handful of song lessons as well to help you with some application.
As far as single courses go, it's a great option for those that want to get into more advanced fingerstyle guitar lessons.
IDEAL FOR: Advanced and comprehensive study of fingerstyle guitar
3. JamPlay's Progressive Fingerstyle Methods by Maneli Jamal
Maneli Jamal's course focuses more on the basics of acoustic fingerstyle, taking you through developing right hand independence and basic scale patterns, which he uses to build more complexity as the course goes on. Individual lessons are long, averaging around 25 minutes so you're getting a lot of material, even if you just buy this one course.
The first thing he'll do to build on your scales is playing through scale melody on the downbeat of a bass note, which is an extremely helpful technique to master as you get into fingerstyle acoustic playing.
His lessons emphasize musicality and give you a lot of tools that can be applied outside of the course itself and getting your fingers more comfortable with independent movement.
In the later lessons of the courses he gets you into a lot of advanced rhythm technique, taking you through percussive playing and slap technique, as well as some advanced guitar work in time signatures.
This course would be perfect for someone that wants to learn fingerstyle guitar but with an emphasis on rhythm and percussive-minded playing.
IDEAL FOR: Learning fingerstyle in a more rhythmic context
What is Fingerstyle guitar?
The term fingerstyle guitar can be confusing because it denotes a particular technique and not necessarily a particular style of music.
In most cases, fingerstyle guitar is considered the opposite of flatpicking (using a pick).
Instead, fingerstyle guitar involves the fingerpicking technique which utilizes the thumb and fingers on the right hand (picking hand), to pick strings individually. In this case, the thumb is usually responsible for the root or the bass notes, while the other fingers pick through the melody.
This video provides a nice, simple demonstration of the technique:
Because of this definition, most fingerstyle guitar lessons focus heavily on picking and strumming. However, they can and should also address a broad list of basics and acoustic technique.
Fingerstyle guitar involves the fingerpicking technique which utilizes the thumb and fingers on the right hand (picking hand), to pick strings individually.
What should fingerstyle guitar lessons cover?
Fingerstyle guitar lessons should thoroughly cover the following topics and concepts:
- Chord composition
- Thumb and finger independence
- Right-hand picking technique
- Upstroke and down-stroke distinction
- Root notes
- Difference between bass and melody
- Chord-related music theory
- Other technique related to styles that typically utilize fingerpicking
- Scales, chords, and beginner basics
What kind of guitar do I need?
The fingerstyle technique can be applied to any type of guitar, though the most common is a steel string acoustic. Of course this will depend on the style of music you're pursuing, but generally an acoustic is easier to play with your fingers, and without the use of a pick.
Guitar Chalk's roundup of acoustic guitar recommendations is a helpful resource if you're in the market for a new one.
Is fingerstyle guitar harder to learn?
A lot of people want to know if playing without a pick is harder than learning guitar with a pick. While the answer to that question can vary a lot from person to person, it will be most severely impacted by your experience up to the point of attempting to learn guitar.
Have you been playing with a pick for a long time?
Are you a complete beginner with no playing experience?
If you're starting as a complete beginner and want to learn fingerstyle guitar, it won't necessarily be "harder" because you'll have nothing to compare it to. What's far more difficult is making the switch from relying on a pick to using your fingers and building that functionality when you're used to having a pick in your hand.
What styles of music can fingerpicking be applied to?
Fingerstyle can show up in nearly any type of music, but the most common would include the following five:
In less common cases, it'll show up in the following four:
Can you learn and use fingerpicking on an electric guitar?
There's nothing wrong with learning fingerstyle on an electric guitar, though the application side gets a little trickier, since the fingerpicking is almost always found in acoustic-heavy musical styles like folk guitar, bluegrass, country and similar genres..
If you have an electric guitar and you want to learn how to finger-pick on it, that's fine.
But, we'd advise investing in an acoustic guitar at some point, if you want to make fingerstyle a major part of your regular playing.
Fingerstyle can be tough to learn because of the nuanced technique involved with that style of playing. But these courses and instructors are some of the best fingerstyle guitar lessons I've seen online and I'd recommend all three of them for those looking to get involved with this style of playing.
Your Thoughts & Questions
Do you have questions about the courses I've recommended here? Maybe you have questions about other fingerstyle lessons not mentioned in this article.
If so, leave me a note in the comments section below and I'll check it out.