Easy Fingerpicking Patterns for Beginners

Do you want to learn some easy fingerpicking patterns, which you can use as simple song instrumentals?

When it comes to the first steps of learning how to play guitar, fingerpicking is among the techniques that interest many of us. But, where exactly do we begin in our quest to master this technique?

Easy Fingerpicking Patterns for Beginners

To set you on the path to mastering this important guitar technique, I have compiled some easy-to-learn fingerpicking patterns, which you can learn and enjoy using in your various guitar-playing sessions and events.

Fingerpicking Patterns Essentials

The following picture demonstrates how you should hold the picking hand:

Fingerpicking Patterns Essentials
Source: Spindity

This is what is known as Classic Position. It is considered as the most efficient way, regardless of the kind of guitar you are using. The labels a, I, m, and p are contractions of the names of the respective fingers in Spanish. Some publications, however, uses alternative labels, r, m, I, t (ring, middle, index, thumb).

For these fingerpicking patterns, you are advised to adopt the defined default position. Namely, you should play the 6th to 4th strings by the your thumb’s downward strokes. The rest of the fingers should play upstrokes; the index finger should play the 3rd string, whereas the middle finger plays the 2nd and the ring finger the 1st string.

Don’t forget that this is merely a standard position since it is often the best way to pluck the guitar strings when performing common patterns. Sometimes, you can disregard this position and consider changing the fingering.

Now that you understand the correct way to hold the picking hand, let’s explore the different easy-to-learn guitar fingerstyle patterns.

Four-Beat Fingerpicking Pattern

This 4-beat sounds ideal for smooth-flowing songs. Count the beats as one and two and three and four, and then play like this:

  • Count 1 – using the thumb, play string 6
  • Count and – Play the 3rd using the index finger
  • Count 2 – Play the 1st and 2nd strings, together, using the ring and middle fingers, respectively.
  • Count and – Again, play the 3rd string with the correct finger
  • Count 3 – Play the 4th string with the thumb.
  • Count and – Again, play the 3rd string
  • Count 4 – Again, play the 1st and 2nd strings Play strings
  • Count and – Play the 3rd string

Do this over and over; counting steadily and making sure you don’t miss any beat. Don’t worry about the speed at the moment, but focus on timing.

How to Add Chords in 4-beat Fingerpicking Pattern

Simply hold any chord with your other hand, and then play the 4-beat pattern. However, here’s something you should note:

  • The 1st thumb note will not be on the 6th string at all times – it is largely dependent on the shape of the chord you are holding.
  • For 6-string chords such as E major, which is the chord’s root, is the apparent choice. This applies to several others, like G7 where string 6 at fret 3 is the root G.

Three-beat Fingerpicking Pattern

You should count and play this pattern as 1 and 2 and 3 and with the respective fingers as defined earlier in the article.

Perform the following example by sustaining a 5-string C major, as demonstrated in the tab. Be sure to start with the thumb on the 5th string. This great and easy-to-learn finger style pattern works perfectly for songs with three beats to the bar.

3-beat Fingerpicking Pattern on C Major
3-beat Fingerpicking Pattern on C Major

Alternating Bass Fingerpicking Pattern

In spite of having a great rhythm feel to it, this finger style pattern is quite hard to master regarding timing. Even so, simply follow the numbers, playing the appropriate string using the right finger, at the correct time. Consider counting loudly and slowly.

Alternating Bass Fingerpicking Pattern
Alternating Bass Fingerpicking Pattern

You will realize that you need only two fingers and the thumb for Alternating Bass Fingerpicking Pattern. It’s serves as the standard for alternating bass solo finger style playing. You can use your ring finger to pick out melodies as you keep the rhythm and bass going.

Alternating Bass Fingerpicking Pattern is also known as Travis, named after Merle Travis, a renowned guitarist. However, it is not precisely the same – Travis made use of only the thumb and a finger to do all things.

Four-string Chords

In the case of a 4-string chord, you will have to disregard the default fingering defined earlier. This is because this style requires the bass to be continuously alternating.  The thumb will now control the 4th and 3rd strings whereas the other fingers will move upwards to control the 2nd and 1st strings.

Four Chord Strings
Four Chord Strings

How to Change Chords with a Quick Alternating Bass Style

Here we have a complete alternating bass progression at about 240 beats/minute patterned on G, C, D7, G. You should see that the ending is somewhat different, and strings 6 and 1 are played simultaneously.

Every time you play, regardless of the pattern, it is advisable to find a way to modify the pattern here and there, failure to which it will sound too mechanical. Consider adding pull-offs and hammer-ons to, as well as from, the chord tone you are holding. If you can do that flawlessly, then you can give solo fingerstyle guitar a try.


I hope you not only enjoyed reading this but also found these fingerpicking patterns useful. You will master these patterns with consistent practice. Once you are a pro at a given finger style pattern, you can begin to add your modifications, such as hammering on fretted notes.

You can even create your fingerpicking patterns, and they will be valid as long as they can be a rhythmically excellent accompaniment to any given song.


You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *