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I've been playing guitar for about 8 months or so now, and really pleased with my progress. I've greatly exceeded my modest expectations.

However the whole time I have mainly just been doing strumming songs, and while that's tons of fun, I really would love to learn some fingerstyle. I've been trying but most of it is intimidating that I don't even know where to start.

I did find an extremely easy song, "We Are Gonna Be Friends" by The White Stripes that at least gave me the confidence that I think I can learn this stuff.

Any ideas of where I should go from here, whether they are just tips or some good songs to learn? Thanks!

Tags: beginner, fingerpicking, fingerstyle

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blackbird by the beatles.
Romance, the very simple classical tune.
Happy Traum videos "Demystifying the...". is nice for the price. ;)
Just a coincidence, but I was reviewing the Acoustic Guitar book "The Acoustic Guitar Fingerstyle Method" book last night for myself and a student of mine. You can find it here and on It is definitely a book for someone just beginning. The one thing with fingerstyle guitar that you absolutely must do is keep a steady rhythm going with your thumb. This book definitely has you working on that from lesson 1 and expands from there. The book comes with 2 CDs which will provide you examples to hear and work toward playing on your own.

Once you get through most of the above book you might want to take a look at the "Fingerstyle Blues Songbook" which has songs that are progressively more interesting and will help expand your playing ability.
There are many styles of fingerstyle...some involve playing a part of the melody with the thumb. A hard and fast rule regarding steady rythym with the thumb might be counterproductive. "Blackbird" is one song that does need a steady thumb rythym. If you aren't happy with the open G key, use your capo. Using barre chords in place of the capo might not be the best route tonewise.
You are right. It's not a hard and fast rule for keeping a steady rhythm but I think it's easier to start with this in mind and everything else is an exception then.
Dust in the Wind, by Kansas, is a great sounding finger picking song. It sounds more complicated than it is, and nearly everyone knows the song when you start playing it. Once you get the picking technique down for the song, it stays relatively consistent throughout, and the chords are fairly simple ones.
Lots of early Dylan stuff is great as well. I still enjoy "Don't Think Twice" after all these years, and It has plenty of changes to keep your fingers busy but it's still pretty simple.
I have a simple fingerstyle song, "Menagerie", available on my website. You can hear it here: or download it from the attached link.

And download the tablature.

You could also try learning "Dee" by Randy Rhoads
First fingerstyle song I learned was "Friend of the Devil" by the Grateful Dead.

Lately I've been enjoying this website.

Ken Perlman has written a book on fingerstyle guitar (I believe that is also the title of the book. While I have not yet procured a copy, his book on Clawhammer Banjo is one of the best music instruction books I've ever used.
Most of these song suggestions are good, but they may be a little too hard for you now, if you are still starting out. I would suggest learning to play Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters". It's a song many beginning players start off with learning fingerstyle guitar.

Blackbird is a great song, and would be great to tackle after that.

Hope this helps,
For me, I think that "Nothing Else Matters" has some fairly difficult barre chords during the main intro. It took me quite a while to get them down smoothly. When it comes to heavy metal songs, I would recommend "Silent Lucidity" by Queensryche as being a very simple fingerstyle song to learn. I was able to do that one within minutes, and within my first year of playing.
Other thing to do, if you're so inclined, that was incredibly useful for me, was to take some classical guitar. It gives you a solid grounding in two things - one, a bunch of techique, on how to use both right and left hand, (doesn't cover the bass groove - that's not really a classical thing.) It also teaches you to really look at a piece, break it down, and figure out the best/easiest way to play it. Also enforces the 'play slowly until you get it' rule, which is probably the most important thing in learning complex fingerstyle arrangements. Play slowly, until you can play it perfectly, then bring it up speed. Otherwise, you start clawing through pieces, and are training yourself to play them badly.
Yes, I'd say it's fairly simple to play. Getting used to the chord changes for the chorus is probably the tougher part. There are a couple of ways you can finger the chords and you'll see probably an equal amount of people playing it either way. What works best for you is the way to go.


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