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I've been palying the guitar off and own for about 50 years for personal pleasure, but have always been a rhythm player and simple flat picker. I play other instruments, including the autoharp and a few brasss intrumnets, but in my senior years I have started a "bucket list" . The first item is to learn fingerpicking well enough to entertain family and to just hang out on the deck with an adult beverage and pick some blues, country, gospel and folk tunes -- and so my wife can say, wow, that's really good . .  .play some more while I pour another drink. Do I need a teacher or a DVD, or can I make this happen with some hard work, a good instruction book, and some ocassional free you tube instruction? I have no problem committing to disciplined practice.

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Hi Roger,

I teach an extensive series of video lessons on Intro to Acoustic Fingerpicking that you might enjoy. Try out this sample lesson and let me know your thoughts.

Intro to Acoustic Fingerpicking: Video Guitar Lesson

With your background in guitar, I'm sure you'll be impressing the folks on the deck by the weekend!
Well, Lisa, since it's my mainly my wife, she says kind things anyway! :)
Looks like a great start for the absolute beginner, Lisa . . .I need to check out the other lessons. I have been able to play arpegios for a lot of years, but my goal now is to master the alternating thumb and the "Travis" pick. I've been lazy and never forced myself to develop the independent thumb. That has been my favorite guitar sound most of my life and I have been envious of those who put in the discipline to master it. When I was running USO operations in the Med, we brought Lee Greenwood over to do a show on a carrier docked at Naples Italy, and he had Tom Bresh open for him (Merle Travis's son, of course) and he blew me away. But it is now about 25 yrs later and time for me to learn something new! Thanks for everyone's welcome and support.
Gosh Roger, I sure wish I had your experience. All my life I had wanted to play guitar but just never seemed to have the time until I retired and bought my first guitar a year ago. I've been self teaching myself through the use of self help books, free lessons on the web, tips from this and other guitar forums and the "Acoustic Guitar" magazine. Sometimes I surprise myself and other times I seem to hit a brick wall for several days. I try to always start something new each week in addition to going over what I've already learned. As you see, I'm just a raw rookie with the guitar and I sure envy your long experience. Welcome to this forum, you'll find a lot of help on here and there are people just like me on up to professional players here. Good luck with your fingerpicking quest. I have a couple of self instruction books on fingerpicking but I decided I need more experience flatpicking before moving to fingerpicking. I have enough trouble controlling the fingers on my life hand.
Hi Roger,
You might check out this website:

Thanks, Denny - will do.
Hi Roger,

I've just been learning for a few months, but two books I've been using do a great job of teaching alternating bass and thumb independence: Beginning Fingerstyle Blues Guitar by Arnie Berle and Mark Galbo and The Art of Contemporary Travis Picking by Mark Hanson. I think they're only about 20 bucks apiece on Amazon.
There are different ways to fingerpick. For example, some pickers use a thumbpick and fingerpicks, some use a thumbpick and fingernails, some use no picks and only fingernails, some you no picks/no nails. In addition to that, some players use pinkie support (place the pinkie on the soundboard while picking with the other fingers) and some don't. Some players arch the wrist and swing the fingers inward (classical), some flatten the wrist or even bend it inward.

My recommendation would be to watch youtubes of your favorite artists and find out the style of playing that you like the best. Then go with that style of fingerpicking.

My favorite style is classical, so I go with a classical hand and that is what I teach. My classical hand works great with fingerstyle and exceptional with Travis Picking. Mark Hansen (a predominantly fingerstyle player) also plays with a classical hand. If you go with a hand that involves pinkie support, you will close the door on classical playing -- your hand will have too much tension in it to create the detail work in classical playing. Some may argue with that, but players who are really passionate about classical won't argue with me. I've never seen a classical artist play with pinkie support.

Some fingerstyle players feel that you can't do muting techniques or the blues really well with a classical technique. I'm not really sure -- I'm not expert in that area. However, I can say that I have seen Pepe Romero use incredible muting techniques and I have watched the LA Guitar Quartet play the blues with muting techniques. All of these players are pro classical players.

To develop a classical hand it's always good to sit with a teacher, but William Kanengizer's DVD's "Effortless Classical Guitar" and "Classical Guitar Mastery" are exceptionally good. It is the technique taught at USC Thornton School of Music Classical Guitar Dept.

Hope this helps,

As anabsolute beginner I found this whole conversation helpful.
Thanks to one and all for the insight, tips and being so patient!


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