Clay Pigeons - 1st attempt at fingerpicking - I would love your comment / advice / feedback - thanks

When I bought my new Seagul guitar around about oct-nov I think, I did it with the idea of attempting to learn to fingerpick songs. I definately underestimated the learning curve. I started with Justin’s “Finger Style for beginners” and just attempted to get over all the hurdles I came across which were so so many.
Anyway, this is literally the first attempt at making through the entirety of a song.
I probably shouldn’t have picked such a long song, or left out a verse or two, but didn’t. It is loaded with errors and issues that I will be addressing. There are many apparent errors and flubs this song (warning). One thing I encountered during this 3-4 months is how difficult it is to sing when fingerpicking. It began nearly impossible. Just way too many balls in the air. Also I have a new respect for the precision fingerpicking demands. Of which I have a long way to go.

This will be a long slow journey, getting to the point where the fun outwieghs the effort put it but I look forward to tryinng to improve. I know it will be slow. But heck, I’m retired :slight_smile:

Any comments criticisms welcome. I know how error loaded this is. But still welcome any and all feedback.


Hi Mike. The first thing I’ll say is fingerpicking is difficult and it’s all about technique. Giving critique on an audio only recording is difficult. No way to tell if your fingers are in the correct position, if you’re holding your guitar correctly etc etc. Could you upload a video of you playing?

Wow, that sounds like a hard one with a tricky finger-picking rhythm. Nicely done! I enjoyed listening to that.

I know what you mean about juggling! There’s two ways to approach it as far as I can tell

  1. get the fingerpicking down so well that you can smoothly have a conversation with somebody at the same time while playing. Then, you should be able to sing most any rhythm independently over it.

  2. slow down the song a ton and figure out where the voice rhythm interleaves with the guitar rhythm, writing everything out if you need to.

Not sure which way is best or whether there are other ways to approach it, and I imagine it may differ from song to song and person to person.

But I think that if this is a song you love to play, then it’s the right song to practice, no matter the difficulty or errors. And it already sounds great and sounds like you’re having fun!

Hi Gordon, I need to make my video/audio setup a bit less combersome. I find getting prep’ed for the video a lot of work. I can remedy the workload by doing it more often and becoming more fluent with the setup, i.e. placement of laptop, lighting (dark room), getting microphone setup etc etc.

I know you often record with only a phone which I find impressive, especially consideing the quality of the audio on your recordings. I’ve tried it and can’t seem to get it work well at all. So I use a cheap laptop and an external usb mic.

I said this is my first full song, which it is. But I probably stop and started a half dozen times making the recording. Which means I’d need to stop/start the video as well as the audio, thus doubling the effort.

But I take your comment to heart. Video is better and also seems much preferred here in AVOYP community. I’ll work on making it an easier setup and try to transistion to the video/audio.

Thanks so much. I appreciate the listen and kind words. I agree with the suggestions and have incorporated them in my learning. I think #1 is especially important. Need to know it inside and out for sure. Especially when a newbie.

1 Like

Lovely finger plucking!!!
This is a superb recording, especially for a first attempt.
Excellent play and singing!
Keep on playing!

@MiJoy Hi Mike,

Congratulations, first for setting such ambitious goals, and secondly for achieving the result you have thusfar. You have chosen a very beatiful song, and that comes through in your recording. As you yourself say, you could have made it much easier on you, by going for a song with a simpler structure, and much less vocals.

Fingerpicking is so inherently difficult and notoriously challenging, because of the rhythmic aspect of it, the left hand is still OK mostly, but the right hand will have to do a lot more work. Your thumb and fingers will need to work independently, from one another. There are songs that I have been working on for over five years, and never really getting them to the point where I could perform them, including the singing.

The song you are playing has a very intricate pattern, and yes, it is long, and it has variations. And you are still thinking consciously about what you are playing, which comes trhough in the reccording.

Only when you have the entire song without hiccups in your muscle memory, can you start thinking about singing the lyrics. PErhaps you need to practice the areas where you experience difficulties, those four bars here and there that are dicciult, and slow them down to 60-70%, and put it in a loop and play along with them over and over again, and then focus on the next rough spot. Then put it all together again, and play the whole thing through at that relaxed pace. Then incrementally increase the speed, and learn to play the whole thing from memory.

As it is a very expressive singer songwriter type of song, you will need that secure base of automating the accompaniment, your thoughts should be on the intonation and the phrasing of your singing. Some very good guitar teachers specialising in Fingerstyle (Stefan Grossman among them) emphasise not to start too soon with the singing of a song when you fingerpick, e.g. before the guitar part is really well established and secured to all kinds of memory .

Of course, it is difficult to judge from just the audio recording, and video would be an additional dimension, necessary as @sairfingers mentioned, to see if you have some challenges with the fingerstyle pattern, or the fingering of the chords, that may get in your way.

Wishing you lots of success,

Kind regards,



Thank you Rene, for the listen and kind words.

It was certainly a challenge and I not in the least bit niave to the long road ahead with this effort. I really just wanted one under my belt, to build apon and attempt to improve on.

1 Like

Thanks so much for the listen the kind words and the advice. I believe you are so right about having ththe song entirely embedded in the muscle memory before attempting the lyrics. I think with the hours I have put in so far, I reaaly just wanted to get a ‘product’ (if you will) out there as a launching pad. Along with the muscle memory I find that fingerpicking is very unforgiving. The slightest error stands out strongly. A missed note, a slight buzz etc etc.

I have a long way to go. Enjoying the journey. Thanks Again, it really is appreciated.

That’s the way to do it.
Keep playing, and have fun!!!

Bought a Seagull online when I was in Afghanistan, loved it. Nobody ever heard of the brand but it was a great guitar. Some bubblehead drove a fork lift over it though :laughing::laughing:

Mike - that is a great first milestone marker on your finger picking journey.
Playing that style and singing is truly a task to tackle.
The guitar playing when unencumbered by the need to sing sounds fine, it only wobbles and you succumb to fumbles when trying to do both together.
For now, focus on the guitar playing only. Play along with the actual song. Slow it down if need be using something like (freeware) Audacity.
Also, video would help do observe your technique and all else.
Kudos and vibes for the steps you’ve taken so far.

Thanks Richard. I definitely suffer from over enthusiasm :wink:. I do need to slow it down. Your advice (and the advice of others) of tackling the guitar and having it down makes sense.

What’s nice is a finger picked song can sound quite good even if not accompanied with vocals. That should help keep my over-enthusiasm in check. The journey can feel somewhat complete yet only be 1/2 way there. (Hope that makes some sense). One Step at a time. Thanks.


Well done Mike on the finger picking and singing, no easy task but I thought you did a decent job with it and finger picking ones are long, slow workers I feel. I thought your vocals really suited this song, it’s your best vocal one to date.

Thank you Stefan, much appreciated.
In retrospest I rushed this one. I posted as soon as I had a successful (somewhat) recording. I should have waited a bit, I am playing it with much more ease now, just a week or so later.

I also appreciate the comment on the vocals. It’s funny, you are the 2nd person to say that. I barely gave a thought to the vocals in that I saw this as purely an excersice to “get thru it” if you get what I mean. Maybe it tells me something, perhaps I have tried too hard in the past. More relaxed vocals might prove to be better vocals.
Thanks much!