Fingerstyle exposed all my weaknesses and i dont know how to fix them


Currently im stuck on Beginner Grade 2 Module 11. I been stuck there for almost a month now and i feel like i cant move on.

The problem, as the title suggest, is that fingerstyle has exposed problems in my playing that i have mostly ignored or cover up with strumming.

The first and main one is putting my fingers down at the same time to do a chord. This is something that is not so noticeable when strumming but extremely obvious when playing with fingers.

I have been doing the “air changes” since the module where Justin recommend it, but i noticed that my fingers just refuseto work that way. My third finger (and the forth one too) DO NOT get in position unless my first or second finger are already anchored.
I can put my fingers in position if my first or second finger are lightly touching the strings, but if i try to do a shape on the air my third and fourth finger “short circuits” and refuses to get on the right place.

The second big issue is that despise consistently practicing for around 8 months now, apparently i still F-up the basic open chords when playing. Again, this is something that i could easily ignore when strumming, but with finger style is super obvious when i do a chord wrong and one of the strings doesnt sound right.

Im gonna be honest, this month has been harsh, realizing that i still struggle with this super basic stuff after months of playing has hit me really hard and im starting to have the dreaded “you are never gonna get decent at guitar, just quit already” thoughts, which has lead me to actually start getting anxious and frustrated before even picking the guitar to practice, which of course stupidly makes me practices less, which means i dont improve, which means the thoughts about quitting get worse… is a stupid feedback that i fallen into and i need something to pull me out of it.

So i need help.
PLEASE, I need some kind of practice routine specifically focus on getting all my fingers on the right place at the same time, cause if i cannot do that, then i will never be able to move on to more complicated stuff.


I mean Justin has lessons on all this stuff and exercises. Its not easy and it takes time and practice and most importantly dont keep doing it wrong.

its really easy to embed bad practice.

So go back & slow down. Probably not what you want to hear right now.

But pick 2 or 3 chords to switch between (C, D, G or E etc), slowly put all your fingers in place at once, slowly strum across all strings to make sure they are clean, slowly lift and change to the next chord etc.

I will also add that no one plays everything clean, even seasoned pro’s will make mistakes ( smaller, less noticeable ones for sure).


Check out the below response to a similar question.


We thought had a recent thread on this same topic of fingers not landing in time, but I can’t find it. It is an problem that many of us apparently experienced.

What worked for me was to go back and very, very slowly and with full intent, move my fingers towards the cord shape leading with different fingers, rather than the index finger all the time.

So lead into the cord with your ring finger. Make it land correctly BEFORE any other finger. Land the middle finger second and index last. Slowly practice every variation you can make. When the cord lands well regardless of which finger goes first, you will find that you can land all fingers at nearly the same time, or at least be much better at it.

The only way I ever could get the F barre cord was to work on it diligently for month landing the bar first, then landing the middle finger first and of course the ring and pinky together first. That exercise was really good at pointing out how much of a spaz I really am, but it slowly sorted out and worked great.


Thank you! These kind of advice is exactly what i needed. Im gonna try it :smiley:


It gets worse later with fingerstyle when you are supposed to be placing fingers in order over time then moving some around …


Thats just the process of learning music in general isn’t?

“And then… it got harder” lol


It is… Given I have played a lot when younger and am just relearning some now there is a never ending depth of it gets harder and more subtle.

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I’ve been down an acoustic Fingerstyle blues rabbit hole for the past year.

Yes, Fingerstyle is very revealing :slight_smile:

Some tips:

Watch the position of your fretting hand thumb, should generally be opposite your second (middle) finger.

The angle of the neck makes a difference - more like a classical position (mine is almost as high as at the same distance off the floor as my ears)

I’ve found learning new pieces can take a really long time - sometimes 3-7 days just to get a bar or two figured out. That’s ok. If you are Travis picking or steady thumb, sort the bass out first and the sort the melody out separately, then put them together.

Play slowly, almost no tempo at first, that will help you learn faster.

It helps to know the tune too - if you can hum or sing it or hear it in your mind, getting it to your fingers will be easier.


I’m definitely not all the way “there” with simultaneous finger placement, but what has helped me get closer is to do a modified chord perfect practice item where I “lead” with a non-dominant finger when gripping a chord. I used to have to lead with my ring finger for a 3-finger G, so I spent time working on planting my index or middle first as a dedicated practice item and it has gradually gotten better (although with that specific example, I’ve largely moved onto a stuck 3/4 G most of the time).

Ultimately I think it just takes time. I’m almost 11 months in, and it’s only these last couple months that my fingers have really started to ‘know’ how to make a D shape nearly simultaneously.


I think, spending more than one month on a module is quite normal at this stage. While I progressed relatively quickly when I started my guitar journey, I’m meanwhile spending several months (about 3🤔) on a single module. I’m doing module 13 at the moment. So, I really go slow. But this feels right for me and gives me the time to practice the new chords and techniques a lot before I move on.

So, I wouldn’t say, you’re stuck. You’ve just reached a level in your learning career that simply needs more time to be mastered :smiley:.

Go slow, and you’ll reach your goals :blush:.



Don’t beat yourself up too much on this. I’ve been playing for a number of years and have posted countless recording here and the old forum. In the last few weeks I decided to give fingerstyle a go after many years of neglect. Boy what a mess on the chord change front.
Progressions I had seamless played for years all immediately fell apart. Missed strings, muffle notes the whole 9 yards. I was focusing so much on what my right hand was doing that the left fretting hand just lost its way. That why you need to practice these patterns until they are automatic. And boy its so frustrating.

I can only echo what everyone else has said and that’s slow everything down, until both hands are in sync, then work on upping the tempo. It will take time and practice but it will improve. I’ve devoted a major part of my schedule to folk fingerstyle patterns in the last month and slowly its getting there. Just take your time.



I had a similar problem with changing especially to the D chord. In addition to the advice that Rob @RobDickinson and James @Socio gave I highly recommend including Richard’s finger independence related advice into your practice routine:

This is similar to what Joshua @Jamolay and Hilary @southpaw6 recommended above.
I did this for a month and now all of a sudden I’m now able to change to the D chord with all fingers at once. I can HIGHLY recommend this practice.
In case it helps, I’ve started 11 months ago, and I’ve just completed Module 9 and same as Nicole @NicoleKKB from my perspective I don’t have the impression that you should be already far ahead with your techniques. Air changes are not super basic stuff, for me personally it’s quite the opposite. Experiencing frustration is normal, once in a while going back to what we have learned before and doing consolidation will help and is part of the process. With that, I’m absolutely convinced that you WILL get decent at guitar.

Good luck Medu!


No one ever said playing the guitar is easy. We all have different learning speeds and different methods of getting there. If the air changes aren’t working for you, then try another way. Lots of chord changes have the same finger on the same string (D7 to G), sometimes even on the same fret (C to Am) etc. If you instinctively know the chord shape, these anchor fingers will help you fret the chord change without thinking. It all takes time and practice.

A lot of finger style picks start with a base note, so concentrate on fretting that note 1st and the rest of the fingers should follow without much difficulty. The important thing is not to get hung up on a difficult section; play it with buzzes and bum notes without breaking rhythm. Don’t get bored, move on to the next module and come back to it later on. You will probably find that once you return, it suddenly seems so much easier. Also go back and revisit past modules. It may surprise you how much better you have become.

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I took a few lessons in the ‘70s and was taught the left hand fretboard exercise called the spider crawl.

  1. place 4 fingers on high e string, any fret. One finger per fret across 4 frets.
  2. move 1st finger up to b string - do not move other fingers.
  3. move 2nd finger up to b string - do not move other fingers.
  4. move 3rd finger ……
  5. move 4th finger ….
  6. all 4 fingers on b string now repeat all the way to the low e string.

Do this in reverse too.

Variation 1: CORRECTED

  1. move 1st and 3rd fingers simultaneously to adjascent string ( b).
  2. move 2nd and 4th fingers simultaneously, hopping over b to g string.
    Repeat all the way up and down across the strings at fret area chosen.
    This is why is called the spider crawl.

Variation 2: CORRECTED

  1. move 1st and 4th fingers simultaneously to adjascent string ( b).
  2. move 2nd and 3rd fingers simultaneously hopping over b to g string.
    Repeat across as above.

Make up your own moves and patterns.

This should greatly expose finger strengths and weaknesses.
Just a couple of minutes a day.

Yes it’s a challenge to do - and very rewarding over time.


Thank you so much everyone! Your advice is exactly what i needed!

I started adding these exercises to my schedule and working on it today, is hard but i can see this will lead sooner or later to a breakthrough.


Agree with the practice routine. I did it from day one and it is amazing that a couple minutes of focused efforts every day make big differences to me today =)


Hi Medu, you could try Justin’s Folk Fingerstyle course, I encourage you to do it because it is not that complicated to beginners, and you should do it becoz it is fun x)

Just keep going on it until it works (chord grips, fingering position etc). I think it took me three months to get all the basic chords correct and subsequently a year to be able to play simple fingerstyle songs smoothly. Keep it up!

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Hi @Medusaurio , I am so glad that I read your post, I am in EXACTLY the same position as you. Learning to play chords cleanly seems to take you right back to when you started and it feels wrong that you cannot play them cleanly. I have read all the other comments and they come up with great feedback and ideas. I am now going to have to go back to the start of the thread and read and digest each post to get ideas that I can use. Thank you for this post.


Exactly! I started Grade 2 at the beginning of July, three months later I am still practicing Module 8 and 9 and am only part way through Module 10 and (expect to be here awhile as I seem not to be progressing much with the f chord). I’m still finding the 3/4 stuck chords hard to do, my hand cramps up so I must be doing something wrong.

I know some of my earlier chords are starting to get better, I can get 2 fingers down at once with the C chord for instance, it’s not all 3 but I figure I’ll get there someday.

You got good advice here, just keep plugging at it and don’t think you have to do complete one module per month. It is annoying that it gets harder as we go along but it is what it is! And so worth it! :smiley: