Fingerstyle pattern - does only one work for all?


I slightly touched fingerstyle and I really like it (I am learning guitar 48 days). I watched lot of videos of other guys playing on YouTube and I would like to know if its possible to play most songs with only one “universal” pattern. Like I am learning some really basic, but someone who plays known songs for example “Something Just Like this”… their fingers are dancing over whole guitar and I cant see here any repeating pattern. Any tips to that? I though that I will learn only one pattern then practice fast chords changes and I will be able to play songs that sounds really good as original. :smiley: :slight_smile:

Thanks, Mike

Well, I you are only playing for 48 days, starting out with one pattern sure will give you something to focus on an train finger independence, accuracy, fingerings, timing etc.

I always wanted to be able to do what you described and I can assure you, it comes with time :wink:

Just like strumming patterns, chord variations and embellishments, picking patterns are tools in your toolbox to express yourself.

My students often could use some help in “making a song their own and express themselves with it in a personal fashion”. Trying a (new) fingerpicking pattern is an excellent way to steer from a day full of strumming but the beginnings can be slow and frustrating.

Starting with one pattern is the way to go but please, pick up some extra patterns as you move along. When you dissect a song you could use every strumming or picking pattern or just one for every song but that last one will become boring soon.

One big consolidation; as soon as you get a bit of a hang of it, learning a second pattern is easier because you don’t need to start over with the technical and physical basics. that’s what makes learning the first one a hurdle.

After a while, you can let your hand do these things automatically while you aren’t looking, singing, looking for chords on a paper, …and go “something like this: …dingle dingle ding” :smiley:

Many songs use one pattern with some “decorations” and chord embellishments along the way but there are many patterns out there. Some will come easy but some will harder to pick up and often that is personal. I had some trouble picking up “The Boxer” (Paul Simon) even though I was pretty fluent with finger picking already.

I often recommend “Dust In The Wind” because it will not only train your picking, it will show you that it might sound complex at first but the intro is basically several flavours of Cmaj and Amin and repeating pattern.


Hi Lieven, can you recommend a website or book for easy/ beginner finger style?

Honestly, I picked up most of it on JustinGuitar over the years and now I wouldn’t know

(the grades will give an indication of the level)

If you can’t find what you need with the search function on the JG site, Joe Robinson is an option. I never considered him a teacher on the level of Justin though. He’s a good player and a friendly, likeable guy but he isn’t always as empathic as Justin to feel the level and challenges of people who are not so fluent yet :smiley:


I’ve been working on some justin Johnston fingerstyle for along time haha, it’s nit easy so don’t worry if you are not doing all the complicated stuff after 48 days.

Frankly anything after only 48 days is impressive!



You have been given some great advice so far.
You’re a very early stage beginner and I would encourage you to keep it all very, very simple for now.

Your thumb is generally assigned to cover the three thickest strings.
Your fingers 1, 2 & 3 are assigned to the G, B & E strings respectively.

I find with students just starting out on finger style that the 6/8 time signature is a really natural and intuitive one to get your fingers moving and playing one string at a time.

Just pick a simple series of chords, A, D and E will work just fine.

Count: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

On the count of 1 your thumb plays the lowest root note of the chord (which shifts string depending on the chord).
On the count of 2 your 1st finger plays the G string.
On the count of 3 your 2nd finger plays the B string.
On the count of 4 your 3rd finger plays the E string.
On the count of 5 your 2nd finger plays the B string.
On the count of 6 your 1st finger plays the G string.

Like this:


Hello, this is exactly my pattern. I am playing it on D or C… sometimes trying D minor. Also I am trying there chords with capo. And I really like how satisfying it is… 2 days ago my gf was sleepy and this made her sleep really well, because its so nice. :slight_smile:
I am pretty sure I will stick to this for few weeks so my finger memory gets better… right now I am trying now to look on finger all the time and when I am not distracted by anything it just works. Thanks for your advice. :slight_smile:

Thank you for really big answer. You gave me everything I wanted. How I wrote below… I am gonna stick to one pattern right now, because I want my finger muscle memory to be good. I am in mood that I dont get tired of it, because I find this little melody really satisfying. :slight_smile:
Also I will check your song recommendation, so I can see and hear what I should focus on. :slight_smile:


Thank you. :slight_smile: I think that biggest engine for me is that playing guitar is my own decision and I really enjoy it. Like when I am at work I cant wait to play guitar at home. :slight_smile: It makes me feel good. :slight_smile:

Yes! Fingerpicking can be so satisfying!

It offers a lot of room, especially when you start decorating the regular chords with sus2/sus4/7/9 variations!