Folk Fingerstyle Patterns Part 1

To start our Folk Fingerstyle journey we're going to check out four very common fingerpicking patterns that you'll find come up a lot and make a solid foundation!

View the full lesson at Folk Fingerstyle Patterns Part 1 | JustinGuitar

This lesson shows patterns with root on e and a string but what about root on d string?
Mirroring pattern 1 and 3 could you play the following open strings for D chord ?
d+e g b d e g

I don’t find any pdfs or pattern tabs. Where are they?

Hi Ralph,

What I did was to save the images from the website and combine them in a PDF or .ppt, then print them. I printed these 4 patterns on the same page so that I can see/compare them at the same time.


Hi, everybody! When it comes to finerpicking, I’m OK with patterns, but not OK with the sound sometimes, mainly the 3rd string. Is it just bad technique and lack of practice or is there a string gauge that’s more stuitable? Also, should we pick hard and heavy or softly? It’s hard to find a position in which the tip of the finger on 4h string doesn’t kill (or almost kill) the 3rd one… In other words, is there anyone who can also play the patterns but is having problems with getting a good sound? Any suggestions? Ps.: I tried on a Nylon-string guitar and it was easier. Maybe a guitar with a wider neck also could help…but the main question is: should we play very softly (with nails???) and amplify the sound?

Hi Adaltro, it’s hard to give you a straight answer without hearing how you play and why it sounds bad to your ears. My suggestion is just to experiment and see what you like most - some people prefer nail sound while fingerpicking, others prefer using soft tissue on your fingers. It is all down to a preference.

Overall you shouldn’t pull your strings too much with your right hand, depending on the song of course but for those patterns try to start as gentle as you can and that should sound nice. Then try to go up with the volume and try to find a sweet spot when it sounds loud, natural and good to your ears :slight_smile: All the best.

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Hello there, Adi! Thank you so much for your reply and for the good advice!
I’m investigating and, besides the poor technique and lack of experience, I think something has to be done on the guitar… maybe the coated bronze strings are too hard…
Anyway… I’ll follow your advice and play in a gentle way (by the way, I’m learning “Helplessly hoping” by CSN and overall it sounds ok)…
Thanks again! All the best!!

What gauge strings? I find higher tension strings are much more difficult to pluck in a way that sound good. I suspect this is due to technique and experience.

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Hi, my own experience… I think the gauge strings makes a difference. I started with low tension on classical guitar and it was easier. When I moved to medium tension strings I had to adapt for a while. In the meanwhile I bought an acoustic and it was almost impossibile for me to fingerpick, it needed a setup. The liuther listened to my issues and chose the better strings for me…and I could start fingerpicking on my acoustic too. As it has already been said experimenting will make you find your own way through it. Cheers :blush:

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I always go with Extra Light, 10-47, never had any issues.

Hey, this makes me think you may have a problem with the fretting hand, i.e. you’re not fretting the chord cleanly. If that is the case, I would recommend sorting that out before worrying about string gauges, nails or whatever. Once you are cleanly fingerpicking different chords with different patterns, then, sure, investigate different strings, playing with fingernails, dynamics, etc. But get the solid technique down first.

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Hi, @Jamolay Jamolay. It’s 0.10. I suspect that that’s my case too… or maybe the I must adjust the string action a litte bit too…
Tks for your help!

Hello, @SILVIA , the adjustmente made by experts is always a good thing. I’d like to have anotther guitar so I could have different configurations for strumming and fingerpicking… not possible right now, though!! Tks for your help!!

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Hello, @jjw1 , that makes sense… in my case that’s part of the problem for sure… do you guys bend the strings when fingerpicking to make room for other fingers? Maybe that question has an obvious answer and in that case more flexible strings would help too!!
Anyway, there’s a lot to consider and I’ll have to tackle each of the issues!!
Tks a lot to everyone who has helped me!

I’m OK with the tabs, but confused about the musical notation here… I think it’s wrong, so can’t be used for understanding the timing. Isn’t a note (crochet) with a dot after it 1.5 beats and half notes (quavers) should have a little tail after them? Or have I got it wrong?

Hi Jacinta,

The patterns here are in 4/4 time and the bass notes (with the downward stem, played with the thumb) are played on each beat, so those provide the basic guidance in tempo.

Regarding the dotted notes, I think they are dotted in order to show that they should be left to ring out.

The “flag” is used for 1/8 notes.

Hope it helps :slight_smile:

Ah OK - so it’s definitely wrong then. The dots shouldn’t be there and some of the notes should be quavers (⅛ notes)

You should realize that there are 2 parallel sets of notes on the musical staff: the bass notes (with downward stems) and the treble notes (upward stems). Each of these is written to take up 4 beats per bar.

The bass notes fall on the beat every beat. They are all quarter notes (crochets for non-Americans, I guess).

The treble notes can fall on the beat or between beats. When they fall on the beat they are “pinched” with the bass note (see first note of Pattern 1). When they fall between beats they are played between the bass notes (e.g. 2nd treble note, Pattern 1). Some treble notes are quarter notes and some are dotted quarters. These add up to 4 beats each bar.

In practice, you needn’t worry too much about whether a treble note is dotted or not. Just play it at the right time (either on the beat or off the beat) and the pattern will sound right.

No, definitely not. This will make the note go out of tune. You should press the string straight down onto the fretboard, without moving it laterally at all.

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