Fingerpicking – how to begin

One of the first techniques I learned as a beginning guitar player was how to fingerpick. Songs like Alice’s Restaurant and other folk songs benefit greatly from this style of playing, and it’s really easy to begin. In this video, I show you a basic pattern I use, and once I hear from enough of you telling me that you got it down, then I will add a few extra tips and tricks to make you sound even better. Please let me know what you think and if it is clear to you.

13 Responses to “Fingerpicking – how to begin”

  1. Jytte Says:

    I have just signed in for your teaching an hope you kan resolve the problem that my baritone ukulele are tuned DGBE. Do I have to alter the tuning? if yes, do I then have to put on new strings?
    I hope it vill not be impossibell to keep the DGBE tuning.
    I like the way you show and explaine how to do things.

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      Thank you for signing up.
      A baritone uke is tuned to DGBE, just as you have said. That’s perfect!!!
      You do not need to alter the tuning, nor get new strings to do that.
      You do have to remember that regular uke chords and charts will be different, however. If the music says to play a C, you still play C, but a C chord on a baritone will be different than on a regular uke.
      I hope this helps a little. If you want any specific information, let me know.

  2. keithmj Says:

    Enjoyed your video as I always do. They also call this Travis Picking and this was the first one I learned and it was your video I learned it from. Thanks.

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It’s such a simple technique, yet there is so much you can do with it. Add just a little variation, and you have endless possibilities.

  3. Lou Says:

    Thank you for the ” How to begin fingerpicking lesson ” I pick up my Uku a few times a day going over what I learned from your video and it works.

  4. David Says:

    Rhan, just want to let you know that I am still following your instructional blog, and practicing what you put forward. I really enjoyed your comments about teaching children, and now this beginning, finger picking lesson. Much appreciated. /// david, portland

  5. Susan Says:

    I appreciate your clear explanation. The prob for me is that the sound is WAY not synced on this video on my computer and it was kinda disturbing to see your mouth going and no sounds, and vice versa. Also, picky picky, the finger you call the second finger is, I think, the middle finger (depends which way you’re counting, duh). I had to really squint to see what you were doing cuz I was trying to use my other second finger. But now I can do it! Thanks…

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      Hello there. Thank you for commenting. I am not sure why the sync is off – I can certainly understand how that might make it difficult to understand, though as you said, with a little patience and determination it is possible to get. As for which finger… I was calling the first finger the one next to the thumb and the second, the one next to that. I hope that is what I said on the video…

  6. Clyde Ortego Says:

    Hey Rhan:

    Clyde here and I am learning the finger picking pattern pretty good and

    it is a lot of fun to do.

    WHen I change chords it is amazing the way the melody changes on the uku.


  7. Nancy Graham Says:

    Rhon(sic) Your teaching sounds fun. I taught Art K-12 for many years and the elem grades were my faves. They still wanna give you hugs or make art just for you or tell you the funniest stories that they don’t even know are funny. Thanks for the fingering “utter nonsense” … I’m practicing that and the blues. Really helps. I need a new mic. Mine dropped on stone tile; now doesn’t work. See ya soon.

  8. Vaughan Says:

    Yes I’ve got a result. I found this picking pattern a few months ago whilst trying to play “Don’t think twice, it’s alright” and I love just noodling around, playing different chords. Playing utter nonsense as you say and seeing where it takes me. I shall be looking forward to the variations.

  9. Clyde Ortego Says:

    This pattern will work on any size ukulele right.


    Clyde Ortego

    New Orleans

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      Yes, this pattern will work on any size uke, including baritone. It is really just a beginning to various patterns you can use – feel free to make up some variations yourself if you want.
      It is also good for guitar.
      Thanks for asking.

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