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Thumb fingerpicking         Fingerpicking notation        Fastest method

If you're intermediate, use these fingerpicking exercises
If you're a beginner, keep reading.

Exercise example:
fingerpicking sweep example

The thumb changes direction (purple circle) and the 1 finger pulls toward the thumb on its downbeat (small blue circle).
The 1 finger sweeps into the next string (green), and the 2 finger sweeps into the next string (green).


Your fingerpicking hand is supported by your thumb and fingers. 
It should feel solid and in control.  Relax.  This is easy.

Fingerpick with the tip of any finger. 
(or side of the thumb, see below)
You play faster when you play closer to the fingertip.  Try to barely catch the string.  

Alternating strokes should sound the same on every finger.  

This takes time and requires feel.
Be gentle.  Rub the strings with your fingertips.  Feel them. 
Imagine the gentle motions you need to make delicate sounds.

Use any playing finger, fretting finger or palm.

Fingerpick with a metronome
You'll play faster and cleaner.

My fingerpicking method
The end joint of my fingers is almost vertical.
      The other joints are comfortably bent.
      The thumb's in position on the low string.  

My wrist is bent towards me slightly.
This lets my fingers stroke back and forth while fingerpicking.  The fingers should move back and forth smoothly like a pendulum. 
Each fingerpicking stroke should sound the same. 

Each finger rests on a string when not being used.
They mute the string and are ready to fingerpick instantly.

I trim my fingernails short when I fingerpick.  

Andres Segovia says nails get more tones.  
Don't break a nail.   Lol.
Fingertips are faster for fingerpicking.

Thumb fingerpicking technique

thumbpicking method
Use the side of the thumb when fingerpicking.
        You'll feel the right spot.  
        It can play as fast as the other fingers.
        Move it back and forth across the string
        Make each stroke sound the same.

        Note: my other fingers aren't properly positioned.

Fingerpick with different angles of attack.
     Adjust your strap
     Stand up     
     Adjust your hand angle: lateral or vertical
     You'll find the right position. 

Fingerpicking notation

fingerpicking finger numbers

You can fingerpick any pattern many ways.
       Any creative motion can become a new riff or solo line.

Three common fingerpicking variations. 
I use finger 3 and 4 as well.  I've practiced fingerpicking with all of them, but my Thumb, 1 and 2 fingers are best.  The best thing about fingerpicking is the fingers pull "towards" the thumb.    It's like "grabbing" multiple strings and making sound.  You can also use your fingers like drum mallets and fingerpick by tapping the strings and making a percussive sound, or you can fingerpick with 1 finger as fast as the pick can play.  I can fingerpick with my thumb (or 1,2 fingers) as fast as a pick, and make it clean.  When I was playing my best, I was fingerpicking clean patterns at 240 bpm.

finger placement

Red  =  Beginner method.   This is the easiest way to fingerpick, although it can be argued that variations of the first group (T,11,222) can also be the easiest.  In fact
you might want to start there.  Fingerpicking with the thumb involves getting the angle right, and using the proper part of the thumb.  See above

Finger 4 provides upport.  It rests on the bridge, pick guard or top string.  You can also use it to play.  
There's many variations.   Find one you like.    

Fastest method of fingerpicking

You can fingerpick faster than the ear can hear.  It's good for single string patterns and it's good for playing all the strings at once. 
It's a superior skill in many ways, but a pick can create a certain sound your fingers can't.  Each has a certain quality that can't be imitated.

Be patient.                    
Use a metronome.    Be accurate.
Jam often.                   Jamming gets you in the zone.  Everything becomes easier.

alternate strokeschase strokes

The thumb anchors the hand
on the string below.      

Finger 3 anchors the hand on the string above (or two strings above).  
Move the anchor fingers as you play and move the fingerpicking pattern.
Sweep into the next string with any stroke.  
Maintain direction, and sweep up or down.

Keep your fingers almost vertical.
Move them like running legs.
Bend your wrist towards you.
Form is very important.
Go slow, be accurate.

Speed up in short bursts.  Play a fast 2 note pattern, 4 notes, 6, etc.
Try 5 or 7, etc.    

Play the finger exercises.  They are perfect for fingerpicking.  Use the motion charts for variations, but ignore the red arrows showing  "crosspicking motion".  I'll
make a motion chart for fingers soon.