How long does it take to learn fingerstyle guitar?

One of the difficulties in teaching fingerpicking is the sheer volume of words. This is a skill and requires lots of repetition before it gains a consistent feel. Once you have a comfortable fingerstyle, you can begin exploring other techniques – often incorporating fingerpicking into the same melody/song as the main melody!

In the video on “Guitar Fingerstyle – The Way of The Guitar” you’ll hear me use fingerpick for a section of a song – which is why it will take some time before you get to know fingerpicking. Once you are comfortable using fingerpick for a melody, you can apply the same technique directly into your own lyrics.

How long ago did you start using fingerstyle?

I started playing fingerstyle guitar at the age of 10 (I still play it), and started making mistakes all over my fingers. By 15 I was playing a full-time job in the music industry and was in a band. Over the years I have used lots of guitar technique – including fingerpicking – as a means to make progress in other areas of my life.

I’m really inspired by the great guitarists such as Jerry Garcia, Jonny Greenwood and Steve Howe, and I am happy to share their stories with others.

Can you briefly explain why your approach to fingerpicking differs from that of most, and also describe some of my personal favourites?

A lot of people think fingerstyle guitar is hard, when in reality it is one of the easiest and quickest guitar techniques. Just try it. You’ll be astonished what comes out.

In reality I think guitarists have the luxury of being able to practice what they learn in various ways, for different purposes. However, I think the key to making fingerstyle a good tool is to learn how to use it correctly – and in a way that works for you and for your music.

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When making up new guitar licks, for example, I often work out the key of a melody I’m trying to work on and then move on to a different melody and begin to play the licks as if I’m playing it. If I’m playing the melody the whole time, it will be more of a natural approach and the licks will have the extra texture and character. In my experience it’s easy to have that come from playing a specific lick multiple times with different chord progression, but playing a different lick one time with the same chord progression isn’t nearly as natural as it could be.