Previous page:

Blues Guitar - An introduction to blues fingerpicking

Next page:
Previous page: Blues Guitar - Bass Riff Next page: Blues Guitar - Monotone bass fingerpicking 2

Fingerpicking makes it easier to play more than one line at the time. But it is harder to get a strong attack and a driving rhythm. Remember that fingerpicking is not only for acoustic guitar. Many electric blues players fingerpicks, or play with a combination of flatpicking and fingerpicking. In this lesson we will take a first look into blues fingerpicking.

If you are not used to fingerpicking, you will probably have some difficulties getting the fingers on you right hand to work independent of each other. The natural movement of the fingers is to grip. When you move the thumb, the rest of the fingers follows and vice versa. The only solution to the problem is practice. To learn the basic technique is almost as learning to ride a bicycle: In the beginning it seems almost impossible to keep the balance on the two wheels. But suddenly it works, it becomes second nature, and you will never loose the skill.

We start with the monotone bass technique. You play a steady bass, either as quarter notes on the beat or some kind of a shuffle. This playing technique gives you a steady rhythm and a harmonic back bone. When playing the bass notes on open strings, you can move quite freely around the fingerboard. To get a good rhythm, you must apply some right hand damping (see Lesson 4). Many players use a thumb pick when playing in this style. I used to play with a thumb pick, but now I usually play without. Many players support their picking hand by resting their little finger on the guitar top. It might help to give a more forceful attack, but it also stiffens your hand. It is not without reason that this playing technique is a No-No among classical guitar players. But we are playing blues, not classical guitar, and we might give higher priority to a driving rhythm. Experiment, and find out what you prefer.

I think of this style as typical of Acoustic Texas Blues Guitar, and in my opinion, Mance Lipscomb is the player to start with. Then you can move on to Lightnin' Hopkins, Big Bill Broonzy (not a Texas player) etc.

Monotone Bass in E

   
Download Finale File

Start by getting a steady bass line. It is boring, but a necessary step on the way to learn fingerpicking. You must have a rock solid thumb, that does not get disturbed by what the other fingers are doing, and it takes time to develop this.

Some Blues Fingerstyle - books

Top Seller


More >>
The Mississippi John Hurt Book and Two CD's
Book of the Month 2003-05
The playing of Mississippi John Hurt combines lyrical songs with lovely guitar arrangements. 26 arrangements are presented in this collection.
RefNr: WBF3176GTXCD
Order From:
SheetmusicPlus
MusicRoom
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Other Books


More >>
101 Mississippi Delta Blues Fingerpicking Licks
This book/CD set examines four- and eight-beat blues licks which may be played within typical chord patterns in the most commonly used blues keys. Written for fingerstyle guitar, complete with pima fingering for the classically trained guitarist, the licks vary in difficulty but all lie within the capability of the beginning to intermediate player.
RefNr: MB96241BCD
Order From:
SheetmusicPlus

More >>
Blind Boy Fuller
Original recordings by Blind Boy Fuller and transcriptions by Stefan Grossman.
RefNr: WBF3270GTXCD
Order From:
SheetmusicPlus
MusicRoom

More >>
The Guitar of Big Bill Broonzy
Broonzy was a master of ragtime and country blues guitar whose playing was highlighted by a strong pulsating bass and melodic lead lines.
RefNr: SG98508BCD
Order From:
SheetmusicPlus
Amazon UK
Amazon US

More >>
The Music of Blind Blake Book and CD
By Stefan Grossman. As performed by Blind Blake. This is a CD with 16 of his most famous songs that comes with a book, or a book that comes with a Cd with original recordings.
RefNr: WBF3432GTXCD
Order From:
SheetmusicPlus
MusicRoom
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Go here for full list of Blues Fingerstyle books

Blues Fingerstyle - videos


More >>
Blues by the Book for Fingerstyle Guitar - 2 DVD set
Roy's firsthand knowledge of the great Piedmont-style players makes these DVDs a must for anyone who loves traditional blues. He demonstrates a wide variety of chords, right- and left-hand patterns, licks and much more!
RefNr: HT641657
Order From:
SheetmusicPlus

More >>
The Fingerpicking Blues of John Jackson
A traditional blues master brings the Piedmont style to life!
RefNr: HT641934
Order From:
SheetmusicPlus
MusicRoom

More >>
Sessions at West 54th: Recorded Live in New York
RefNr: B000053VAC
Order From:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Go here for full list of Blues Fingerstyle videos

Previous page: Next page:
Previous page: Blues Guitar - Bass Riff Next page: Blues Guitar - Monotone bass fingerpicking 2