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Video:Picking Basics on the Guitar

with Jon Seideman

Guitar picking is one of the essential lessons you'll be happy you set out to learn. Mix up your guitar playing skills by practicing the basics of finger picking.See Transcript

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Transcript:Picking Basics on the Guitar

Hi - I'm Jon Seidman with About.com and I'm going to teach you some guitar picking basics.

Adjust Your Hand for Picking

So I find that the most comfortable way to do finger-picking is to actually steady your hand with your pinky - and you place that right on the pick guard below the sound hole of the guitar. Depending on the chord you're going to fret - and for this example I'm going to use a D-chord - you want the thumb to be placed on the root note, which is a D - that's the third string down. And, depending on the pattern you're going to pick, you can either put two or three fingers on the rest of the strings. For this example, I'll use all three: second, third, and fourth fingers that go on the following strings below the thumb.

Guitar Picking Approach

You want the thumb to actually approach the string from the side, so when you pluck, use the side of your thumb. And the fingers actually are plucking sort of in an upward motion, so your hand is sort of comfortably resting on the strings. So, plucking the thumb with the side, and then the strings in order with the fingers gently plucking upwards, with the tips of the fingers.

Establish the Picking Pattern

The next thing you want to know is how you're going to play the pattern. It's important to establish a rhythm, and if you're aware of the root note, or the note that your thumb is on, or should be on, that's usually played on the one-beat. For instance, in common time - where we have four beats per measure - we count one, two, three, four. And on the one, we play the root note - that's your thumb. And, for the purposes of this demonstration, I'm going to play the second, third, and fourth notes of this chord on the two, three, and four beats. So, thumb on the one, and it couldn't be easier - two, three, four, with those fingers. So, one, two, three, four. And then, if you can repeat that pattern - that's probably the most basic finger-picking pattern you can play.

Practice Guitar Picking

The key is to continually practice with a rhythm, and remembering the root note. Once you master that, and get better, get stronger, you're more aware of the rhythm, you can start to change it up, and do it with more chords. Again, always being aware that when you change a chord, the root note will change, and your thumb will be placed in a different position.

And that's all there is to it! Thanks for watching - if you want to learn more, check us out at About.com.
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