Fingerpicking, also known as fingerstyle, is one of several entertaining guitar techniques to learn. Playing the notes individually rather than strumming the chords together may seem like a daunting task. However, with the following easy fingerpicking songs, you can quickly sound like a fingerstyle master.
1) Dust in the Wind by Kansas
“Dust in the Wind” is a great beginners’ song because it involves a right-hand pattern for the whole song. This kind of repetition shows you a useful way while helping your hand-build strength.
The intro is an excellent time to practice your knowledge in guitar chords as it uses different types of chords. The verse is still the same fingerpicking pattern but will require you to skip specific strings with your thumb.
“Dust in the Wind” is an easy fingerpicking song for beginners because it uses a basic right-hand pattern during the entire piece. Even though the chord shapes may seem different, the same pattern is still in play.
2) Nothing Else Matters by Metallica
While you wouldn’t expect a heavy metal band to create a beautiful ballad, Metallica can pull it off. Played on guitar, “Nothing Else Matters” has a unique intro and is a favorite song for guitarists to play.
This famous guitar song also has a fingerstyle that any beginner can learn quickly. The first three sections of the intro use up down and down up movements on open strings. In the fourth section, you can hear the first melodic note.
Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” is made up of simple chord progression in E minor, making this a good beginner song. This is best learned after you have a few other fingerpicking songs under your belt.
3) Stand by Me by Ben E. King
This famous 1960s song is recognizable due to the unique melody and tune. Initially played by Ben E. King – one of the best soul singers out there, many artists have put their own spin on “Stand by Me.”
The intro makes this an excellent fingerpicking song for novices since the thumb and fretting fingers are only required to play the 5th and 6th strings. This part is easy to get the hang of, and mastering this will help you with playing the rest of the song.
4) We’re Going to Be Friends by The White Stripes
Played at the standard speed of 95 beats per minute (BPM), this is a straightforward song to fingerpick. There are two ways to play this song: classical and fingerstyle. Beginners should start with the thumb and index finger first, then integrate the classical fingerstyle method.
This playing style works well when a song is going back and forth between low and high strings.
This one is an easy fingerpicking song since it requires only playing one note at a time with effortless open chords. Be sure to hold your finger down with a fret until it changes to an open string or a different form of a chord to ensure it is being played correctly.
5) Hey There Delilah by The Plain White T’s
“Hey There Delilah” is a little harder than “We’re Going to Be Friends”, so you may want to master the White Stripes’ song first.
The difference with this song from others is that it only uses the thumb and index finger instead of using two different fingers to play two strings at the same time.
The individual bass notes play with the thumb, and the higher notes are strummed together with the index finger in an upwards motion, so the pattern is: thumb down, index up, thumb down, index up.
“Hey There Delilah” uses a basic fingerpicking pattern at the standard speed of 100 BPM. The same pattern is used throughout the duration of the song, making it easy to remember.
6) Everybody Hurts by R.E.M.
This song involves easy open chords and has a standard speed at 94 BPM, making this a great beginner song. The simple chords allow you to pay close attention to your picking hand.
Place your thumb on the E, A, and D strings. Your ring finger belongs on the high E string, while your middle finger should be on the B string, with the index finger on the G string.
The importance of playing this song is the rhythm. Use a metronome if you have to, playing one note per click to help you keep a steady rhythm.
Using easy open chords that every beginner should be acquainted with, “Everybody Hurts” is a great starter song.
7) Fast Car by Tracey Chapman
Tracey Chapman’s “Fast Car” is an excellent fingerpicking song as it is melodic, fun, and straightforward. It uses basic chords, relieving the fingerpicking hand from being too overworked.
Parts of “Fast Car” are also repetitive, which helps you practice specific notes. In the introduction, the first two bars play continuously throughout the entire verse of the song. Keep in mind that the chorus can be tricky because of the chord change timing.
This great ’90s hit is a perfect fingerpicking song because it switches it up from the usual open chord shapes without being too complicated.
8) Is There Anybody Out There? by Pink Floyd
“Is There Anybody Out There?” from Pink Floyd’s album “The Wall” is an excellent choice for fingerstyle players to learn. This song was initially played using a guitar strung with nylon during the recording.
The first section centers around the A minor chord. The bass notes are continually moving around on the bottom and may be hard to get at first.
Pink Flloyd’s “Is There Anybody Out There?” is relatively easy as it contains no barre chords and has straightforward fingerpicking patterns.
9) Road Trippin’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers
Released on the Red Hot Chili Peppers album, Californication, “Road Trippin” is a popular song to fingerpick.
The intro/verse consists of three chords – Em, B, and C. Learn how to isolate the thumb from the rest of the fingers, which can be one of the hardest parts of this song.
John Frusciante uses a type of fingerstyle guitar playing known as Travis Picking. The focus behind Travis Picking is mostly the thumb playing bass notes.
The verse and chorus parts are coherent and repeat the same pattern except for the last chord, which can change,
“Road Trippin’” is more of an intermediate song, as you need to move chords at a breakneck pace.
What makes “Road Trippin’” relatively easy is that the intro/verse consists of only three chords. These chords are Em, B, and C.
10) Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton
Written over three decades ago when Eric Clapton lost his son, “Tears in Heaven” is one of his most well-known songs. This is one of those meaningful songs that must be done carefully and sounds best when played in a fingerpicking style.
Those starting out at fingerpicking should find it easy to play “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton. This is easy to perfect due to its mostly repeating chords.
11) April Come She Will by Simon and Garfunkel
One of the best beginner songs for fingerpicking on guitar is Simon and Garfunkel’s “April Come She Will”. This popular song is best known for its hauntingly beautiful intro and main guitar riffs and is relatively short and straightforward.
Though the song is not hard to play, you need to learn each piece gradually before moving on to the next part. To master this song, it will help to break the verses into smaller increments, so it is easier to grasp.
12) Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright by Bob Dylan
One of Bob Dylan’s early songs, “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright”, shows up on his album “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan”’
While this is fast-paced at a tempo of approximately 111 BPM, the benefit is that you are dealing with direct chords with open position shapes.
The short intro has some very fast hammer-ons that occur while playing the bass note simultaneously. Similar to the introduction, the verse has more challenging bass notes and clunky hammer-ons.
However, using a metronome is the trick to this song since the timing changes frequently.
Don’t let the strange bass notes throw you off with “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright”, as this song’s chords are clear to understand and sticks to open chord shapes. However, this is best when played after learning a few other songs first since your fingers get a workout with this song.
13) Keep Your Head Up by Ben Howard
Written in 2011 by British singer-songwriter Ben Howard, “Keep Your Head Up” appears on his first album called “Every Kingdom”.
It is critical to focus on the tuning. Before you start playing, tune the B string down to an A and the high E string down to D.
The fingerpicking patterns are gentle on the right hand, but the speed gets fast. The important part is staying consistent throughout the song.
What makes this song easy is that the verse and intro are very similar, so it’s easy to memorize. The tempo is fast, but the fingerpicking patterns aren’t too overwhelming on the right hand. Getting Howard’s strum and percussion tap technique down is going to save you time and frustration.
14) Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by GreenDay
Great for developing right-hand techniques, “Good Riddance” was originally played using a pick. However, most people choose to play it fingerstyle, and it is excellent for developing techniques with your right hand.
Don’t let a tempo of 190 BPM intimidate you. Focus and have patience; then gradually, over time, build your speed.
This song contains only four chords: G, D, Em, and Cadd9. While it isn’t tricky switching between the chords, practice the changes first for a smooth process.
15) Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
Even though Jeff Buckley did not create the original version of “Hallelujah” (Leonard Cohen did), his version is well known. The song uses easy open chords but requires the attention of the right hand since the pattern changes throughout the song.
Since this song is very delicate, it is imperative that you take your time and pay attention to detail.
This song focuses on simple open chords, making this a fantastic choice for beginners. The song structure is simple since it repeats throughout the entire piece.
16) House of the Rising Sun by the Animals
Recorded in 1964, “House of the Rising Sun” is famous amongst new guitarists since the chords aren’t too hard to learn.
Start this song off slowly, building up speed as you move ahead. Do not rush, as it will only lead to a sloppy rendition. A great choice for beginners to playing rock songs.
Once you master the intro, you need to learn the sequence of chords for the following verses. While there are no new chords to learn, there are some adjustments you will need to make.
This is an easy song on guitar for those starting out because the chords are easy to understand, and the fingerpicking style is a repetitive pattern.
17) Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Wethers
This one is a simple song to learn if you are looking for a new piece to try. It consists of just a few chords and E, A, and D minors. Most of the time, you are not plucking all the chord strings, making this an easy song to add to your skillset.
“Ain’t No Sunshine” is a perfect beginner’s song because it is made up of simple chords such as Am, Em, Dm, and G.
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