Fingerstyle Pattern For Advancing Fingerstyle Guitarists


If you have been playing fingerstyle guitar and are looking to advance further, here’s an exercise for you which will:

  1. Strengthen your picking hand
  2. Increase your picking hand finger independence
  3. Increase your picking speed
  4. Give you several more interesting and varied patterns to play on chords than the usual, common ones you probably know
  5. Sound really good on it’s own as a piece of music, and be fun to play and practice!


fingerstyle guitarists

The fingers of the picking hand are called P, I, M and A.

P = thumb
I = index finger
M = middle finger
A = ring finger

First learn to play the exercise as it is written above. 

Then, once you can do that, practice in the following ways:

  1. Focusing on Articulation

Play slowly and quietly, with ALL notes even in dynamic level. Gradually get louder over 3 minutes until you are playing ALL notes as loud as you can. Gradually return to quiet notes.

This is very difficult to do smoothly! Look out for certain notes jumping out with a different volume. By doing this you will learn to control your picking fingers much better.

An even more difficult version of this is to play all the notes quietly, except for 1 string which you must pluck very loudly each time. Continue for 1 minute and then change the loud string to another one.

  1. Focus on Speed

Practicing with a metronome, increase your speed by 20 BPM every 3 minutes. If more than 50% of the notes are not clear, start alternating tempos at random for 2 minutes each. Fast, slow, medium – choose each at a random order. Continue for 15 minutes in total.

  1. Focus on clarity and expression

This time, play without a metronome. Play the exercise as clearly as you can. Increase and decrease dynamic level and speed to increase the amount of emotional expression you can put into the piece being played.

  1. Focus on breaking the pattern down

For this exercise, you can break the pattern down into any amount of shorter patterns. You can take just 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8 notes from the pattern and repeat them over and over to create a smaller patter.


If you practice these exercises diligently, you will find your fingerstyle playing is becoming stronger and stronger.

Written by Daniel Jacobson; professional jazz and classical guitarist, teacher, and owner of Ultimate School of Music. He teaches guitar students to become really confident fingerstyle guitarists. Contact for fingerstyle guitar lessons in Dublin, Ireland.