8 Essential Fingerpicking Patterns with Guitar TAB & PDF

Learning fresh fingerpicking patterns can provide you with an array of playing options and steer your music in exciting new directions. The fingerpicking patterns highlighted in this lesson can be found in numerous songs, making them an essential practice.

For each fingerpicking pattern, I will explain how to play it on three different chords, provide tips on execution, and offer ideas for creating variations on the pattern.

To become adept at applying these patterns to different chords, I recommend practicing each pattern with various chord progressions.

The Guitar Chords Utilized in the Fingerpicking Patterns

Although these fingerpicking patterns can be used with any chords, I have chosen the same three chords for each example: Am, Em, and D.

Below are the chord diagrams for the three chords used in this lesson:

Fingerpicking chord diagrams

If you are unfamiliar with reading chord diagrams, you can refer to the Ultimate Guide to Reading Guitar Chord Diagrams for a comprehensive explanation. The guide includes diagrams, tips, and a printable PDF with easy chords to learn.

The reason I have selected these three chords is to demonstrate how each fingerpicking pattern adapts to chords with different string variations. This understanding will facilitate your ability to apply these patterns to other chords.

It is noteworthy that all the patterns provided in this article are presented in both Standard Notation and Guitar TAB. In case you are unfamiliar with reading Guitar TAB, you can refer to our guide on how to read Guitar TAB. For those interested in learning how to read standard notation, check out our thorough guide on how to read Standard Notation.

Fingerpicking Pattern 1

This fingerpicking pattern is ubiquitous in various styles of music and songs. Once you grasp the underlying concept of this pattern, you will notice it recurring in music.

Guitar Fingerpicking Pattern 1

As is the case with many fingerpicking patterns, the first note played is the root note with your thumb. The remaining notes are played on the first three strings. You have the option of using your middle (m), ring (a), and pinky (c) fingers, or using your index (i), middle (m), and ring (a) fingers.

I recommend using your index finger (i) on the G string, middle finger (m) on the B string, and ring finger (a) on the high E string. If desired, you can rest your pinky on the guitar’s body to provide additional support for your hand.

One of the advantages of this fingerpicking pattern is that only the thumb needs to change strings. The other three fingers remain on the same strings throughout. Such fingerpicking patterns are relatively easy to learn since your fingers maintain a consistent position on the strings.

If this is your first time learning a fingerpicking pattern, take your time and ensure that each note rings out clearly.

Fingerpicking Pattern 2

This pattern offers ample opportunity to practice moving your thumb across different strings. It also presents a glimpse into the fingerpicking style commonly found in Spanish, Flamenco, and Classical music.

Guitar Fingerpicking Pattern 2

You can choose between a classical fingerpicking style, utilizing three fingers and your thumb, or adopting a different approach. An alternative method involves using your thumb for the lower five strings and your index finger for the high E string. This results in alternating between your thumb and index finger for each note.

I recommend learning this pattern initially using your thumb and index finger. After becoming comfortable with it, you can attempt mastering the pattern using classical fingerpicking technique if you are up for a challenge.

You might be surprised by how quickly you can play this fingerpicking pattern after some practice. If you appreciate this style of playing, I suggest checking out the traditional piece “Malagueña.”

Fingerpicking Pattern 3

This fingerpicking pattern is prevalent among guitarists who enjoy grouping notes in threes. However, when playing eighth notes, there is an extra note that needs to be accounted for. Typically, guitarists resolve this by converting the last group of three notes into a group of two.

Take a look at the TAB illustration below to identify the groups of three and the group of two within each bar:

Guitar Fingerpicking Pattern 3

If you are unsure about recognizing the groups of three and two, let’s examine the first three notes, which constitute a group of three played with the thumb, index, and middle fingers. This is followed by another group of three notes played with the same fingers. Finally, the bar concludes with a group of two notes played using the thumb and middle finger.

Although the rhythm is consistent throughout, you can perceive the pattern being divided into two groups of three and one group of two notes.

Given the frequency with which this fingerpicking pattern occurs, I recommend devoting time to practice it. Even beyond fingerstyle, you may encounter this particular pattern of two groups of three and one group of two in other musical contexts. In 4/4 time, you are likely to encounter it frequently.

Continue reading on

Please note that the original article contained additional fingerpicking patterns. Due to space limitations, only the first three patterns have been included in this revised version. For the complete article and fingerpicking patterns 4-8, visit

Feel free to download the Fingerpicking Patterns PDF to practice these patterns and keep them handy whenever you want to enhance your fingerpicking skills.

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To learn easy open chords to use with these strumming patterns, check out our Ultimate Guide to Reading Guitar Chord Diagrams. The guide includes a printable PDF with easy chords to learn.

Remember, the key to mastering fingerpicking patterns is consistent practice and experimentation. Once you have a solid foundation, you can incorporate these patterns into your own compositions and create unique musical pieces.

Keep strumming and enjoy exploring the endless possibilities of fingerpicking on the guitar!

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