Fingerpicking, aka fingerstyle, is a method of setting the guitar strings in motion using the fingers, rather than a pick or a toothbrush, etc. It's like having 4 picks rather than one. The thumb picks down, while the index, middle, and 'ring' pick upward [towards the palm]. The pinky follows the 'ring'. There are technique systems which use the pinky to pluck. We will follow the Classical tradition on this site, where the pinky is along for the ride.
All of the fingers can and do strum [rasgueado, one of the primary techniques in flamenco]. Fingerstyle is a term meaning fingerpicking [as in Classical guitar], but typically on a steel string guitar. We can fingerpick (play fingerstyle) on any type of guitar, yet the term is closely associated with steel string guitars. Jazz players also use the term for finger comping too.
It is important to have the most natural mechanics - this creates great tone - round and resonant. Using our hands in alliance with nature and human physiology gets the best results. To shape our tone, we use the main drivers - main knuckle joints - for each finger. By using this knuckle, fingers have natural rebound (they return naturally to where they started). The thumb's driver is the joint at the wrist.
Mechanics • Aka fingerstyle, fingerpicking is a method of setting the guitar strings in motion using the fingers, rather than a pick or a toothbrush, etc. It’s like having 4 picks rather than one. The thumb picks down, while the index, middle, & ‘ring’ pick upward [into the palm]. The pinky follows the ‘ring’ finger. There are technique systems which use the pinky to pluck (this is not included in the JF system).
X & Fist • We should see an X for the p and i.
Training Starting Point • To start our fingerpicking training, I’d like to share essential training arps and other exercises to strengthen and command the motor hand.
pima Arps • Play this on each chord of the E Major chord scale. I will often only ascend the chord scale for arpeggios exercises like this. I also won’t use the higher version of E [0-14-14-13-0-0], but move to the basic E in first position following the D#o.
Mixing pima Arps • Let’s stick with the strings sets under start, but mix up the patterns (again, we use all six combinations – i-m-a, i-a-m, m-i-a, m-a-i, a-i-m, a-m-i).
Flutters • When we train, we should strengthen the muscles of our arms & hands in both directions (extension/flexion).
Blocks • And finally [or start with these – order of training is up to you], we get all the fingers moving together in blocks.