Using the fingers of your right hand independently opens up a whole new style of playing with it’s own sonic texture.

  • It’s easier to arpeggiate chords and vary the pattern of the notes.
  • It is easier to play non-adjacent strings simultaneously, e.g. play a chord, while leaving out a string in the middle.
  • It is easier to add melody lines, grace notes, and ornamentation.
  • It is easier to play fast passages.
Arpeggiate: to play the notes of a chord independently, in quick succession.

Fingerstyle players use the fleshy part of their fingers, or their finger nails, or sometimes false finger nails or finger picks.

You will often see finger markings on fingerstyle music notation.


The left hand is typically numbered
for fretting as
4 – 3 – 2 – 1 – Thumb

This numbering is used in
Fretboard Chord Diagrams.

IMPORTANT: The numbers in TAB notation refer to the fret number, not the finger number.


The Right Hand is usually labeled
for plucking after the Spanish words as
Pulgar – Indice – Medio – Anular – ?

The little finger is thought to be weak and lack independence from the anular, so it doesn’t have an official name. Writers who have developed the strength and independence of the little finger might label it something else.

English speaking writers sometimes label the right hand as
Thumb – Index – Middle – Ring – Pinky


You will recognize this labeling
by the “t” or “r”, and no “a”

Try these exercises from the Picking Styles lesson.

Remember to practice as slowly as necessary to practice perfectly. Speed will come with repetition. Practicing errors will only be more difficult to unlearn.





Here are a couple more interesting pieces to get you started.



You can improve your skill and develop your own style by practicing right hand exercises, anywhere you can find them, such as:

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