Not all guitarists dream of shredding their guitars like Slash or Joe Satriani. Some want to play soft, beautiful guitar tunes that serenade. Some also enjoy the sounds of nylon guitars.
These players often may want to learn fingerstyle guitar instead of using picks. However, fingerstyle guitar is harder to play and takes longer to master. How long does it take to learn fingerstyle guitar?
In general, expect around 3-9 months to learn and master the basics of fingerstyle guitar. Your actual time may depend on your talent, skill, and dedication to practice. If you have played guitars before, you should progress faster.
This article explores how long it takes to learn fingerstyle guitar. On top of that, we will also look at how a beginner should learn fingerstyle guitar and if they should even try it in the first place.
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Is It Hard To Learn Fingerstyle Guitar?
It is harder to learn fingerstyle guitar than to learn picking. This is because fingerstyle guitar requires finger agility and strength, a strong sense of rhythm, and a lot of practice. However, if mastered, it can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience.
Playing fingerstyle guitar is hard. It’s really hard compared to playing using a pick. This is because it is a playing style that requires more precision and practice.
Here are some of the factors that made fingerstyle guitar hard to learn and pick up:
Requires Musical Theory Knowledge
With strumming or electric guitar, you should be able to find many tracks, such as tabs or chord notes. Tabs and chord notes are simpler forms of guitar music notation and generally could be mastered in less time.
However, fingerstyle guitar players need to be able to read sheet music. This is because fingerstyle guitar is so complicated that a classical musical notation system would be needed to write things down.
On top of that, fingerstyle players tend to play classical pieces. This means they need knowledge of music theory to read their notes. This means you need to spend time learning music theory and how to read them.
Requires Rhythmic Accuracy
Fingerstyle guitars usually are played in a very complex and complicated manner. You will need a higher sense of rhythm and syncopation to play right.
Aside from that, fingerstyle guitarists may play in groups, such as orchestras or quartets. This means they also need a strong ability to play to the beat and to the conductor.
As a result, it may be more common to see fingerstyle guitarists practice with a metronome to improve their beat-keeping skills.
Requires Finger Dexterity And Strength
Fingerstyle guitar is a 4-point system, with four fingers ready to play the strings at any given time. This differs from picking, where all you have is your pick – a single striking surface.
If you want to play fingerstyle, you need to have a high level of finger skill and strength. You need awareness of your fingers and the ability to strike the strings well. All these take time and a lot of practice to develop.
Requires Many Hours Of Practice
Finally, fingerstyle guitar is hard because it takes a lot more practice to do well. It is a more complicated way to play guitar, which naturally requires you to put in more practice time.
Aside from playing, you must also develop finger strength and the ability to read music notes. However, if you have some guitar-playing experience or are talented, you may require less practice time.
How Long Does It Take To Learn Fingerstyle Guitar?
Learning the basics of fingerstyle guitar may take around three to nine months. Mastering it takes a lifetime of practice and dedication. Your speed in learning fingerstyle guitar may depend on practice, talent, and prior experience.
Learning fingerstyle guitar is hard and may take time. However, the actual time needed may differ between individuals. You may learn it faster than the other person.
Beginners usually start with the basic fingerpicking technique before moving into playing scales. Depending on the learner’s dedication and ability, these may take several weeks.
You may be able to progress fast here if you have some experience with guitar, such as playing strumming on steel-string guitars.
Learners can also speed up their learning time if they are willing to practice and be good at it. It may be good to put in around 30 minutes to an hour daily, as long practices may hurt your fingers. You may also struggle to concentrate.
Regular practicing can help to improve finger dexterity, muscle memory, and ability to strike strings well.
Having a strong tutor can also help. Tutors can help by ensuring you are playing with the correct technique and correcting mistakes before they become ingrained. They can also help you with reading notes, a skill you also need to master to play fingerstyle guitar well.
Learning fingerstyle guitar and getting the basics done well could take around three to nine months. To be a master may take a lifetime since even Tommy Emmanuel is still practicing and improving.
Should A Beginner Start With Fingerstyle?
It may be better for a beginner to start with picking, as it is easier to learn. Fingerstyle may take a lot of time to learn, which can be demotivating to many players. However, a beginner can still pick up fingerstyle guitar with a more strenuous effort.
Fingerstyle is much harder to pick up than picking since it requires a higher precision of playing and additional skills such as reading sheet music.
In many cases, starting with a fingerstyle guitar may not be a great idea, especially if you are a beginner. The journey will be harder, and you may face more frustration.
Imagine if you are still struggling to plan scale on fingerstyle while watching your friends strumming guitar to songs such as Pearl Jam’s Last Kiss, which is essentially four open chords.
That is going to hurt and may demotivate you very much.
However, it does not mean a beginner cannot master fingerstyle guitar. You may make it through with the work ethic, dedication, and willingness to practice.
Regardless of your choice, it is important to pick one and then go ahead and get it done. You might not want to dilly-dally between the two, as your progress will be severely hampered.
How Should A Beginner Start With Fingerstyle?
If you are a complete beginner in guitar, start learning fingerstyle by:
- Choose a teacher
- Get a suitable guitar, and get comfortable with it
- Get The technique right
- Practice simple exercises
- Focus on rhythm, and practice with a metronome
- Practice regularly
- Listen to fingerstyle guitarists
- Play simple songs
Suppose you have decided that you will embark on learning the guitar fingerstyle. In that case, how do you start?
You can start by following the steps below. They are arranged in succession, meaning it may be a good idea to start with the first step before going to the next.
Get A Teacher
Start by getting a teacher. This may feel a little hard to accept, but fingerstyle guitar can be technical, and you want to have a teacher that can at least help you somehow.
You do not need to have one around every time you practice, but you want a teacher you regularly see to ensure you stay on the right learning path.
Get A Guitar, and Get Comfortable With It
One of the first things you will do with your teacher is to pick up a classical guitar. A teacher can come in handy here, as they could take you shopping and help you pick the right guitar for your size.
They may also have the right understanding and help you pick the right strings and bags. They may also know how to get the best guitar from your budget.
Get Your Playing Technique Right
Now that you have a guitar, your next job is to spend the first few sessions getting comfortable with your guitar. This means knowing how to place it on your lap, where your hands are supposed to be, and how to pluck a string.
These skills are basic, but get it right, and you will have an easier time playing fingerstyle guitar.
Practice Simple Exercises
Next, work on simple exercises. Depending on your teacher, they may assign you some practice involving playing with scales to improve your fretting fingers. You may also play some drills designed to help improve your finger awareness and agility.
Focus On Rhythm, And Practice With Metronome
As you practice, remember that fingerstyle guitar requires more precision in playing. This means when you play, you want to make sure you play to the beat and in a steady rhythm. A metronome should help you play well here.
Finally, build up a habit of practicing. You do not practice only when meeting your teacher; make it a point to practice whenever you have free time.
Set a time when you will practice. Dedicate around 30 minutes to an hour a day to play, and make sure you can show up to your next class with some progress. That may motivate the teacher more.
It may also be a good idea not to practice too far ahead and focus on what your teacher asks you to do. Trust that your teacher will give you more challenging practices when you are ready.