The deeper you get into guitar playing, the more you would understand that some guitars are well suited for certain types of guitar playing styles. You will surely have difficulty effectively performing fingerpicking, for example, if you are only using the ordinary type of acoustic guitar or the common electric guitar. The reason for this is that the frets and strings of these guitars are either too narrow or inconvenient for fingerpicking guitar playing. Hence, you will need a better guitar—like a classical guitar—that is appropriate for fingerpicking.
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Understanding the Intricacies of Fingerstyle
Fingerstyle guitar is definitely a technique of guitar playing that involves plucking directly the strings using your fingernails, fingertips, or picks that are attached to your fingers. It is different from Flatpicking in which you simply pluck individual notes using a pick. Strictly speaking, fingerstyle is a misnomer, since it is not a specific style of playing the guitar. It is actually harnessing various genres and styles to create good accompaniment. It is also a technique of playing the guitar and not just a style. Additionally, fingerstyle is usually used synonymously with fingerpicking, although fingerpicking has a larger scope than that of fingerstyle and may specifically refer to certain guitar playing traditions like those of the blues, folk, and country guitar playing.
Range of Fingerstyle
Fingerstyle varies according to the intricacies involved when playing the guitar. It includes a wide range of guitar playing techniques including those of the simple folk-style playing called “Travis picking,” Ragtime guitar tradition, Carter Family Picking, and clawhammer and “frailing” techniques. Moreover, you can only effectively do fingerstyle playing using a classical guitar. But you can use fingerstyle when performing any type of musical genres. Hence, you can often see blues, jazz, rock, and classical guitarists fingerstyle play their guitars, yet still remain true to their chosen genres.
The good thing about learning fingerstyle guitar playing is that you can perform various parts of a musical piece at the same time using your guitar. Hence, learning fingerstyle playing is definitely very convenient and advantageous for a musician.
Things You Must Know When Buying A Fingerstyle Guitar
There are several factors you must consider if you want to become a guitarist who can engage in fingerstyle guitar playing. These factors include the kind of guitar you are going to use, the strings of the guitar including the size and the neck of the guitar, the spacing of the strings and frets, the resonance of the strings, and many other factors.
The Right Guitar
At the onset, you should bear in mind that if you want to learn fingerstyle, you should meticulously choose the guitar that you would use. The classical guitar with nylon strings is usually the preferred one for fingerstyle guitar playing. Classical guitars have wide frets and well-set strings allowing you to move your fingers from one point to another and permit you to effortlessly play a melody. This is a must, especially, if you are just learning the rudiments of fingerstyle guitar playing. However, if you are already an expert and prefer the sound of the Western-style guitar, you can readily opt for the bronze or steel strings. Moreover, your choice of strings lies heavily on your own personal preference and genres.
Classical guitar is characterized by its wider neck and better spacing of strings and frets. It likewise comes with nylon strings which are more resilient and do not readily wear your nails. However, it doesn’t mean that you can only use classical guitar when fingerstyle playing, for you can still readily shift to the use of steel strings if you prefer the sound of steel strings.
Another important factor to consider with fingerstyle guitar is the tone production. It is critical to figure out at the onset which guitar can provide you with the best tone and timbre. However, tone and timber also entail proper positioning of your finger when plucking the string; hence, your ability to fingerstyle will surely factor well in the kind of tone and timber produced by your guitar. Moreover, some guitarists generally understand well when to make use of their nail and when not to when hitting a string. Additionally, there are guitarists who had perfected the use of both their nails and fingertips when hitting the string during normal guitar play. Andres Segovia, for example, popularized this style. Knowing when to hit the string only with your nail, with your finger, or both is a great technique that could produce varied timbral effects.
The Smaller the Better
Since there is a need to conveniently reach and perform finger acrobatics when you engage in fingerstyle guitar playing, you will be needing a type of guitar that gives you utmost facility in moving your finger. Hence, you should opt for a guitar that has smaller body to make it comfortable for you to play with your fingers. Moreover, this implies that the fingerstyle technique is different from flatpicking technique for you will be holding your guitar differently when you engage in fingerstyle technique. The more comfortable you are when holding your guitar, the better you can manipulate the strings and produce nuances in timber and tone. Another good option for you would be to use an orchestra-sized guitar which is more flexible to use when engaging in fingerstyle guitar technique.
Consider the Sizes of your Finger
Some guitarists have perfectly-shaped fingers that are appropriate for fingerstyle techniques. Coupled with a naturally endowed prowess in guitar playing, they could readily manipulate their fingers to produce awesome tone and timber. Yet, for those who are just figuring out how to engage in fingerstyle technique, often it would be good to consider the sizes of your fingers. The spacing of the strings in your guitar should be appropriate to the sizes of your fingers. Moreover, the width of the neck of your guitar will surely have a bearing on how effectively you can perform fingerstyle technique.
It is also good to note that wide-necked guitars are ideal for fingerstyle technique. This is because, with guitars with the wider neck, the strings are spread out, allowing you to perfectly maneuver each of your fingers without muffling the sound. Moreover, with wider-necked guitars, you can easily fret chords, although you will be required to stretch out your fingers more as compared to when you are playing using an ordinary guitar.
You Should Opt for a Guitar with a Cutaway Design
Guitars that provide more agility and flexibility are definitely ideal for fingerstyle technique. Hence, when choosing a guitar for fingerstyle playing, you should rather opt for the cutaway-designed guitars, because guitars with cutaway design allows your fingers to easily reach strings even if the note is already at the higher frets. It is not imperative to opt for the cutaway-designed guitars, but with this type of guitar, you would surely have enough flexibility to engage in fingerstyle technique of guitar playing conveniently.