Lesson 10 – Finger Patterns (Part One)

Finger Patterns (Part One)

Before we start it’s important to note that these patterns are not cure-all, end-all answers to your playing. They are a great way to begin and a large percentage of fingerstylists use these frequently, but don’t get caught in the mindset of thinking that this is all there is. For every song that uses one of these patterns there are two that have a completely unique approach. If you end up relying too heavily on anything it’s going to stifle your creativity and originality. Use these as a starting point and they’ll take you a long way towards your goals.

This first pattern is demonstrated on the E major and A major chords, but as you’ll see it can be used over any chord combinations. For the sake of simplicity we’ll call these the ‘E pattern’ and the ‘A pattern.’
Play them slowly, and don’t move on to the A pattern until you can play the E.


Once you can play each one individually without thinking about it too much, play them together using the following progression. Repeat it until you can perform it smoothly.

Do the same for this pattern, a slight variation which makes it sound a lot more interesting:


Once you get the hang of changing between those two chords, apply it to the following progression, be sure to use your ring finger to hit the alternating bass note on the B7 (marked with a T).

Now that you have this down, add a simple variation by changing the chords and the order. Play the ‘A’ pattern over a C major chord, and the ‘E’ pattern over a G major chord. Remember that on the C chord you’ll have to move the bass like you did for exercise 5 in Lesson 7, Starting With The Thumb: Independence Exercises.

When you’re ready, move on to Finger Patterns Part Two

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24 Responses »

  1. Hi,

    Another great post – love these little exercises that are challenging but fun.

    I’m not sure but I think there might be a couple of mistakes in this lesson though.

    First, the fourth bass note of the first A pattern – is that definitely a B requiring a shift from the A chord shape? or should it be on the D string instead like in the second pattern? I couldnt quite tell from listening to the sample.

    Also, for the second variation E pattern I think there is something fishing going on because I only see 7 beats in the bar, presumably should be 8? I think a 2 on the D string (an E) should be inserted 3rd beat from the end.

    Not complaining though, can’t stress enough how useful these exercise are. They are exactly what I’ve been looking for – hopefully I can help make them better!

  2. Oh also I think there is an open B string missing from 2nd E Pattern

  3. Thanks a lot for all these great lessons. I’m playing for hours, but sometimes i have the feeling it’s getting somewhere. Feels great.
    Thanks and i hope you’ll keep up the good work.


  4. Thanks again Thrope, good eye!

  5. Thanks for these great lessons. I’ve been “playing” guitar for a few years but never really advanced in any direction. I’ve wanted to play fingerstyle for ages, and now I’m finally taking a step in the right direction, thanks to this excellent resource.

  6. Thanks Mr Worm, keep us posted on your progress!

  7. Hi,
    Many thanks for the lessons – really useful.
    One query, shouldn’t it be my middle finger that is ‘hitting the alternating bass note on the B7’?

  8. Hi Dodger,

    Yes that does make a lot more sense, although re-reading I can see it must sound incredibly confusing.
    Especially that line, in reality you should hit all the bass notes with your thumb.

    Does this make sense?
    Thanks for the comment, let me know and I’ll re-write this one a little.

  9. Hi Sean,
    I think that’s better: fret F# with middle finger and ‘pick’ it with your thumb.
    – Dodger

  10. Thank you!
    Absolutely without a doubt my favourite new website on the whole worldwide web!
    Keep the string and plank spanking know-how coming!
    How often do you post up the new lessons, please?

  11. Thanks Jimbo!
    Very irregularly unfortunately, but we have a new batch coming soon.

  12. Wow! this is great, I’ve been playing for 10 years but never with a thumb pick … I feel like a beginner again which is really quite exciting.
    Loving the E and A patterns.

  13. Thank you so much! I wanted to play fingerstyle blues and this website is finally the key to my problems! I could not find exercices adapted to my level (which is well, quite low at the moment), and the well-known fingerstyle blues songs are way too difficult for me…
    These exercices are really helpfully and I can already see results. It breaks down the technique, and helps staying motivated.
    Hopefully someday i’ll be good enough to play real songs.

    Thanks again!

  14. General thank you for the help, great starting point the info is very useful, and cant beat a decent free service!

  15. I feel like I’m re-learning how to play guitar. The way it was meant to be played. Great site, awesome lessons, can’t say enough good about it. I wish I could order a t-shirt to show my support. Question: do you recommend the finger patterns used for the A chord be used on the B7?

  16. Hi,

    Thanks a lot for those great little exercises!

    A tip for very beginners like me who can’t even play pattern A: first play only the bass notes with the thumb, and add the high notes one at a time. Also, tap your left foot and notice which notes have to be played when the foot is up and which when it is down.
    It helped me a lot!

    Now I still don’t sound just like on the audio here because I can’t dampen the 3 low strings with the heel of the right hand without touching the 3 high strings… needs more practice I guess!

    Greetings from France,

  17. I’m trying to concentrate and E and A pattern is chanllenging …

  18. Thank you …It is really a blues learning site 🙂

  19. Hi,

    I love the site and have been enjoying learning these patterns. Are you having hosting problems at the moment? The tabs (images) aren’t appearing on this page for me.

    Many thanks,


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