How Long Does It Take to Learn Fingerstyle Guitar?


Fingerstyle guitar is one of those techniques that, when you perform correctly, can result in a superb sound. Music that features fingerstyle guitar sounds can, quite frequently, come across as very appealing and complicated. The only thing required to play fingerstyle guitar is a skilled right hand. Even though the right-hand skill is needed, it is more challenging to master than strumming and chord playing. With that, the question that gets stuck in your mind is, “how long does it take to learn fingerstyle guitar?” let us get the answers!

Even though it takes longer than learning to play the guitar, fingerstyle is not as complex as it seems. It typically takes between three and six months of consistent practice for a beginner to develop the skills necessary to play fingerstyle guitar. Alternatively, if you already know how to play guitar, you must practice your right hand and make it masterful. If you stick to those guidelines, you could learn fingerstyle guitar in as little as a month or two. However, the accuracy of these estimates will be significantly affected by the level of effort that you are willing to put forth.

To understand what the fingerstyle guitar entails, let us look at a few things here. Shall we?

What is a fingerstyle guitar?

The term “fingerstyle guitar” refers to a specific guitar style that does not involve using a pick. This method is also known as the “acoustic fingerstyle guitar method.”

How you apply the technique might vary depending on how experienced you are. When everything is considered, one finger at a time will be responsible for the notes played on a particular string.

The Fingerstyle guitar can be played with:

  • Thumb picks and fingerpicks are attached to the ends of each finger.
  • Thumbs and fingers, with skin on the slightest touch or fingernails.
  • Using both the fingers and thumbs with their picks at the same time.

Is fingerstyle guitar hard to learn?

Learning something new, be it a musical instrument, a language, or anything else, can be challenging at first. Even though fingerstyle guitar isn’t hard to pick up, becoming an expert at it requires a significant investment of both time and effort over a protracted period.

How you approach learning fingerstyle guitar will determine how well you can perform each skill. It is possible that learning on your own with the assistance of a resource will be more difficult for you. That is especially true if you are unsure of what you wish to learn or where you should start your learning journey.

However, you’ll have an easier time if you go that route. That is because you’ll access the foundational pieces you need to harness your technique more effectively. Your right hand will develop muscle memory. It will also become more competent at fingerstyle techniques if you play the guitar often enough and for a long enough period.

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How do I approach the fingerstyle guitar?

The method used to approach the fingerstyle guitar may act as a stepping stone for further understanding the fingerstyle guitar. You should be able to play some simple fingerstyle guitar patterns by the time you finish reading this post.

I won’t bother wasting your time by providing a ton of specifics, but I will outline a strategy that ought to get you off the ground and running. You can use the following approach;

Get your thumb used to the strings.

 It would be the best choice if you used your thumb to play all the bass notes that are part of the chord. It will be easier for you to use your thumb on the strings if you first get used to it on its own. You will then practice quarter notes with a metronome; later on, as you practice.

Below are some notes/tips on how to get your thumbs used to the strings;

  • The recommended tempo for a metronome is sixty beats per minute. It would help if you took it easy at the beginning to get a sense of the music. Doing so will aid in the formation of strong muscle memory.
  • To each click, play the low E string using your thumb. Try “burying the click,” or making the metronome sound like it’s disappearing. That will help you to break up the monotony and keep things interesting. Even at low speeds, it’s not as easy as it seems. Pay close attention to the sensation of the string against your thumb and to your every action.
  • When you feel comfortable with the top string, switch to the Low A string and repeat the same exercises. That will feel unique compared to the highest string. Please make an effort to recall that feeling as it is essential.
  • Repeat the previous step, moving down to the fourth string. Finally, perform the exercise more often while focusing on the D string. Learn to remember the sensation of playing this string too.

Take time to commit the sensations of each string to memory; eventually, your right hand will move automatically as your muscles learn the routine. That means you’ll be able to recall the original experience even if the music is played at a breakneck speed because you’ll have internalized the slow version. Despite your accelerated playing speed, the music will still feel as it did when you first learned it.

Learn how to adapt your fingers to the strings.

Now that you know how the guitar strings feel with your thumb, it’s time to move on to the other fingers. You should separate each finger, just like you did with your thumb. Just do the same exercise you already did.

The only difference is that you should practice with your fingers on the first three guitar strings. Most of the time, your thumb will play the lower strings, and your three fingers will play the higher ones. If you play a chord, your fingers will move to a different set of strings.

Here’s a handy chart showing which fingers go with which strings. You may see some repetition.

Fingers used to playGuitar strings (high E to low E)
Index/ Ring/ MiddleB
Middle/ IndexG
Thumb/ IndexD

Use this as a starting point, but try to stick with it for a while. Once you’ve gotten used to it, you’re free to experiment however you like.

Mind Your Timing and Rhythm.

Learning fingerstyle guitar one finger at a time while keeping time with a metronome will help you become more consistent in your playing. Evaluating your progress will be much less complicated if you are familiar with your previous practice tempo.

Additionally, it is possible to expand your diverse range by becoming familiar with various rhythms. You will have an extensive collection of pattern variations available at any time.

Play the songs that you love.

If the song you’re learning speaks to you, you will likely pick up the guitar and start practicing. If you’re playing songs that don’t excite or entertain you, you won’t be motivated to practice!

The whole point of learning an instrument is to play like our icons so that we can perform our favorite songs by heart. Perhaps you feel like the songs you love are too challenging to learn now. Those songs that are too difficult for you to learn are the ones you should push yourself to learn.

 Learning the fingerstyle guitar will be a fun and exciting experience if you follow all of the advice and suggestions provided.

Is fingerstyle easier than strumming?

Since fingerstyle guitar playing requires greater precision than strumming, it is not a more straightforward technique. To play fingerstyle, you must use your fingers to pluck multiple strings at once, one at a time, without striking the wrong one. Playing strum only requires you to have fingers on 3-6 strings at once.

It would help if you still had pinpoint accuracy when strumming because certain chords require you to avoid strumming certain strings.

Learning fingerstyle guitar, however, still requires more time and practice. Even though I know I’ll get some pushback for this; I find that anything requiring a high degree of precision is inherently more challenging than something requiring sweeping motions with little or no purpose.

What are the benefits of learning fingerstyle guitar?

The fingerstyle guitar technique is a unique technique that comes along with several benefits. These benefits include:

  • Mastering fingerstyle guitar allows you to learn the building blocks of chords.
  • The fingerstyle approach to guitar playing frees you from having to fret over every note and lets you concentrate on picking with precision.
  • The fingerstyle technique helps you train your brain to pay attention to more than one thing at a time, which is especially helpful when playing. You can use that focus to learn other ways and styles of playing.
  • The fingerstyle technique enables you to learn arpeggios and the sounds of particular notes.


Learning the fingerstyle technique can lead to incredible growth in one’s playing ability. Moreover, that will be a piece of cake for you if you are patient, take your time, and focus on mastering each exercise slowly.

Always remember to be patient with your current state as a learner and your progress over time. You will succeed in achieving your objectives if you keep practicing intelligently.

Good luck on your learning journey!

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Sourav Biswas

Music is my life and I love to play guitar so much. It's been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a musical family, and my parents were always supportive of my passion for music. I am also a freelance writer who has been writing for over 10 years. I have written for both online and offline publications, including Amazon and Medium.

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