Can You Play Electric Guitar Fingerstyle?


Whether beginner or professional, you always want to feel connected to your guitar when playing. However, a common misconception that has revolved over the years is whether fingerpicking is only limited to acoustic guitars. Well, that is not true, but can you play electric guitar fingerstyle?

You can finger-play your electric guitar. However, the skill is highly technical and could take time to master completely. But learning the skill through an electric guitar could be much easier than using an acoustic guitar. Firstly, electric guitars have lighter strings which make fingerpicking easier. Besides, the string tensions are lower than in acoustic guitars, which increases the comfortability factor.

However, the technique when finger styling an electric guitar is much like that of acoustic guitar; you must use your thumb when playing the bass and use the middle fingers on other strings (G, B, and E strings). When using this style to play, you should use your middle fingers for the upstroke and the thumb for down-strokes and never use the nails.

If you want to know the best electric guitars for fingerpicking, then you’re in the right place. You’ll get every detail of importance and expand your knowledge concerning fingerpicking when playing your guitar.

Which Are the Best Electric Guitars for Fingerpicking?

Like in other music fields, there is no right answer to this question. The best electric guitar for fingerstyle is the one that truly suits your desires, genre, and style. If you want the right experience, find a versatile guitar in variations of pickups, volume pots, and tones. Below are famous musicians’ best and most popular electric guitars played fingerstyle.

Fingerpicking an Electric Guitar

Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster guitar is among the best electric guitars of all time, and you can play fingerstyle. The layout of the single-coil pickups, together with the setup of the dual-tone knob, makes an exceptional tonal range. This feature is primarily handy when playing the sound of your guitar fingerstyle. Some great players who used their Strats in fingerstyle include John Mayer and Mark Knopfler. 

Product Specs

  • Body type: Solid
  • Shape: Center block
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Body Material: Ash
  • Number of Strings: 9
  • Number of Frets: 21-24
  • Warranty: 2 years

Gibson SG

Although some electric guitars are known for their hard rock, Gibson SG guitars are incredible to play fingerstyle. They can offer a high tone when played fingerstyle. The strings are soft and low-tension, allowing it to play while seated comfortably—also, the strings create a clean picking breeze.

Product Specs

  • Body type: Solid
  • Neck Material: Maple/mahogany
  • Body Material: Mahogany
  • Number of Strings: 6
  • Number of Frets: 22
  • Warranty: 2 years

Gretsch Streamliner

Gretsch Streamliner guitar is also the best choice to play fingerstyle. The pickups have low outputs making the bass and mid at bay. This feature is useful for ensuring note separation and provides high sound clarity while picking.

Product Specs

  • Body type: Hollow/ Acoustic
  • Shape: Center Block
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Body Material: Maple
  • Number of Strings: 6
  • Number of Frets: 22
  • Warranty: 1 Year

Fender Telecaster

Most players who love playing fingerstyle would recommend this type of electric guitar to you. The Fender Telecaster is more popular due to its twangy sound production caused by the bridge pickups. This makes the tone produced while fingerpicking incredibly unique.

Product Specs

  • Body type: Solid
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Body Material: Ash/Pine/Poplar
  • Number of Strings: 6
  • Number of Frets: 24
  • Warranty: 2 years

Why Should You Play Your Electric Guitar Fingerstyle?

Fingerstyle is more enjoyable and could make you more connected to your guitar. If you love playing with picks, whenever you use your fingers, you can explore and unlock new techniques which are more creative.

You could be thinking of different techniques to play your guitar; this could be possible to achieve and increase your musical experience. Whenever you use your fingers to play the electric guitar, you’ll reach every key on the neck of your guitar. For example, you’ll find it very easy to play strings that are not adjacent or those that are arpeggios.

By using your fingers (not nails), you could play multiple strings at the same time. Also, whenever you need to play multiple notes and make them ring at once, it’s only possible when you use your fingers. Besides, your thumb will make bass play more comfortable for you.

Another thing that makes electric guitars more comfortable to play around with is the low tension of their strings. Because of this feature, it is easier when pluck the strings using your fingers.

What’s the Difference in Tone Between Using a Pick and Fingerpicking?

 It may be common to use both skills when playing your electric guitar, but some differences exist in the tone and sound produced when you play with your fingers and when you use a pick.

Playing Electric Guitar Using a Pick

Whenever you use a pick to play your electric guitar, you’re more likely to get an aggressive sound whenever you strum the strings. The sharpness of the sound could be typically helpful when playing some song chords. Also, there are more chances of getting high-string attacks when you use a pick. The reason for high sound is that you’re striking the strings rather than picking them with your fingers.

While fingerstyle is a plucking technique using your fingers’ flesh instead of the nails, you’re more likely to get a rich tone when playing using your fingers. Plus, you’ll get a softer and warmer tone using your fingers. Most of the styles that require sweeter sound include blues and folks.

Which Are the Popular Fingerstyle Songs Recorded Through an Electric Guitar?

Some popular songs played by famous musicians were recorded while finger-playing electric guitars. They include

Heart of Life by John Mayer

This famous musician used a Fender Stratocaster to play Heart of Life. They were playing the song mainly using the middle position strings. Also, they made the tone halfway to make it more enjoyable. However, they achieved the other tones through clean plays of Fender Super Reverb.

Sultan of Swings by Mark Knopfler

Dire Straits ‘Mark Knopfler,’ a famous musician, recorded Sultans of Swing by playing fingerstyle an electric guitar, the Fender Stratocaster. You can use the guitar to play the chorus because it offers an incredible zoom multi-FX pedal.

Midnight in Harlem by Tedeschi Trucks Band

The band members of Tedeschi Trucks are masters of playing electric guitar fingerstyle. They play Gibson SG with a glass slide of Jim Dunlop through a Fender Princeton.


It is possible playing an electric guitar fingerstyle. The electric guitars’ low tension and lighter strings make the playing experience easier using fingers. Besides, it requires high technical skills to learn and master the techniques. However, using an electric guitar to learn and master could be an easy task for you.

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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