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Guitar Lesson Tips - Right Hand FingerPicking Position And Effect On Guitar Sound

Clawhammer Finger Picking Style - Right Hand Position

Most guitar players know of the style of picking known as claw-hammer, but what does it mean precisely? Basically, the fingerpicking hand is held in the shape of an animal claw and the thumb, together with one or more fingers pick the guitar strings.

This seems very easy, but it's not really as straight forward as you might think. Most acoustic guitar lessons demonstrate just one one technique for playing this very attractive kind of guitar music, but of course there are a lot of variations.

Acoustic Guitar Fingerpicking

Acoustic fingerpicking guitar lessons which concentrate on blues or ragtime should really show several picking positions and techniques. For instance, one basic question is if to wear fingerpicks or not. (When making this choice, we have some other choices to consider, like plastic or steel!)

When a guitar player wants to perform in the real authentic way of the original blues men, then he needs to employ the same fingerpicking patterns. If those techniques were originally with picks, then it's important to wear them if you would like to achieve a similar sound.

Ragtime Blues Guitar Picking

It's true that the differences in the right hand position might be be small, but those small variations make quite a difference to the overall sound. Mississippi John Hurt excelled at a laid back ragtime guitar technique employing two fingers with an alternating bass pattern. His pinky rested on the top of the guitar and seemed stuck to it, which indicates that his fingers were very independent.

Many finger stylists only rest the pinky on the guitar top some of the time, and a few not at all, but just place the heel of the picking hand on the saddle. This position additionally aids in muting the bass strings if required. Acoustic guitar lessons need to teach all possible variations and a variety of blues guitar chords.

More Fingerpicking Guitar Styles

Mississippi John Hurt - Ragtime Blues Guitar Fingerpicking stylist

It's true that all manner of fingerpicking styles can be found out there, but it's the most efficient techniques that bring the results and are therefore used by most people.

For instance, I suspect that Blind Willie Walker, the legendary blues guitar picker who taught Reverend Gary Davis, didn't use his thumb at all, even though his picking was obviously an alternating bass style.

It seems as though he held a plastic plectrum between his finger and thumb, while picking the treble strings with one or more fingers.

This might explain the incredible speed of his single string runs, which were even faster than Davis's. Over the years I've developed quite a lot of speed and technique using alternating bass and finger for single string runs, and I find this speed impossible without using a single picker like a flat picking stylist.

Whatever fingerpicking guitar technique you go for is a matter of choice, and it's going to be personal to you, so choose it wisely and try many styles before settling - it will be with you for long time!