To accompany songs, fingerstyle is excellent as the finger patterns are played on the chords also used to strum the guitar. This means that for many people who are already able to play chords and strum, fingerstyle is the next step in developing an accompaniment style. Introductions and endings of songs become more interesting to listen to, as a wider range of harmony is available when bass notes are played independently of chords as in inversions for example.A thumb and two fingers.
There are two main approaches to fingerstyle guitar. One uses the thumb and three fingers of the right hand (I’m assuming a right handed player), as in a classical guitar style. The other is where only the thumb and two fingers are used as in folk guitar playing. The advantage of a folk guitar style is that the weak ring finger is omitted. Furthermore, some people find plectrums or picks difficult to use and the direct finger contact with the strings more easy to manage. An example of fingers, strings and pattern.
The right hand fingers in folk guitar playing may be represented by the letters: p = thumb, I = index and m = middle. The six strings are numbered one to six, the highest sound being string one. This is an example of a popular fingerstyle pattern on the D chord: p4, i2, p3 and m1. The strings are played in the order 4, 2, 3, 1, using fingers p, I, p, m, respectively. You will notice that the thumb alternates with a finger and is a main feature of this style.
Hammer ons, pull offs and fills.
There are many opportunities for adding extras when playing fingerstyle guitar such as hammer ons, pull offs and fills which can be easily included in fingerstyle patterns. These extras require a more advanced left hand technique but the result is well worth the effort. Also, bass lines that alternate between two notes or descend in a scale-like manner are other extremely effective methods to use and make the accompaniment sound more professional.
It is perhaps the variety of techniques and resulting sounds that make fingerstyle guitar so interesting to listen to as well as to play. With a little tuition, playing fingerstyle guitar is easily accomplished.