Folk Fingerstyle Patterns Part 1

In this first lesson, we will learn four basic folk fingerpicking patterns. Two with a String 5 root (based on C Chord) and two with a String 6 root (based on a G Chord).

Make sure you watched the previous videos so you understand the "default finger placement" and make sure you play them real slow and accurate while watching the tabs to make sure you get the note sequence correct. Reminder: Thumb plays all notes on Strings 4,5 and 6. Finger 1 plays String 3. Finger 2 plays String 2 and Finger 3 plays String 1.

TAB Pattern diagrams

Pattern #1 is based on a C Chord. Try to follow along the tab with your eyes as you play. Also, check that your thumb is playing on the beat. It's not a bad thing to count along if you need to.


Pattern #2 also based on a C Chord. Make sure that you know and can clearly see when a note is played on the beat or between the beats.

Pattern #3 is very similar to Pattern #1 but we now have a String 6 root note, so your thumb will move between the String 6 and String 4.

Pattern #4 is based on Pattern #2 but with the String 6 root.


1. Work on each individually, slowly, carefully and with the right rhythm. Only when you can do it without thinking about it should you allow yourself to speed up. If you really struggle, get the bass going first and just add in one note of the fingers at a time. But it's super important to get the notes in the right order.

2. Work on combining Patterns #1 and #2 - do it slowly of course, and might help if you say the name of the pattern as you go. That might seem strange at first but give it a go and see if it works for you. It worked for me!

3. Next start work on combining Patterns #3 and #4, just as you did for the first two. Again, make sure you do these until you don't have to think about it anymore. A good test is to see if you can speak to someone and ask or answer questions while you keep playing.

4. The next stage is to work on changing patterns when the root note changes. So you would change between Pattern #1 and Pattern #3. You may find this a little more tricky, but this is much more like the kind of thing you would find in a real song. Once you are happy with moving from Pattern #1 to Pattern #3 you should move on to combining Pattern #2 and Pattern #4.

5. When you feel ready, a great chord progression to work on is: C G Am F, each chord being played for one or two bars each.

Only when you feel very confident with all of the patterns that we have looked at in this lesson should you move onto the next. Trying to push ahead too early will most likely just lead you to disappointment and frustration because this kind of skill needs to be developed slowly and carefully. So please don't rush. You should find that you can make a lot of music with these simple patterns thus far.

Good luck :)

Folk Fingerstyle