Fingerpicking songs are a great choice for beginner guitarists. They simply use a few basic chords that any beginner can easily pick up. Easy fingerpicking songs also can help a beginner develop skills that they will need throughout their entire guitar-playing career.
In this article, we are looking at the easiest fingerpicking songs on guitar. There are numerous finger style guitars available on the market that will help you to play these songs easily. We’ve stuck to mostly modern songs that we enjoy playing so that you can get the most out of our choices. Once you’ve learned some of the simpler patterns featured here you will find that the songs themselves aren’t that challenging.
The songs we’ve mentioned here use either open chords or a few simple chord shapes. Most of these will also not use a capo unless we tell you otherwise. Each of the songs in the list will have the guitar tab for you to play as well as a link to the song so you can listen and play along. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
1. The White Stripes – We’re Going to Be Friends
You will use your standard guitar tuning for this piece and play at 95 bpm. We’re starting out our list with this one because of its simplicity. There’s only one note played at a time and the chord shapes are easy and open. This is one of the fingerpicking songs that are incredibly easy for beginners.
Every note that you play should ring out clearly. You should also hold your finger down on any note that is fretted until it changes over to open strings or when you change your chord shape.
There are two different ways of going about playing this piece:
- Classic fingerstyle – This method makes use of your thumb which sits on the lower bass strings of E, A and D. Place your index finger on the G string. Then your middle finger will sit on the B string and your ring finger sits comfortably on the high E.
- Thumb and index – Only use your thumb and index finger for this method. You thumb will be playing the low notes and your index finger can be used to play the high ones. This is a style that works particularly well for songs that bounce around from low to high strings a lot.
Our recommendation would be to try out both of these fingerpicking methods when playing this song. As a beginner, the best place to start is with the thumb and index style but it’s completely up to you how you want to go about playing the piece. You can listen to the track here.
2. Plain White T’s – Hey There Delilah
We’ll be using standard tuning again for this easy fingerpicking song and you will need to master it at a 100 bpm tempo. This is another simple song that features a basic pattern which is then repeated throughout the whole song.
We’ve put this song second because it’s every so slightly more difficult than the White Stripes number we mentioned above. If you think the song above was easy and you’ve already mastered it, you should find this offering relatively easy as well.
You will only need to use the thumb and index method here for your easy fingerpicking. It’s unlike other songs where you would use two separate fingers in order to play the two strings together. You can use your thumb to play the bass notes and to strum the higher notes too along with your index finger. Make sure you strum in an upwards direction. You need to think of it as your thumb going down and then your index finger going up.
When you manage to master this fingerpicking guitar track you will pretty much end up with a song that almost exactly matches the original track. You should be practicing the upwards strum of your index finger the most. This should be the only finger hitting the two strings used to play the song.
You may notice an unusual chord in the 3-5 bars. This is a B minor chord. For a beginner, this can be a particularly difficult one to master. This is because you have to press your fingers down in a bit of an awkward way to make sure the chord is played properly. If you’re having difficulties with this acoustic guitar chord then keep practicing the other chords in the song. This will help you build up the right finger strength needed to control what strings are being pressed so that eventually you will be able to play the B minor chord.
Another way you can get the hang of those harder chords a lot faster is by doing finger exercises. There are loads of exercises for fingerstyle songs that you can do which will help you nail your chord shapes as well as improving the dexterity and strength in each of your fingers. Both of these things are amazing skills for any guitarist to have. If you want to listen to the fingerpicking song take a look here.
3. Ed Sheeran – Tenerife Sea
We’re moving on to the more complicated section of our easy fingerpicking songs list with this one. If this is your first outing with fingerpicking songs then we would recommend you try the two songs above before you work on the fingerpicking pattern for this one.
For this Ed Sheeran hit you will need to grab your capo and place it on the fourth fret. You will also be playing this at a 90 bpm tempo. If you don’t have a capo playing any sort of Ed Sheeran song will be extremely difficult. Capos are very handy guitar accessories that can help you play chords that would be difficult without the use of one. It’s an accessory we would recommend to any guitar player of any level to enhance their playing.
There’s a really odd tuning used in this entry into our easy fingerpicking songs for beginners list. It follows an E A D E B E fingerpicking pattern. You may be thinking how on earth is there three E’s in this piece? You will need to take your middle G string and tune it down to E. If you try and play this tune using standard tuning it’s not going to sound like the original piece.
We admit, this is a very odd tuning and it may be offputting to some beginners. However, understanding how different and alternate guitar tunings work can massively increase your acoustic guitar skills. Knowing how tunings work and playing songs in the correct tunings will not only make you sound better but will improve your overall playing as well.
You can play this song using both of the methods we explained to you earlier. It’s best to try out both of these styles and see which one suits your playing the most.
Many guitar players are petrified of a 12/8 time signature and this goes for a large number of musicians as well because it looks confusing and fast. You may also have seen that the bars are split into four parts equally. Listen to the original track and you’ll actually find that this time signature sounds perfectly normal. It’s not any more challenging than a 4/4 time signature, it just looks scary.
Ed Sheeran is a perfect artist to find fingerpicking songs for you to practice. He very much has a fingerstyle feeling to his songs and his style of music is very popular. Another great song from this artist for a strong fingerpicking pattern is Perfect. You can listen to the fingerpicking version of this song here.
4. R.E.M. – Everybody Hurts
We’re going back to a standard tuning for this one with a bpm of 94. It’s a great song that is perfect for beginners because it uses open chords that every newcomer to the guitar needs to nail. If you’re looking for easy fingerpicking songs for beginners then this one will be a great starting point for you.
If you’ve been through all of the fingerpicking patterns we’ve already mentioned above then this fingerpicking pattern should be instantly recognizable. It’s a great song that acts as an example of why fingerpicking guitar songs use 6/8 or 12/8 time signatures.
There’s something about guitarists that means they just love to play their strings in groups made up of three notes. In this fingerpicking pattern we’re looking at playing three notes up and three notes down.
We would recommend that you use your classical fingerpicking method to play this song. This would involve using your thumb to play the lower E, A and D strings. Your index finger will sit on the G string while your middle finger sits on the B string. Finally, place your ring finger on the higher E string. Because the chords are so simple in this piece you can really focus and pay attention to the hand you are using to pick.
Every note you play should be ringing out clearly and also needs to be placed in the same rhythm as the rest of the notes. A great accessory to get here would be a metronome which will help you stick to the proper tempo and rhythm for the song. You will be playing one note for every click of the metronome in this practice session. If you can manage to do this then you will have achieved a steady rhythm throughout the song.
This song is so simple that, if you practice enough, you will be able to play it with your eyes closed. Learning how to do fingerpicking without even having to look at your hand is a skill that you absolutely want to work on and learn to truly impress people and become a great musician. This is because when you move on from fingerpicking songs for beginners to the harder stuff you don’t want to have to keep looking down at your picking hand while you are playing.
If you practice this over and over again with easy fingerpicking songs as well as other songs we have mentioned in this list, eventually you won’t have to look at your fingers to see which string they are on. Listen to the track here.
5. Tracy Chapman – Fast Car
We’ve included this song in our list because it uses chords that stray away from the typical open chord shapes. You will need to grab your capo again for this one and place it on the second fret. You will also be playing at 102 bpm.
If you’ve chosen to play the song using your capo then the tab we have just provided you with works slightly different than standard tablature. Because you’ve got your capo on, the tab we’ve provided for you refers to the fret number that sits above the capo. Confused? Don’t worry. Your capo here is on the second fret. So that would mean that an eight on your tab would be played using the tenth fret of the guitar. Basically, you just add on the number of frets that your capo is on to the numbers on the tab.
We’re going back to the thumb and index method for these fingerpicking patterns. You can use your thumb to play all of the lower notes and then the rest of your fingers to focus on the higher notes of the song. A great tip for this track is to use your pinky finger as well. Let it rest against the body of the guitar. This helps to anchor our entire hand in the correct place so it won’t move around as much, helping you play a lot more easily.
Take a look at the different chords that appear in the second bar of the song. This is a great exercise in finger placement. Think about those chords carefully. Which fingers would you normally use to play them? There’s no right or wrong in this scenario. Try to figure out which option best suits you and which one is most comfortable. The more comfortable you are, the better your playing will be.
For many guitarists, you would usually find that the first and third fingers are the correct choice for your finger placement in these chords. This is because those two fingers can easily make the chord shapes featured in the second bar and throughout the song. It also makes it a lot easier to slide back and forth between the chord shapes, especially those in the second bar.
The rhythm is probably one of the most important parts of this song and it’s something you really need to get right to sound good. Once you have got the basics down such as patterns and different chord shapes, make sure to listen to the original track. This will help you get the right feel for how the rhythm is played throughout the song. You can even try to play along with the song if you’re feeling confident in your skills. Listen to the track here.
We’re giving you something completely different a lot more traditional with this one. This song is actually Spanish and you can definitely feel the influence throughout the piece.
For this one you will need to set your guitar to standard tuning. The piece meant to be played on a classical guitar. However, you can still make it sound good by using an electric guitar or an acoustic with steel strings. If you enjoy the overall feel of this song and you enjoy being able to play it there are many similar Spanish songs that use the fingerpicking technique.
Once again we’re looking at the thumb and index finger playing style in this song. Unlike the songs we’ve mentioned above, every note in this Spanish classic has to be played with your thumb apart from the highest E string.
To master this song you will have to take your index finger and place it on that high E string. Now you will need to move your thumb around the strings to be able to play the other notes featured in the song. It’s very easy to be tempted to keep using your index finger, particularly for the G and B strings because it feels a bit awkward for a beginner. However, this is the way that you have to play the Spanish style of music when fingerpicking.
To play the last chord in the piece you can roll your thumb across each string and the chord will ring out. On a classical guitar the guitarist would use their nail to scrape the strings so it gives it more of a flamenco sound.
We’ve included this song in our list of easy fingerpicking songs because it shows how this technique can be used across many different genres of music. Styles like country, blues and even rock use fingerpicking in a different way, so it’s a great skill for any guitarist to pick up. Listen to the song here.
We hope you enjoyed our list and remember to leave your comments below of your favorite fingerpicking songs. Happy strumming!