Warm Up Exercise

Meditative Fingerpicking Exercise, Key of E

Lesson #370

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

Hey friends! Quick lesson today, where I return to the topic of “meditative fingerpicking” – by which I simply mean, getting yourself into a nice groove while playing fingerstyle. One that you might get lost in, settle into, and otherwise zone out while playing – but all in a good way.

In this video I’ll be in the Key of E, and show you 3 different sequences – each of which uses only a few chords, and has a few melody notes. And with these building blocks, I’ll show you how you might create your own fingerstyle patterns (to fit your skill level) and play within the chord progression & melody line I write out in the tabs. Whether you’re brand new to fingerstyle guitar, or quite an expert – the 3 sequences I share will be something you can use to practice, play, and explore.

And or course, I’ve made a 4-page PDF to accompany my video, showing you the tabs for each sequence – as well as showing some examples on how you might create & make up your own fingerstyle patterns.

If you want to jump ahead to a specific part of my video, here’s a list of timestamps:

Meditative Fingerstyle, Key of D

Lesson #258 (view my lesson notes)

Traditional Fingerstyle vs. Travis Picking

Lesson #302 (view my lesson notes)

The song that partially inspired this lesson

Twelve Volt Man by Jimmy Buffett was my original inspiration for this lesson. While I eventually did change the key, modify the progression, and tweak the melody a bit – I still recommend giving this song a listen! You may notice some of the similarities between it and parts of my lesson.

Album version of this song:

Jimmy explaining this song:

Adding custom fingerpicking patterns to any chord

If you’re at all interested in playing fingerstyle guitar, an essential skill is being able to freely create your own fingerpicking patterns. Any pattern you come up with can be applied to any chord. This can open up the possibilities of your playing, whether you’re practicing or creating your own composition.

The core idea is to come up with a pattern of which strings you pluck, in which order. For example, here’s a few different patterns (I demonstrate these in my video lesson):

                  Pattern 1:       Pattern 2:       Pattern 3:       Pattern 4:
e ––x––           e ––––––––x––    e ––––––x––––    e ––––––––x––    e ––––––x–––––x–––––––
B ––x––           B ––––––x––––    B ––––––x––––    B ––––x––––––    B ––––––x–––––x–––––––
G ––x––           G ––––x––––––    G ––––x–––x––    G ––––––x––––    G ––––x–––––x–––––x–––
D ––x––           D ––x––––––––    D ––x––––––––    D ––x––––––––    D ––x–––––x–––––––––––
A –––––           A –––––––––––    A –––––––––––    A –––––––––––    A ––––––––––––––––––––
E –––––           E –––––––––––    E –––––––––––    E –––––––––––    E ––––––––––––––––––––

If you applied these to the E-major chord xx2100 (from thickest to thinnest string), you’d get these tabs:

                  Pattern 1:       Pattern 2:       Pattern 3:       Pattern 4:
e ––0––           e ––––––––0––    e ––––––0––––    e ––––––––0––    e ––––––0–––––0–––––––
B ––0––           B ––––––0––––    B ––––––0––––    B ––––0––––––    B ––––––0–––––0–––––––
G ––1––           G ––––1––––––    G ––––1–––1––    G ––––––1––––    G ––––1–––––1–––––1–––
D ––2––           D ––2––––––––    D ––2––––––––    D ––2––––––––    D ––2–––––2–––––––––––
A –––––           A –––––––––––    A –––––––––––    A –––––––––––    A ––––––––––––––––––––
E –––––           E –––––––––––    E –––––––––––    E –––––––––––    E ––––––––––––––––––––

You could take these same patterns, and apply them to any other chord! The only caveat, is generally you’ll want to make sure the thickest-stringed note in any chord, is played with your right thumb. For example, looking at an A-major chord x0222x (on the middle 4 strings only):

                  Pattern 1:       Pattern 2:       Pattern 3:       Pattern 4:
e –––––           e –––––––––––    e –––––––––––    e –––––––––––    e ––––––––––––––––––––
B ––2––           B ––––––––2––    B ––––––2––––    B ––––––––2––    B ––––––2–––––2–––––––
G ––2––           G ––––––2––––    G ––––––2––––    G ––––2––––––    G ––––––2–––––2–––––––
D ––2––           D ––––2––––––    D ––––2–––2––    D ––––––2––––    D ––––2–––––2–––––2–––
A ––0––           A ––0––––––––    A ––0––––––––    A ––0––––––––    A ––0–––––0–––––––––––
E –––––           E –––––––––––    E –––––––––––    E –––––––––––    E ––––––––––––––––––––

Tab, with timing – showing isolated melody notes

See my PDF for additional tabs, highlights, and finger position notes.

Sequence 1

e ||–0–––––––2––––––––4–––––––2–––––––|––0–––––––2––––––––4–––––––2–––––––|–
B ||–0––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––0––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
G ||–1––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––2––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
D ||–2––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––2––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
A ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––0––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
E ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
     E                                   A
     1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +    1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

Sequence 2

e ||–2–––––––0––––––––2–––––––4–––––––|––2–––––––0––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
B ||–0––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––0––––––––––––––––2–––––––––––––––|–
G ||–1––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––1––––––––––––––––2–––––––––––––––|–
D ||–2––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––2––––––––––––––––2–––––––––––––––|–
A ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––0–––––––––––––––|–
E ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
     E                                   E                A
     1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +    1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

e –|–2–––––––0––––––––2–––––––4–––––––|––2–––––––0––––––––4–––––––––––––––|–
B –|–0––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––0––––––––––––––––5–––––––––––––––|–
G –|–1––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––1––––––––––––––––6–––––––––––––––|–
D –|–2––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––2––––––––––––––––x–––––––––––––––|–
A –|––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––0–––––––––––––––|–
E –|––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
     E                                   E                Amaj7
     1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +    1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

Sequence 3

e –|–4––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––4––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
B –|–5–––––––5––––––––2–––––––0–––––––|––5–––––––5––––––––2–––––––0–––––––|–
G –|–6––––––––––––––––2–––––––––––––––|––6––––––––––––––––2–––––––––––––––|–
D –|–x––––––––––––––––1–––––––––––––––|––x––––––––––––––––1–––––––––––––––|–
A –|–0––––––––––––––––2–––––––––––––––|––0––––––––––––––––2–––––––––––––––|–
E –|––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
     Amaj7            B7                 Amaj7            B7
     1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +    1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

e –|–4––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––0––
B –|–5–––––––5––––––––0–––––––––––––––|––0––
G –|–6––––––––––––––––2–––––––––––––––|––1––
D –|–x––––––––––––––––1–––––––––––––––|––2––
A –|–0––––––––––––––––2–––––––––––––––|–––––
E –|––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––
     Amaj7            B7                 E
     1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +    1

Tab, with timing – showing full strums

Sequence 1

e ||–0–––––––2––––––––4–––––––2–––––––|––0–––––––2––––––––4–––––––2–––––––|–
B ||–0–––––––0––––––––0–––––––0–––––––|––0–––––––0––––––––0–––––––0–––––––|–
G ||–1–––––––1––––––––1–––––––1–––––––|––2–––––––2––––––––2–––––––2–––––––|–
D ||–2–––––––2––––––––2–––––––2–––––––|–(2)–––––(2)––––––(2)–––––(2)––––––|–
A ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––0–––––––0––––––––0–––––––0–––––––|–
E ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
     E                                   A
     1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +    1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

Sequence 2

e ||–2–––––––0––––––––2–––––––4–––––––|––2–––––––0––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
B ||–0–––––––0––––––––0–––––––0–––––––|––0–––––––0––––––––2–––––––––––––––|–
G ||–1–––––––1––––––––1–––––––1–––––––|––1–––––––1––––––––2–––––––––––––––|–
D ||–2–––––––2––––––––2–––––––2–––––––|––2–––––––2––––––––2–––––––––––––––|–
A ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––0–––––––––––––––|–
E ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
     E                                   E                A
     1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +    1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

e –|–2–––––––0––––––––2–––––––4–––––––|––2–––––––0––––––––4–––––––––––––––|–
B –|–0–––––––0––––––––0–––––––0–––––––|––0–––––––0––––––––5–––––––––––––––|–
G –|–1–––––––1––––––––1–––––––1–––––––|––1–––––––1––––––––6–––––––––––––––|–
D –|–2–––––––2––––––––2–––––––2–––––––|––2–––––––2––––––––x–––––––––––––––|–
A –|––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––0–––––––––––––––|–
E –|––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
     E                                   E                Amaj7
     1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +    1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

Sequence 3

e –|–4––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––4––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
B –|–5–––––––5––––––––2–––––––0–––––––|––5–––––––5––––––––2–––––––0–––––––|–
G –|–6–––––––6–––6––––2–––––––2–––––––|––6–––––––6–––6––––2–––––––2–––––––|–
D –|–x–––––––x–––x––––1–––––––1–––––––|––x–––––––x–––x––––1–––––––1–––––––|–
A –|–0–––––––0–––0––––2–––––––2–––––––|––0–––––––0–––0––––2–––––––2–––––––|–
E –|––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
     Amaj7            B7                 Amaj7            B7
     1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +    1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

e –|–4––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––0––
B –|–5–––––––5––––––––0–––––––––––––––|––0––
G –|–6–––––––6–––6––––2–––––––––––––––|––1––
D –|–x–––––––x–––x––––1–––––––––––––––|––2––
A –|–0–––––––0–––0––––2–––––––––––––––|–––––
E –|––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––
     Amaj7            B7                 E
     1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +    1

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