North Miami Beginner Guitar Teacher |How to play guitar finger style vs pick

Hey there, this is Dyce Kimura, a North Miami beginner guitar teacher. Today I’m going over some guitar techniques. Some of these are going to be beginner techniques and some of them are going to get more advanced. We are talking about acoustic finger style playing today. I want to go over a few concepts. I want to talk about the using a capo. Also finger style and using your thumb and your fingers to pluck, moving bass lines and giving a richer complex chord sequence that almost tells a story. I’ll give you an example. I’m going to be talking about like …

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All right, that’s just a little snippet from Free Fallin’. As some of you may know that’s a Tom Petty song, but John Mayer covered it. I’m probably going to be referencing more to the John Mayer version, because what I want to talk about is isolating those moving bass lines. Basically as a North Miami beginner guitar teacher, when I am teaching you chords, you are putting these chords together and you can just strum them like this for instance.

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That’s good. It’s bold, it’s big sounding, a lot of information coming at you, it’s rhythmical. If you want to have more of an intimate soul sound.

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When I am playing, you notice that independent bass line. Before I get into finger style playing and how to play that, I just want to clarify, I run into a lot of beginners seeking a North Miami beginner guitar teacher that want to play with their fingers, but they are not playing finger style. What they are doing is they are strumming like this …

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They are just holding their finger nail as if it were a pick and playing. That’s a huge mistake to make if that’s what you are doing, because there’s a definitely glass ceiling, there’s a limit to how good you can get with that technique. That’s not a full on guitar technique. That’s just strumming with your finger nail.

You are going to eventually find that you don’t have a level of precision and attack. You can’t do a more complex delivery when you are strumming with the flesh of your finger tip, because it’s just soft and mushy. It will eventually get painful. There’s only so much you can do with that. If you are going to do finger style, you want to go all the way. I’m going talk about and compare today a few examples of styles I have learned as a North Miami beginner guitar teacher.


Basically, the song that I’m using, I’m teaching you this song in this video at the same time. This is John Mayer’s version of Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’ that I’m using. This is not necessarily a tutorial of how to play that song. This is more of just using that as a reference point. I figured Free Falling is a very famous song. Everybody knows it and it’s using a few of the key concepts that I want to discuss with you today, namely, the moving bass lines, the finger style picking and the use of a capo than acoustic guitar.

For me to play this particular song, I have the capo set to the fourth fret. Using a capo is an invaluable tool as a North Miami beginner guitar teacher.  Incase you are wondering this guy, this is a capo. I’m using a Planet Waves capo. I have a link at the bottom of this video if you want to get this capo. It’s a really good capo. I like the fact that it has a spring with screws. It means it’s fully adjustable in terms of it’s grip.

The reason you want an adjustable capo as opposed to a non-adjustable capo that just grabs your guitar like a lobster with the same amount of intensity every time versus an adjustable capo where you can actually change the tension and the squeeze of your guitar, the reality is, every guitar neck is different. Some guitar necks are fat. Some guitar necks are skinny. Some guitar necks are wide. Some guitar necks have a big radius. Some guitar necks are skinnier towards the top of the neck and then towards the base they get fatter. Depending on where you put the capo, you are going to want to change the tension and the grip.  If you need help with setting up your capo make sure to ask your North Miami beginner guitar teacher.

You want to get get your grip perfect. You don’t want the capo to be too rolled tight, to be too tense, because then you over squeeze the string and it’s going to actually knock you out of tune. You don’t want it to be too loose or else it’s just going to buzz and plink. It’s not going to actually resonate. You are not going to get the vibration from the string to go deeply into the fret. It’s just going to die into the rubber part of the capo, because it didn’t push it hard enough.

North Miami Beginner Guitar TeacherAlso speaking of tuning, I just want to address the fact that … This is something that a lot of North Miami beginner guitar teachers don’t do is, when you set a capo, you definitely want to tune again. If you were in tune without the capo, you want to re tune your guitar with a capo to be perfectly in tune. For tuning I’m using a Snark tuner. I’ll put a link at the bottom of this video if you want to get one.

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The thing I like about the Snarks by the way is they have a switch also on the back, which is right here. You see a little switch. You can say it’s a vibe which allows you to do silent tuning on stage. It’s actually more accurate. Instead of using a microphone to calibrate the sound that it’s hearing, it’s picking up the vibration from the wood of your guitar which is a lot more accurate. You can tune in a noisy crowded room. You can tune silently, you don’t need sound, which is great for the stage.

A lot of performers nowadays are just getting up there with a capo and one of these Snark tuners. The Snarks are really good. By the way it’s a very responsive sensitive tuner. I’ll do a review on that later. For now let’s get back to our topic at hand. We are talking about finger style playing.

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Notice my right hand is grabbing. I have my thumb and then my fingertips. I’m going to play a D chord. This is how I play a D chord.

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I think this is the most traditional conventional way, like this.

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I used to play like this, with the bar and the first finger.

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But now we’ve been playing this.

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With the second and the forth and I have the first finger free.

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With the thumb, I wrap it around for the root.

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With that in itself maybe an over concept for some of you out there.

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You see the depth in that D chord, because I have the low octave or the major third, which in this case with the capo on the fourth fret, it’s going to be an A sharp.

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I have that deep resonating …

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So it’s …

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Notice how I’m playing the bass. I’m squeezing. Look at my right hand with the thumb and the first, second and third finger. I’m going to put the thumb on the sixth string and put the first finger on the fourth, third and the second string. You can just pull. Push into themselves like …I teach all these techniques as a North Miami beginner guitar teacher.

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You just pluck with the fleshy part of your finger here. Some people will grow their nails out and play with their nails. I can’t do nail finger style anymore, because I have a split nail in my second finger. I saw a couple of doctors about it. They said there’s nothing you can do, it just grows that way. I have to keep it short. It’s a bummer, but it’s nice when you are playing Brazilian Jazz to have a nail.  You have to stay on top of Brazilian jazz as a North Miami beginner guitar teacher.

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You can hear that movement. Again, what I’m doing is copying with thumb. Back to the song Free Fallin’. I’m going to grab the thumb.

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Then I have the middle and the high. I have the lows

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The middles

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And the high

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That’s it.

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Do you hear how I’m separating or differentiating in my delivery the low, the middle and the high. That’s usually the most complicated thing that a beginner can’t understand about finger style picking is, finger style is requiring you to start thinking independently. I emphasize this as a North Miami beginner guitar teacher.  You are not hitting the strings at one moment with one attack like a pick. You are actually hitting it multiple times within the same measure, within the same chord and you are starting to more like tell a story.

Sometimes I say fingerstyle guitar playing is like playing a game of poker. It’s like seven-card stud. You are only showing the cards that you want to show. It’s the same way, I’m only playing the notes that I want to give you at the moment. I’m not giving you that low bass line. I may not be giving you the high notes that pop at the exact moment of the one beat. I’m deliberate, I’m careful in revealing my hand and careful in revealing the notes.  These are trade secrets of a North Miami beginner guitar teacher.

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John Mayer really brings that out in Free Fallin’. If we listen to the live at the Nokia Theater version.

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That’s just John.

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That’s on guitar.

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At that point around the 15 second mark, the second guitar came in, but you heard that bass line with the high notes.

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Actually, it sounds like he’s on a different fret hole.

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Okay, here’s in the key of F.

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That’s going to be here … My bad, he is on the third fret.

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By the way, you may also be wondering why bother using a capo? The capo, it works like the bar, the nut. Here is the nut. If I have a D chord, let me see that this is the chord I’m using in the song.

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All right, we end on the A. Let’s say I play an A chord like this …

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I’m playing open strings five, four, three, two.

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Instead of playing A with one finger, let’s say I play with three fingers.

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It’s the same as that chord.

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Actually I do with a third finger with the bar.

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You see where this nut, this white thing or in my case it’s yellow. The yellow nut here on the zero fret acts also as something that’s holding down this fish string, it’s …

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Plus there’s these three …

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Plus the nut.

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This relationship, I can move it.

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You see what I’m doing? I’m using a bar chord. I’m here.

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Now, if I want to play like this chord …

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Instead of doing all this work to bar, I can get something like a capo and it just pushes the bar for me.

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That’s one chord or I can bar it.

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Same exact tones, same exact pitch, but it’s a lot less work. That’s why you use a capo. Hopefully that makes sense. I’ll do a much more in-depth video about capo usage and why in the future. That’s enough for now. Back to the basics of playing with finger style playing.

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I’m doing this grab motion here, but sometimes I grab all the strings. Sometimes I’ll just grab some of the strings.

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If I pluck it once at a time.

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That’s called an arpeggio.

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Really pay attention to my thumb. Every time I my thumb moves, the bass is moving. I want you to hear that.  Also if you enjoyed this blog, please check out my previous blog of how to change vacuum tubes.