11 Alternating Bass Fingerstyle Guitar Patterns

By: Nigel Wheeler

In this fingerstyle guitar lesson, you will learn 8 basic fingerpicking patterns that can be used with 6th-string root chords, with three added variations for 5th and 4th-string chord shapes at the end of the lesson for further study.

For the sake of simplicity, you can think of these 6th-string chords being open G or E chord shapes. We’ll use all open strings in the examples, but you can apply this patterns to any 6-string chord shape such as open G, E or Em as you move forward with them in the practice room.

All of the rhythms in these examples have been kept fairly simple, and in 4/4 time. As I’m only going to be looking at straight 8th-notes, we’ll be counting 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & etc. during each example.

If you are new to picking-hand symbols, in the transcription picking fingers are notated as:

 

p = Thumb

i = Index

m = Middle

a = Ring finger

 

In examples 1-8 we can apply a simple rule that only the thumb plays the bottom 3 strings (E, A and D), the index finger plays the G-string, the middle plays the B-string and the ring finger will play the top E-string.

This fingering system will help keep your picking hand consistent as you play each pattern, allowing you to focus on the notes in your fretting hand as you move these patterns to other chords on the fretboard.

You’ll notice from the examples that the thumb is basically playing quarter notes alternating between the bottom E string and the D string.  This is an important technique to get used to, and you could try getting that going first before trying the written examples.

An example of this would be to just play your thumb on the 6th then 4th-strings, alternating back and forth on their own before adding in the upper notes of any example with your other fingers.

This will allow you to add in the more syncopated upper notes of each example much quicker, and hopefully more easily, as compared to just diving into each full example right from the beginning.

Once you have a few of these examples under your fingers you should experiment by mixing them together to create 2 bar phrases, such as combining examples one and two together in your studies.

Examples 9 and 10 are what example 1 would look like once it is moved to the 5th-string root, as obviously you’ll want to play more than just 6th string rooted shapes.

Finally, in example 11 the pattern is moved to the 4th string root.

If you struggle with getting these together you might try working on two beats at a time and piecing it all together slowly. Also working with a metronome and tapping your feet in time is always a good idea as this will help you keep the rhythms steady throughout any example in this lesson.

 

Alternating Bass Fingerstyle 1

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Alternating Bass Fingerstyle Patterns 1

Alternating Bass Fingerstyle 2

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Alternating Bass Fingerstyle Patterns 2

Alternating Bass Fingerstyle 3

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Alternating Bass Fingerstyle Patterns 3

Alternating Bass Fingerstyle 4

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Alternating Bass Fingerstyle Patterns 4

Alternating Bass Fingerstyle 5

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Alternating Bass Fingerstyle Patterns 5

Alternating Bass Fingerstyle 6

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Alternating Bass Fingerstyle Patterns 6

Alternating Bass Fingerstyle 7

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Alternating Bass Fingerstyle Patterns 7

Alternating Bass Fingerstyle 8

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Alternating Bass Fingerstyle Patterns 8

Alternating Bass Fingerstyle 9

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Alternating Bass Fingerstyle Patterns 1a

Alternating Bass Fingerstyle 10

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Alternating Bass Fingerstyle Patterns 1b

Alternating Bass Fingerstyle 11

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Alternating Bass Fingerstyle Patterns 1c

 

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