When working out fingerpicking patterns on the guitar, we often explore common right-hand groupings over our favourite chord shapes, and then take them to chord progressions and songs from there.
While working fingerpicking patterns over chord shapes can be effective for developing hand coordination and growing your musical vocabulary, you can also explore open string fingerpicking patterns in order to bring new textures and sounds to your guitar playing.
In this lesson you’ll learn how to play five commonly used open string fingerpicking patterns that you can add to your practice routine, as well as bring into your songwriting and performance application as well.
Open String Fingerpicking Patterns 1
The first pattern that we’ll explore alternates the outer and inner two notes of a chord with an open G string.
You can see this pattern applied to an open C chord in the first bar of the example below, followed by a short chord progression using the pattern over each chord in the phrase.
Try this pattern over the given chords, and then move it around to other chords you know in order to expand upon it in your practice routine.
As well, go slow and try to get the open strings to have the same tone and timbre as the fretted notes so that they blend together seamlessly in your playing.
Open String Fingerpicking Patterns 2
The next pattern features an ascending arpeggiated chord that alternates with the open E-string.
When playing a pattern such as this, where you alternate between chord tones and an upper open string, that open string is often referred to as a pedal tone.
Pedal tones can be on top or on the bottom of the chord, so here we are using an upper pedal tone to bring the open E-string into each chord in the progression.
Try moving other chords you know over the open E-string to apply this upper pedal to other shapes around the fretboard in your playing.
Open String Fingerpicking Patterns 3
In the third pattern you will learn a harp-like arpeggio that used the open A and open E strings, with each paired up with fretted notes throughout the progression.
When alternating two-note groups like this, you can produce a sound that emulates a harp in your playing, and therefore it can be a welcomed addition to slower songs when you want to bring that legato, harp-like quality to your fingerpicking.
Open String Fingerpicking Patterns 4
Here, you will alternate octave notes, the root of each chord in the progression, with an open G string in order to outline the underlying chord changes while playing open strings at the same time.
To expand upon this idea further, you can run up the C major scale on the 5th and 2nd strings in octaves while inserting the open G-string between each octave pairing.
This will allow you to get that “Blackbird” like quality to your playing as it emulates the sound produced in the classic Beatles tune.
Open String Fingerpicking Patterns 5
The final pattern alternates the Root and 5th of each chord with three open E-strings in a four-note pattern, which produces a classical-guitar type sound in your fingerpicking applications.
This pattern is fairly easy to start playing, but it can be tough to get to a faster tempo, and so make sure you work this, and every, pattern with a metronome to make sure you are playing each note evenly and accurately in your practice routine.
Now that you have checked out these five patterns, try applying them to common chord progressions, as well as writing out variations of your own as you take these ideas further in the practise room.
Do you have a question about these Open String Fingerpicking Patterns? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.