Quick Tip: Improve Your Right-Hand Finger Picking Control


In this quick tip today I will teach you three easy steps to improving your right-hand finger picking control for pieces that use arpeggio techniques. But before we begin, it's important to understand the following two terms - Plant and Play.

  • Plant - Planting can be described as the fingers resting on the appropriate strings. No sound.

  • Play - This results in sound. The fingers should play from the knuckle in towards the palm of the hand. The thumb’s movement comes from the large joint.

The following abbreviations will be used for the right-hand fingers:

  • p = thumb
  • i = index finger
  • m = middle finger
  • a = ring finger.

I recommend choosing a basic open chord for practicing you right-hand technique.

Step 1

The thumb and three fingers are planted on individual strings, e.g. p on the 5th, i on the 3rd, m on the 2nd and a on the 1st. The first note from the arpeggio is played, but before the next note is played, the finger replants. Therefore, a note is sounded one at a time and one finger is not in contact with a string at a time.

Step 2

Again, the thumb and three fingers are planted on individual strings. The same technique as Step 1, apart from the fact the fingers do not replant until the player has finished the whole of the arpeggio. Therefore, you will end the arpeggio with no finger contact to any string and a total of four strings (in this case) ringing.

Step 3

A finger is planted on the note at the same time the note before it is played. This will mean that only one finger is planted on a string at one given time.


Now that you have completed the three steps, try playing the strings freely (as you may normally do) with no planting involved.

The next time you attempt these steps, try changing the order of the stings and/or the strings being played. You should quickly start to feel more control over your technique and tone.

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