On the piano or key board, it's easy to play melody with back up harmony or chords as a
solo artist. Some keys are more difficult than others but not a lot more difficult. You can
do a song in any key. On the guitar, it's a lot harder. You need to use open strings to get
a full sounding arrangement. Only two or three keys will work for a particular song. The
song "Some Folks Do" works well in the Key of C. The accompaniment and melody are
all in two octaves in first position with open strings. In this lesson, we start with just the
melody and then go through three ways to play it with accompaniment. First we use just
the bass note that is the root of the chord, then we do alternating bass root and fifth and
end with a syncopated version. Each is a bit harder. Study each by itself. When you can
do them all, you will be well on the way to becoming an accomplished finger picker. Listen
to the sound sample above to hear the whole lesson. The song will play once. Click on
the player to activate it and then on play to hear it again. The rest of this page teaches
you how to play the song step by step.
Some Folks Do Finger Picking Lesson
Playing The Melody
In the first part, we are playing the melody all by itself. You could just pick the melody with
the index finger but the best way is to alternate, Index, middle, index, middle through out
the song. That is the way a classical guitar player or advanced finger picking guitar
player would play it. A classical player would use strict alternation throughout but on the
long notes it's sometimes hard to keep track of which finger you used last. Some players
might tend to start over with the index, after a long note. As long as you alternate on the
quarter notes don't worry about it. Also there are many good folk guitarist that only use
the index finger. If you want to do it that way for a while go ahead but alternating is the
best way and you should master it eventually. The song in music and tab is below along
with a midi sound sample. Practice until you can play it smoothly..
Simple Finger Picking
The distinctive sound of this type of melody with bass chord accompaniment is caused by
the way the thumb alternates between the low bass of the chord and the third string. This
first example with backup pattern uses one bass, the root bass, The root bass is the one
that is the same as the chord name. So it's C for the C chord and G for the G7 chord.
The musical notation and tab for the simple finger picking version of "Some Folks Do" is
below. In this style you use basic fingering of the chord as shown in free folk guitar
lesson 1 "Playing Folk Guitar". Not all the notes that you are holding will be played and
some extra notes will be required for melody but as you will learn, working out of the
basic chord is the best way to go. What about the melody notes that are not part of the
basic chord fingering? You have two third fret melody notes, g on the C chord and d on
the G7 chord. Your 3rd finger is used to hold down chord notes, so you have to use your
4th or little finger to play them. You can do this without letting go of any basic chord
notes. The only other non basic chord note that you have to play is the open 1st string e
with the G7 chord in the 7th measure. This is a first example of when you don't hold all
the notes of the basic chord as you have to take your 1st finger off the 1st string f note
to play 1st string open e. The e by the way is the only melody note in the song that is not
a note of the chord it's played over. Even though not part of the basic 1st position
fingering the g and d are notes of the chord they are played over. You have to think of
this song arrangement as a two part arrangement. Your thumb play the accompaniment
part and your 1st and 4th fingers play the melody. Listen to the sound sample below and
practice until you can just like it.
The last example is syncopated picking. It doesn't follow the melody exactly. Many notes
come in on late or early on up beats and other notes from the chord are added. But you
can still hear the melody through all the fancy stuff. We have played the melody so far
either just with the index finger or alternating the index and middle finger. For this
syncopated arrangement, we are adding in the c, 2nd string, 1st fret, on the C chord. On
the G7 chord , we have d, 2nd string, 3rd fret. The best way to play this arrangement is
to have your middle finger play all the 1st string notes and your index finger play all the
2nd string notes. The thumb still plays the basses and the 3rd open string g note. Listen
to the sound sample below. The musical notation and tab is also below. It looks
complicated but if you realize that 1st and 2nd string notes just come in as an upbeat
eight note after the down beat eight note on the lower strings, it's easy. Practice until you
can sound just like the sound sample.
|Finger Picking Folk Guitar
|This arrangement of "Some Folks Do" is a complete lesson in finger style guitar
picking. I start with single melody notes. Then it's simple bass chord followed by
alternating bass chord. Finally I finish with an advanced syncopated style.
Notice how in the syncopated style, melody notes are shifted from down beats
to up beats. I show you how to play this arrangement in this lesson. As full as
this sounds especially in the syncopated style, it is played solo on a classical or
acoustic guitar. This arrangement is in the key of C, in first position and so
uses open strings. The song will play once. To hear it again, click on the player
below to activate it and then on play.
Using The Lessons
People that come to these pages through search engines enter on different pages. I
would recommend that to get the full benefit of these music lessons, especially if you are
a beginner, you visit every page at least once. This is a totally new approach to learning
music. The focus is on "How Music Works". That page that you miss could be the one
that contains the key information, that you need. These pages are full of music tips and
music info that you probably won't find anywhere else.
Guitars For Finger Picking
Many finger picking guitar players use flat top steel string guitars. As steel string guitars
are hard on the fingers, many use finger and thumb picks that fit over the fingers. I
prefer using a nylon string classical guitar with out any finger or thumb picks. I sand the
finger picking nails with an emery stick to be just about even with the flesh so I get some
nail and some flesh when I pick. There are student guitars available with nylon strings.
These are best for beginners. My guitar is pictured below. It is my favorite type of guitar
for the finger picking style, the nylon string acoustic electric. This one is standard
classical, with 12 frets to the body, 19 total frets and the wide classical neck and fret
board. Some are available with slimmer necks, more frets total and 14 frets to the body.
They all feature the cutaway to access more frets and built in transducers and
electronics with volume controls and equalizers.
|Click On The Player Once To Activate
Alternate Bass Finger Picking
The only difference between this and the simple style is that we use alternate bases on
the chords. For a chord the two main bases are the root, the bass that is the name of the
chord, and the 5th. For a C chord that is c and g. For a G chord that is g and d. On the
C, the tonic or I chord, we play c bass and then the g bass. We don't want to play the g
bass twice in a row, so on the G7 chord, we reverse the bases. We play the 5th bass d of
the G7 chord first and then it's root or 1 bass g. Notice in the last measure we don't
alternate the bass on the C chord or play the 3rd string on the last beat. This gives an
end feeling to the song or phrase. The melody is the same as before. Listen to the
sound sample below. The song in this style is below in musical notation and tab. Practice
until you can play it sounding just like the sound sample.
|Click On The Player Once To Activate
|Click On The Player Once To Activate
|In this free folk finger picking folk guitar lesson you learned to play each part of the study
separately. In the free folk guitar study 1, "Finger Picking Study, Some Folks Do" you
learn to put it all together. Click on Finger Picking Guitar Study here or in the navigation
bar to go there.
Putting It Together