Fingerstyle and strumming both are very important forms of technique when it comes to playing guitar. Fingerstyle can create beautiful melodies along with harmony of the song whereas strumming plays the rhythm of the song and support the melody.
In the beginner stage, strumming might seem easier than the fingerstyle technique. But, some advanced strumming techniques might give you hard times. Also, strumming the guitar will be easier, if you want to sing and play guitar at the same time.
The truth is. fingerstyle and strumming both create different music possibilities and you should learn both.
Difference Between Fingerstyle and Strumming
Fingerstyle is such a technique where you pluck the guitar strings with fingertips and fingernails. You can also pluck the strings with a pick too. With this technique you can play the melody notes, the chords that go with the melody, and the deep bassline (or bass notes), all at the same time. Playing percussion on the guitar body is also a part of the finger plucking style. Sometimes, fingerstyle guitar music sounds like a combination of playing multiple instruments.
On the other hand, strumming is a technique where a group of strings is played at the same instant depending on the chord you grab with your fretting hand. You can strum the guitar strings with your finger but usually, it is done using a pick (plectrum). Strumming with the pick produces a sharper, brighter & louder tone. Strumming is mainly used as a supporting role in the melody of a song and also carries the rhythm.
During fingerstyle playing, you need to focus on playing a specific string or a designated set of strings by plucking hand fingers. Also, the fretting hand shifts more often and uses techniques like hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, etc.
But, while you are strumming the guitar you don’t need much precise targeting of the strings. Any groups of strings brushed in upward or downward will consider strumming. However, different songs have different strumming patterns. The fretting hand grabs a specific shape called chord and according to the chord change the shape change.
Which Guitar Is Perfect For Fingerstyle and Which For Strumming?
Nylon string classical guitar is specially designed for fingerstyle music. It has a wider space between the strings that makes it easier for the fingers to pluck the strings with.
Strumming sounds better on steel string acoustic and electric guitar. However, you can play strumming on classical guitar and fingerstyle on steel string acoustic and electric guitar too.
What A Beginner Should Learn Between Fingerstyle and Strumming?
Guitar is a complex instrument for beginners. It takes a lot of willpower and practice to overcome the finger strength and flexibility to grab the guitar strings and become comfortable with the fretting hand. So, it will be better if you start with easier things and build your confidence.
Basic strumming techniques are far easier than fingerstyle playing. Within just 3-4 days of practice, you can learn the basic guitar strumming practices. Once you learn strumming, you can practice singing some beginner-friendly songs with easy guitar chords. This is actually a lot more fun and you will enjoy it for sure.
Why Is Fingerstyle So Hard? Tips on How to Make It Easier
Fingerstyle plays the components of multiple instruments at the same time. You need to always be conscious of which string to play with which plucking hand’s finger and also which note to grab with which fretting hand’s finger. Again, you might need to play multiple strings and also pay attention to hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides too. Also, you need to focus on the percussion depending on the song.
As a result, the whole idea of playing fingerstyle guitar becomes very complex. But, there is always something easy to look up for learning as a beginner. Here are some tips for you-
- Start with simple finger-picking patterns
- Apply the finger plucking patterns with a chord progression
- Get into the groove and flow
- Get used to difficult chord shapes
- Practice slowly to avoid mistakes
- Practice classical music pieces
How Long Does It Take To Learn Fingerstyle Guitar?
How long it takes to learn fingerstyle depends on some factors like your experience with the guitar and how often you practice. If you are an absolute beginner, you can be fluent with the technique within six months of regular practice.
If you are an intermediate guitarist who knows how to play barre chords, with six months of practice you can reach a level where you can apply most of the components of fingerstyle guitar music.
Here, we are sharing a famous classical music piece called “Romanza” (Spanish romance). It sounds really sweet and not so difficult to learn. With the right kind of approach, an absolute beginner can learn this piece within a couple of months.
Credit: Sky Guitar
Can you Learn Fingerstyle by yourself?
Although fingerstyle guitar sounds a bit difficult, you can learn it by yourself. At the same time, you need to agree that learning fingerstyle by yourself won’t be efficient as taking lessons from professionals.
Select a goal to achieve within a certain period of time. You can set yourself as a teacher of your own and reach your goal with regular practice. There are plenty of YouTube videos that will help you learn fingerstyle music. Explore some of them and follow the one you like.
How Hard Strumming Guitar Can Be?
If we’re talking about levels of difficulty, there are several strumming techniques that are more challenging than fingerstyle. A straightforward song with a fairly simple rhythm can’t do justice to all the different strumming patterns.
If you want to hear some badass strumming, you should check out the work of some contemporary artists like Tim Henson from Polyphia or Manuel Gardner Fernandez from Unprocessed.
Whether it is hard to play fingerstyle or strumming the right approach to learning will be whatever you like the most. After all, it’s your willpower that fuels your guitar learning spirit. Once, you learn something to play on guitar from your desire you will feel very happy.
But learning both styles gives you the opportunity to play a wider range of music and become an expert on guitar as well. So, consider both fingerstyle and strumming to become a better guitarist.