tommy emmanuel
, ,

Best 10 Fingerstyle Guitars for Fingerpicking [2024]

Welcome, Thrillseekers, to the fascinating world of fingerstyle guitar!

Picture this: It was an ordinary day at work, the clock was ticking slower than usual and the monotony was unbearable. Out of sheer boredom, I decided to take a “quick” dive into the endless sea of YouTube videos.

Little did I know, this seemingly mundane day was about to take an exciting turn.

My random clicks led me to a series of videos featuring the legendary Tommy Emmanuel. As I watched him effortlessly weave intricate melodies with his fingers, I was absolutely blown away.

The way he made the guitar sing, dance, and even talk was nothing short of mesmerizing. It was like he was speaking a language that the guitar understood and responded to. A language I’d never heard before, despite playing for 10 years.

It was a performance that transcended the boundaries of music and touched the soul.

That day, I fell down the YouTube rabbit hole and emerged with a newfound passion – fingerstyle guitar. It was a moment of revelation, a moment that marked the beginning of an incredible journey. And now, I invite you to join me on this journey, to explore the captivating world of fingerstyle guitar and unlock its endless possibilities. So, buckle up and get ready to embark on an adventure that promises to be as thrilling as it is enlightening.

This is my comprehensive guide on the best 10 fingerstyle guitars for fingerpicking in 2024. Fingerstyle guitar, also known as fingerpicking, is a unique and intricate method of playing the guitar where individual fingers of the picking hand pluck the strings directly. This technique allows for a high level of control and versatility, enabling guitarists to create complex and melodic arrangements that are often difficult to achieve with a traditional pick.

Unlike other styles of guitar playing, such as strumming with a pick or using a flatpicking technique, fingerstyle guitar involves using all five fingers of the picking hand. This approach offers a greater dynamic range and the ability to play multiple melodic lines simultaneously, including bass lines, harmony, and melody. The result is a rich and multi-dimensional sound that can range from delicate and nuanced to powerful and resonant.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or an aspiring guitarist, selecting the right instrument is crucial for mastering fingerstyle guitar. The choice of guitar can significantly impact your playing experience, tone, and overall sound. In this article, we will explore the top 10 fingerstyle guitars available in 2024, highlighting their features, benefits, and what makes them ideal for fingerpicking. From renowned brands like Taylor and Martin to affordable options that offer great value, we have curated a list that caters to various skill levels and budgets.

Join us as we delve into the world of fingerstyle guitars, providing you with the insights and information needed to make an informed decision. Whether you’re looking for a smaller-bodied guitar for easy playability or a high-quality guitar with a solid spruce top for great tone, this guide aims to help you find the perfect match for your fingerstyle journey.

What is Fingerstyle Guitar

Fingerstyle guitar, often referred to as fingerpicking, is a distinctive method of playing the guitar where the strings are plucked directly with the fingertips, fingernails, or picks attached to the fingers. This technique contrasts with the more common approach of using a plectrum (pick) to strum or pluck the strings. Fingerstyle guitar allows for a high degree of control and versatility, enabling guitarists to produce intricate and richly textured music.

In fingerstyle playing, each finger of the picking hand typically has a designated role:

  • Thumb: Often used for plucking the bass strings (E, A, and D), providing rhythm and foundational bass lines.
  • Index Finger: Generally assigned to the G string, contributing to the melody and harmony.
  • Middle Finger: Commonly used to pluck the B string, adding to the melodic and harmonic content.
  • Ring Finger: Typically responsible for the high E string, further enriching the melody.
  • Pinky Finger: Occasionally used by advanced players to add additional notes, although its use is less common.

This allocation of fingers allows guitarists to play multiple lines of music simultaneously, such as a bass line, harmony, and melody, creating a full and complex sound. The ability to control individual strings with each finger facilitates dynamic expression and intricate musical arrangements, making fingerstyle guitar a favorite among solo performers and acoustic musicians.

One of the key advantages of fingerstyle playing is the increased control and versatility it offers. Guitarists can easily switch between plucking single notes and strumming chords, adjusting the dynamics and tone with precision. This makes fingerstyle guitar well-suited for a wide range of musical genres, including classical, folk, blues, jazz, and modern acoustic styles.

Moreover, fingerstyle guitarists often employ various techniques to enhance their playing, such as:

  • Thumb Over: Wrapping the thumb around the neck to fret bass notes, allowing for greater flexibility in chord shapes.
  • Travis Picking: A repetitive pattern named after Merle Travis, involving alternating bass notes with the thumb while the fingers play melody and harmony.
  • Harmonics: Lightly touching the string at specific points to produce bell-like tones.
  • Percussive Elements: Using the guitar body for rhythmic tapping and slapping to add a percussive dimension to the music.

In summary, fingerstyle guitar is a highly expressive and versatile playing style that allows for intricate musical arrangements and dynamic control. By using individual fingers to pluck the strings, guitarists can achieve a rich and multi-layered sound that sets this technique apart from other guitar playing methods. Whether you’re drawn to the melodic complexity of classical pieces or the rhythmic drive of folk and blues, fingerstyle guitar offers a rewarding and captivating musical experience.

Notable Fingerstyle Guitar Players

Fingerstyle guitar has been shaped and elevated by numerous talented guitarists over the years. Among them, a few stand out for their significant contributions and unique styles. Let’s explore the legacies of Chet Atkins, Tommy Emmanuel, and other influential fingerstyle players.

Chet Atkins: A Pioneer of Fingerstyle Guitar

Chet Atkins is often regarded as a pioneer in the world of fingerstyle guitar. His innovative techniques and musical prowess earned him the title of ‘Mr. Guitar.’ Atkins’ style, often referred to as the ‘Atkins Style,’ incorporates a blend of country, jazz, and pop influences. His ability to play bass lines, chords, and melodies simultaneously set a new standard for guitarists.

Atkins was instrumental in popularizing fingerstyle guitar and has inspired countless musicians. His contributions to the genre are vast and include:

  • Innovative Techniques: Atkins developed a unique approach to fingerpicking that involved using the thumb to play bass lines while the fingers handled melody and harmony.
  • Genre-Blending: His ability to seamlessly blend different musical genres helped broaden the appeal of fingerstyle guitar.
  • Influence: Atkins’ influence extends beyond his own recordings; he mentored and collaborated with numerous artists, thus shaping the sound of modern guitar music.

For those looking to delve deeper into his work, Chet Atkins remains a cornerstone in the study of fingerstyle guitar.

Tommy Emmanuel: Master of Fingerpicking

Tommy Emmanuel is widely celebrated for his exceptional fingerpicking skills and dynamic performances. An Australian-born guitarist, Emmanuel has captivated audiences worldwide with his virtuosic technique and engaging stage presence. He is known for his ability to create a full band sound on a single guitar, often incorporating percussive elements into his playing.

Some key aspects of Emmanuel’s style include:

  • Technical Prowess: Emmanuel’s command over the guitar is unparalleled, showcasing intricate fingerpicking patterns and lightning-fast runs.
  • Emotional Expression: His performances are not just about technical skill; Emmanuel infuses his music with deep emotional expression, making each piece resonate with listeners.
  • Showmanship: Known for his energetic and charismatic performances, Emmanuel engages his audience through both his music and his personality.

For aspiring fingerstyle guitarists, studying Tommy Emmanuel’s techniques and performances can provide invaluable insights into the art of fingerpicking. More information on his musical journey can be found on his official website.

Other Influential Fingerstyle Guitar Players

While Chet Atkins and Tommy Emmanuel are among the most celebrated, several other guitarists have made significant contributions to the fingerstyle genre. Here are a few notable mentions:

  • James Taylor: Known for his soothing voice and intricate fingerpicking patterns, Taylor has left a lasting impact on folk music. His use of alternate tunings and fingerstyle techniques has inspired many.
  • Leo Kottke: A master of 12-string guitar, Kottke’s fingerpicking style combines elements of blues, folk, and jazz. His unique approach and use of complex rhythms have garnered him a dedicated following.
  • Andy McKee: A modern fingerstyle guitarist, McKee gained fame through viral videos showcasing his percussive fingerstyle technique. His compositions often involve tapping, slapping, and harmonics, pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved on an acoustic guitar.

These artists, among others, have each contributed their own unique styles and techniques to the world of fingerstyle guitar, enriching the genre and inspiring generations of guitarists.

Best Fingerpicking Guitars on the Market

Choosing the right acoustic guitar is crucial for any fingerstyle guitarist. The best fingerpicking guitars are designed to provide the clarity, responsiveness, and comfort needed for intricate fingerstyle playing. Below, we explore some of the top brands and models that are highly regarded in the fingerstyle community.

Introduction to Acoustic Guitars for Fingerpicking

Acoustic guitars are a popular choice for fingerstyle players due to their natural sound and dynamic range. The smaller body and wider string spacing found in many acoustic guitars make them particularly well-suited for fingerpicking. Key features to look for in a good fingerstyle guitar include a comfortable body shape, a responsive top, and a neck that allows for easy access to higher frets.

Popular Guitar Brands for Fingerpicking Models

Several guitar brands are renowned for producing models that excel in fingerstyle playing. Here are a few standout brands:

  • Taylor Guitars: Known for their bright, clear tone and excellent playability, Taylor guitars are a favorite among fingerstyle guitarists. Models like the Taylor Big Baby and the Taylor 514ce are particularly popular.
  • Martin Guitars: Offering a rich, warm sound, Martin guitars are another top pick for fingerstyle players. The Martin D-28 and the Little Martin are excellent choices for their resonance and build quality.
  • Yamaha: Known for their reliability and affordability, Yamaha’s FG and FS series offer great value for fingerstyle players. The Yamaha FG800 and Yamaha FS850 are notable models.

Specific Models and Their Features

Let’s delve into some specific guitar models that are highly regarded for fingerstyle playing:

ModelFeaturesPrice Range
Taylor Big BabySmall body size, solid Sitka spruce top, and excellent clarity$$
Martin D-28Larger dreadnought body, Indian rosewood back and sides, and rich, warm tone$$$$
Yamaha FG800Solid spruce top, great value, and balanced tone$
Gretsch G9500 Jim DandySmaller body, vintage style, and affordable price$
Taylor 514ceGrand concert body, solid cedar top, and expressive tone$$$

Taylor Big Baby

taylor bbt walnut

The Taylor Big Baby Acoustic Guitar is a renowned instrument that has gained significant popularity among musicians worldwide, particularly those who favor fingerstyle playing. This article aims to shed light on the reasons behind its preference among fingerstyle players.

The Taylor Big Baby acoustic guitar is a 15/16-scale dreadnought. Despite its slightly smaller size, it delivers a full, rich and vibrant sound that is often associated with larger guitars. This makes it an ideal choice for fingerstyle players who require a guitar that can produce a wide range of tones.

Why is it preferred by many fingerstyle players?

  • Sound Quality: The Taylor Big Baby acoustic guitar is known for its exceptional sound quality. It produces a clear, balanced tone with excellent resonance, making it ideal for fingerstyle playing.
  • Playability: This guitar features a slim neck and a comfortable body shape, making it easy to play for extended periods. The action is also set low, which is a preferred setup for many fingerstyle players as it allows for easier fretting and smoother transitions between notes.
  • Quality Construction: Taylor Guitars is known for its high-quality craftsmanship, and the Big Baby is no exception. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and layered sapele back and sides, ensuring durability and longevity.
  • Value for Money: Despite its high-quality features, the Taylor Big Baby is reasonably priced, making it a great value for money. This makes it an attractive option for both beginner and professional fingerstyle players.

In conclusion, the Taylor Big Baby acoustic guitar offers a combination of excellent sound quality, easy playability, high-quality construction, and great value for money, making it a preferred choice among many fingerstyle players.

The Martin D-28 Acoustic Guitar: A Favorite Among Fingerstyle Players

martin d 28

The Martin D-28 acoustic guitar is a legendary instrument that has been favored by fingerstyle players for decades. But what exactly makes it so popular among this particular group of musicians? The answer lies in its unique design features, exceptional sound quality, and the rich history that surrounds this iconic instrument.

Design Features

The Martin D-28 is renowned for its exceptional design features that make it ideal for fingerstyle playing. It features a dreadnought body shape, which is larger and deeper than most other acoustic guitar shapes. This design provides a rich, full sound that is perfect for the intricate picking patterns of fingerstyle playing. Additionally, the guitar’s wide neck and flat fingerboard allow for greater string spacing, making it easier for players to pluck individual strings with precision.

Sound Quality

Another reason why the Martin D-28 is favored by fingerstyle players is its outstanding sound quality. The guitar is known for its balanced tone, with a perfect blend of deep bass, warm midrange, and bright treble frequencies. This balanced sound profile makes it ideal for fingerstyle playing, as it allows for each note to be heard clearly, regardless of where it is played on the fretboard.

Rich History

The Martin D-28 also carries a rich history that adds to its appeal. Since its introduction in the 1930s, it has been used by many legendary musicians, including Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and Paul McCartney. This legacy of great musicians has cemented the D-28’s reputation as a top choice for fingerstyle players.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Martin D-28 acoustic guitar is a favorite among fingerstyle players due to its unique design features, exceptional sound quality, and rich history. Whether you’re a seasoned fingerstyle player or just starting out, the D-28 is a guitar worth considering.

Yamaha FG800 Acoustic Guitar

yamaha fg 800 body

The Yamaha FG800 Acoustic Guitar is a renowned instrument in the music industry, widely recognized for its superior quality, exceptional sound, and affordability. It has earned a reputation as a preferred choice among fingerstyle players. But what exactly makes it so favored? Let’s delve into the specifics.

Quality and Durability

One of the key reasons why the Yamaha FG800 is favored by fingerstyle players is its high-quality construction. The top is made from solid Sitka spruce, a wood known for its strength and durability. This ensures that the guitar can withstand the rigors of regular use and still maintain its excellent sound quality.

Sound and Tone

The Yamaha FG800 is renowned for its rich, resonant sound and clear, balanced tone. This is particularly important for fingerstyle players, who rely on the guitar’s sound quality to bring out the nuances of their playing. The FG800’s sound is warm and full, with a strong low end and clear, ringing highs, making it ideal for fingerstyle playing.

Playability

Another factor that makes the Yamaha FG800 a favorite among fingerstyle players is its playability. The guitar’s neck is slim and comfortable, making it easy to navigate the fretboard. This is particularly beneficial for fingerstyle players, who often use intricate finger patterns and require a guitar that is easy to play.

Affordability

Despite its high-quality construction and superior sound, the Yamaha FG800 is surprisingly affordable. This makes it accessible to a wide range of players, from beginners to professionals, and contributes to its popularity among fingerstyle players.

In conclusion, the Yamaha FG800 acoustic guitar offers a combination of quality, sound, playability, and affordability that makes it a favored choice among fingerstyle players. Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn fingerstyle guitar or a professional seeking a reliable instrument, the Yamaha FG800 is a worthy consideration.

Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Acoustic Guitar: A Favorite Among Fingerstyle Players

gretsch g9500 jim dandy

The Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy is a remarkable acoustic guitar that has won the hearts of many fingerstyle players around the world. This guitar is renowned for its exceptional sound quality, playability, and affordability, making it a popular choice among both amateur and professional musicians.

Exceptional Sound Quality

One of the main reasons why fingerstyle players love the Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy is its exceptional sound quality. This guitar is designed to produce a rich, full-bodied sound that is perfect for fingerstyle playing. The guitar’s solid top, made of agathis, contributes to its warm tone and excellent resonance, making every note sound clear and distinct.

Superior Playability

Another reason why the Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy is a favorite among fingerstyle players is its superior playability. The guitar’s neck is comfortable to hold and easy to play, making it ideal for fingerstyle techniques. The frets are well-spaced and the action is low, reducing finger fatigue and making it easier to play complex fingerstyle patterns.

Affordability

The Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy is also highly affordable, making it accessible to a wide range of players. Despite its low price, this guitar does not compromise on quality or performance, offering excellent value for money.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy is a fantastic acoustic guitar for fingerstyle players. Its exceptional sound quality, superior playability, and affordability make it a popular choice among musicians. Whether you are a beginner looking to learn fingerstyle techniques or a professional musician seeking a reliable and high-performing guitar, the Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy is a great option to consider.

The Taylor 514ce Acoustic Guitar: A Favorite Among Fingerstyle Players

taylor 514ce

In the realm of acoustic guitars, the Taylor 514ce stands out as a preferred choice among fingerstyle players. This guitar, renowned for its impeccable sound quality and playability, has a unique appeal that makes it a favorite for many musicians. But why is this particular model so loved by fingerstyle players? Let’s delve into the details.

Exceptional Sound Quality

One of the main reasons fingerstyle players gravitate towards the Taylor 514ce is its exceptional sound quality. The guitar is crafted with a combination of tropical mahogany for the body and Western Red cedar for the top, a pairing that produces a warm, rich tone with a strong midrange focus. This makes it perfect for fingerstyle playing, where the nuances of the sound are crucial.

Superior Playability

Another factor that makes the Taylor 514ce a favorite among fingerstyle players is its superior playability. The guitar features a comfortable neck profile and a Venetian cutaway that allows easy access to the upper frets. This, combined with Taylor’s renowned playability, makes it a joy to play for hours on end.

Quality Craftsmanship

The Taylor 514ce is not just about sound and playability; it’s also about craftsmanship. Each guitar is meticulously crafted to ensure it not only sounds great but also looks stunning. The aesthetic appeal of the Taylor 514ce, with its elegant inlays and high-quality finish, adds to its overall charm.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Taylor 514ce acoustic guitar is a favorite among fingerstyle players due to its exceptional sound quality, superior playability, and quality craftsmanship. Its warm, rich tone, comfortable neck profile, and stunning aesthetics make it a joy to play and a feast for the eyes. Whether you’re a professional musician or an amateur, the Taylor 514ce is a guitar worth considering if you’re into fingerstyle playing.

Each of these models brings something unique to the table, making them excellent choices for fingerstyle guitarists. Your selection will ultimately depend on your personal preference, playing style, and budget.

For more detailed reviews and information on these models, you can visit their respective official websites or trusted guitar review sites.

Must-Know Fingerstyle Guitar Songs

Mastering fingerstyle guitar requires dedication and practice, and one of the best ways to improve is by learning popular fingerstyle songs. These songs not only enhance your skills but also expose you to different techniques and styles within the genre. Below, we have compiled a list of must-know fingerstyle guitar songs that cater to a variety of genres and difficulty levels.

amz ad cntnt accoustic

Popular Fingerstyle Guitar Songs

  • “Blackbird” by The Beatles: A classic song that is perfect for beginners. It features a simple yet beautiful fingerpicking pattern that is easy to learn.
  • “Classical Gas” by Mason Williams: This instrumental piece is a great choice for intermediate players. It combines classical and folk music elements, showcasing the versatility of fingerstyle playing.
  • “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman: Known for its iconic fingerpicking intro, this song is a staple in the fingerstyle repertoire. It offers a good balance of challenge and accessibility for players of all levels.
  • “Canon in D” by Johann Pachelbel (arr. JerryC): A beautiful classical piece that has been adapted for fingerstyle guitar. It is more challenging and suitable for advanced players.
  • “Windy and Warm” by Chet Atkins: A song that showcases the technical prowess of Chet Atkins. It is a must-learn for those looking to delve deeper into fingerstyle blues and country music.
  • “Angelina” by Tommy Emmanuel: This song by the fingerstyle virtuoso Tommy Emmanuel is both complex and rewarding. It requires precise fingerpicking and dynamic control, making it ideal for advanced players.
  • “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton: A soulful ballad that features a gentle fingerpicking pattern. It is great for intermediate players looking to add emotional depth to their playing.
  • “Drifting” by Andy McKee: A modern fingerstyle masterpiece that incorporates percussive techniques. It is challenging but offers a unique and impressive sound for advanced players.
  • “Freight Train” by Elizabeth Cotten: A folk music classic that is both simple and enjoyable to play. It is perfect for beginners looking to get a feel for fingerstyle guitar.
  • “Neon” by John Mayer: A contemporary song that features intricate fingerpicking and slap techniques. It is suitable for intermediate to advanced players.

Significance of These Songs in the Fingerstyle Community

Each of these songs holds a special place in the fingerstyle guitar community. For instance, “Blackbird” by The Beatles is often one of the first songs that beginners learn, thanks to its relatively simple pattern and beautiful melody. On the other hand, “Angelina” by Tommy Emmanuel showcases the complexity and expressive potential of fingerstyle playing, making it a favorite among advanced players.

Moreover, songs like “Windy and Warm” by Chet Atkins and “Drifting” by Andy McKee introduce players to different styles and techniques, from fingerstyle blues to modern percussive fingerstyle. These songs not only enhance technical skills but also inspire creativity and musical expression.

By learning these essential fingerstyle guitar songs, aspiring players can build a solid foundation and gain a deeper appreciation for the artistry and versatility of fingerstyle guitar.

Conclusion

In this article, we have delved deep into the world of fingerstyle guitar, exploring its unique playing style and how it differs from other methods of guitar playing. We discussed notable fingerstyle players such as Chet Atkins and Tommy Emmanuel, who have significantly contributed to the genre with their innovative techniques and musical mastery. Additionally, we reviewed some of the best fingerstyle guitars on the market, highlighting models that offer excellent playability and tonal quality for fingerpicking enthusiasts.

Fingerstyle guitar is a captivating and versatile playing style that offers a rich array of tones and textures. Unlike traditional strumming, fingerstyle allows you to pluck individual strings with your fingers, providing greater control and expressiveness. This versatility makes it an ideal technique for various music genres, from classical and folk to contemporary and jazz.

Whether you are a beginner or an advanced player, exploring fingerstyle guitar can be a rewarding musical journey. However, it requires practice and dedication to master. Here are a few tips to help you on your path:

  • Start Slow: Begin with simple songs and gradually increase the complexity as you become more comfortable with fingerpicking techniques.
  • Practice Regularly: Consistent practice is key to developing muscle memory and improving your fingerstyle skills.
  • Experiment with Different Guitars: Try out different body shapes, sizes, and types of guitars to find the one that best suits your playing style and personal preference.
  • Learn from the Masters: Study the works of renowned fingerstyle guitarists like Chet Atkins, Tommy Emmanuel, and others to gain insights and inspiration.

Remember, the journey to mastering fingerstyle guitar is a marathon, not a sprint. With patience, practice, and a love for music, you can unlock the full potential of fingerstyle guitar playing. We encourage you to explore this unique playing style and discover the joy and satisfaction it brings.

For more information on the best fingerpicking guitars and techniques, be sure to check out our other articles and resources. Happy playing!

Spread the love

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Author

mike mater

Owner / Operator / Guitar Nut

Mike Mater

Welcome to my corner of the web. My name’s Mike and I’m avid guitar junkie.

I’ve been playing guitar for over 20 years, since I got my first acoustic from the local music store. Times have changed, but my love of the instrument hasn’t.

I’ve played solo, in bands and for an audience of enraptured dogs & cats.