Modern finger style guitar has grown in popularity over recent years. Exciting players like Tommy Emmanuel, Andy McKee, and Antoine Dufour, have generated huge numbers of views on YouTube, and toured incessantly, elevating this style of guitar to the masses.
And if you’re like me, you’ve wondered how to learn this style. It’s a difficult style, because it mixes Country Travis picking, Flamenco percussion, Jazz chords, Folk-ish alternate tunings, and Classical melodicism. It’s incredibly beautiful – and challenging.
I’ve recently reached out to a number of schools and professionals in the Los Angeles area looking for instructors in modern finger style guitar. The result? Zero. There just aren’t many qualified teachers out there available for sit-down lessons. Well, I’m sure they’re out there somewhere, but they’re darned hard to find.
When I listen to acoustic finger style players (like on this podcast), I often hear them say that they’re self-taught. I guess that makes sense. There isn’t much instruction available, and it’s a new, developing genre. I suppose all my own skills in this area are self-taught as well.
And Yet…Things Are Changing
There’s a recent surge of online resources teaching modern finger style guitar. The acoustic guitar has caught up with the internet. By way of video courses, Skype lessons, and tab software, it’s become MUCH, much easier to learn advanced acoustic guitar technique wherever you are. Even at home.
Here’s a list of 5 places you can learn modern finger style guitar online. I’m sure there’s more out there. Please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to keep this page updated and current.
By the way, you’re never too young to start on this style. For students junior high age or younger, try learning this style on a parlor guitar. The smaller size brings the full body of the guitar within easy reach for all that percussive slapping.
Where to Find Lessons
Tommy Emannuel is an incredible player who’s hit mass appeal in the last few years (thanks in part to his TED talk). If you haven’t heard of him, he’s considered one of the best (or the best) acoustic guitarist in the world. He’s certified C.G.P. and rocks a thumb pick like no other.
Tommy Emmanuel offers a number of fingerstyle guitar courses.
So if you’re interested in learning the ways of the Jedi Master (when it comes to fingerstyle guitar, that is), then here’s your ticket:
The JamPlay.com site has a huge number of video courses available, with some fairly big name instructors (Lita Ford, Don Ross, Kaki King). More impressively, they have an entire section dedicated to Fingerstyle guitar lessons (woo hoo!). Go to JamPlay.com, hit the “Lessons” tab at the top of the screen, click “Learn a Style” on the left, and… boom. Finger style guitar lessons. I would recommend checking out the Don Ross series.
Fingerstyle Guitar School with Martin Taylor
Part of the Artist Works online education platform, Martin Taylor has some excellent videos covering acoustic finger style guitar. Taylor has won awards, performed with big names, and notably collaborated with Tommy Emmanuel on an album, “The Colonel and the Governor”. His style definitely leans towards jazz, so get ready to challenge your fingers, ears, and brain.
Adam Rafferty’s “Study With Adam”
Adam Rafferty describes his genre as “funky finger style guitar”. He’s a great player with a nice sense of community around his site and lessons. The best part of his online school is that not only do you get video lessons from him, he also reviews videos of YOUR playing. Send in your video and he’ll give you specific, personal feedback on your playing. I would probably call this a guitar community rather than just a online guitar course because it’s so interactive.
Calum Graham is an incredible, young acoustic player out of Canada. I’ve written a bit about him here. On his site, you can get tab and video instructionals for his songs. I personally did this with his song “Tabula Rasa”, and was really happy with the materials he put together. The video (50min+) was incredibly thorough and helpful. The cool part on this page is that he’s ALSO doing Skype lessons. $70/hour gets you one-on-one modern finger style guitar lessons with this incredible player.