If you’ve ever watched a skilled guitarist effortlessly plucking and strumming the strings of their acoustic guitar, you may have wondered if those same fingerstyle techniques can be applied to an electric guitar. The answer is a resounding yes! Fingerstyle on an electric guitar can add depth, complexity, and a unique sound to your playing. 

Here, we’ll explore the fundamentals of fingerstyle technique on electric guitar, including hand positioning, fingerpicking patterns, and exercises to help you develop your skills. Whether you’re a beginner looking to expand your playing repertoire or an experienced guitarist looking for new techniques to incorporate into your style, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and tools you need. So grab your electric guitar, and let’s dive in!

fingerstyle on electric guitar

Can I Play Fingerstyle On The Electric Guitar?

To learn fingerstyle guitar, you have to learn to play without a pick and depend on the skill of your plucking hand to use the guitar’s strings fully. A pick is what most guitar players, especially those who like to play electric guitars, use when they play. 

This gives a tone that is more powerful, crisp, and tight than playing with your fingers. A lot of people who play the acoustic guitar like to use their fingers. In many cases, the tone and methods that this gives are better for the instrument.

But some guitar players want to try new ways to play. This makes a lot of electric guitar players wonder if fingerstyle skills can be used on the electric guitar or only on the acoustic guitar.

Electric guitars can indeed be used for fingerstyle. While fingerstyle playing styles can only be used on certain types of guitars, they can sound great when done right on an electric guitar.

Many famous musicians play electric guitars in the fingerstyle style. These guitar players are more flexible than other guitarists because they use these techniques. They also create a unique tone that can’t be made with any other methods.

Many people believe that playing an electric guitar with your fingers is the best way to do it because it lets you use the instrument’s full potential and play in ways that using a pick or other techniques doesn’t.

If you play the electric guitar, you should learn fingerstyle techniques and add them to your list of music skills. Fingerstyle will help you a lot as you learn to play the electric guitar.

Is It Easy To Play Fingerstyle On The Electric Guitar?

It is crucial to note that fingerpicking is a highly technical skill that takes time to perfect. However, if you opt to learn this method on an electric guitar rather than an acoustic, you may find it more manageable.

For starters, the lighter string gauge is gentler on the fingers than the traditional heavier acoustic strings, and because you’ll be using your fingers as picks, this will be much more comfortable. Second, electric guitars have lower string tension than acoustic guitars, which increases comfort.

Fingerstyle on an electric guitar uses the same method as acoustic guitar, with the thumb on the bass (E, A, and D strings), and indices, middle fingers, and rings on high E, G, and B strings. When playing this method, your thumb plays downstrokes, and your fingers pluck upstrokes.

Do I Need Any Special Picks To Fingerpick With An Electric Guitar?

No, you don’t need any unique picks to play fingerstyle. Let your fingernails grow out a bit if you want to play fingerstyle a lot and not use picks.  A lot of fingerstyle artists do this to make their sound more straightforward. You don’t have to, but keep in mind that playing with the soft pads of your fingers will make the sound quieter, and you might have to play harder to amp it up. 

You could also buy a set of fingerpicks that you can put over your thumb and index finger. People who want to play with extreme clarity that they can’t get with their fingers alone will love these.

There is one significant benefit to playing without picks, though: you have more power. You can feel the strings better when you play with your bare fingers. This makes it easier to change the volume and attack, which lets you switch between warm and soft sounds or bright plucking sounds. 

This is especially important when using light gauges like those on electric guitars, since.09-gauge strings make small moves stand out a lot more than others. 12-gauge strings, making mistakes easy to see.

What Does Electric Guitar Fingerstyle Sound Like?

One of the main reasons why some guitar players believe fingerstyle techniques are only for acoustic guitars is that they sound so good on acoustic guitars, but how does fingerstyle sound on an electric guitar? Is it worth learning?

Fingerstyle playing can sound fantastic on an electric guitar. 

Learning this ability takes more time and effort than learning to play with a pick, and it does take some practice to generate a beautiful tone when playing with your fingers. Still, with the proper effort, fingerstyle can sound absolutely fantastic on this instrument.

Playing with fingers produces a more mellow and less sharp sound than playing with a pick, but the guitarist has far greater dynamic control over the strings themselves. This means that playing fingerstyle on an electric guitar helps the player to get more feel, tone, and diversity out of the instrument than using a plectrum.

Using various fingerstyle playing techniques allows the guitarist to create sounds that are bright or mellow, harsh or gentle, heavy or quiet, nuanced or intense, and taking the time to master the instrument allows electric guitarists to develop a distinct tone.

Plucking the strings from beneath makes them sound crisp and snappy, but strumming down on the strings with a fingertip gives a soft tone. Play aggressively, and the guitar will sound louder; play softly, and the guitar will sound sweeter. Playing fingerstyle on an electric guitar gives you significantly more control and alternatives.

All of this means that fingerstyle on electric guitar has the potential to sound significantly better than any other playing approach or method, provided the guitarist is willing to devote the necessary time, energy, practice, and effort to perfecting fingerstyle on the instrument.

Is Fingerstyle Easier on Electric Guitar?

is fingerstyle easier on electric guitar

The guitar is hard to play on its own since it is such a versatile instrument with numerous techniques and strategies to master. It is tough to make the guitar sound good, and the variety and numerous ways further add to the complexity of this instrument. Fingerstyle is one of the most challenging guitar methods to master, and it is significantly more complex than simply learning to play with a pick.

Some guitar players believe that learning to play fingerstyle methods on the electric guitar makes the process easier than teaching these skills on the acoustic guitar and that those who learn these techniques on the electric guitar have an edge over those who do not.

There is some truth to this assertion, mainly because electric guitar strings are often lighter gauge than acoustic guitar strings, making them less thick and more accessible to play.

However, fingerstyle playing techniques originated with guitarists who played classical instruments. The classical guitar is the original fingerstyle guitar, and it is much easier to play fingerstyle than other guitars.

The electric guitar makes learning fingerstyle simpler because the strings are lighter. Still, aside from that, there is no actual advantage or difference between learning these methods on the electric guitar and the acoustic guitar.

In fact, some guitarists find learning fingerstyle on an electric guitar more difficult because most electric guitars have narrow string spacing than acoustic guitars, making playing with this approach much more difficult for guitarists with larger hands or longer fingers.

Adjusting Your Fingering Techniques for Electric Guitars

When switching from fingerstyle to electric guitar, you must alter your fingering techniques. An electric guitar often has a more petite body and thinner strings than an acoustic guitar, so it requires less finger pressure to make music.

Use The Correct Finger Pressure

The first thing to consider when altering your fingering technique is the pressure you put on the strings.

Electric guitar strings respond considerably better to light finger pressure.

Excessive force will cause the strings to buzz or sound harsh, reducing the overall quality of the music.

To obtain a clean tone, lighten your fretting touch and take a more delicate approach to picking and strumming. Even experienced musicians who switch to electric guitar frequently struggle with this shift at first. However, with practice, this talent will become second nature, allowing you to adjust tone across various guitar kinds.

Adapting to the Electric Guitar Neck

The neck of an electric guitar is usually thinner and shorter than that of an acoustic guitar. This can improve the playing experience by allowing for faster finger movements, making complex fingerstyle techniques easier to complete.

However, the lower neck dimensions can result in a packed string configuration, causing adjacent strings to be struck unintentionally.

As a result, it’s a fantastic idea to improve your picking precision, ensuring that you’re striking the appropriate strings at the right time and with the correct pressure.

Finger Positioning

Using the proper finger locations on an electric guitar is also essential for developing excellent fingerstyle playing. Electric guitars are meant to make it simpler to do intricate finger movements like bends, slides, and hammer-ons, which are an essential part of fingerstyle playing.

However, if your finger locations are not optimal, these strategies may produce undesired noise or off-notes. The keys to achieving proper finger positioning include aligning the tips of your fingers just behind the intended frets and eliminating extra stress in your hand and fingers. While these changes may be complex at first, they will ultimately benefit your fingerstyle skills on an electric guitar.

Advantages of Fingerstyle on Electric Guitars

The first significant benefit of learning fingerstyle on an electric guitar is that it lets you use a wide range of tones. Because this is an electronic instrument, musicians can change the sound in ways that they can’t do with an acoustic guitar.

Also, electric guitars are easier on the fingers because their strings are softer, which can make learning to fingerpick a lot easier. The electric guitar is also much easier to move around and play easily because it has a thin neck and a small body.

Accessories make it easy to change the boosted sound of an electric guitar, giving you more control over the volume and tone. Because of this, electric guitars make it easier to change volume and sound effects, and they also let guitarists be very artistic with their fingerstyle playing.

Anyone who plays the guitar can try playing different types of music, from jazz to heavy metal, because the electric guitar can be played fingerstyle.

Disadvantages of Fingerstyle on Electric Guitars

On the other hand, there are some terrible things about learning fingerstyle on an electric guitar. One big problem with starting with electric guitars is that you need extra gear like amplifiers and wires, which can make learning harder for people who are just starting. Also, electric guitars cost more than acoustic guitars.

The cost can go up because of the instrument itself and any other gear that is needed. On the other hand, electric guitars don’t have the natural vibration that acoustic guitars do, which could make the sound very different for fingerstyle players. This means the musician might get acoustic feedback later when they fingerpick like they would when they pluck the strings of an acoustic guitar.

Finally, the skinny strings on electric guitars make it easier to play, so you don’t build as much power and technique as you would with heavier acoustic strings.

Fingerstyle guitar on an electric guitar is a choice that each student makes based on their musical tastes, income, and learning goals.

How does the Design of an Electric Guitar affect fingerstyle Playing?

Playing fingerstyle guitar on an electric model can be a very different experience than playing acoustic, owing to the differences in design characteristics between the two types of guitars.

Let’s look at how the Design of an electric guitar influences your fingerstyle playing.

The String Gauge

Electric guitars often have lighter string gauges than acoustic guitars. Lighter strings are more accessible to press down and pluck, so they’re great for intricate fingerstyle patterns.

The disadvantage is that they frequently generate a less resonant sound than their heavier counterparts, which some players find less pleasant. Medium-gauge strings could be a good compromise, providing a combination of playability and tone depth. 

This emphasizes the fact that using a lower string gauge can make sophisticated fingerstyle techniques easier to manage, even if it comes at the expense of sound resonance. Thus, depending on the player’s preferences, the string gauge can be an essential consideration when selecting an electric guitar for fingerstyle playing.

The Neck Width and Shape

An electric guitar’s neck is typically narrower and flatter than an acoustic guitar’s.

This Design allows for faster and more complicated finger movements, which is essential when playing fingerstyle.

However, people with larger hands may find a narrow neck restrictive and uncomfortable. As a result, selecting the appropriate neck form and width is highly subjective and differs from player to player. Again, this component of Design has an impact on the fingerstyle technique, emphasizing the significance of personal comfort and playability.

The essential takeaway here is to carefully assess the electric guitar’s neck width and shape to ensure that it suits your hand size and the complexity of the fingerstyle techniques you intend to perform.

Fretboard Material

The fretboard material of an electric guitar can undoubtedly affect your fingerstyle playing experience. Most frequently, they are made of maple or rosewood, both of which have distinct properties.

Maple has a brighter, snappier tone and is generally smoother, making sliding movements easier. Rosewood produces a richer, more resonant tone and is chosen by musicians who use more fingerpicking.

It’s crucial to experiment with both to determine which material and sound you like. To reiterate, the tone and feel given by the fretboard material have a considerable impact on your fingerstyle playing.

As a result, careful consideration of these qualities, as well as other design elements, can help you achieve the tone and comfort you seek when playing fingerstyle on an electric guitar.

Fingerstyle on Acoustic vs. Electric Guitars

When discussing fingerstyle guitar, one vital factor to consider is how the type of guitar (acoustic or electric) affects your playing.

Naturally, the electrical components of an electric guitar provide unique qualities that set it apart from its acoustic counterpart.

Tone and Sound

Both electric and acoustic guitars have very different tones and sounds. Electric guitars sound better because they have electronics built in so that they can make a broader range of tones, from warm and smooth to sharp and cutting.

Acoustic guitars, on the other hand, sound more natural and raw. They are often called more earthy and resonant.

If you want to play fingerstyle on an electric guitar, you might need help to be able to use the same methods that work well on an acoustic guitar.

Electric guitars have a lot of different tones, which lets you try out different sounds when you play fingerstyle.

Being able to change the tone and sound can be very freeing and exciting, as it makes you want to try new things and be creative with your fingerstyle playing.

It can be harder to control the tone and volume of an electric guitar during fingerstyle play, though, because the electronics are more complicated. This is especially true for beginners.

String Tension and Action

String tension and action (the distance between the strings and the fretboard) are essential factors that determine fingerstyle. Electric guitars have softer strings and lower action, making it easier to press and fret the notes – and thus more suitable for fingerstyle playing.

Acoustic guitars, on the other hand, typically have heavier and thicker strings with higher action, requiring more strength and precision, which may make some fingerstyle methods more challenging to master.

While both types can be used for fingerstyle, your preferences, and comfort level may influence your decision, the exact fingerstyle methods you want to master, and the musical genres you’re interested in.

Thus, the reduced string tension and action of electric guitars may be especially advantageous for novices learning fingerstyle, as it helps alleviate some of the first challenges and helps them become more comfortable with the delicate finger movements required in this playing style.

However, if these skills are learned, playing fingerstyle on an acoustic guitar may be a satisfying experience since it requires and develops more strength and precision in your fingers.

Overall Feel and Comfort

The overall feel and comfort of playing can vary significantly between acoustic and electric guitars, depending not only on string tension but also on the size and shape of the guitar itself.

Electric guitars are typically sleeker and lighter than acoustics, with narrower necks. This may make them more suitable for fingerstyle playing, especially for people with smaller hands or a penchant for lighter instruments.

However, the larger size and weight of acoustic guitars can create a more substantial, vintage feel that some players may like, albeit at the expense of more energy and effort during extended fingerstyle playing sessions.

When selecting the best guitar for fingerstyle, it’s critical to consider your physical comfort and how the instrument feels in your hands since these factors can have a significant impact on your enjoyment of playing and your ability to communicate your creative thoughts.

Remember that no single sort of guitar is necessarily ‘better’ for fingerstyle; it’s a very subjective decision that should be determined by your individual preferences and goals as a musician.

What Electric Guitar Is Best For Fingerstyle?

There is more than one correct answer when it comes to guitar. The best guitar for the job is the one that sounds best with the music you play. If, like most people, you can’t afford to buy a bunch of different guitars, try to find one that has tone and level pots, as well as different pickups so that you can use it in different ways. 

The guitars below are some of the most popular ones that well-known fingerstyle players use.

The Fender Stratocaster

A lot of great fingerstyle guitarists, like Mark Knopfler and Jimi Hendrix, have played the Strat. It’s one of the best guitars for them. This guitar is excellent for fingerstyle because it has a sparkling, rich tone and is easy to play.

Gibson SG

The Silver Sky is a PRS signature model guitar designed for John Meyer, a virtuoso of fingerstyle on electric guitar. This guitar was created with fingerstyle in mind, and it has several qualities that make it an excellent instrument for this playing style.

The Gibson Les Paul

The Les Paul was designed before guitar picks became the standard for electric guitars. Hence, it was one of the first electric guitars utilized for fingerstyle techniques. This guitar’s neck and nut are broader than other guitars, resulting in wider string spacing, making it perfect for fingerstyle.

The PRS Silver Sky

The Silver Sky is a PRS signature model guitar designed for John Meyer, a virtuoso of fingerstyle on electric guitar. This guitar was created with fingerstyle in mind, and it has several qualities that make it an excellent instrument for this playing style.

The Fender Telecaster

The Telecaster guitar is well-known for its fingerstyle techniques. This guitar is famous among country musicians who excel in fingerstyle. This guitar has a naturally bright and vivid tone that is great for fingerstyle playing since it makes the sound more bright and clear.

The Gretsch Streamliner Hollow Body

This guitar is inspired by an ancient Gretsch guitar design popularised by fingerstyle legends like Chet Atkins, but it features modern hardware, wiring, and tone woods. This makes the Streamliner perfect for fingerstyle because it was developed for this method, but it also has a modern tone, making it a very versatile instrument.

Final Words On Fingerstyle On Electric Guitar

Mastering fingerstyle on the electric guitar opens up a world of possibilities for musicians. By combining the unique techniques and tones of the electric guitar with the delicate intricacies of fingerstyle playing, guitarists can create beautiful and complex arrangements that showcase their skills and creativity. 

Whether you’re a seasoned guitarist looking to expand your repertoire or a beginner eager to explore new techniques, learning fingerstyle on the electric guitar is a rewarding journey that will enhance your playing and musical expression. So grab your guitar, start practicing those fingerpicking patterns, and let your fingers dance across the strings as you unlock the full potential of this versatile instrument.


Is fingerstyle the hardest guitar style?

One of the most challenging guitar styles to learn is classical music, which requires fingerpicking techniques, complicated chord progressions, and dynamics.

How do you fingerpick on an electric guitar?

Your thumb should point to the fretboard, and your fingers should be closer to the bridge. This way, when you pluck the strings, they won’t hit each other. Use a “pinching” motion (your thumb moves down and your fingers go up) with one finger on each string and all the notes at once to play chords.

Is fingerstyle easier on electric?

It is important to start this part by saying that fingerpicking is a very technical skill that takes a lot of practice to get good at. That being said, you might find it easier to learn this technique on an electric guitar than on an acoustic.

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