Courses  Instructors  How It Works Plans & Pricing Blog Resources 

Log In

Log In 
Don't have an account? Sign Up

Reset Password

An email has been sent with instructions on how to reset your password.

Sign Up For Free

Then join a course

Our store is currently undergoing maintenance. Check back in a few hours.
Already have an account? Log In

Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar Lesson: Alternating Bass Using The Thumb


One of the most beautiful features of the guitar is its expansive harmonic range. Guitarists have access to notes ranging from a low E (or lower depending on the guitar’s tuning), all the way up to a high C more than three octaves above, in most cases.


As a result of the guitar’s expansive harmonic range, guitarists are able to perform parts and pieces that utilize notes from baritone all the way up to soprano registers. The notes within these different registers have vastly different characteristics and functions, however, and it’s important for guitarists to understand that and carefully employ each note with that in mind.


In this online acoustic guitar lesson, world-renowned acoustic guitar virtuoso and ArtistWorks fingerstyle guitar instructor, Andy McKee, teaches how to implement alternating bass patterns into your fingerstyle guitar playing. In addition to outlining the technical requirements needed to integrate alternating bass lines into your playing, Andy also illustrates the function of alternating bass in a musical context.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play acoustic fingerstyle guitar from a master musician like Andy McKee? Try some free online acoustic guitar lessons now!


“Alternating bass is a pretty big part of traditional fingerstyle guitar playing,” Andy explains. “It’s a great way to get the feel of rhythm in your right hand. You end up using your thumb to keep time, and it ends up acting like a bit of a metronome.”


When you’re first beginning to integrate your thumb into your fingerpicking techniques, it will likely feel a bit awkward and maybe even uncomfortable. Your thumb will likely feel a bit stiff and rigid, and alternating evenly and seamlessly across the strings may be a bit difficult. That being said, as you continue to practice, your thumb and picking hand will naturally become increasingly relaxed, muscle memory will take over, and you’ll be playing clean alternating bass lines in no time.


“These techniques are just an introduction so that you can start to get a feel for using your thumb,” explains Andy. “However, as we progress in the curriculum and you continue to grow your skills, we’ll begin using these techniques with more complex fingerpicking methods that sound amazing and are a lot of fun.”


To learn more about alternating bass and integrating the thumb into your fingerpicking technique, dive into this online acoustic guitar lesson from Andy McKee:


Alternating Bass Using The Thumb with Andy McKee:




Have you always wanted to learn how to play acoustic fingerstyle guitar? Through our comprehensive acoustic guitar lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Andy McKee, and get personal feedback on your playing.


Andy’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner guitar to advanced performance techniques, including two-hand tapping, slap harmonics, and percussion on the guitar body. Plus, you’ll learn many of Andy’s unique original compositions and imaginative covers. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as guitarists and musicians!


Sample some free music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar Lesson: Linear Tapping with Andy McKee

Guitar Lesson: Opening Up the Neck Using Triads with Guthrie Trapp

Bluegrass Guitar Lesson: Relating Chords & Scales with Bryan Sutton




Affordable Plans

Each subscription is for a single school. Pricing and features can vary slightly per school.

1 Month membership
renews monthly
Unlimited Access to Lessons
Unlimited Video Exchanges
Exclusive Content
$35/month (prepaid)
3 Month membership
renews every 3 months
Unlimited Access to Lessons
Unlimited Video Exchanges
Exclusive Content
$30/month (prepaid)
12 Month membership
renews every 12 months
Unlimited Access to Lessons
Unlimited Video Exchanges
Exclusive Content
$20/month (prepaid)