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Beginner Acoustic Guitar Lesson: Playing Without a Pick with David Butler


In this online acoustic guitar lesson, life-long acoustic guitarist, ArtistWorks co-founder, and the creator of Video Exchange Learning, David Butler, walks through the various basic fingerstyle guitar techniques and showcases the different types of sounds that become available to players when employing these methods.


When picking up an acoustic guitar for the first time, the instinct of most new players is to grab a flatpick and begin strumming. While playing with a flatpick is a great place to start, and is an important skill for guitarists of any level to practice and master, it isn’t the only playing method available, especially to acoustic guitarists. Playing with your fingers, also known as fingerstyle guitar playing, is a tremendously expressive playing method that allows guitarists to tap into a vast array of sounds, tones, and styles.


“One technique is to play with the fleshy part of your thumb,” David explains. “This is great for creating a warm soft tone that can really serve you well if you’re accompanying a singer with a softer or lighter voice.”


As you begin exercising this new thumb technique with your strumming hand, sometimes you might feel a slight pain on the surface of the finger. This is caused by the friction created between your skin and the string. So, don’t feel discouraged if you need to take breaks. In the meantime, there are plenty of other fingerstyle methods that you can practice while you slowly build your thumb callus.


“A lot of fingerstyle guitarists grow out their fingernails a bit and use them to pluck the strings,” David explains. “This allows you to achieve a similar bright sound to that of a pick, but gives you a little bit more versatility because you have more fingers available for playing.”


To learn more about different fingerstyle guitar techniques and how to start integrating them into your playing, dive into this acoustic guitar lesson for beginners:


Playing Without a Pick with David Butler:



David Butler is the co-founder of ArtistWorks, a lifelong acoustic guitarist, and the creator of Video Exchange Learning®. He grew up listening to and playing the guitar-centric music of the ’60s, surrounded by the many musical influences of his hometown Memphis, Tennessee. Especially drawn to the sound of the acoustic guitar, he strived to master and teach its many styles and techniques including flat pick and fingerstyle (“Travis”) picking.


In his online acoustic guitar lessons, David shares his lifetime of acoustic guitar knowledge. His goal is to provide comprehensive, step-by-step, deep instruction that fills in gaps that often cause first-time players to get frustrated. Normally behind the camera at ArtistWorks, he now steps to the other side to teach all the adult beginners who wish to play and enjoy the acoustic guitar.


Interested in learning how to play the acoustic guitar? Experience our acoustic guitar lessons online for yourself and try out some free sample music lessons here. You’ll quickly see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



Join the 5 Day Beginner Acoustic Guitar Challenge

The 7 Pitfalls of Private Music Lessons, and How Video Exchange Can Help

Celebrating One Year of “Beginner’s Guide to Acoustic Guitar”




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