So, you’re planning on taking up some classical music on your acoustic guitar?
Or simply want to explore a new playing technique?
While you could experiment with a regular acoustic guitar, in order to accurately learn the fingerstyle technique, you’re going to want to upgrade your instrument.
But what makes an acoustic guitar good for fingerstyle playing, and how do you choose one?
With years of experience behind me, I’ve chosen to compile a simple and straightforward guide into the world of fingerstyle guitars.
After reading this, you will be able to easily compare and choose the right fingerstyle guitar to meet your specific needs!
Top 5 Guitars for Fingerstyle Players
1. Yamaha C40
2. Takamine GD20-NS
3. Fender CD-60CE
4. Taylor BT1-E
5. Cordoba F7
What is Fingerstyle?
Although the name is pretty much self-explanatory, it’s always helpful to define new terms and words!
Fingerstyle guitar is the technique of playing a string instrument, a guitar, by plucking the strings not with a pick, but directly, with either the fingertips, fingernails or picks that are attached to the fingers (fingerpicks).
As you’ve probably already guessed, this technique is most commonly used amongst acoustic guitar players. There are some guitarists that integrate this type of playing on electric guitars as well.
However, in this article, we will focus on the best acoustic guitars for fingerstyle, and how to choose them!
Pros and Cons of This Technique
You might be wondering:
Why would I play acoustic guitars with my fingers when a pick does the job just fine?
What are the advantages?
Well, depending on the genre of music you’re playing, sometimes it’s just easier to achieve the wanted result if you play with your fingers.
Certain genres like Flamenco, Bossa Nova, Ragtime, and even Funk, just wouldn’t have that unique sound and feel if they were played with a pick!
Here are some of the most prominent advantages of this technique:
- You don’t have to carry a pick
- Multiple strings can be played at a time, with more precision
- Arpeggios are much easier
- Muting isn’t necessary, as you play only the strings you want with your picking hand
- Expressiveness in terms of dynamics is much easier
If you still feel like you don’t really understand what fingerstyle is, just listen to some Flamenco guitarists on YouTube, and you’ll get it right away!
Want more info on learning fingerstyle guitar? Check out Greg’s story here: How This 41 Year Old Learned Fingerstyle Guitar In Just 27 Days
What Kind of Guitar Do I Need?
Now that you have at least a rough idea of the technique in question, let’s take a look at the features a good fingerstyle should have.
- A Cutaway Design Is Very Helpful!
One would argue that having a guitar that features a cutaway design brings only advantages, and makes the actual playing much easier.
This is true for most genres, but when it comes to fingerstyle, it can really make a difference.
Playing classical music often means that you will have to be able to access those higher frets easily. And what better way to do so than by having a cutaway design?
So, going for a guitar with this type of design isn’t a must, but it’s definitely convenient.
- Body Size – Smaller Is More Comfortable
Utilizing the fingerstyle technique means that you will be holding your guitar differently than you would a (flat)picking one.
If you are right-handed, you should place the guitar on your left leg, instead of the right one, and the instrument should sit at a more upright angle than usual.
Knowing this, it’s pretty logical that a smaller guitar will feel more comfortable, as you try to keep everything in reach.
Orchestra sized guitars are a great option, as they offer a good form factor for this playing technique. Learn more about guitar sizes here.
Note that by playing with your fingers, you will be getting less volume and overall projection than by playing with a pick. That’s why certain smaller models offer compensation for this, either by choice of tonewood, bracing, or other mechanisms!
- Neck Width And Spacing Between The Strings – Make Sure Your Fingers Can Fit!
When you play the guitar with a pick, whether it’s an acoustic or electric model, it’s much easier if the strings are tightly placed one next to the other.
On fingerstyle guitars, it’s the opposite.
In order to have a comfortable playing experience, you should look for guitars with slightly wider necks and more space in between the stings.
If the strings are too close to each other, you won’t be able to fit your fingers between them, which will result with unwanted strings being struck and making unwanted sound.
Fretting chords is easier as well in my opinion. Sure, you will have to stretch your hands a bit more than on regular guitars, but it also gives you more room for maneuvering your fingers around the fretboard and making sure you’re not pressing the wrong strings.
Choosing between steel or nylon strings for a fingerstyle guitar is a matter of personal preference, as well as the genre of music you’re most likely to play.
Classical guitars are acoustic guitars with wider necks, more space between the strings, and come with nylon strings.
As we’ve already discussed in previous articles, nylon strings are more comfortable and don’t wear out your fingers as much as steel ones do.
If you plan to focus more on playing slide guitar, funk, jazz, or other similar genres not including classical music, going with steel strings is a better idea.
I’ve decided to include both steel and nylon fingerstyle models in the review part, so you can ultimately decide what works best for your needs.
Reviewing the Best Guitars for Fingerstyle