What you're about to hear and see is some of the finest finger picking in the world. There are clips here that go back decades to the earliest black and white footage and extend up to today. A few of these tracks are performed by skilled YouTubers themselves when a video performance by the actual artist wasn't available. I've noted those as such. All the links below are setup to open in new windows. Ready?
Let's Start the Tour!
In the rock genre you can listen to the classics "The Clap" by Yes, "Blackbird" by the Beatles (performed by YouTuber), or "Little Martha" by the Allman Brothers (performed by the great Leo Kottke, more about him below).
For rugged blues based fingerpicking, check out Mance Lipscomb, and Mississippi John Hurt, or the slide wielding Mississippi Fred McDowell and Booker White, or the extremely versatile Martin Simpson.
In the country arena, Merle Travis is not to be missed, listen to his "Cannon Ball Rag". If you've never seen anyone play an electric guitar like this before this will probably be a "holy s#!t" experience for you. Then, wait until you see the tappers in the last part of the tour.
Like majestic celtic? Try Turlough O'Carolan (performed by YouTuber).
There are also the classic masters of fingerstyle guitar in the genre dubbed "American Primitive Guitar". They are the mind boggling Leo Kottke (that's him in the photo above), the eccentric John Fahey, and Robbie Basho who has been cited as responsible for creating the genre of New Age, however it'll sound nothing like John Tesh. trust me on that, it's raw and trancy.
If you're looking for the flavor of the pacific seas, check out Keola Beamer's hawaiian slack key guitar playing.
For more of a new agy modern edge you might like the late Michael Hedges playing his "Aerial Boundaries".
- And last but not least, some of the newest fingerstyle guitarists on the scene with tapping a slapping are Kaki King (this will either turn you on or sicken you; maybe both), and lap style tapper Erik Mongrain. Of course they stand on the shoulders of giants Enver Izmailov (actually two links, one on each part of his name) and Preston Reed with his piece "Blasting Cap".
Concluding the Tour
There is so much variety and richness in fingerstyle guitar it’s impossible to cover all the great fingerstyle guitarists here. There were many more that I couldn’t find video for, guitarists like the blues stomping and swinging Catfish Keith, early American Primitive guitarist Peter Lang, and Mississippi delta blues singer Sun House. But no doubt, if you were new to fingerstyle guitar, you’re not anymore.
Thank you for completing this guided tour and congrats on a safe voyage. I hope that you’ve seen some things you’ve never seen before, and that you leave this tour inspired and energized. To learn more about fingerstyle guitar check out the post “What is Fingerstyle Guitar, and is it Good for a Beginner?“.
Also, if you’ve always dreamt about playing guitar but thought it was too hard to learn, check out my review of the one learning method that gets you or anyone you know playing in just 2 hours here. Please let me know how you liked this tour by leaving your comments below.