Great Fingerstyle Guitarists: 1-Hour Guided YouTube Tour

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!

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Like majestic celtic? Try Turlough O'Carolan (performed by YouTuber).
  5. 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.
  6. If you're looking for the flavor of the pacific seas, check out Keola Beamer's hawaiian slack key guitar playing.
  7. For more of a new agy modern edge you might like the late Michael Hedges playing his "Aerial Boundaries".
  8. 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.


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pixel Great Fingerstyle Guitarists: 1 Hour Guided YouTube Tour
 Great Fingerstyle Guitarists: 1 Hour Guided YouTube Tour

About Michael Jae

Michael is a guitarist of over 18 years and has taught lessons, played in front of live audiences, and wrote and recorded his own acoustic fingerstyle albums. He's especially fond of playing classic rock, heavy metal, classical guitar, and fingerstyle acoustic guitar in the style of Leo Kottke and John Fahey.




  1. Really enjoyed the tour – inspirational, thanks

  2. You’ve chosen some wonderful guitarists for your guided tour, but have left out maybe the greatest fingerstyle guitarist there is – Doyle Dykes.

    He, Leo Kottke, and Dan Crary are the only signature guitarists for Taylor guitars.

    If you just Google his name and select Videos, you’ll find a number of video performances to which you can direct your visitors.

    Here’s one link, just to whet your appetite:

    Thanks for the great site!

    - DR

  3. Michael Jae says:

    Thanks for your contribution Dan. I’m glad you enjoyed the tour. That’s a great video! I hadn’t thought about Doyle. Bit of a funny story though since you mentioned him. I met him a few years ago after a performance. The man plays so many notes I literally couldn’t believe how he could remember them all. He seemed to posses some secret super power. So, I had to ask him how he remembered the sheer volume of music. His response was basically he doesn’t know, he just does, but he practices a lot. :) One inspiration that I took from him was this technique he has of retuning a string in the middle of a song to change the key of the song. He does it quickly and accurately without interrupting the song. I thought that was so clever I worked it into one of my own compositions. Thanks again. Cheers!

  4. Hey Michael,

    What an excellent selection of outstanding guitar performances! I thoroughly enjoyed to show – especially Eric Mongrain…



  5. Excellent stuff. As soon as I saw a link to Little Martha, I knew I would like this stuff. One of the real pluses about the internet, and sites like YouTube in particular is that such wonderful music can be shared so easily.

  6. YouTube ! “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”

    Please, if you get a chance. Listen to some acoustical fingerpicking.

    I have over 215 pieces of fingerstyle music I make available for free !!!!!

    Just Google “The Tiler + Guitar”

    Or go to one of many music websites i’ve uploaded tons of my music at!!!

  7. Hi everyone, the guitarist Justin King was just brought to my attention. More amazing tapping techniques. Check him out here:

  8. Some more that people might want to check out,
    Andy McKee
    Antoine Dufour
    Robert Taylor
    Don Alder
    Craig D’Andrea

    most of these artists are accessible through the CandyRat record label that uses the username “rpoland” on youtube

  9. Check out Joe Pass and Charlie Hunter.

  10. Buckethead is the greatest. Period.

  11. I’m surprised that Mark Knopfler’s not on the list – he plays almost exclusively fingerstyle.

  12. very nice tour- several guitarist no longer have feeds on the tube

  13. no love for chet?

  14. I enjoyed the post, it’s really good, very useful :D Thank you.

  15. check out this guy no gimmicks just straight kick ass fingerpicking in std tuning, he has lots of other videos with gimmicks that are also really great, he just recently won the guitar superstar contest using just an acoustic

    • Hey Shimter, I’ve never heard of Don Adler before. Now I’m hooked! I really like the style of playing in that video and seems pretty unique to me. Has maybe a little of a Chet Atkins/Merle Travis flair to it but very original to my ears at the same time. Thanks man!

  16. Stefany Forni says:

    Great information :)

  17. Thanks, great to get some new names to look up!
    I know you can’t include every one, and, we all have different tastes. However, thought you may have included Flamenco as you did  include Classical, Paco De Lucia? Manola Sanlucar?  Paco De Lucia is perhaps the greatest guitarist of all time.

    Blues, Blind Blake? 

    • Michael Jae says:

      Hi, thanks for the feedback.  I’m actually posting next week Mediterranian Sundance with De Lucia and Al DiMeola. Shoot me the link to a video or two and I may post them on my blog.

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