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- List of 9 Best Fingerstyle Guitar Songs
- #1. Led Zeppelin – Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
- #2. Metallica – Nothing Else Matters
- #3. Kansas – Dust In The Wind
- #4. The Beatles – Blackbird
- #5. Eric Clapton – Tears In Heaven
- #6. Extreme – More Than Words
- #7. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under The Bridge
- #8. Ed Sheeran – Tenerife Sea
- #9. Bill Withers – Ain’t No Sunshine
- What Is Fingerstyle Guitar Playing?
Although most folks thing about good ole chord strumming whenever guitar playing is brought up, there is actually a whole world of amazing fingerstyle playing with just as much – if not even more emotion, intricacy and pure musical prowess.
Knowing that there are many fans of this style and with desire to tell the world about it, we took the liberty of compiling a list of best fingerstyle guitar songs. We came up with a set of nine fine champions, make sure to check out the goods below.
List of 9 Best Fingerstyle Guitar Songs
#1. Led Zeppelin – Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
Led Zeppelin classic “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” was released on the band’s 1969 monumental self-titled debut album. It’s a folk classic written by Anne Bredon and performed by Joan Baez.
Led Zep’s version is performed in the key of A minor, featuring a distinctive descending guitar line driven by arpeggiated chords and some nifty string jumping. It is considered as fairly easy and often ranks among best fingerstyle songs for beginner guitarists.
#2. Metallica – Nothing Else Matters
And speaking of good beginner songs for newbie fingerstyle players, Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” is a tune that absolutely must appear on the rundown. The main theme is so basic that all you need to play it one hand.
It’s in the key of E minor, and features an open low E string, open G string, open B string, and open high E string. And that’s it!
The track was born back in 1990 as James Hetfield was on the phone with his girlfriend, and started randomly plucking open strings with phone in his other hands. Some of the lyrics, such as the opening “so close, no matter how far” line, were also dedicated to the girlfriend.
#3. Kansas – Dust In The Wind
Epitomizing fingerstyle guitar, sheer emotion, and everyone’s struggle with transience, “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas. Funnily enough, the song was originally written as an exercise in finger picking.
The tune is in the key of C major, and marks one of the very first acoustic Kansas tracks, as well as one of their most successful and well known compositions. If you want an example of a rock song utilizing violins, this is a great example.
#4. The Beatles – Blackbird
When discussing monumental and revolutionary musical achievements of the 20th century, or simply certain musical traits that became staple marks of modern music, there a very good chance that each and every one you think of started with The Beatles.
Therefore, you should not be surprised that the Fab Four was behind one of the most iconic fingerstyle songs of all time – 1968’s “Blackbird.”
Inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Bourrée in E minor,” McCartney crafted a composition in G major, only further securing his place in the musical pantheon.
#5. Eric Clapton – Tears In Heaven
Up next on our list of best fingerstyle guitar songs is a very heavy track… Eric Clapton wrote “Tears in Heaven” as a dedication to his four-year-old son Connor, who fell to his death from a window of a 53rd-floor building in New York back in 1990.
During the same year, Eric’s manager, two of his roadies and his dear friend and fellow blues guitar god Stevie Ray Vaughan were killed in a tragic helicopter accident. It was a rough time, and Mr. Clapton decided to channel his emotions through music.
The result was a beautiful composition in A minor. Driven by a distinctive fingerstyle line, the track became one of Eric’s signature tunes. But the story behind it indeed makes it so much more special.
#6. Extreme – More Than Words
“More Than Words” proves that all you need for a killer tune is one acoustic guitar, one singer and some cleverly injected backing vocals. Written in the key of G major, this Extreme classic seems like your standard love song, but actually serves as a warning.
A warning that the phrase “I love you” has become overused, too clichéd and ultimately meaningless.
On the technical side, this is not an easy ditty at all. It demonstrates guitarist Nuno Bettencourt’s six-string mastery and a very nifty combination of rhythmical chord based strumming and melodic fills on the side.
We rank it among cool examples of advanced songs of this niche, and of course one of the best fingerstyle guitar songs out there. Ladies love it, and so do the dudes!
#7. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under The Bridge
There’s just something about fingerpicking and sheer, raw, naked emotion that works like a charm.
For example, the staple Red hot Chili Peppers tune “Under the Bridge” is an incredible combo of very depressive lyrics by Anthony Kiedis and some slightly more uplifting guitar chords by John Frusciante – played in fingerstyle, of course.
It might be a tad more tricky to master, but we believe that you can do it as long as you find a good “Under the Bridge” tab.
Anyhow, the song’s uplifting chords were actually placed there on purpose by Mr. Frusciante, who said that he found Anthony’s lyrics so deep and depressive that he simply had to put more optimistic chords to serve as a counterpart.
Needless to say, it worked like magic!
#8. Ed Sheeran – Tenerife Sea
Representing modern champions of acoustic guitars and fingerstyle guitar, Ed Sheeran was a shoo-in for our list thanks to his “Tenerife Sea” track. The song was born in 2013 while Ed was attending a Grammy’s after-party with his girlfriend.
None of them really wanted to be there, and instead desired to be somewhere alone, like on a beach at Tenerife Sea.
The composition is in G major, and it’s a classic example of fingerpicking done right. More importantly, it’s a living proof that even today, organic and natural guitar style is alive and well in a world of synthetic music.
#9. Bill Withers – Ain’t No Sunshine
Back to classic tracks, no list of this kind would be complete without “Ain’t No Sunshine,” a timeless tune by Mr. Bill Withers. The track was inspired by a movie called “Days of Wine and Roses,” and features a distinctive, yet very much basic shuffle in the key of A minor.
There’s a fun fact about this song – Mr. Withers originally intended to write regular lyrics for the track’s third verse, but ended up just repeating “I know” 26 times.
He did it for kicks the first time because he had no actual lyrics written, but them his bandmates liked it so much that they pressured him to keep the song that way, which he obviously did.
What Is Fingerstyle Guitar Playing?
As a conclusion, we thought to explain to you what fingerstyle playing is, since it’s not a rarely asked question at all.
So, fingerpicking is a style of playing a guitar that is based on plucking the strings directly with fingers, whether it’s through fingertips, fingernails, or picks attached to fingers.
In its very nature, finger playing often relies on arpeggios and chords, and not on riffs and power chords like pick-playing tends to.
It is considered a standard technique on nylon and classical guitar, but also comes as a specialized technique on steel string acoustic guitars and even on electric guitars – just take a look at Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits!
Anyhow, we hope you enjoyed our little rundown here and found your favorite fingerstyle guitar song. More importantly, we hope that these tunes have inspired you to pick up a guitar and learn something new. These were the best fingerstyle guitar songs, you’ve been great, good night!
Of course, do let us know what you think about the list in the comments, any sort of feedback is greatly appreciated and only serves as a fuel for the fire that is our passion towards guitars and music.
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