How to Strum a Guitar with Fingers (without a pick)

How to strum a guitar with fingers is all fun when you master the technique and all you want is to practice more and more.

Finger strumming a guitar could be fun when you know how to do it right to avoid knocking your knuckles on the strings which could be harsh on your fingers.

If you are already conversant with using a pick, knowledge is power; you will now have a broad option which is awesome.

Strumming a guitar without a pick/plectrum and using your fingers has so many ways to do it like; using your thumb, using your thumbnail, your fingers, a combination of your thumb and your fingers, how you angle your fingers and your wrist they all have a different tone. So which sound do you want?

How to strum with your thumb

Strumming with your thumb (only the fleshy part of the thumb without the thumbnail) gives you bass, or a soft even sound, or a subtler sound which is rounder than that when using a pick or thumbnail which the sound is brighter and with more accent.

For a better angle and to avoid getting your thumb on the string you could just flatten your hand, with open fingers and your thumb stiff just how you would do it with a pick that way you move the arm to strum.

You could also use your fingers to help support the thumb on the brushing movement on the guitar and the wrist acts as the pivot. Whichever way works for you. Thumb picking is mostly used by artists in the fingerstyle genre.

For a more even and balanced tune you could use the strum ups for the thumbnail and the fleshy part of the thumb for down strums and prevents the thumb from getting caught up by the strings.

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Strumming using your thumbnail produces a brighter, more stressed, and higher volume than playing with a thumb.

How to strum with your first/index finger

When using your first finger to strum you will realize you strum down unlike strumming with the thumb which strums up.

For a warmer sound, you could use your first fingernail to strum down and the fleshy part to strum up. Or you could simply just put your thumb and the first finger together set them in a position similar to that when holding a pick. Stretch your first finger extend it beyond your thumb such that it appears more lengthen, such that the tip of your first finger is what is going to act as your ‘pick’.

However, you could also use only the fleshy part to strum both up and down that way you achieve a more mellow and faint sound. To make this take place you just level your whole hand and make the finger movement while your other fingers are open you could as well move your wrist.

This approach is for speed but you lose some sound and accent. Unlike with three fingers.

How to strum using your first fingernail and thumbnail

Unlike how you use your first finger like a pick, whereby you extend the index finger past the thumb finger. Using both your first fingernail and your thumbnail as a pick involves; putting both fingers together but when they are relatively level with each other (just like you are holding a pick).

When you play that way, you will be strumming both up and down with a brighter sound like that of a pick. You could use this method when you are performing and the pick falls so you just continue playing with your fingers.

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How to strum using your fingers only

This technique involves strumming down your guitar with your first, second plus the third fingertips (fleshy part). Strumming up you brush up using the tip first/index finger for a smooth movement since if you strum with all the fingers your wrist should be relaxed. This approach produces different soft sounds.

You could also combine the fingertips with the fingernails. Make an unfastened fist and brush over the strings with the fingernails and tip. Control the melody by knowing how to alternate. This approach brings out more volume and clarity. This will help you to learn how to easily Strum a Guitar with Fingers.

How to strum using your fingers and thumb

You could use your fingernails to strum down and your thumb (fleshy part) to strum up. let your thumbnail glide up the strings (the up-strum doesn’t have to be full-sounding as the down strum), thusly the fingers will produce a different melody sound while the thumb gives out a bass.

You could also use your fingernails and your thumbnail such that your fingernails strum down and your thumbnail strum upwards. That way you will be placing your fingers in an unfastened fist and brush the fingernails on the guitar strings just like when you are using a pick.

The challenge comes with having bigger hands. However, there are several guitars recommended for big hands that you can get to ensure your strumming process is easy!


Knowing how to play the guitar is a great skill, whether with a pick or without. Being able to do both is a great deal than just knowing one way, you will have a broad option. Although there is no way that is correct or rather better than the other.

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Knowing how to strum with your fingers has its advantages based on the sound you want; warmer, rounder, brighter, the amount of depth or volume. Strumming with fingers one has more options considering you have five picks, although they are fleshy as compared to a pick which is louder. However, with the fingerstyle, you will achieve a variety of melodies.

You can always get creative when it comes to customizing for a comfortable way on how to strum a guitar with fingers. Explore more because there are so many techniques for playing the guitar.

Some finger-style artists usually play the acoustic guitar, normally instrumentals that blend different genres and tuning using their fingernails either synthetic, hardened with acrylic, or just a thumb-pick. There are the ukulele finger guitarists too among others, that all inspire and entertain with their clean strums and awesome performances.

For a new player, you may develop calluses on the hands. You may knock your knuckles when you get wild which can be frustrating, but you will get better when you persevere and with dedication focus on developing the skill. Playing the guitar with your fingers is a very creative technique when you master it.

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