Watch the Finger Naming Conventions online guitar lesson by Richard Gilewitz from Jump Start Fingerstyle Guitar

The first step in playing fingerstyle is to learn the universal naming conventions for both the left and right hand fingers. These names are used by all guitarists no matter what languages they speak.

For the fretting hand (which is the left hand for most guitarists), the fingers are named as follows:

Index finger = 1
Middle finger = 2
Ring finger – 3
Pinky = 4

The fingers of the picking hand (the right hand for most guitarists) are named with letters:

Thumb = P
Index = I
Middle= M
Ring = A

To see a chart laying out these universal finger-naming conventions, click the purple box marked CHART. You should see it right below the SHARE tab. This will download a PDF to your computer with all the necessary diagrams for this course. Scroll to the end of the PDF to see the finger name chart.

When reading music for the guitar, you’ll typically see left-hand fingerings written above the musical notation and right-hand fingers below it.