Hey everyone,

Today, I would like to start a discussion that has been a major concern for me for quite a while now. I'm happy with the way my guitar playing evolves. I feel as if I still make progress and that I learn and discover something new almost every day which is great.

However, as my level progresses I am wondering what it takes to push yourself further. Ever since I started to arrange fingerstyle songs, I was wondering what it takes to label a particular song or arrangement as "difficult" or in the terms that I chose for myself to categorize the various arrangement levels:

Early Beginner


Late Beginner

Early Intermediate


Late Intermediate

Early Advanced


Late Advanced

What does it take an arrangement to be suitable for intermediate players and beyond?

This is a topic I would really love to discuss with you all. There are certainly many factors that play a part here such as technique, rhythm, chords, key changes etc. from a very simple point of view... what is it that classfies an arrangement as easy, medium or difficult or even virtuosic.

Broken down to a very very simple perspective, so far, I have classified my arrangement as follows:

Early Beginner: (Monophony)
Melody Only
No Chords,
No Bass Notes
All Rhythms (maybe without 16th notes and faster)

-> What I consider a goal at the "early beginner level": Learning rhythm, playing in time (thus focusing only on melody), learning the musical alphabet as well as the song's particlar language (i.e. key signature)

Beginner (Homophony)
- Full Melody
- Chord Bass Notes only (plyed on beat 1 only to keep things simple)
- 1st Position (ideally)
- No Arpeggios
- No Picking Pattern

-> The goal is to add another layer to the playing by introducing chords in their simple form with a bass note accompaniment. This is the base to further build upon other chord tones such as full triads etc

Late Beginner (Homophony)
- Full Melody
- Full Chords (beat 1 only however)

Early Intermediate (Homophony + Basic Polyphony)
- Full Melody
- Full Chords
- Counterpoint (Basic)
- Techniques (Slides, Pull-Off, Hammer-On, Vibrato, Bend, Thrill (?))
- Picking Pattern

- Full Melody
- Full Chords (Triads)
- Arpeggios and Broken Chords
- Chord Inversions (Slash Chords)
- Counter Point (more complex phrases/runs)
- Rhythms (16th notes and beyond)
- Techniques (all before)

Late Intermediate
- Full Melody
- Full Chords (Triads)
- Arpeggios and Broken Chords
- Chord Inversions
- Counter Point (complex)
- Rhythms (16th + beyond)
- Techniques (all before + Harmonics, Basic Thumb Slaps, Easy Body Percussion)

Early Advanced : n/A

Advanced n/A

Late Advanced n/A

What do you think? This is a particular question for fingerstyle arrangements but we can also open this up for other genres as well. My main concern however is arranging and labelling arrangements according to their difficulty particularly for fingerstyle players.

I wish you all an amazing day,