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Another Beginner Question re: Fingers

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Monster
(@monster)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 12
Topic starter  

Hello. :)

Just recently purchased an electric guitar kit (five days ago) and am enjoying it so far.

As expected, I'm still learning finger positions and how to strum/pick, simple chords, all that good stuff. :)

My Shrek-like fingers are having a problem where they generally touch other strings that they aren't supposed to. I can somewhat get by this by angling my fingers so that they hit the string(s) at an angle - if you were looking straight down at the fret board you'd see them angling in from the left so the string(s) are hitting the side of my fingertips instead of the top.

I know that in time with practice my fingertips will harden up with calluses so that hitting adjacent strings should become less of an issue and that my fingers will become a lot more flexible. (Right?) :)

My question is this: this early in, should I be more concerned with learning to hit the strings more straight-on and disregard that I'm hitting other strings for now or should I continue angling them and hope that in time I'll just be able to gradually angle them correctly? I don't want to learn any bad habits!

I hope that all made sense, if not I'll try and rephrase.

This is an excellent site, thank you to all who have contributed here, I'll be haunting this place for years to come. :D


   
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Dommy09
(@dommy09)
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Welcome to the boards

Personally, my fingers are always on a slight angle, and are never fully perpendicular to the fretboard. I was told by my teacher that a little bit of angle is good and helps you hit all the strings correctly. Consequently, the callus on my ring finger isn't right on the tip of my finger, but slightly to the left of the top (not by much, its not down near my knuckle or anything!)

This is personal experience and there may be others on this board who do it differently (i'm sure there are!). The best way would be to find yourself a guitar teacher and get him to show you the correct technique.

"We all have always shared a common belief that music is meant to be played as loud as possible, really raw and raunchy, and I'll punch out anyone who doesn't like it the way I do." -Bon Scott


   
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corbind
(@corbind)
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I'm not quite sure how your fretting hand fingers are lining up. Good you came here early in your learning. As mentioned, a teacher would help. Even if you only took say 4 lessons. That's $120 for an instructor to monitor your posture, fingering, etc.

I can't add much but take everything at a slow pace. If you practice your mistakes they become part of how you play. I know, you're thinking "Yea, right, I can go as fast as I want. What does he know." I know I wish I had someone tell me practice slowly when I first started.

"Nothing...can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts."


   
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mmoncur
(@mmoncur)
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I'd try to keep your fingers reasonably straight, although I do seem to use a very slight angle now that I look at it.

I also have huge fingers and when I started I was absolutely convinced that there was NO way that I would EVER be able to finger most of the chords cleanly. Now it's 3 months later and I find it incredibly easy to finger most of the chords and they all sound great. (Changing between them quickly is another story.)

I think it's more a matter of learning precise aim and control of your finger muscles than callouses.

Persistence and very slow practice helped me. For the last couple of months I've been taking lessons and that's helped too.


   
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Monster
(@monster)
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Topic starter  

Thanks for the answers! :D

In the day or so since I first posted that I've noticed a big difference in how things are going. My fingers are magically starting to become a bit more flexible. :) Holding the guitar a little differently is also helping (pulling the neck back forces my elbow on my fretting arm to stick out a bit more and takes care of straightening my fingers and feels way more comfortable).

This guitar stuff is rather fun! :D


   
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TRGuitar
(@trguitar)
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It is fun isn't it. :D Shrek like fingers or not, with time you will clean up your technique as you learn and things will work better. I'd have to agree a teacher would be the best way, but there is stuff on line that can help you with the correct posture and hand position as well. By your post it sounds you are finding that position on your own. As with anything, the reason for "the" correct position is that it works best to cleanly fret notes, but I gather you already knew that. That said, I'm self taught and learned everything wrong, but corrected things over time. Not the best way to have learned but I got where I'm at and thats all that matters. :wink:

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


   
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Monster
(@monster)
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Topic starter  

Yes it is fun. :) And I am rapidly learning that there's definitely more than one way of doing things (ie. position, which fingers, etc) so that helps.

Just tonight I managed to do C Major, G Major and A Major chords without muting any of the strings by accident! Whoohooo!! :D

Of course, the next time I tried a little while later I wasn't able to do so again but just having done it once shows me it can be done. And if I can do it, anyone could!

I have another question but I'll create a new thread for it to keep things clean. :)


   
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corbind
(@corbind)
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How did you finger your A chord? Just wonderin'. Lots or acceptable ways of doing it. I learned the "wrong" way and continue to use it. It prevents me doing Asus4 easily unless making it an A7sus4.

"Nothing...can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts."


   
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TRGuitar
(@trguitar)
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Thats a good point Corbind. Things like that can come back to haunt you. I play my A both the right and wrong way ... I learned them both! :lol:

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


   
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Monster
(@monster)
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Topic starter  

How did you finger your A chord? Just wonderin'. Lots or acceptable ways of doing it. I learned the "wrong" way and continue to use it. It prevents me doing Asus4 easily unless making it an A7sus4.
Corbind, I'm using the the fingering from here:

http://www.jamplay.com/guitar-chords/a-major-guitar-chord.html

This seems to work ok for me. :)


   
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corbind
(@corbind)
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That works just fine!

"Nothing...can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts."


   
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Vic Lewis VL
(@vic-lewis-vl)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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I notice on that "jamchord" site it says experiment with hand positions until you find the one best suited to you. That's good advice! I had an accident a couple of years ago which restricted my hand movement for quite a while - I found, by experimenting, I could play an A chord with just my 1st & 2nd fingers. Easy to change to a 7th, and great for knocking out Stones-type riffs! Although my hand's pretty much back to normal, I've adopted that particular way of playing the A chord.

Another thing you might want to practise is playing the A major, minor and 7th chords with your 2nd 3rd and 4th fingers - that's going to be useful later when you start using barre chords. The most commonly used barre chord shapes are generally variations on A and E chord shapes, so it's never too early to try playing either of those chords, or their variations, without using your index finger.

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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yournightmare
(@yournightmare)
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How did you finger your A chord? Just wonderin'. Lots or acceptable ways of doing it. I learned the "wrong" way and continue to use it. It prevents me doing Asus4 easily unless making it an A7sus4.
Corbind, I'm using the the fingering from here:

http://www.jamplay.com/guitar-chords/a-major-guitar-chord.html

This seems to work ok for me. :)

I just use my index finger for all three strings, sort of like a mini-barre. I angle it with the fingertip pointing sort of towards the body of the guitar. It took a little bit of practice to keep from muting the 1st string, but once I got the hang of it, there's no way I can play it any other way. And if I have to switch from A to D, I just slide my finger down one string (so I'm making a barre on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd strings) and put my middle finger on the 2nd string, 3rd fret. Just an idea, try it out for yourself and if you don't like it, don't do it. MOST people don't do it that way, and most people don't know how I manage to avoid muting the 1st string, but it really didn't take much practice at all to get it down.


   
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mmoncur
(@mmoncur)
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I think it's a good idea to get in the mindset that there isn't just one way to play each chord - for example, I can play the open "A" with fingers 1,2,3 in order, or 2,1,3 like the site you linked to, or 2,3,4 like the barre chord. Now I'm working on yournightmare's method... the more options the better.

I generally have one "normal" way to finger each chord, but for some songs one of the alternate choices greatly simplifies chord changes.

Also, there's no "right" way to finger a chord either, as long as you get the notes you need... So do whatever's easiest. It makes life much easier as a beginner.


   
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Scrybe
(@scrybe)
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Making life easier as a beginner isn't that great a thing if it makes life more complicated as an experienced player, though. :wink:

But I agree that learning alternative fingerings for chords can be extremely useful. My 'standard' fingering for an A major chord has my index on the 4th string, middle on the 3rd, and ring on the 2nd, but I also use play it with just my index as a barre, and if you continue the bar so you're also fretting the 1st string at the 2nd fret, you get an A6 and can use your free fingers on the 1st string to make A7 (by fretting 1st string 3rd fret) or Amajr7 (1st string fretted at the 4th fret).

The same goes for the D shape - my standard fingering uses three fingers and allows e.g. playing a Dsus2 (I think thats the name, may be wrong, lol) by leaving the 1st string open. But I've just written a riff where I play the D shape as a bar in the way yournightmare outlined above, allowing me to easily change to Dmaj7.

AFAIK most music books have an 'agreed' or 'official' fingering for each of the chords, but it doesn't hurt, and in fact often helps, to learn more than one way of fingering each chord. But I wouldn't advise you to solely use the fingering you find the easiest as this can hinder your progress later. You would be better served by practising various fingerings.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


   
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