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Fingerstyle - clean playing technique

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brainstrain
(@brainstrain)
New Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1
Topic starter  

I normally play with a plectrum but in an attempt to widen my range of playing techniques I am dabbling with fingerstyle. I've made some progress but I an finding two major problems with my playing technique.
Firstly, I find that the non played strings start to resonate making the whole sound a bit of a mess. Clearly there is a need to stop these strings resonating but how to do it? Any ideas on practice techniques will be most welcome.
Secondly, I find it quite difficult to place my fingers accurately so that the strings ring cleanly. Any thoughts on that welcome too.
As on old codger I've probably been playing with bad technique so long that it will now be hard to change.
Many thanks


   
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Fretsource
(@fretsource)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 973
 

Welcome to the forum. I'm not sure why your strings are resonating - maybe something to do with the guitar?

As for clean and accurate playing, I suggest you follow the classical guitar approach. Look at any John Williams video on youtube. See how he holds his left hand. You rarely see his thumb because it's placed behind the neck, pointing upwards rather than towards the nut. This enables his left hand fingers to come down at right angles to the string (just behind the fret) which minimises the risk of inadvertantly touching adjacent strings and also allows maximum stretch for playing notes that are spaced quite far apart, e.g fret 1 on string six and fret 5 on string one at the same time.
You don't need to sit the guitar on your left leg as classical players do, as that position doesn't suit larger steel string guitars as well as it does smaller nylon string guitars - but developing a good finger placement technique through good hand position is the way to clean and accurate playing.


   
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Ricochet
(@ricochet)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 7833
 

As for the unpicked strings ringing, you need to look up "finger blocking," "pick blocking," or "right hand damping." You touch the unplayed strings with fingertips of your picking hand to keep them from sounding. Easy to say, hard to do when you have to think about it, but with enough practice becomes second nature.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
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Classico
(@classico)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 65
 

well, as fretsource said, left hand is critical. i find that even with plectrum playing it's better to you some of the elements of classical technique. (but as a classical player, of course i'm biase.)

as for the right hand muting the strings might be much harder then not disturbing them in the first palce. or in the words of many mothers - "it's easier to not make a mess then to clean up". so try and see if you can get your fingers to hit the strings nicely, my advice is to try picking the open frets in some arrpagios you make up so you can develope versatility with your right hand. you can also try mixing that up with chords and seeing where it is that you lose your focus and your sound becomes blurry, then (when all else fails) try blocking strings (whice i think is best to do with the right hand fingers).

fingerstyle can be tricky, but it opens up a whole new repertoire of songs the you can now play and even more important, it makes you a more balanced guitarist.

good luck :D


   
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Kroikey
(@kroikey)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 232
 

I'm finger picking more and more, but I still have this problem. It tends to be when I have to pick a bass note and two treble notes at the same time, the volumes are very uneven. Now I know that practice should polish the technique, but additionally I'm hitting adjacent strings, either very slightly causing a bit of muddyness, or completely wrong and hard which screws me up.

The problem I have is I'm picking using my right hand with no nails what so ever. Theres very little room for movement without touching those other strings, and if I dig in a little harder then I almost always get an unwanted string sounded. I think I've tied it down to when I'm playing correctly, I sometimes put some kind of flourish onto my picking. I've noticed it on some cool rock songs and with a pick, where I hit something flawlessly then add some kind of flourish (like 5% of Pete Townsends windmill lol) to my picking hand. I'm sure this same issue is coming through my finger picking hand. Maybe I did too much air guitar as a youth. lol.

Below is a snippet of Jack Johnsons 'No Other Way' that I have another issue with:

e--------------------------------
B--------------------------------
G--------------------------------
D--------5-------5----------5----
A----4-------4--------4---4------
E--0---0-------0----0---0--------

e--------------------------------
B--------------------------------
G--------------------------------
D--------5-------5----------5----
A----5-------5--------5---5------
E--5---5-------5----5---5--------

The problem I have is that its difficult keeping the tempo and volume going whilst only using my thumb! Almost the whole song is my thumb only, using the traditional 3 bass strings = thumb. I can play it, it sounds good, but the song is crippling to my thumb, I can only play the whole song through twice before I just have to quit.

Would others change the fingering on this song? I'm not sure if its a good idea at my newbie status with fingerpicking. It might free up my hands, enable a better overall tone and generally make the song better. It might also screw up any future songs. Helps me GN! :lol:


   
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unquashable
(@unquashable)
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Posts: 2
 

Kroikey, I do not know the tempo of that Johnson song, but I would probably just use my thumb on the low E for that passage and fingers on the A and D.

As for the rest of your troubles, practice and patience are the key.


   
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tinsmith
(@tinsmith)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 830
 

Michael Hedges was a master of dampening strings with fingers.

Maybe it would help applying some slide dampening techniques also.


   
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Kroikey
(@kroikey)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 232
 

No Other Way - Cover (blocked if I try and load you tube for original)

When finger picking, do you guys have your hand perpendicular to the strings like: _|_ , or more at a 45 degree angle like _/_? I experimented with perpendicular last night and it seemed like it may be easier to not hit the other strings when I pluck.


   
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