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How fussy are you with fingering?

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Nuno
 Nuno
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I always tend to use my pinky! In fact, currently, I am trying to use the ring rather the pinky... I guess it is unusual because there are always complains about the non frequent use of the pinky but...

Probably when I started to play guitar, I focused on the use of the pinky and this is the result.


   
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Chris C
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I use both pinkies a lot. I use the one on my fretting hand to be able to make the reaches that I wouldn't otherwise be able to make. And, I use the one on my picking hand because I fingerpick a lot and, to me, it's just easier to use the pinkie on the high e string.

Now THAT'S impressive. :) I spent a while trying to be systematic about finger-picking , and have even managed some modest success with using three fingers. But the pinky was just a finger too far. :? It would end up tangled in the strings, like a calf with its head stuck through a fence.....
I'm fussy, and I'm not. I don't believe there's a "right" way to finger anything... but there are efficient and inefficient ways. How efficient a fingering will be depends on the context.

A good example is the open G chord. If a song has other chords like C or F or G7 in it, I'll finger the G using 3-2-4. But in something like "Over the Hills and Far Away" there are no first fret notes - it makes much more sense to stay in second position and finger it 213.

Thanks for that insight. 'Efficient and inefficient' sounds like a very useful way to look at it. I can remember trying out 3-2-4 for a G as a beginner, and thinking "You must be kidding. Why do it like that!" But later on, once I had learned G7 chords and was comfortable with the 3-2 part (and the 1 up on the F). it just felt quite natural to pop the spare pinky down on the high G.
I have to have a reason to use a non-standard fingering. Valid reasons might be efficiency, the ability to sustain some notes while others move, or the size of my hand. But lots of harder stuff simply can't be done if you haven't developed the ability to reach for things or use all your fingers (try playing this Bb(add9) if you've always avoided stretches: x1353x) - so I don't consider "it's easier" to be a good reason. If I can't see some bigger picture efficiency, I learn to use the 'standard' way.

For single notes, I use the one-finger-per-fret rule up until about 10th position. After that, the frets are so much closer together I'll often use just three fingers.

I asked this same question on another forum, and somebody else also brought up the use of 3 fingers on the closer frets, which seems logical. Another guy used the word "flexibility" to describe why he sometimes went for 3 fingers instead of necessarily sticking to only using the pinky where it 'should' be. That hit the spot for me. I like to keep as many different thing going as I can (tools in the kit if you like) provided that I understand the reasons why some players favour one technique over another. I don't usually like to just follow instructions or copy someone without really 'getting' why.

For instance, if I'm trying to play certain music styles with a classical style guitar I'll cheerfully prop a foot up and try and use the full 'correct' posture, thumb behind, instrument properly balanced etc. But on other occasions it's strap on, different angles, headstock lower but pushed further away to give more room, thumb stuck right up alongside the neck, closer to a 'baseball bat' grip, and so on. So I guess I'll be going for a combination of 'more or less efficient', 'flexible' and just plain old 'comfortable' - sometimes it just feels better one way.

Thanks for all the different ideas and opinions from everybody. :)


   
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Rich_Halford
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Nice thread Chris & co as I am currently struggling with this issue.

My main problem is to do with the G as Noteboat said, to move from G to G7 I have to completely re-fret rather than just swap two fingers. I'm getting pretty quick at this, in that it doesn't cause me any problems, so I have been lazy and not focussed on practicing the more efficient way of doing it. However, I know I should, and I know that the first time I picked up a guitar I couldn't fret a G at all, so practice using a different fingering will sort it out in time.

The reason this has come up again for me is that I am trying to learn an acoustic version of Layla, see the youtube here:

If you look at the video from 40 seconds in, you'll see that he fingers the Dm using his pinky, so that his ring finger is free to fret the A string. Very effecient. And yes, until I saw this video I was trying to fret the A string as normal, then form the Dm. I'm getting quite quick at it, but not quick enough! Sadly, of all the 'easy' chords (C/G/A/D/E/Em etc etc) Dm has always given me grief, so after 4 years where I can finally get it bang on 95% of the time I learn that I need to swap the fingering - aaarrrgh!

So, I am one of those guys who doesn't take lessons, learns all sorts of bad habits which are then hard to 'unlearn', if I took lessons I'd probably be 5 times the player I actually am given the amount of time and effort I've put in but it doesn't matter, I still love learning guitar, and thats fab for me.

Rich.

P.S. Is there a 'top 5' alternate chord fingerings I should be aware of? Like the different G and Dm referred to above, which others are the most popular, maybe I could start working on them? Be a good article for the lessons area of the site, assuming its not already there, should anyone fancy it?

Apologies for going on. My 3 year olds staying at her Nans and my wife is out - I haven't had this much peace in ages!


   
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Rich_Halford
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PPS - credit where its due, this is the youtube video that I started learning Layla from:


   
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NoteBoat
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Top 5? Never thought about that. But here are the open chords I use with alternate fingerings:

A - usually I finger it 213... that puts the first finger closer to the fret wire, and makes an easy transition to Amaj7 or A7. But I also do it 234 sometimes, especially in a fast E blues progression - that lets you just move fingers 2 & 3 over a string, and lets you keep the 3rd finger planted for a quick transition to B7. I'll also use a hinged barre 111 fingering if I need open A in a tune I'm playing in 2nd position, and I've sometimes used a 333 hinged barre if I'm sliding down from another A shape barre chord. There are rare instances where I'll finger it 123, 124, or 222 - I do those only in a specific song where they are the most efficient transition.

D - usually fingered 132, there are rare occastions where 243 makes more sense - for example if I need to hold the chord while changing the bass note to B or F# (and in some slower tunes, like Tears in Heaven, I'll use the standard fingering and just hit F# with my thumb. Not accepted classical technique, but as I said in the first post I'm not a slave to tradition if something else is more efficient - I just don't allow "easy" to form habits.

E - usually fingered 231, I'll use 342 if I'm sliding down from an E shape barre

G - usually 324, but I'll use 213 if I'm in second position. On rare occasions I'll use the thumb for the 6th string and the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd finger on the 1st (muting the 5th string with the thumb), but only if it makes sense for other reasons.

Dm - I'll use 241 if I'm moving to a chord that puts my 3rd finger on the 5th or 6th string, and 231 if I'm moving to a chord with the 4th finger on the 1st string. Since that one's giving you trouble, try the same kind of drill that got you used to the 234 G: switch back and forth from Dm to Dsus.

A7 - usually 23, but sometimes 12. I'll also do the partial barre (x02223) fingered 1112 or 1113.

E7 - I use a few open voicings, with 21 fingering for 020100, 214 for 020130 and 2314 for 022130

A complete list isn't possible, because the really odd fingerings I use are song specific - I'll choose a 432 C, a 4211 F chord, etc if it makes for a smoother transition than I can get with a more conventional fingering.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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TwistedLefty
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Great thread,
never really thought about it except for certain Barres that required it.
now I'm definitely going to focus more on adding more pinky use to my finger picking.

#4491....


   
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KR2
 KR2
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If I had a choice, I wouldn't be all that fussy.
However, since I like the sound of finger picking arpeggio's, I find that if I'm NOT fussy, the piece sounds like crap.
Nails hitting neighboring strings on my right hand produce inappropriately timed, and unwanted notes . . .
and failure to land all fingers at the correct intersection of fret and string with the left hand produces either a buzzing string or misses a note altogether.
So, more and more, I'm forced to be fussy.

My wife notices I'm getting fussier too.
Only she calls it cranky . . . but that's probably for other reasons.

It's the rock that gives the stream its music . . . and the stream that gives the rock its roll.


   
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Rich_Halford
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Thanks Noteboat, I'm going to print your post and add it to Greybeards two that I have put in my tabs/stuff folder, so now and again I will find those pages and have a practice.

So much great learning material, so little time!


   
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Anonymous
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i'll use whatever fingering's convenient. i like to be able to play something regardless of what position my hands are in before it starts and whatever i'm going into.


   
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eyeplayguitar
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I think it's always worth it to get the fingering right. It's easy to cut corners now but it always seems to come back and bite you in the ass later on down the road. It could work for 9 out of 10 songs and then stop you dead in your tracks on the 10th. Frustrating, but I think worth it in the end.

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cnev
 cnev
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I don't think it matters as much of which fingers you use to finger a chord that will work itself out and being able to play them with different fingerings will come in handy, but not using all the fingers, pinky included, would eventually become limiting and unless you don't have a pinky or it's completely non functional it should get as much work as the rest.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


   
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Muffinz
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Well, think of it this way: Better to have four fingers available than three! :)

Although I must confess that I, too, use my third finger alot for bends and such...trying to use my pinky as much as possible though..


   
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Coolnama
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I use my pinky alot too, I like the sound of an E doubling the G# on the 1st string, I have small hands, when you look at me playing that it looks like a hell of a stretch, but it works, I also like to play A min/maj 7 hitting that same G# in the 1st string.

when Im playing lead I also use the pinky alot for slides and such, and also for pull offs, what I cant use it for yet is for tapping, but Ill get it into that shape soon.

Also there is a certain voicing of Am9 that I just love that ends up being like this :

[-------------3----------------------------]e
[--------------1----------------------------]B
[--------------4-----------------------------]G
[------------2-------------------------------]D
[----------0-----------------------------------]A
[---------x---------------------------------]E

That stretch to B on the G string can be really hard sometimes!, but I just love how it sounds :D

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gnease
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I know I use my pinkie extensively for chording and other fretting, but don't usually think about it any more except for the obvious such as three-finger pull-offs and hammer-ons. but someone recently commented "I want to be able to do that!" while I was playing. I had to ask "uh, what?" because whatever it was seemed pretty mundane. I was bending with my pinkie (unaided by ring finger). guess the underappreciated little guy's been doing more than I thought.

-=tension & release=-


   
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Anonymous
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aren't fingerings dictated by what you're playing and your hands?


   
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