Jump to content
Gibson Brands Forums
Sign in to follow this  
EuroAussie

Some fingerpicking advice please ..

Recommended Posts

Been a strummer and flat picker for long time but starting to get into fingerpicking slowly. Very much a beginner, or at least feel like a beginner.

 

Biggest problem I have right now is with right hand, in not being able to strike the right strings at the right time.

 

Part of the problem is that Im having problem with keeping my hand at right angle to the soundboard, my hand is trying to get lazy and go too much at an angle and then Im finding the tone when I strike the string is poor and sometimes (ok, often) miss the string.

 

When I consiously have the hand more at right angle its much easier, but sort of ..unnatural.

 

My guitar teacher gave me a tip in keeping the pinky stuck against the soundboard, and this has helped in keeping my hand at the right angle and also striking the right strings.

 

Except I dont have long fingers, and the pinky is quite short, so its sort of feel cramped, but definitely helps in getting my right hand position and technique better.

 

So, do you think keeping the pinky down is good advice, and do you have any other good tips to have better control of the right hand in terms of position, striking the strings and tone ?

 

I play mainly with flesh but have nails which I use for additional dynamics.

 

thanks a lot in advance !

 

EA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Been a strummer and flat picker for long time but starting to get into fingerpicking slowly. Very much a beginner, or at least feel like a beginner.

 

Biggest problem I have right now is with right hand, in not being able to strike the right strings at the right time.

 

Part of the problem is that Im having problem with keeping my hand at right angle to the soundboard, my hand is trying to get lazy and go too much at an angle and then Im finding the tone when I strike the string is poor and sometimes (ok, often) miss the string.

 

When I consiously have the hand more at right angle its much easier, but sort of ..unnatural.

 

My guitar teacher gave me a tip in keeping the pinky stuck against the soundboard, and this has helped in keeping my hand at the right angle and also striking the right strings.

 

Except I dont have long fingers, and the pinky is quite short, so its sort of feel cramped, but definitely helps in getting my right hand position and technique better.

 

So, do you think keeping the pinky down is good advice, and do you have any other good tips to have better control of the right hand in terms of position, striking the strings and tone ?

 

I play mainly with flesh but have nails which I use for additional dynamics.

 

thanks a lot in advance !

 

EA

 

 

I'm just "re-learning" to fingerpick properly, and understand exactly where you are coming from on this. Right now, I keep my pinky on the pickguard much of the time to position my hand properly, but am gradually getting to the point where I don't have to do that all the time, as it can be a bit tiring.

 

Like you, I've primarily been a flat-picker in recent years, and manage (at least a fair amount of the time) to hit the proper strings without my hand having a fixed reference position relative to them.

 

I'm assuming with time I'll develop a similar capacity while fingerpicking, but right now I am still depending on the pinky to keep my hand in the right location.

 

It's also a matter of finding the right hand position that allows your fingers to work independently without stressing your entire hand. That seems to be a tricky thing for me, since it is so different from the completely "loose" wrist you need for strumming and flat-picking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

forget the left hand for a while, work on your right hand technique, this type of playing is all about the right hand. You'll have to find your own comfort spot, using the pinky on the board, or no pinky if you don't like it. As it's such a change for you they'll all feel wrong/uncomfortable initially... persistence is key here!

 

Above all I'd get a Stephan Grossman DVD lesson, cheap, cheerful and will get you off to a great start.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An altenative to anchoring your 4th pinky finger on the pickguard/soundboard is keeping your 3rd finger lightly touching the 1st string. Assuming your starting our using your thumb for the 6th, 5th and 4th strings - you'll mostly use your ring finger on the first, so keeping it there will help you hard wire the correct spacing and angle of your right hand and fingers. Try exercises like plucking with all four fingers at once to get them understanding their spatial relationships. Then throw in a few measures of thumb on the 4th followed by plucking all together at one time your 1,2 & 3 fingers on the 3rd, 2nd and 1st strings. Then, after a few hundred of those, try appregios - T,1,2 & 3. Finally, T and 1, then T and 2, T and 3 & T and 4. Just come up with combinations that build on each other to hardwire the brain and individual fingers. THEN, Google 'double thumbing' ! G'luck!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tough question, EA!

 

 

As much as I love Stefan Grossman Guitar Workshop stuff, I don't think that stuff will answer your questions about the right hand. A lot of their stuff assumes you have worked on that already. I would get a decent beginning fingerpicking book, probably Mel Bay or such - they go through what you are asking..... Once you have some of that down you could grab a few Stefan DVD's to practice your fingerpicking on. You are a hard one to point in the right direction because you already play well, and a lot of the books/dvd's are real beginner's and will bore you to snores...... So grab a Mel beginner's fingerpicking compendium or whatever they call them currently, get stuck in then try the stuff out on tunes you already know the left hand to.

 

 

BluesKing777.

 

(Oh yeah, I rest my right hand pinky on the pick guard....but I don't know whether that is right or wrong technically, but I had a push bike accident 6 or 7 years ago and broke my right hand quite badly - of course! So I like to support my hand with a pinky.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Euro,

 

Are you talking about basic finger picking? I.E. up and down on the strings with a few cord changes?

 

When I first learn't guitar everybody hurts was in the charts and it was a D to G chord change, which I could just about manage :). Anyway it's a real easy one to start with.

 

I'm just trying to learn other finger patterns at the moment, I'm trying to learn Bob Dylan by ear and it's not working :)

 

Edit = My finger next to the little one rests on the bottom string, it also gives you a bit of leverage when playing the bass notes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks BK - actually im quite humble enough to go back to basics and am learning from a beginners fingerpicking book. Basic patterns and so on. Its actually perfect for my needs as its a completely different ball game to what Ive been doing.

 

I feel a bit like a baby ... but thats ok, I can dribble a little ...

 

Tough question, EA!

 

 

As much as I love Stefan Grossman Guitar Workshop stuff, I don't think that stuff will answer your questions about the right hand. A lot of their stuff assumes you have worked on that already. I would get a decent beginning fingerpicking book, probably Mel Bay or such - they go through what you are asking..... Once you have some of that down you could grab a few Stefan DVD's to practice your fingerpicking on. You are a hard one to point in the right direction because you already play well, and a lot of the books/dvd's are real beginner's and will bore you to snores...... So grab a Mel beginner's fingerpicking compendium or whatever they call them currently, get stuck in then try the stuff out on tunes you already know the left hand to.

 

 

BluesKing777.

 

(Oh yeah, I rest my right hand pinky on the pick guard....but I don't know whether that is right or wrong technically, but I had a push bike accident 6 or 7 years ago and broke my right hand quite badly - of course! So I like to support my hand with a pinky.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, right fromn the beginning with a beginners fingerpickign book. Basic patterns, walking bass, 4/4 3/4 etc ...not really blues country picking at this stage, too tricky for me. Just the basics for now, slow n' easy ...

 

My weakness is that Im too much of a perfectionist, so until I have the basic technique right on Im Im stickign to the basics.

 

Hey Euro,

 

Are you talking about basic finger picking? I.E. up and down on the strings with a few cord changes?

 

When I first learn't guitar everybody hurts was in the charts and it was a D to G chord change, which I could just about manage :). Anyway it's a real easy one to start with.

 

I'm just trying to learn other finger patterns at the moment, I'm trying to learn Bob Dylan by ear and it's not working :)

 

Edit = My finger next to the little one rests on the bottom string, it also gives you a bit of leverage when playing the bass notes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know there are some specific guidelines to this guitar stuff, but I figure you do what works for you. Sometimes my pinkie is resting on the pickquard, and sometimes my ring finger is resting there too. Sometimes no fingers. Depends on the number of fingers I'm picking with. For now, do what the other folks are suggesting. Keep at it. Once your fingers remember where they are, you'll be in good shape. Like all this guitar stuff, you do it over and over and over, until your hands know where to go (kind of like being with a sweet and willing gal) and then you'll start expanding and picking-up melodies. The knowledge you already have of the fretboard is going to be a huge help. Just get your technique down. I know it seems overwhelming at the moment. That's how I used to feel about strumming with a pick. Didn't think I could ever hit individual notes, but staying with it works. [thumbup]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm just trying to learn other finger patterns at the moment, I'm trying to learn Bob Dylan by ear and it's not working :)

 

Slight hijack but this website really improved my playing a few (wow, it's probably 10!) years ago. Especially learning the two 90s acoustic albums which I really got into (not that there's much fingerpicking) http://dylanchords.info/

 

 

 

Regarding fingerpicking, I learnt classical guitar before I ever knew what a chord was between the ages of 8 and 16 so I think I benefitted a lot from that. That's not much help I know, but it's true what they say - practice makes perfect!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds good Larry, Ill pretend Im enjoying foreplay with my bigbutt J-150 girl ... ;-)

 

Like all this guitar stuff, you do it over and over and over, until your hands know where to go (kind of like being with a sweet and willing gal) and then you'll start expanding and picking-up melodies. [thumbup]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@ Chris, cheers for the website, I've book marked it.

 

@Euro, I think I need to invest in a book, My right hand is fine, I just don't know patterns.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I started playing in the late 60's there wasn't as much instructional material available as nowadays and of course no internet. For some reason I didn't want to take lessons. At first I learned chords for songs and strummed them with my thumb. Then I got hold of some books by a fellow named Baxter. One of them was Baxter's Complete Guitar Accompaniment Manual, from which I learned - playing strings 4, 5, and 6 with thumb and 3 with index, 2 with middle, 1 with ring finger - to split a four beat measure into a pattern like T, I, MR, I (thumb, index, middle and ring together, index). So I just played the same chords I had been strumming but on the right played patterns like

 

T, I, MR, I

T, I, M, R

T, R, M, I

TR,I, R, M, I

 

etc. At that time I was anchoring my fourth finger on the pick guard. Later I laboriously learned to float free, which allows better hand posture and more versatility. I accompanied singing with picked patterns for a few months and then moved on to alternating bass picking once my fingers were stronger, more independant and better coordinated from playing the patterns.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I pretty much always anchor my pinky on the pickguard. I suppose I probably lose a little bit of tone by doing so, but I don't notice any difference, and I find it REALLY helps me avoid picking the wrong string. In a perfect world I would try to use the correct form, but I'm not sure the improvement in tone would merit the amount of work required to bring it about.

 

Being a natural lefty but playing the guitar righty, I've found fingerpicking to be a bit of a challenge. I've picked up a handful of finger-picking patterns over the years on a song-by-song basis. When I had my guitar out, I'd practice the pattern over and over on the same chord; when I was away from my guitar (like in class), I'd practice the pattern (T-R-I-M-T-R-I-M etc) on my desk or table. Eventually it clicks and I can try to do it over the chord changes, hammers, pull-offs, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2 things that might help (they certainly helped me!):

 

1. Learn some basic fingerpicked numbers based around very simple chord changes (the less your brain has to deal with the better at this point). Don't start to simple though, perhaps something like Stack O Lee by Mississippi J Hurt or Alice's Restaurant if your feeling adventurous. Developing independent thumb bass will put you in a great place to go on.

 

2. Jam the heck out of the pentatonic or blues scale in 3-4 positions using just your fingers (no picks). I don't think jam tracks are necessary, but they might help you get into the playing more.

 

3. Country chords! Pick the hell out of them. Jam out all the classics and learn some tracks you can perform (Angie, Black Sheep Boy, Rex's Blues).

 

4. Improvise and write your own tunes!

 

5. That was more than 2 things wasn't it...

 

Dunno if anyone else would agree with this, but it's pretty much what I did and I've never had a lesson in my life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

EA, I guess that there are many different approaches which each have their drawbacks and advantages. This is likely to become a long and very interesting thread.

 

Like Chris83 I learned a certain amount of classical first and that influences how I play guitar generally (ultimately a preference for fingerpicking over other methods) and how I fingerpick specifically (preference for classical hand positioning). I find the classical r/h positioning works for most things I want to play (blues and country with alternating bass, as well as jazz and classical pieces with less rhythmic and sometimes more melodic thumbstrokes), but it won't work for everything. Even if I use Richard Thompson's drop-C tuning and get round to buying a capo, I can tell from videos and several practice attempts that I probably won't be able to play 'Vincent Black Lightning 1952' following the original version, unless I develop a different r/h position. On the other hand, I can't see RT managing to cop the intro to 'Spanish Caravan' if he holds his right hand at that angle. Classical positioning gives fantastic control with practice, and it can enable incredible speed and articulation, but some folk stylings seem to defy it.

 

I think that what a lot of advice here is pointing to is the need to focus on prepping your right hand so that you have a sense of where the strings are relative to your fingers. Read a few classical sites and they'll point to the fact that guitarists in that tradition usually 'prepare' notes before playing them - they lay their finger on the string before plucking it. But even the classical bods disagree about how best to sequence the process of preparation and plucking in arpeggios. In fact even classical positioning varies between players. At this point, Matt Sears will hopefully intervene with real insight.

 

What I would say is that anything which works for you in achieving a greater confidence in finding the right string over and over again is likely to be good. That may be anchoring your pinkie on the scratchguard, or the alternative suggested by 40Years. I'd like to suggest a further alternative, which is one of the best techniques I learned from my teacher. It may only work with classical positioning (thumb forward of the fingers), but might be worth a try with other positions.

 

Try anchoring your index and median fingers on the G and B strings at the same time. (Later you could anchor them on the D and G strings instead, but you have to start somewhere.) These two fingers will become your point of reference. Next practise plucking the G string with your index while keeping the median planted on the B string and lowering your ring finger onto the high E string so that it is planted there but doesn't pluck. Practise this sequence for a while, and then extend the sequence, so that you start plucking the B string with your median as soon as your ring finger has planted on the E string. Once you've plucked the B, remove your ring finger from the E and plant both index and median back on the G and B strings in a single movement, and start again. (To start with, replace index and median before removing ring. As you grow in confidence, you can remove the ring finger first.) After a decent number of repetitions plucking G and B, extend the sequence to include the E, so that you pluck that string with your ring finger as soon as your median has finished plucking the B. As you pluck the E string, start lowering your index and median onto the G and B strings. You'll find that as you make or at least start each movement, you have at least one finger planted on a string and acting as an anchor/guide for your other fingers. Then add your thumb in, so that you effectively perform an arc around your I and M fingers. They are planted on the G and B strings while you pluck the bass string (say low E) with your thumb, and the M finger stays on the B string while the I plucks the G string and the A plants on the high E. With practice this process will give you real confidence on ascending arpeggios. Then you can reverse the process for descending ones.

 

This kind of sequencing has a poncey name. I can't remember what it is, but Maestro Matt may be able to tell us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alternatively:

 

1) travel to London and get Matt to teach you Villa-Lobos Prelude No. 4 and Etude No. 1;

 

2) book into a clinic for help when the inevitable melt-down occurs;

 

3) send the Bird back to Thomann and buy a Ramirez instead.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Im taking this option !

 

Seriously, thanks a lot for the great repponses guys, lots and lots of food for thought, need to take it all in sizeable chunks !

 

Alternatively:

 

1) travel to London and get Matt to teach you Villa-Lobos Prelude No. 4 and Etude No. 1;

 

2) book into a clinic for help when the inevitable melt-down occurs;

 

3) send the Bird back to Thomann and buy a Ramirez instead.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By your description, I'm at a similar juncture in my transition to fingerpicking. I found my comfort and skill at the most elementary improved quicker by playing lap steel for a while before picking up the flat top. I don't know why but maybe it'll work for you. Sounds like we'll have to get back to the 10,000 hours discussion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

no pinky anchoring aloud. bad form. tape your pinky and ring fingers together and get your pinky used to just shadowing the ring finger. Finger strikes should generally be the thumb for EAD and first 3 fingers for GBE. No pinky, but please don't use it to anchor your hand. [scared]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

no pinky anchoring aloud. bad form. tape your pinky and ring fingers together and get your pinky used to just shadowing the ring finger. Finger strikes should generally be the thumb for EAD and first 3 fingers for GBE. No pinky, but please don't use it to anchor your hand. [scared]

 

Aw, but it might help him feel perky...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aw, but it might help him feel perky...

 

 

Aha!

 

A perky pointy pinky but perfectly pliable is preferably played principally....

 

 

Just do it!

 

 

BluesKing777.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Speaking as a reformed plectrum player, the key (as noted) is getting thumb -finger independence. This exercise helped me: get a monotonic bass going: A A A A (4-bar), then start working in a lead note on the E (A 5th fret to G 3rd fret) bass/treble treble bass treble treble. Ernie Hawkins explains this better than I can

Dont shuffle the bass, keep it steady, dat dat dat dat.

 

Might try just thumb and 1 finger for starters. Less to think about. Are you using a pick? Try wearing it more toward the knuckle, not the finger tip. Hope that helps

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aha!

 

A perky pointy pinky but perfectly pliable is preferably played principally....

 

 

Just do it!

 

 

BluesKing777.

 

... in pull-offs?

 

But you know, flamenco players are the best at pulling off.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...