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I stumbled upon this phrase, not knowing how to play it. I'm trying to get comfortable with this middle finger barre (it's hard to keep all strings pressed, especially D), which seems the only way not using thumb on bass note.

    1
    3
    2  2  4  2
E|--------------
B|--1-----4-----
G|--3-----------
D|-----2-----4--
A|--------------
E|--2-----------
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1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

It all depends how you many notes you want to ring on, and for how long. Using the approach you describe (with a middle-finger barre) you can keep all the notes (except the C on string 2) ringing until you get to the last note, where you will have to lift the middle-finger barre to get to the F#.

And yes, this is a little tricky, and would just need practice!

It is a little difficult to tell what effect you want, and so why you would use your suggested fingering, without seeing the phrase in context, and seeing what rhythm it has. This would give a better idea of how to move-to and move-away-from this phrase, which would suggest fingerings. Also, seeing the phrase in context would suggest how long different notes in this phrase would ring for.

The first 3-note chord and the next note produce an F#7(b5) chord. This is a reasonably common shape, which could simply be played with: finger 1 on string 2; 2 on string 6; 4 on string 3; the following E on string 4 with finger 3. You would then probably need to move to play the next two fret 4 notes. If keeping the bass note F# ringing under all of this phrase is important, then yes, you could use your L.H. thumb (I'm useless at this!), or finger 2 as I suggest. Whether using your thumb or finger 2 on the low F#, you can then reach the next two fret 4 notes with your little finger (4), or if you want them both to ring, a little-finger barre! In either case, it would be very difficult to keep any of the previous notes (apart from the bass F#) ringing.

While maybe not a definitive answer, I hope this suggests some useful approaches. As I said before, it helps if the rhythm/context of the phrase is shown - sometimes TAB is not so great for this…

EDIT: Just one other thing… If you do use your thumb on the bass F#, you can then use: finger 1 on string 2; finger 2 on string 4; and finger 3 on string 3, for the first four notes.

EDIT TWO (!): You could even use a "wonky-barre" here, where your L.H. index finger plays the low F# (string 6, fret 2), and also plays fret 1 string 2, by being placed diagonally! In the end, I found all these fingerings in just a few minutes by experimenting. My second guitar teacher was a big fan of trying out many different fingerings, to see ones that improve the tone, or allow you play a piece/phrase more fluently. As with many aspects of guitar playing, fingering is very personal - although some fingerings will be more sensible or orthodox, it is a good idea to experiment, to find something that works for you. I sometimes change fingerings several times while learning a piece/song, until I find one I'm really happy with.

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+1 for thumb on E. Very common technique –  david strachan Jan 27 at 11:27
    
Well, yes. But not necessarily an orthodox technique for all types of guitar playing. I would generally advise my guitar pupils not use their thumb on string 6 unless there is no alternative, and certainly not for classical guitar. Thanks for the up vote though!! –  Bob Broadley Jan 27 at 12:19
    
It's quite a personal choice this, but I would always advise players to weigh up the advantage of "gaining an extra finger for bass notes" against the technical benefits of keeping the thumb behind the neck. (Allowing fingers to avoid touching adjacent strings, having the thumb able to press against the fingers and the freedom gained by keeping the palm of the hand off the neck.) –  Bob Broadley Jan 27 at 12:39

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