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I'm looking at Guitar Arpeggio Studies On Jazz Standards by Mimi Fox.

I'd like advice on left hand fingering on even this simplest exercise.

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In the first bar, should we use ring finger for the D and little finger for the G? Seems hard to get those two notes smoothly otherwise. But now, getting from the B to the D is beyond my stretching, so getting that smooth is hard.

Now, bar 3, are we supposed to slide from Bb to B or fret with 1st and 2nd fingers? Again getting it smooth from B to D seems tricksy.

All advice welcome.

For reference, the book is accompanied by played examples, download from here.

2 Answers 2

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You can play both D and G with pinky, but it might be more difficult to get a clean sound this way. Playing with ring finger and pinky gives more control. I would say it's worth practicing both ways.

Note that in such passage, the previous notes should not ring. Once you play B, you can release the middle finger holding the G note. This should make it easier to reach for the D note with the ring finger.

Hand stretch depends a lot on the hand position. Classical guitarists typically get it right. This video seems to have some good advice:

Or this:

The second example I would play by sliding index finger from the first fret to the second. The slide isn't notated explicitly, but given the bluesy character of the lick, I think it's appropriate.

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  • There's nothing saying let ring, that's true, but often, arps are written this way, and it's rather like using the sustain pedal on the piano - it sounds better that way. Would need to read what the author intends here.
    – Tim
    Aug 28, 2023 at 16:33
  • @Tim in general, I agree, but I'm making some guesses. If we wanted the notes to ring, it would be better to play D and G on open strings to avoid muting B. Aug 29, 2023 at 1:43
  • The author doesn't specify in the text, but does provide played examples. I've added the link.
    – djna
    Aug 29, 2023 at 5:45
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    @djna please note, that when "stretches" are mentioned, you shouldn't actually feel any pain or stretching. It's rather a matter of relaxing hand and putting it in a correct position. Aug 29, 2023 at 6:24
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    @djna yes, in the recordings you can hear that only one note sounds at a time – and there is another guitar playing the chords. Aug 29, 2023 at 6:26
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This is where tab isn't a lot of help. Just looking at the dots, I'd have played the D and top G as open strings, and let the whole lot ring. Alternatively, use just the pinky on all the 5th fret notes. That will probably mean, as in my case, (with small hands) that the B gets cut off a little short.

Anyone who can reach the D with their ring finger will probably do just that, using pinky for the top G. But, as with all music on guitar, use whatever you can, comfortably. As I say, part of the practice regime is working out for yourself which fingering is most applicable to, and comfortable for, you.

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    My assumption is that the book is specifying the tabbed fretting with an eye to future work. So I'm keen not to over-simplify. As specified the patterns are movable, no open strings, so I'm guessing I should stick to that idea.
    – djna
    Aug 28, 2023 at 11:33

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