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I just started learning the guitar and given that I'm the ultimate beginner my instructor thought its best to start with tabs solo and only for the first 4 frets. Now I've been doing this for the past couple of days and I've a feeling that the next progression would be to play without looking at the guitar but here are my biggest challenges

1- given that my hands are small I have a hard time playing the fourth fret with my pinky (as my instructor told me) so I'm wondering would it be better to play it by moving my hand and use other fingers, or is it a bad habit to get into?

2- I'm playing using a pick and finding it hard to feel to which string I'm playing unless I look, so I'm thinking about using my fingers where for example I play the 3rd string with my index and 2nd with my middle finger and such, is that a good idea?

  • Is it - electric, acoustic, classical ?- all are subtly different. – Tim Oct 3 '14 at 10:32
  • Don't forget you're still in the very beginning stages, all of that gets easier with practice, especially when muscle memory kicks in and you don't have to watch your hands so much. – Charles Oct 3 '14 at 16:34
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Fingerings are about playing stuff in the most natural and easy way, but what is the most natural and easy way can be changed with practice. Playing with the pinky is an important asset so it makes sense to integrate it in your practice even though you might be able to work around it.

The most important thing for pinky playing (not just on the guitar) is to avoid "snapping" action. One part of that is not to the last joint bend the other direction than the others. That takes strength and training. The problem with the snapping is that it makes you imprecise and slow.

The pinky will remain the weakest finger realistically, so even when you are good, you'll avoid things like trilling on it in concert. But weaker or not, when the melody runs there, it has to take its part and not let you down.

So be careful with working around it too much while you practise.

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The second part of your question on playing with pick or fingers has to be determined by what style and guitar you are using. I suggest to learn with a pick first. Fingerpicking can get complicated and frustrating for a beginner. You should learn chords and strumming.

If you want to play classical or folk, expect a lot of practice with fingerpicking which will take some time to perform a song. You are on the right track with the finger placement, but get some lessons, videos or a good book to discipline the fingerpicking technique. I would use Travis picking first to get an idea of using the fingerpicking technique.

Keep you expectations realistic and don't over think things. It's ok to look at the guitar while playing.

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If you're having trouble playing with the little finger, try using a capo and moving it up the neck. That way, you can get practice with good technique in a position where you don't have to stretch as far. After you've got that working, move the capo a few frets closer to the nut and work out your exercises there. Eventually, you'll have the finger movement under control and can remove the capo.

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