4

I've learned from the beginner tutorials that the first 4 frets are allocated to point, middle, ring and little fingers respectively.

But recently, in a guitar lesson for a song, I've seen the guy sliding the fingers and used his ring finger for the 4th fret to play a note. Is it a correct approach?

Even if it's hard, I want to follow the correct method. Which finger you want me to use to play a note on the 4th fret? The ring finger or the little finger?

  • 2
    "the first 4 frets are allocated to point, middle, ring and little fingers respectively" Only when playing the four notes in succession (chromatic scale) – leonbloy Jun 19 '15 at 15:16
  • 2
    Remember rule 1 of music : there are no rules :-) only established techniques that may work for most people depending on finger shape size etc. – user2808054 Jun 19 '15 at 16:15
13

You should use whatever is more effective, comfortable, economical, etc.

Some traditional methods of guitar will insist on using certain fingers for certain strings or related ideas like hitting repeated notes on one string by rotating through index-middle-ring, etc. There is often a good reason for this, but none of these work in all situations — much less are always the best idea. Take them as guidelines.

However, you do want to make use of your pinky on songs where it's not "needed", at least when practising, because it is generally the weakest finger and you want to build it up before you do need to rely on it.

  • 2
    "Guidelines" is spot-on. When learning to play the piano, one is taught that each key in a chord should be pressed by a different finger for maximum ease and control. One day, a chord with eleven notes in it jumps at you. Or something less radical such as Cis-Dis-Cis (right hand). The rule simply goes out of your way. – Jirka Hanika Jun 19 '15 at 16:17
  • I have a very strong 4th finger and do most 4th position notes, bends etc using it. I still sometimes use another finger to play the note in the 4th fret relative to the first - just do what works at the time. – wolandscat Jun 19 '15 at 18:04
4

In general, a 'sense of the future' is useful. Fingering for each note be done so that the fingers (resources) are available so that our ability to play future notes with ease is at the best.

How I would think of it:

  1. if one had to play just three notes (finger names within parentheses): 2nd string 1st fret (index), 2nd fret (middle) and the 4th fret (little).

  2. one more note to be played on a higher number fret: 2nd string 1st fret (index), 2nd fret (middle), the 4th fret (ring), the 5th fret (little)

  3. one more note to be played on a lower number fret: 2nd string 1st fret (index), 2nd fret (middle), the 4th fret (little), 1st string 3rd fret (ring)

  4. one more note played on the first string, 4th fret : 2nd string 1st fret (index), 2nd fret (middle), the 4th fret (little), first string 4th fret (little by rolling down and using the pad of the finger)

  5. one more note added to 'situation 4': 2nd string 1st fret (index), 2nd fret (middle), the 4th fret (little), first string 4th fret (ring), first string 5th fret (little)

We may have to consider fingering for each phrase, and not give much importance to fixed finger-fret or the number of frets in between etc.

See if the fingering enables one to produce the sound of the phrase at hand, with minimal effort, with least chance of mistake.

Choose a fingering that makes it easier to play all notes, all transitions between the notes etc - especially when the adrenaline is active and one may have to try and get the best of flow.

2

I've learned from the beginner tutorials that the first 4 frets are allocated to point, middle, ring and little fingers respectively.

Then you've been watching/reading some extremely sucky beginner tutorials. This isn't even the standard way of playing scales, according to the guitar grade syllabuses (syllabi?) for UK examination boards.

It's quite possible that you're following a tutorial method which starts you playing that way, and then later will take you into more "normal" playing. If that's the case, fair enough. But if that's the case, then comparing your massively-restricted-for-the-complete-beginner playing style with how a "normal" guitarist would play it, you'll obviously find some differences.

My recommendation? Find a different tutor.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.