According to this question and answer and elsewhere I've seen and read online, you should start the plucking action with your index finger.

Naturally, for me, middle then index is more comfortable for normal playing and ring then middle then index is more comfortable for triplets.

Will this lead to poor performance down the road? Should I retrain myself to lead with the index? If so, please explain why?

  • Interesting question, personally I play the same way you do.
    – user28
    May 8, 2012 at 17:25

4 Answers 4


If you are planning to be a really good player, you should be able to start on either finger. This depending on which string you are starting on and which string the next note is on as well as which brain cell you are using. That last part is a joke however you won't want to make conscious decisions about which finger you start with. This will all be automatic to you. What do you consider "starting" anyway. Isn't it true that each time you go to a different string - it is a new start? And you go to the new string with the finger that did NOT just play the last note. I start on either finger with no difficulty and don't make choices about it. It happens in the moment. As long as you develop strict discipline about alternating fingers for each note played, you will be fine. Alternating for every note is far more important than what finger you start with.

  • 2
    what happens when you have to play the same pattern of uneven notes, do you start the serie always with the same finger (playing the first and last note with the same finger) or do you play it one time starting with one finger and the next starting with the other finger?
    – F.C.
    Jun 9, 2012 at 15:56
  • I found I play shuffle time (without meaning to) when leading with index, whereas I'm solid 4/4 when I start with middle. Feb 27, 2019 at 8:48

I agree with @VariableLost as it really doesn't matter what you start with, although to be a truly strong player you should be equally good with all fingers. With bass there is less of a need to develop fingers other than your middle or index, but some of the most amazing bass players are equally strong with their ring fingers and even pinky. I'd say learn to develop your index finger and middle finger to be interchangeable, but I would strongly recommend practicing so you can alternate-pick with either finger in a strict alternating pattern across strings, starting with either finger, as this will greatly improve your dexterity moving from string to string, as various patterns you play in your life will require you to find your way around in tangling ways that are not always convenient - it's better if you are agile enough to handle all situations with ease.


Actually... you might need all your fingers. I wish I had learned the technique espoused by Gary Willis before I picked my dad's classical guitar 20+ years.


In the 3rd set, i usually use the fingers that dont already hurt…

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