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A common fingerpicking grip is the thumb on DAE and index-middle-ring on eBG. Another grip I've heard about, without high E, is the thumb on AE and index-middle-ring on DGB.

What's a "normal" grip to play something like this, where I'd need to pluck both D (outside of the bass) and high E?

       F              C             G           Am              F
e|------1--------------------------------------------------------1----|
B|-----1---1--------------1------------0------------1----------1--1---|
G|---2-------2----------0---0---------0--0--------2---2------2------0-|
D|-3------------------2-------2------0----0-----2------2---3----------|
A|------------------3--------------------------0----------------------|
E|---------------------------------3----------------------------------|

I've tried using the grip I described first so that the C-bar would go thumb-thumb-index-middle-thumb, and I've tried switching between the two grips described. Neither feels very comfortable to me. What's the "normal" way of playing this?

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Can't say what 'normal' is, but you will learn to mix and match, so that you can be as good with pinky as well. This makes life more tricky at first, but far better in the long run. Let's face it - you only have four fingers, so limiting playing to three is cutting down by 25% - a big loss. And occasionally you may even need thumb on the G string, to keep things smooth, so, open mind is the key phrase!

Thumb is often used to produce a bass pattern, as the tone is then consistent. So, don't be tied by having to play in a particular way, finger-wise, but experiment, as we all should, until you find some things that work for you, and incorporating an extra finger to what a lot of players use can't be a bad move, can it?

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I consider the "home position" to be the thumb for the bottom three strings, and index, middle, and ring for the top three, just like you described.

I try stick to this when I can, but of course you will run into certain patterns or licks that necessitate modifying this, or using the pinkie finger. Don't be afraid to use them when needed. For example, if the G was played quickly there, I would probably just use my thumb for the bottom string and my index/middle/ring fingers for the other strings, just to be economical.

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I'm not sure your tab example goes with your question; none of the chords use both the high E and the A string.

I would use thumb and three fingers (p - i - m - a - m - i) for each of these chords, whichever strings the chord uses.

In other words, your "grip" will move around to different locations.

  • Sorry for my unclear question! What I meant was the tab in the example, not tabs where all A-e strings are picked. So you'd switch grip between the chords for this tab? – Anna Jan 30 '18 at 23:12
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    Yes, each chord gets its own "grip." It's best not to rest your right hand fingers on the strings before they play a note. Think of it as a RH fingering pattern (p-i-m-a-m-i) as opposed to a grip. – NeroXIV Jan 30 '18 at 23:57

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