Easier Fingerings and Substitute Ideas

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Easier Fingerings and Substitute Ideas

Postby Art Sims » Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:21 am

There are lots of fingerings in Chet’s playing, and other excellent players, that don’t work real well for me. In my case, I need easier fingerings and substitute ideas. I’ve never had anyone tell me they’ve noticed my fingerings are simpler than most, but many of them have to be. I've admired Chet’s playing and been a fan since the 50’s, collecting most of his albums and videos and delighting in his music. And, there are sections in his songs that do finger well for me and that I enjoy playing. But most arrangements, by him and others, involve fingerings that are too demanding, for me. It’s not that I can’t get them, but if I do, my left hand pays such a price that I stop playing. Chet’s arrangements are truly terrific and I certainly enjoy seeing various players do them and apply things from them in their songs. It’s one reason I like this board - getting to see the postings. But most arrangements by good players are too much for me. For example, I have a defect in the index finger so that going back and forth very much between barre chords and the finger tip, when playing, produces swelling and stiffness in that finger. So I hardly ever play the big barre. Another difficulty is that I can’t stretch over the frets very far. In younger days I did things that aren’t so easy anymore. Exercises complicate my trouble. I also know there are surgeries and vitamin supplements, some of which I’ve tried, etc.
But my solution is simplification, adapting things to make them easier on the hand, and to realize I don’t have to be a super-great player in order for music to be enjoyable. The great thing about a guitar is that there is more than one place on the fretboard where things can be played, some much easier. And, by utilizing open strings as much as possible, mixing hand positions and planning gentile fingerings I’ve learned that I can prevent most of my hand trouble and keep my fingers fairly flexible. Attention to these things enables me to keep going. I get ideas from Chet’s playing, and Merle, and a some others, and play what is comfortable, but in some of it, instead of doing exactly what they do, I craft alternatives to my lesser hand. Thus, I wind up pretty much playing my own arrangements, which accommodate my lesser ability. In my playing, I’ve been focused on this for about the last 20 years or so.
I wonder if other players, probably older guys like me, are doing much of this same thing in order to keep on playing?
Art Sims
Art Sims
Posts: 157
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 2:35 pm

Re: Easier Fingerings and Substitute Ideas

Postby Terry Tolley » Tue Jun 17, 2014 11:40 am

Art...I am one of those "older guys" who has problems...maybe not the same as yours, but which limit me nonetheless. I never have worried about it much over the last 40 years or so....but sure, I would have liked to "play it right". I play mostly for my own enjoyment. If I played professionally and had to live on my talent, well....I would have gone on to my great reward many decades ago. I find that I can play familiar tunes in alternate keys to get fingerings I can manage, use a capo when needed to transpose for a singer, and on rare occasions, use alternate tunings. Bottom line....there is almost always a way to play what you want if you search hard enough.
Terry Tolley
Posts: 180
Joined: Mon Aug 16, 2010 10:23 pm
Location: Buckeye, Arizona

Re: Easier Fingerings and Substitute Ideas

Postby Roger Pratt » Tue Jun 17, 2014 2:18 pm

This thread applies to me more than I could tell you. I have trouble making long stretches across frets which precludes me from playing tunes such as Cascade to name just one that I can think of. I look for simple tunes that I can play at a comfortable level. I mainly play gospel tunes that adapt well to fingerstyle and one of my guitar heroes has to be Richard Hudson. I look for any and all that Richard plays to give me more material not that Richard only plays simple tunes (we all know he doesn't) but because he plays a lot of gospel. At 70 yrs of age I do what I can do and am happy with that.
Roger Pratt
Posts: 660
Joined: Mon Aug 16, 2010 10:45 pm

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