use of picking fingers

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use of picking fingers

Postby rhirvine » Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:50 am

From early on I used my ring finger to pick most high notes. It seemed natural but since that is my weakest nail I wonder if I should have used my index and middle finger more? They are both my strongest nails. I's never too late to improve ones picking technique I hope. Do some of you maybe only use the index and middle finger for note picking? My ring finger nail would actually start to hurt a bit with all the practicing I did when I was my late teens and 20's,
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Re: use of picking fingers

Postby Roger Pratt » Mon Jan 20, 2020 2:25 pm

I only use my first 2 fingers to pick and it has served me well. Just imagine, Merle Travis only used his thumb and first finger and he killed it.
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Re: use of picking fingers

Postby DagerRande » Tue Jan 21, 2020 10:08 pm

Rich, I use whatever combination is the best for the song I want to play. Sometimes you need more fingers planted on different strings and ready to go so that they will be ready to pick the next note. I'm thinking of something like "Cascade". That wouldn't be very easy with just a thumb and index finger! :D
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Re: use of picking fingers

Postby Ray Bohlken » Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:12 am

When I started playing fingerstyle, I used my thumb and index finger and then gradually added in my middle finger. It was quite awhile before my ring finger got involved. My pinky is just along for the ride and is just there.
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Re: use of picking fingers

Postby LMark » Thu Jan 23, 2020 5:12 pm

I've noticed that Jim Nichols uses almost exclusively his thumb and index finger. LMark
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Re: use of picking fingers

Postby rhirvine » Thu Jan 23, 2020 7:28 pm

I never noticed but will look closely in the future. I should have been using my index finger heavily and my middle finger right along during my early practicing and later on playing.
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Re: use of picking fingers

Postby Ray Bohlken » Thu Jan 23, 2020 8:03 pm

Rich, I think every body is different in how they learn and the way you went is as good as any I'll bet. Keep on picking. :D
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Re: use of picking fingers

Postby Jim Jarrell » Fri Jan 24, 2020 11:29 am

This is a great subject for the forum. Like many, I played for many years using just my index and middle fingers having learned "pattern picking" from early Happy Traum & Stefan Grossman books in the 70s. But I was able to add my ring finger to my playing based on a tip and help from Leo Kottke who I got to know back in the 90s.

Since my youth I had, again, played only with my index and middle finger and planted my ring finger on the guitar top while doing so. I was showing Leo how I thought he played one his tunes (having tabbed it out) and he stopped me and said (in so many words), "Uh, you really need to start using your ring finger too you know. And to stop planting your ring finger on the top." Then he told me, "I used to do the same and some guy told me to do this. Take your ring finger off the top and rest it on the 1st string just like you do the top. And at first it's okay to lift your ring finger up and play that first string with your middle finger, but after a while you can start using the ring finger."

In short, he said that planting the ring finger on the top helped some to "steady their hand." But it also precluded the use of the ring finger in playing. By planting the ring finger on the 1st string you could still get that "steady hand" feel but be able to use the ring finger to also play full four-finger chords or arpeggios at once (T, I, M, R). And while it took me a while to do so, the technique worked.

Admittedly, being at best an intermediate "bedroom" player, I still primarily use the I and M fingers but on some tunes, being able to comfortably use the ring finger *really* helps. Chet's first section after the intro to "Heartaches" comes to mind as a tune where the ring finger helps a lot. And there are countless more.

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www.tabpigs.org
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Re: use of picking fingers

Postby DagerRande » Sat Jan 25, 2020 12:53 am

Well, I have to have my ring finger free because I want to have all of my fingers at least available except for the pinky, which is usually the one that I would plant if I were going to. There are certain songs that I can't even imagine being able to play with only my thumb and 2 fingers! Like I said earlier, it really depends upon the song. I could never make a blanket statement about which fingers I use because that will vary but I make sure that they are all at least available.
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