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Old 01-25-2013, 10:41 AM   #1
ConcertShooter
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Using fourth (pinky) finger for solos?

Need some info please. I see the pinky finger used for many chords shapes\forms but when I watch Eric Clapton or Eric Johnson doing these outrageous solos from the 12th fret upward I see them using only the first three fingers.

Would you all be so kind as to give me some insight into the use of three or four fingers when playing and when to choose the number involved and where on the fretboard one makes that choice? Johnson for example, will use all four when playing chords from first to twelfth fret.

I am looking to get the technique correct from the beginning if that's possible with guitar. It seems that different players have different ideas as to what works best for them and maybe that's my answer. But still would like some input in this matter.

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by ConcertShooter : 01-25-2013 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 01-25-2013, 10:52 AM   #2
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Basically you should always try to use your pinky. But, when playing higher up on the frets, there's not as much space so using all 4 fingers can get a little cramped.
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Old 01-25-2013, 10:55 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Junior#1
Basically you should always try to use your pinky. But, when playing higher up on the frets, there's not as much space so using all 4 fingers can get a little cramped.
Well that makes sense. Thanks.

Last edited by ConcertShooter : 01-25-2013 at 11:06 AM.
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Old 01-25-2013, 10:57 AM   #4
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I really depends on what's being played. Obviously, there are some chords that are going to require 4 fingers, possibly even barring across strings.

As far as solos go, they are probably using 2 or 3 fingers primarily because they are using the pentatonic scale (or blues scale) which sort of lends itself to this. Most of the runs only involve 2 notes per string. Of course, you can play these using whichever fingers you like.

I wouldn't get to caught up on that, though!

Last edited by Drew-A : 01-25-2013 at 10:58 AM.
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Old 01-25-2013, 10:58 AM   #5
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As much as I enjoy Clapton he's not a player I'd look to for exemplary technique. He's good at what he does but most of what he does isn't very technically demanding by modern standards.

Eric Johnson however... jebus the things that man does. Easily one of the cleanest players in the world while fingering things really strange ways because of his obsession with the tone of the note. The thing about him is he doesn't use his pinky a huge amount but when he does you can clearly see that it's really strong and fast enough for anything he wants it for.


As for what you should do... tough call really, I'm one of the people who uses the pinky even up at the 20-24th fret area.

The best advice I think I can give is annoyingly vague: judge for yourself. That said, your pinky should really be strong enough to be used when you need it so don't neglect it; I actually spent a good month or so, possibly longer, just working on pinky independence for certain licks that I like to use.
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Old 01-25-2013, 11:06 AM   #6
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I only mentioned Clapton because I've seen him use only three fingers when soloing higher up on the fingerboard. I'm not a big fan of Clapton. Just happen to see a couple of videos of him and one this morning of Johnson soloing with only three fingers and wanted some clarification on this practice.

I tend to be a purist when it comes to instrument technique. Although I need to let some of that go for the music's sake and my own desire to play and express myself through the instrument. Guitar and violin at this point.
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Old 01-25-2013, 11:47 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ConcertShooter
I only mentioned Clapton because I've seen him use only three fingers when soloing higher up on the fingerboard. I'm not a big fan of Clapton. Just happen to see a couple of videos of him and one this morning of Johnson soloing with only three fingers and wanted some clarification on this practice.

I tend to be a purist when it comes to instrument technique. Although I need to let some of that go for the music's sake and my own desire to play and express myself through the instrument. Guitar and violin at this point.



Well, the pinky is by far the weakest finger, so it takes time to build strength and dexterity. There are plenty of blues/rock guitarists who don't use that finger much. That being said, if you want to move past simple "blues box" patterns, you'll have to use all 4.
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Old 01-25-2013, 01:20 PM   #8
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Old 01-25-2013, 02:11 PM   #9
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Treat the left pinky like the rest of the fingers. You should be able to hammer, pull, slide, and bend. Pinky Bends are a great way to avoid awkward position changes.

Any finger should be able to play a note with the same tone/timbre and confident sound.
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Old 01-25-2013, 03:27 PM   #10
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The main reason for the use of the 3rd finger is the amount of bending required for rock soloing - the 3rd finger is better positioned for bending and so tends to be preferred for lead playing in guitar styles with lots of bends.

If you look at classical and jazz players they tend to use the pinky a lot more. If you look at guitar that exclusively play blues rock they rarely use the pinky.

In depth answer requires understanding how the thumb position affects the angle of the hand -

If you're playing modern lead guitar I think it's a great advantage to be able to play well with the pinky and with 123 past the 12th fret.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drew-A
Well, the pinky is by far the weakest finger, so it takes time to build strength and dexterity. There are plenty of blues/rock guitarists who don't use that finger much. That being said, if you want to move past simple "blues box" patterns, you'll have to use all 4.


If you put an equal amount of work with each finger, the 4th is stronger than the 3rd.
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Old 01-25-2013, 05:23 PM   #11
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Like freepower said the use of the pinky will vary depending on your style of music.
As a beginner i think you should develop all 4 fingers equally, in the future you want to have the options that a skilled pinky offers.
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Old 01-25-2013, 08:11 PM   #12
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I personally find the pinky VERY hard to use on higher frets but its just something that must be done for some solos. My hands are "tight" between the ring and pinky so its just really hard for me to spread my fingers.
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:47 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freepower
If you put an equal amount of work with each finger, the 4th is stronger than the 3rd. :)


You're going to have to put in the work in any case :)!
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