#1
I have been working on my minor pentatonic scales, but I think this question may relate to all types of scales, and it involves the fastest / most efficient way to fret the scales.

I have been thinking that the finger I use for any note should depend on what note I'm going to play next. So if I am playing the 3rd and 6th frets on D followed by 4th on G, I'll use index for G3, ring for G6, then index for D5. In this way, I always play the first/lower note on any scale with my index finger and I never try to "scrunch" playing say with using my pinky on fret 6 followed by my index on fret 4 of the next string, but instead I slide over one fret at the time that seems to make the most sense when I'm reaching out on that direction for the next fret.

With my 3 forward / 1 back exercise, this means for most scale shapes/boxes, I'm sometimes playing the same note with two different fingers, with just one note in between. It has taken a bit of getting used to, but I feel like it will end up being a form of efficiency fretting that will naturally leave me in better position for whatever is about to come next in the song, and will ultimately free me from the concept of box playing sooner. But on the other hand, this means I am fretting less often with the pinky, and get much less experience playing whole done interval on any string using the middle for the lower note and the pinky for higher note.

I imagine given all the technical attention to stuff like alt picking versus efficiency and sweep and what note, there is similar debate on the merits of different ways of fretting through scales, but I have not found it, and am wondering if there is such a debate, if my fretting approach has a label, or if there's a consensus for/against this approach.

Ken
Bernie Sanders for President!
#2
Ideally, you want to try to minimize the amount of movement required while staying comfortable playing the passage.

If I was playing something like:


----4-
3-6---


I would use my index finger, then pinky and finally middle. You said you use index, ring then index, which is fine here. In this situation I wouldn't have to move my hand. However, if I was playing this:


----4-3-
3-6-----


I would now use index, pinky (can use ring if comfortable), middle, index. If you played index, ring, index, you would have to slide to play the 3rd fret of G. If this is what you want to sound like then that is fine, but if you want to pick the whole thing you would probably find that sliding the index finger down a fret is more awkward to coordinate than playing middle then index for the 4th and 3rd frets. The other case is if I was playing something like this:


----4-7-
3-6-----


I would use index, pinky, index, pinky and shift my hand position up one fret. Again, if you feel more comfortable doing index, ring, index, ring then that is fine.

I think this is what you're referring to - If not could you post some examples of what you mean and I'll get back to you.
#3
Sounds about right. When I do 3 note per string scales the lowest note on each string is always in the index, and the highest is always the pinky. Except when I get to the high or low E and am going to move up/down to the next position, then I do 4 notes on the string.
#4
Thanks for posting this OP. I have been dwelling on a similar issue today. Basically, notes that I would have hit with my pinky, I now hit with my ring finger. I feel like I am more accurate that way. I know that I probably need to work my pinky until it is actually useful to me, but I feel like I can reach my goals as a guitar player without much usage of my pinky.
Ibanez SR1200E
#5
Yeah, I guess the main issue I had was that I started out trying to minimize changing the left hand position, and for some of the minor pentatonic scale positions, I was doing a lot of fretting with my pinky. This has a couple downsides: The pinky, for me, is weaker, slower, less certain, and tires faster. I've also read about the problem of pinky injury. The problem for effective playing is exacerbated when I want to do a hammer on, pull off, vibrato, or bend of the note being fretted by my pinky.

So I've been playing around with this other approach that sort of spiders along the scale in a way that has the lower note (of the two notes on any given string) almost always played with the index finger. 3 semitone intervals still usually need fretting with the pinky, but almost no 2 semitone intervals require this, so in many more cases of using hammer on, pull off, vibrato, legato, etc., I'll be using fingers other than the pinky.

I've also read or been told by guitarists that in the long-run, you want to break out of boxes. One experienced shredder told me he does not see any boxes at all anymore, and he just moves really fast up and down the neck when soloing. In a similar vein, in the long run, I'm thinking there are few times you REALLY want to play a solo that involves doing an entire scale position using a box from E to e, or e to E, or whatever tuning your in. Even if you want to play that sequence of notes, you can play it with at least some horizontal movement along the fretboard, and that can add interest / dimension to the phrase.

Another issue in my mind is sliding. If I get used to playing these scale positions in a way that minimizes fretting hand movement up or down the fretboard, then I'm going to get used to playing a number of these intervals with my middle/pinky, whereas other intervals on that same string may be played with my index/pinky or index/ring. Now, if I'm in one of my index/ring positions and I slide up to a scale position where I'd "normally" play that note with my middle finger, I may be at a loss or delay figuring how to proceed, and this case reduce speed or cause a bad note. With my approach and some thoughtful planning, I can make almost all of my slides using the index finger and I'll be very confident in where I am, at beginning and end of slide, in terms of the scale diagram.

The answer to this sliding issue maybe that, in the long run, you want to be comfortable playing any note with any finger, and then moving into another position up or down the fretboard and know "where" you are relative to the various notes you want to play, and you will then naturally know your fingering options. My answer is this would seem to involve learning more combinations than you need to play up or down the entire fretboard with confidence. My approach, I think may mean you can play as fast and confidently, but you simply use fewer fingering options to accomplish the same stuff, which may also add to speed (or speed of learning).

Well, I'm just experimenting with it. I was mainly interested if there was any dialogue on this different approach that minimizes pinky work and puts less emphasis on minimizing the fretting hand's horizontal movement.

Ken
Bernie Sanders for President!
Last edited by krm27 at Jan 21, 2014,
#6
Quote by krm27
Yeah, I guess the main issue I had was that I started out trying to minimize changing the left hand position, and for some of the minor pentatonic scale positions, I was doing a lot of fretting with my pinky. This has a couple downsides: The pinky, for me, is weaker, slower, less certain, and tires faster. I've also read about the problem of pinky injury. The problem for effective playing is exacerbated when I want to do a hammer on, pull off, vibrato, or bend of the note being fretted by my pinky.


If you practice with your pinky enough, making sure not to tense up and minimizing movement, you can get it to fret just as well as any of the other fingers. I would seriously recommend learning to use all of your fingers to play with because in the long run it'll make playing certain things a lot easier.

The issue of bending the note is slightly different; I'm not going to advocate not learning to bend with your pinky, but a lot of players including myself usually attempt to play bends with the ring and middle fingers over the pinky and if you can do this comfortably then it's not really an issue. There may be times you need to bend with your pinky, so I'd still practice bending with it but you can get away most of the time with just bending with the ring finger.

Well, I'm just experimenting with it. I was mainly interested if there was any dialogue on this different approach that minimizes pinky work and puts less emphasis on minimizing the fretting hand's horizontal movement.


In general less horizontal movement will make something easier to fret, so it's a pretty common thing to do. Don't avoid learning horizontal movement though, because as you said there will be times you want to or have to do it.

As for minimizing the use of the pinky, if it's more comfortable to use the ring finger in a certain situation when playing then go ahead but you should practice using your pinky as much as the other fingers.
#7
Thanks, I kind of figured I should not neglect my pinky work, but it's hard when I'm practicing and it gets tired, and I can no longer practice that particular technique.

Ultimately, too, I think there is value in being comfortable playing every 2 semitone interval on the guitar with your index finger on the lower note (and thus your ring finger on the higher note) even if you'd normally play that interval with your middle/pinky if you were going up and down the scale box minimizing horizontal hand movement. Because this gives a way to confidently slide from scale position to scale position and feel comfortable with your ending hand. Theoretically, I can plan every solo in a way that all my slides come from the index finger. If I have a slide that the original guitarist plays with the ring finger, for example, I can re-work the prior notes so that I'm playing them one scale position over so my index finger is now landing on that note when it's time to slide.

Ken
Bernie Sanders for President!
Last edited by krm27 at Jan 22, 2014,
#8
If you're saying you want to learn to play for example 2-4 with the index and ring, when you usually play it 1-2-4 with index, middle, pinky in a scale, then this is a good thing to do. Being able to play any interval with any comfortable combination of fingers gives you more options and an easier time playing.

By the way analyzing your technique like this is a great way to get better at guitar, so make sure to keep it up.
#9
Don't need the pinky for minor pentatonic. Play major scale/modes then you'll need it.