#1
Hoi,

This topic might go better with Guitar Tech but as I happened to be here, why not ask it here. Shouldn't hurt anyone.

So my question is, what is the "rule" for plucking the strings with your fingers? Which fingers do you use for the strings? Say, you use your thumb and the fingers up to your ring finger. If you have to pluck 4 strings there is no problem, however, what would you do if you had to pluck 5 strings? Not sure if you use your pinky for this but even if you do, what if you had to pluck 6 strings? How do you use the hand and the fingers in this case: Which of the fingers handle the "extra strings"?

Also, is it "a bad habit" to play riffs, at times, with "no brains". I really wouldn't say muscle memory here. I have many riffs and such in which I use my pick for rather fast picking over some chords. I basically don't know which strings I pluck. For example, I pretty much can't play it slow because I don't know which strings I'm plucking. If I do it fast (in the speed I initially created it) there is no problem. This might sound a bit weird but that's the thing here. Most of these riffs have followed from improvisation.
Last edited by Billie_J at Apr 13, 2016,
#2
Quote by Billie_J
So my question is, what is the "rule" for plucking the strings with your fingers? Which fingers do you use for the strings? Say, you use your thumb and the fingers up to your ring finger. If you have to pluck 4 strings there is no problem, however, what would you do if you had to pluck 5 strings? Not sure if you use your pinky for this but even if you do, what if you had to pluck 6 strings? How do you use the hand and the fingers in this case: Which of the fingers handle the "extra strings"?


I'd play lower "extra strings" with my thumb. It's pretty easy to move the thumb from string to string. And if you use the thumb for the bottom two strings, you can use the rest of the fingers to pick the four remaining strings. If you're really opposed to using the pinky, I think you can use the ring finger to play the top extra string.

If you have to play 5 strings, I'd use the thumb for the bottom two, and I-M-R for the rest. If I have to play 6 strings, I'd use thumb for the bottom two and the ring finger for the top two. Or my pinky. Tbh, I don't think there are any strict rules unless you play like flamenco professionally. This is just how I do it.

Also, is it "a bad habit" to play riffs, at times, with "no brains". I really wouldn't say muscle memory here. I have many riffs and such in which I use my pick for rather fast picking over some chords. I basically don't know which strings I pluck. For example, I pretty much can't play it slow because I don't know which strings I'm plucking. If I do it fast (in the speed I initially created it) there is no problem. This might sound a bit weird but that's the thing here. Most of these riffs have followed from improvisation.


Is it a bad habit to have no idea about what you're playing? Yeah, kind of. If you can't play it slow, you really can't play it fast.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#3
I'm not sure if I do it the "right" way, but I play the lower strings with my thumb and use my index, middle and ring fingers for the other strings. I keep the tip of my pinky touching the pickguard as an anchor, just like when I pick individual strings with a pick. I really need to keep my hand anchored this way. When I tried to use the thumb and all four fingers to pick, I couldn't get any consistency. Obviously, my method is going to be a problem if you need to play five strings at the same time, though.
#4
Quote by Kevätuhri
I'd play lower "extra strings" with my thumb. It's pretty easy to move the thumb from string to string. And if you use the thumb for the bottom two strings, you can use the rest of the fingers to pick the four remaining strings. If you're really opposed to using the pinky, I think you can use the ring finger to play the top extra string.

If you have to play 5 strings, I'd use the thumb for the bottom two, and I-M-R for the rest. If I have to play 6 strings, I'd use thumb for the bottom two and the ring finger for the top two. Or my pinky. Tbh, I don't think there are any strict rules unless you play like flamenco professionally. This is just how I do it.


Is it a bad habit to have no idea about what you're playing? Yeah, kind of. If you can't play it slow, you really can't play it fast.


Well perhaps saying not knowing anything is a bit exaggerated. I can figure out most of it and play it slowly but some of the notes might be missing, somehow... I really can't explain this any better D:
#5
Quote by jds2
I keep the tip of my pinky touching the pickguard as an anchor, just like when I pick individual strings with a pick..


I know I might be harsh on anchoring when it comes to basic picking (I do stand my ground though) but when it comes to finger picking I really see no excuse to anchor. Not only is it bad for all of the same ergonomical reasons as anchoring while picking with a plectrum is, it also makes a number of more advanced finger picking and strumming techniques impossible. Please don't anchor while fingerpicking.

Quote by Billie_J
Well perhaps saying not knowing anything is a bit exaggerated. I can figure out most of it and play it slowly but some of the notes might be missing, somehow... I really can't explain this any better D:


"Some notes might be missing" still means you can't play it There's no other way around it. If you're fine with playing riffs sloppily out of time, keep on doing what you're doing. If you want to become a technically proficient and accurate player, please pay more attention to what you're playing and make sure you can play it slowly as well.

Unless you're a die hard blues fan who only cares about the "feeling"
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#6
Quote by Billie_J
Also, is it "a bad habit" to play riffs, at times, with "no brains". I really wouldn't say muscle memory here. I have many riffs and such in which I use my pick for rather fast picking over some chords. I basically don't know which strings I pluck. For example, I pretty much can't play it slow because I don't know which strings I'm plucking. If I do it fast (in the speed I initially created it) there is no problem. This might sound a bit weird but that's the thing here. Most of these riffs have followed from improvisation.

It can happen quite often, with the left hand too (less often though). It just means that you never "actively" thought about what you are playing, but your brain still memorised it.

It can be a bad habit, especially if you plan on playing those songs in front of/with other people. You have no idea what you are playing, so if you have a "brain fart" and your "muscle memory" suddenly doesn't work, you'll have no way to play that song.

If you really can't play it slow, a solution is to record what you are playing at full speed, learn it slow (like you'd learn someone else's song) and only then play it at regular speed again.
#7
I use what's essentially classical-guitar technique, though I'm mostly playing in a jazz chord-melody style. I handle single-string runs mostly with alternating thumb and ring finger.... Never quite mastered the classical alternating-finger method.

I have read analyses of prominent jazz artist's soloing and improvisation, and all of them fall back on repeating patterns, riffs, and licks. Some more than others. I don't think you can help it... These things get into your "muscle memory" and if you're going to improvise rather than compose and learn each piece note-for-note.... They are going to come out in your playing.
At best....It becomes your signature style.
#9
Quote by processedhappiness
is it possible to learn the solo for stairway to heaven in 2 weeks?
I'm sure it's possible. Whether it's advisable is another matter.
Personally I'd get legal advice, and maybe wear some protective clothing.... maybe make a will first....
#10
Quote by Billie_J

So my question is, what is the "rule" for plucking the strings with your fingers?
There isn't one, unless you're learning classical guitar.

Except I guess "whatever feels/sounds right".
Quote by Billie_J

Which fingers do you use for the strings? Say, you use your thumb and the fingers up to your ring finger.
Yep that's classical orthodoxy. Thumb controls strings 6-5-4, index-middle-ring on 3-2-1. That's default starting position anyhow.
Quote by Billie_J
If you have to pluck 4 strings there is no problem, however, what would you do if you had to pluck 5 strings? Not sure if you use your pinky for this but even if you do, what if you had to pluck 6 strings? How do you use the hand and the fingers in this case: Which of the fingers handle the "extra strings"?
Whatever works at the time. It's actually very rare, in fingerstyle, to have to play all 6 strings at once - certainly not to have to "pick" all 6 together. (Even classical guitar is designed for normal humans with 4 fingers and a thumb.)
If all 6 have to be struck, you can strum with all your fingers. (Spanish technique uses the rasgueado.)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcXtI7nG9yI
Quote by Billie_J

Also, is it "a bad habit" to play riffs, at times, with "no brains".
All habits are bad, by definition. (well, maybe not, but it's a good ideal to aim at.)
Quote by Billie_J

I really wouldn't say muscle memory here. I have many riffs and such in which I use my pick for rather fast picking over some chords. I basically don't know which strings I pluck. For example, I pretty much can't play it slow because I don't know which strings I'm plucking.
That seems like a bad thing, but all that really matters is whether you're getting the sound you want. You have to want that sound at that moment, rather than just play it because you can, and because you think you have to play something.

This is the problem with a lot of amateurs or semi-pros (even some pros) improvising. They think, when it's their turn to solo, they have to fill the space with something, even if they have no ideas. So, out come all the licks and cliches they've practised, all those habits.
OK, sometimes that is OK - sometimes listeners want all that stuff (eg blues cliches in a blues solo, meaningless wailing away in a heavy metal solo...). But really, there's another worthwhile ideal here which is: if you have nothing to say, don't say it. Your turn to solo, and you can't think of anything? Then don't play anything. Keep quiet. Don't play a single note, until one forces its way out of you. Remember that the less you play, the more each single note will count. That's what "less is more" means - doesn't mean your solo will be better. It just means it damn well better be, because everything is riding on your note selection, and when and where you play each one (ie rhythmic phrasing).

You know the Sai Baba quote: "Before you speak, ask yourself: Is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence?"
Similar thoughts apply in music. Maybe not "kind", I guess (some music is necessarily nasty), but all the rest. Of course when you are improvising over a backing, "silence" does not apply - but can you add anything worthwhile?
Last edited by jongtr at Apr 14, 2016,
#11
Quote by processedhappiness
is it possible to learn the solo for stairway to heaven in 2 weeks?


It depends. As a beginner? Playing up to speed, note for note? I'd say no.

When I teach it, the most challenging parts that I have to get across, is the actual placement of the phrasing. It's anything but easy. Many parts are played ahead of the beat. Try instilling that to a beginner! I manage to do it using several proprietary tools, but it took a while.

As an experienced player, that simply never learned the solo...it can be done very quickly.

On average I teach the whole song to a first timer, to where they can play accurately, including nuances, to about 85% of the speed, and gradually get better, in about 4 weeks.

Best,

Sean