#1
Hey guys!

First of all, I apologize to everybody if this topic was covered before, but I have a very specific problem that I need help with. I’ve been playing guitar for 7+ years (on and off) so you could say that I am an intermediate player. Now, I’m serious about fixing all the mistakes that I didn’t at the beginning.. so please help!

Anyway, my problem is with correct usage all 4 of my fretting (left) hand fingers! Specifically, with playing 1-2-4 combination on any string in any position (1=Index, 2=Middle, 4=Pinky finger). I just can’t do it correctly.

When I do that combination, let’s say low E starting at 1st fret, my ring finger (3) keeps curling back inside towards the guitar neck and most of the times gently touches some of the strings below. When I try to do a cross-over 2-4 all hell breaks loose. My pinky just won’t listen and moving it is like moving a ton of bricks leaving me with awkward and tightening feeling in my left hand. All of this I am doing without any tempo, slowly as possible, for the correct finger movement but still my problem persists.
Fingers are curled, only finger tips are touching the strings, approx. 90 deg. angle to the neck.

After a couple of minutes of these slow 1-2-4 combinations, a situation gets a little bit better, but still I can feel the tension is there. Not to mention that tomorrow when I start practice again, left hand seems like it has forgotten about the practice day before. Multiply this by 4 weeks that I’m trying to do it correctly, and you’ll get the level of my frustration.

The funny thing is that combination 1-3-4 I can do without any of these awkward feelings, slowly but correctly, any position and any string! Simply put, the connection between my middle and pinky finger is somehow weak, and ring finger makes the situation even worse.

Guys.. help! What am I doing wrong? Should I continue, should I not? Does this gets easier with time? What? I’m not looking for speed, shredding or anything like that.. just a natural normal feeling in fingers and hand when I play! Any advice, article, link, whatever.. is more than welcome.

Sorry for the “drama queen” essay.. but I needed to explain in detail! Cheers!
#2
I assume you're playing single note lines where your index is on the first fret, middle on 2nd, ring is skipped and pinky is 4th fret? What you should be doing is to keep the fingers in place, so the ring finger would drop behind the pinky on the same string. That's really all you need to do. Is that what you mean?
#3
Quote by bbn245
Should I continue, should I not? Does this gets easier with time?


For the record, I play bass, and I use 1-2-4 fingering technique almost exclusively. So it is possible to do, it gets easier with time, and I see no reason why you shouldn't continue.

But there really isn't much else to it than practice slowly, and make sure you keep your fretting hand relaxed. If you can't get rid of the tension, start with something easier, with shorter stretches. Make sure you keep the ring finger straight and relaxed, it will get better with time. You could also try doing some simple lines using only fingers 2-4, to "train" the connection between the two.

If I misunderstood your problem, please correct me, but you just need to be patient with it and make sure you stay relaxed, and take it easier if it gets really tense.
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
#4
You may be comparing seven years of 1-3-4 to four weeks of 1-2-4... keep at it and give it time to catch up.
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
#5
Quote by GoldJim
I assume you're playing single note lines where your index is on the first fret, middle on 2nd, ring is skipped and pinky is 4th fret? What you should be doing is to keep the fingers in place, so the ring finger would drop behind the pinky on the same string. That's really all you need to do. Is that what you mean?


Yup, that’s that way I’m trying to play it. Starting from first fret low E, my guess was to it there as a better stretching exercise too. About the finger placement, I’m trying to use only first, middle and pinky finger while doing the exercise so that ring finger has no involvement at all, but as I said he keeps curling back “inside”. That’s the frustrating part!

Cheers!
#6
Quote by Kevätuhri
If I misunderstood your problem, please correct me, but you just need to be patient with it and make sure you stay relaxed, and take it easier if it gets really tense.


No, problem understood completely, thanks! I really do try to stay relaxed and focused while playing, but the most frustrating thing is that “hand memory” is almost completely gone by tomorrow!? Or am I just exaggerating because I never actually took the time to correct these things from the begin with?

Could it be that I simply have a “weak” connection between middle and pinky fingers? And that my untrained hand causes ringer finger to get involved and make things worse? I failed to mention that while a play these 1-2-4 combination I do it while always leaving index finger on the first fret, no movement for that guy. Also, I did try only 2-4 combos too, a situation is slightly better but uncomfortable feeling is still there. Situation is a slightly better at higher frets and shorter stretches, but my philosophy is to exercise where you are weakest at, so that is why I start at first fret low E.

Guys, if this is a typical “shut up, stop whining and practice” kind of a story.. no problem, I accept! I’m doing this all on my own, reeeeeally want to do it correct but unfortunately I have no frame of reference am I or what am I doing wrong?

I guess that it all comes down to two questions that I really wanted to ask:

1. Personal experiences and similar problems? How to overcome? Any personal exercises anyone has used for training finger independence?

2. How long until you finally had “normal” feeling in the fretting hand while playing any type of these combinations?

Thanks.. Cheers!
#7
Quote by bbn245
Yup, that’s that way I’m trying to play it. Starting from first fret low E, my guess was to it there as a better stretching exercise too. About the finger placement, I’m trying to use only first, middle and pinky finger while doing the exercise so that ring finger has no involvement at all, but as I said he keeps curling back “inside”. That’s the frustrating part!

Cheers!


After reading the quotes, I couldn't help but think that there was some really good information shared here. I made a video detailing my response. I felt it would be most effective if I put some helpful information as if was speaking to you here in my little loft studio than typing away. Sorry for the long winded video, but much like my typed responses, I can be like that.

Please enjoy and share with your friends or other such posts in the future if you find it helpful or just funny to watch.

#8
GoldJim

Hey GoldJim,

sorry for the late response on my side, I’ve been backed up with work and had no time to reply sooner.

Wow! Thank you so much for taking a time and effort to post this video! I really do appreciate any help and guide points from more experienced colleagues out there. Thanks!

I’ve watched your video very carefully and after that decided to try a kind of a different approach towards my playing, the more relaxed one. So far so good. Unfortunately, I still have a little bit of problems regarding my ring finger, but nevertheless it’s much better than before. There is a lot of practicing ahead of me that’s for sure, slow, consistent, precise, but hey.. that’s the way the story goes. I’ll try to upload a video too, where you guys could actually see the problem that I’ve described earlier.. and maybe my “progress” since then.

About the exercises, I know.. tons of it online. Kind of a dumb question on my side but I meant more of some personal exercises that were tricky to play, but in the end once overcome, helped a lot. For example, for me, Miles Davis's “So What” main riff is an excellent exercise! All four fingers involved, all of these combinations where I’m thin.. Looks a little bit weird but sounds really cool when fluent. Don’t ask me why, but this one is really helping me..

BTW, I use JD Jazz III picks too! LOL.. Best ones ever!

Cheers!
#9
bbn245, thanks for watching. Feels good to be helpful. Having played in various bands since the late '70's, I have been comfortable and uncomfortable on stage. Whether it's a summer gig in high heat and humidity or extreme cold; a cramped stage or a huge one; indoors or out; we had to make it work. I've been 4 hours a night, 4 to 6 nights a week - one night with a country band as bass player (later, guitar player in the same band), another night with a dance band as lead singer, and another as bassist lead singer with a pop rock band. I learned to pick instruments, straps, and a technique that allowed me to move the next day.

Rock on!