Why 'Finger Agony' Murders Your Speed

Ever wonder what finger(s) you should use to play something? If so, then you’ll find this lesson useful. Here's a quick lesson on exactly what fingers to use when playing unfamiliar chords, scales, licks or anything that's new to you.

Ultimate Guitar
Ever wonder what finger(s) you should use to play something? If so, then you'll find this lesson useful. Here's a quick lesson on exactly what fingers to use when playing unfamiliar chords, scales, licks or anything that's new to you. Let me illustrate… I've been doing a bunch of traveling lately. Flying from Malaysia ... to San Francisco ... to Hong Kong ... to Taiwan. Literally from one side of the world to the other ... and back again. It's exhausting. My body's not used to it. And it actually weakened my immune system to the point where I came down with a debilitating fever complete with the "chills," followed by weeks of coughing, sneezing, and a sniffly running nose. And you know what? They've got a name for this: "Flying agony." In fact, if you use one of those airfare search engines that find you the lowest prices such as hipmunk.com (I dig this site). They've got the option to sort by "least agony." Meaning, they can actually give you recommendations on what they think is the least agonizing trip. So trips where you have:
  • long waits for connecting flights
  • unusually early or late flight times
  • or excessive numbers of connections ...would all increase the "agony" factor for the trip, and make it a less desirable way to go. What's this got to do with playing chords and scales? This: When your fingers are transitioning from one chord to another ... Or from one scale note to the next... Those fingers should always be taking the PATH OF LEAST AGONY. Meaning, you don't want:
  • movement of fingers unless ABSOLUTELY necessary
  • unusually early or late last second transitions (with a few exceptions)
  • or excessively long drawn out motions that aren't necessary No. What you want are small, smooth, economical movements of your fingers with the LEAST possible amount of "finger agony." The minimum needed. And nothing wasted. When you remember this rule, it’s almost a no brainer to figure out common questions like:
  • "What finger should I use for this note?"
  • "How do I best transition from Am to the C?... from G to D?"
  • "Which finger plays what string of this scale?" The answers become obvious with just a quick analysis. So in effect... ONE simple rule has answered THOUSANDS of common questions you might have about fingerings for guitar. And guess what? It's almost always the same with OTHER topics on learning the guitar. Remember just a few simple rules, and you'll be able to answer MOST of the questions you’ll ever have about playing the guitar... YOURSELF. Meaning you'll rightly be able to say you’re a 100% self-taught guitarist. Like Hendrix, BB King, and Clapton ... and you can kiss expensive guitar lessons goodbye forever. And not only that ... You'll have the CHOPS to back it up. OK. That wraps it up for today. Have a good one guys. Wishing you fun times with your guitar, Johnny For more on these simple rules and other must-have lessons on learning the guitar, visit NobsGuitar.com, the best-kept secret of self-taught guitarists from over 73 different countries. Today, it has become one of the premier sources of accurate information, useful knowledge, and uplifting inspiration for scores of self-taught guitarists. Johnny's lessons have appeared on top guitar websites such as Ultimate-Guitar, GuitarNoise, and many others. He has just released a new book titled: "The No B.S. Guitar Advantage: Secret Strategies Most Guitarists Will Never Tell You About to Go From Beginner to Head-turning Guitar Player Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible."
  • 13 comments sorted by best / new / date

      another lesson with a good concept, but zero concrete examples. youd think people would figure this out by now
      You're still just advertising your site rather than actually demonstrating anything, lol.
      no bs johnny
      Notice how some think it's obvious (like a "fact")... and others don't think I was clear enough. Which is it? Guys, this was a quick beginners' lesson. It even says so from the start. It's meant to illustrate a single concept: remembering a simple rule makes it easy to answer lots of beginner questions. The answers will differ for each person. This is why guitarists all have different ways of playing the same chords, licks, and scales. The way you figure it out for you is by asking the 3 things mentioned: 1. what finger movements are ABSOLUTELY necessary? 2. am I making unusually early or late last second transitions? 3. am I making excessively long drawn out motions or are they short and economical? Basically, is this movement causing the least "finger agony" possible?
      i'm sorry, but when i started playing guitar 5 years ago, i figured this out in 20 seconds with COMMON SENSE i clicked this article because i was like "wtf is 'finger agony' should i be doing specific finger exercises and treating them to a proper workout or something?" but lo and behold, i was greated by a guy saying "LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING THAT EVERYBODY WITH A BRAIN HAS ALREADY FIGURED OUT DUHURRRR!!!!"
      I wanna know why so many legends are even looking at the Beginner lessons in the first place!! Sould'nt all you born experts be on tour? Chill the fug out