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  1. #26

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    If you ignore that this is a huge the DiMarzio ad then Paul Gilbert actually illustrate some big points about the 3 finger approach which actually works well with a low strap



    I mean, it's not obvious if you just casually see this video ... But first time I watched it was just after I started having wrist pain issues and was kind of a light bulp moment for me.

    Oh .. thumb over .. smooth wrist action .. That's is key!

    Kind of boggles the mind that you can play for ages and not think about these thing, but ok .. We didn't have youtube in 1991, so it was mostly just you, your imagination and your record/cassette player and you just made do

    I blame Frederik M. Noad's guitar primer .. My first book on guitar that I was gifted by non-guitar playing uncle, who happened to have it laying around.

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllanAllen
    Yes, I didn't watch the video. I think it doesn't matter how many fingers and the player should focus on sounding good. To butcher a different quote, nobody will remember you as the guy who can't play with four fingers, they'll remember you as the guy who can't play.

    How was that?
    I didn't read your comment, but here is my opinion: the Honda Accord is, while not exciting or "sexy," a very reliable car. Apologies if that's not a direct response to your comment, as I haven't yet read it.

  4. #28

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    Solid! Thanks for posting the video. There is certainly a commonality of '3-fingers' that runs from Charlie Christian to Wes to Grant to Jim Mullen to Peter Bernstein. I feel like all those folk play with more swing, drive and 'narrative' than most of their peers. How much of that is due to their fingering choices seems like a question that deserves some serious consideration....


    PK

  5. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick
    Analyse this.
    Great to watch Barney play. (For those who don't know the tune's title, this is "Basie's Blues.")
    He does a lot of typical 3-finger things----he slides up with the 3rd finger at times rather than using the pinky. The turning of the hand makes that doable. Also, as Christian said, you get a lot more vocal sounding phrases when you slide that finger up and back than when you strike the first note with a pinky and then pull off. Same notes but not the same feel.

  6. #30

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  7. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by paulkogut
    Solid! Thanks for posting the video. There is certainly a commonality of '3-fingers' that runs from Charlie Christian to Wes to Grant to Jim Mullen to Peter Bernstein. I feel like all those folk play with more swing, drive and 'narrative' than most of their peers. How much of that is due to their fingering choices seems like a question that deserves some serious consideration....


    PK
    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Great to watch Barney play. (For those who don't know the tune's title, this is "Basie's Blues.")
    He does a lot of typical 3-finger things----he slides up with the 3rd finger at times rather than using the pinky. The turning of the hand makes that doable. Also, as Christian said, you get a lot more vocal sounding phrases when you slide that finger up and back than when you strike the first note with a pinky and then pull off. Same notes but not the same feel.
    Good, now we're discussing phrasing! and articulation, etc.

    I find myself using 3 fingers for just those reasons - and 4 fingers for the same reasons but different musical situations.

    The choice of fingerings has a lot to do with how one wants to phrase. It's not simply lazy fingering.

  8. #32

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    As somebody who might charitably be called a late-beginner/early-intermediate level player, there are a couple things I don’t get:

    1. If the three-finger method is superior, what is the the use, then, of learning scales and patterns with all four fingers, as I was taught to do? Judging from my attempt, after reading this thread, to play a G major scale in the second position with three fingers, learning the four-finger method is a severe impediment.

    2. Sight-reading is difficult enough with four fingers, requiring a lot of finger stretches (and/or the occasional shift). How in the world do you sight-read with three fingers? You must be shifting all over the place, all of the time. I guess you get really, really good at feeling where you are on the neck? Seems like a very long-term project.

    (Maybe best to go back to learning classical, where things are cut and dried? Just kidding, sort of.)

  9. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by raymoan
    As somebody who might charitably be called a late-beginner/early-intermediate level player, there are a couple things I don’t get:

    1. If the three-finger method is superior, what is the the use, then, of learning scales and patterns with all four fingers, as I was taught to do? Judging from my attempt, after reading this thread, to play a G major scale in the second position with three fingers, learning the four-finger method is a severe impediment.

    2. Sight-reading is difficult enough with four fingers, requiring a lot of finger stretches (and/or the occasional shift). How in the world do you sight-read with three fingers? You must be shifting all over the place, all of the time. I guess you get really, really good at feeling where you are on the neck? Seems like a very long-term project.

    (Maybe best to go back to learning classical, where things are cut and dried? Just kidding, sort of.)
    I think this cuts to an interesting issue in teaching the guitar; which is that a lot of players learn positions/fingering as the way they find notes, and actually it’s useful in my opinion to seperate fretboard mapping from technical practice.

    So, here’s an obvious example of what I mean, play

    Dm Dm(maj7) Dm7 Dm6

    starting with the standard grip (x 5 7 7 6 x) and changing only the note on the 3rd string. This is a simple exercise in fretboard mapping but the fingering required to play this is actually quite complicated.

    It’s like a difficulty thing Classical students hit when they start to play polyphonic music; their simple ‘finger a fret’ practice isn’t relevant any more; and intermediate classical pieces come festooned with numbers.

    now, this is like the same problem in fact, but now you are saying practice everything with only three fingers and shift. Will be tough at first: but it’s good for you.

    And you know what? It’s good for flexibility. Don’t get stuck in positions; if you know them well, start to try different ways of fingering the same stuff.

    You need to know where the notes are; how you finger them is a choice.

    Play scales along the neck with one finger. Play scales with open and stopped strings. Use diagonal positions, four notes a string, two notes a string, whatever breaks you out of the box.

    If you are not yet comfortable, practice whatever positional methodology you have adopted and stick with it until it’s second nature. But the moment it is; start doing other stuff... don’t be wedded to it forever.

  10. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by paulkogut
    Solid! Thanks for posting the video. There is certainly a commonality of '3-fingers' that runs from Charlie Christian to Wes to Grant to Jim Mullen to Peter Bernstein. I feel like all those folk play with more swing, drive and 'narrative' than most of their peers. How much of that is due to their fingering choices seems like a question that deserves some serious consideration....


    PK
    well, let me put it this way - I’m hesitant to call their fret hand technique incorrect or flawed just because of what I was told when I studying beginner classical haha

  11. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS
    Since I spent time with sitar players, who mostly use fingers 1 and 2 anyway, and was curious, I tried to play some Django-style stuff with 2 fingers...and it does work. At times it felt like the other fingers were in the way!

    That said, I normally and almost always play with all 4 fingers!
    Yeah that’s good fun

  12. #36

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    As a goof, I have tried the "tape your ring and pinky together and play Django lines" experiment, and while I think it would be very difficult for me to improvise freely like that, it definitely made some Django lines I've copped much more logical and they were surprisingly playable.

  13. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllanAllen
    Yes, I didn't watch the video. I think it doesn't matter how many fingers and the player should focus on sounding good. To butcher a different quote, nobody will remember you as the guy who can't play with four fingers, they'll remember you as the guy who can't play.

    How was that?
    Of course. And when I listened to how it sounded with three fingers I thought it sounded better than with my usual approach.

    Probably wouldn’t bother otherwise

  14. #38

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    I don't think there's anything wrong with classical technique per se, it's just that what works best for sustaining and moving contrapuntal voices isn't necessarily optimal for swinging single lines. The problems come in when students aren't made aware from the get go that fingerings/technique can evolve.The fingerings you learn while first mapping the notes on the neck might not be the best or only fingerings to use as your concept of the fingerboard improves. Then it gets even more off the rails when you're on the internet dealing with large groups of anonymous folk with disparate goals, the benefits of 3-fingers might be less apparent playing by oneself at home vs having to follow Pete Bernstein at a late night jam session...


    PK

  15. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by paulkogut
    I don't think there's anything wrong with classical technique per se, it's just that what works best for sustaining and moving contrapuntal voices isn't necessarily optimal for swinging single lines. The problems come in when students aren't made aware from the get go that fingerings/technique can evolve.The fingerings you learn while first mapping the notes on the neck might not be the best or only fingerings to use as your concept of the fingerboard improves. Then it gets even more off the rails when you're on the internet dealing with large groups of anonymous folk with disparate goals, the benefits of 3-fingers might be less apparent playing by oneself at home vs having to follow Pete Bernstein at a late night jam session...


    PK
    well from the get go might be pushing it. You have be clear with beginners, and consistent even when things aren’t so simple (I kind of want to do a deep dive into the value of pedagogical fibs haha.) but I think once you are out of the beginner phase...

  16. #40

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    Being largely self-taught, I've always played with a 45 degree neck (it just seemed the best way) and played with all four fingers with the occasional thumb. It's the only way I can get to the notes I want.

  17. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by raymoan
    1. If the three-finger method is superior, what is the the use, then, of learning scales and patterns with all four fingers, as I was taught to do? Judging from my attempt, after reading this thread, to play a G major scale in the second position with three fingers, learning the four-finger method is a severe impediment.

    2. Sight-reading is difficult enough with four fingers, requiring a lot of finger stretches (and/or the occasional shift). How in the world do you sight-read with three fingers? You must be shifting all over the place, all of the time. I guess you get really, really good at feeling where you are on the neck? Seems like a very long-term project.
    This is only my perspective:

    1. 'If the three-finger method is superior, what is the the use, then, of learning scales and patterns with all four fingers, as I was taught to do"

    A. The 3 finger system is not "superior' nor necessarily "wrong"

    B. Just because some superior players have used that sort of fingering to make great music does not mean that the system is the reason. One can make great music in spite of one's technique just as much as because of one's technique.

    C. Your G major scale could be fingered many ways...it depends on the phrasing, picking, articulation, where you are coming from ( in the tune), where you are going, the dynamics, etc. to simplify the question into "3 or 4 fingers" does not really do justice to the subject.

    "How in the world do you sight-read with three fingers? You must be shifting all over the place, all of the time. "

    You often will be with 4 fingers too.

    " I guess you get really, really good at feeling where you are on the neck"

    No matter how many fingers you use, you can't look at the neck AND read the chart. Yes, you'll develop a sense of where you are on the neck.
    Spend some time playing with your eyes closed or in a dark room and work on position shifts.

    Good questions!

  18. #42

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    Just for the record: a four finger guy can still use the same articulations and moves as a 3 finger guy. You don't have to always use the pink. I use use the 3rd finger slide to the pinky position plenty. Especially if I'm travelling on up the neck from there.

    It's about fingering, phrasing and articulation, right?

    I'd also mention that if you use the pinky for like 50 years or so, it's plenty strong enough for bends of 13 guage strings.

    I had a little injury last year that kept me 3 fingered for a few weeks. I still enjoyed playing and worked out some new things. I say you need to use everything you can muster.

  19. #43

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    Jimmy Raney. 3 finger bebop.

  20. #44

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    if I want to sound rootsy , bluesy ,
    swingin , groovey , cool etc
    ie most Jazz and Bop (i do)

    then I have to use the three finger thumb
    over thing ....
    ——————
    if I wanted to sound classical with all
    the multipart counterpoint etc etc
    (not so much)
    then I would use classical left hand
    —————-
    Joe pass solo guitar style is maybe a hybrid of the two
    I dunno I don’t play/can’t that style

    different strokes for different folks ....

  21. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft
    Just for the record: a four finger guy can still use the same articulations and moves as a 3 finger guy. You don't have to always use the pink. I use use the 3rd finger slide to the pinky position plenty. Especially if I'm travelling on up the neck from there.

    It's about fingering, phrasing and articulation, right?

    I'd also mention that if you use the pinky for like 50 years or so, it's plenty strong enough for bends of 13 guage strings.

    I had a little injury last year that kept me 3 fingered for a few weeks. I still enjoyed playing and worked out some new things. I say you need to use everything you can muster.
    Since I'm the one that has been talking about injuries here, I kinda feel obliged to answer.

    In my view (tho can't speak on behalf of Christian) this thread is labelled wrong. It's not about fingers or fingering .. nor is it about the strength in your pinky.

    What it is about is playing in a classical position with a straight wrist, your fingers at a 90 degree angle compared to the fret board and thumb low on the back of the neck ..... vs. playing in a "rock" position, where you have a pronated wrist, your fingers are at a 45 degree and the thumb is wrapped around the neck.

    There is nothing that prevents you from using all four fingers in the "rock" position, but it does lend it self to 3 finger playing.

    But the thing is that anything bends and vibrato becomes a wrist/underarm movement that is more solid and a lot less injury prone than in the classical position. There are just movements that are very easy and natural in this position that are not in a classical position. It also facilitates thos 3 finger runs that that go across the neck



    Plenty of tree finger players have been posted, so I'll post a player from the other end of extremes. I guess John Stowell is the furthest from the 3-finger crowd that I can think of and what he does you just won't be able to do in a "rock" position.


  22. #46

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    I love this topic because:
    - I think there are some really interesting differences, but...
    - Since improvising on the guitar has so many different variables and elements, it's hard to really say which of those elements are affected by this specific hand position difference and which are not. Correlation doesn't equal causation, but it doesn't negate causation either.
    - I do think the more that the guitar-teaching community explores this issue, the more we'll get closer to some set of agreeable 'truths', especially with some more hard data. I think those conclusions could be very useful, because guitar teachers like myself sure spend a lot of time working on hand position, sitting position, left hand technique, etc. (for whatever it's worth, most of my students grab the guitar in that rock kind of way, and then they usually have a very hard time playing just about anything, so I wind up getting them playing with a mostly classical type of left hand.)
    - It's another one of these things in music where we can mostly only take guesses and theorize as to the cause/effect of different things. I used to be dogmatic about these things, but more recently I've accepted that whatever seems like it makes the most sense, might not actually make the most sense, because there can always be variables I was previously unaware of.

    One thing that didn't click until mulling the subject over and poking around in this thread, I guess in classical guitar you don't do a ton of slides, not nearly as much as we might get in something like a Wes solo. Being able to slide that often definitely changes the demands on the left hand significantly. And sliding is also of course a great way to easily get into a new position. So, stylistically appropriate articulation + ease of navigating a position change. That's a "seems like it's easier with the rock stance" in my mind. Maybe I'll make a spreadsheet...

  23. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lobomov
    Since I'm the one that has been talking about injuries here, I kinda feel obliged to answer.

    In my view (tho can't speak on behalf of Christian) this thread is labelled wrong. It's not about fingers or fingering .. nor is it about the strength in your pinky.

    What it is about is playing in a classical position with a straight wrist, your fingers at a 90 degree angle compared to the fret board and thumb low on the back of the neck ..... vs. playing in a "rock" position, where you have a pronated wrist, your fingers are at a 45 degree and the thumb is wrapped around the neck.

    There is nothing that prevents you from using all four fingers in the "rock" position, but it does lend it self to 3 finger playing.

    But the thing is that anything bends and vibrato becomes a wrist/underarm movement that is more solid and a lot less injury prone than in the classical position. There are just movements that are very easy and natural in this position that are not in a classical position. It also facilitates thos 3 finger runs that that go across the neck



    Plenty of tree finger players have been posted, so I'll post a player from the other end of extremes. I guess John Stowell is the furthest from the 3-finger crowd that I can think of and what he does you just won't be able to do in a "rock" position.

    I agree

  24. #48

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    I think it boils down to one thing - are you a frustrated horn player or a wannabe pianist?

  25. #49

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    Is it even possible to do the thumb over position on a classical width neck with small hands? I do practice limiting my fingers (even to just one!) but all of that was done classical style.. I might be willing to try though

  26. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I think it boils down to one thing - are you a frustrated horn player or a wannabe pianist?
    I am a disgruntled composer of 1980's film scores trapped in the body of a guitarist.