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Starting with...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Sheep Man, Jan 22, 2001.

  1. Something my teacher pointed out to me in my last lesson: We were going over some basic funk slap/pop stuff (although that's irrelevant to what the rest of this post is about...:p), and my teacher gave me a simple little groove to start with, after which I would have to expand on etc. But when I played the first note, my teacher stopped me and asked me why I was starting with my middle finger. Basically, the first couple notes were:

    And so I started on the 5th fret on the E with my middle finger, because that was the finger that I had unconsciously chosen to lead with. The next time I played it (if my teacher hadn't stopped me), I might have lead with my index finger.

    Basically, my teacher told me that if I was going to start with my middle finger, it'd be awkward to either use my ring finger, pinky or slide my middle finger up to play the next note.

    So my question is, is it bad technique to unconsciously lead with any finger, and lead differently each time (or at least with a 50/50 chance of leading with my index or middle finger) with my fretting hand, if by the 3rd or 4th note played I'm into a set fingering (assuming I've played the piece before)?

    Actually, leading off my originally-thought-irrelevant slap stuff, I noticed my teacher pops with only his index finger, and therefore told me that it'd be hard to pop 2 notes in a row relatively quickly, whereas I pop with both my index and middle fingers, and can alternate between the 2 if I have to pop 2 notes in a row, sort of like playing fingerstyle with 2 fingers. Is this odd, normal, paranormal, or just handy to be able to do? Or none of the above? :D
  2. Sir Lamb-Chop

    It's probably best to have a "pattern" you use. I'd be more apt to call it consistency in my playing in this case though. If you do something pretty much the same way all the time, your muscle memory will be very strong, and make it easier to make that move.

    As for the one vs. two finger popping, I use my index finger MOST of the time, but do use my middle finger for some things, mostly popping double-stops. A friend of mine has been known to use all FIVE fingers for some slap licks (he's a friggin' maniac :eek: :D). The final analysis is, if it works for you, do it.
  3. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    In the example you gave, you have to cover a two fret sapce, so either index or middle would be appropriate. You could finger the 7th fret with either ring or pinky if you finger the 5th with your index, if you use the middle on the 5th fret then the pinky will handle the 7th fret.

    But IN GENERAL what finger you lead with depends on where you came from and where you are going next.

    Let's say I want to play an A major triad followed by a B major triad. I could play this two ways:




    In the first example, you need to make a position shift, probably use the middle for the 7th fret on the E. The second, you would use the PINKY for the 7th fret E string, ring for the 6th fret A string and use your index to play the 4th fret D string.

    Why use one over the other? Well maybe after playing the B triad you will be going back to the A or perhaps playing an E triad as follows:


    In either case you could avoid making a shift by using the second fingering.

    Now to what your teacher said: once you start playing a repeated figure, you want to use the same fingering every time (unless you have a very good reason not to!!!). If every time you play it you use different fingers you are not really staying in postion and position playing is important to help you navigate around the neck with confidence.

    Hope this helps.
  4. [​IMG] Ok...so...I should break my habit...right...?
  5. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    I have four fingers on my left hand...

    What's awkward about going from middle finger to pinky? If you were playing a scale, the root would be with the middle finger, five would be with the pinky and a flat seven would be with the middle finger again. Obviously, this isn't carved in stone, and scales can be fingered several different ways (baby), but you ain't doing nuthin' WRONG. 90% of the time I will start the root with my index finger, but like Brian sez, it depends on where I'm going and where I've been. But doing 1-5 middle-pinky seems pretty normal to me, if that's what you were doing. If you were trying to do middle-ring-middle or slide up to the 5, well, then he's probably helping you out.

    For me, that's the primary value of scales/modes, on any instrument - FINGERINGS. Once you have 'em down, you can concentrate on the FUNCTIONS of the notes, instead of how to play them or how to get from one to the other. And it ends up giving you a lot more choices tonally once you stop worrying about the mechanics.

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