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What do I do with the fingers I'm not using?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by swallowedlight, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. swallowedlight


    Feb 13, 2020
    I'm a beginner and this has been frustrated me for the past few days.
    What do I do with the fingers that I'm not playing a note with? For example, I'm playing a C with my index finger, where do I put the other three fingers? Like, do I put them on the string above or something?
  2. underwhelmist


    Nov 16, 2018
    Use them to mute (some of) the other strings? Get in a position so one of those other fingers is ready for the next note? It's an interesting question, I've never thought about what the non-fretting fingers are doing, I'm too busy concentrating on the fingers doing the fretting and plucking!
    zontar and swallowedlight like this.
  3. Malcolm35


    Aug 7, 2018
    Good question. I for years used the one finger per fret method, and then one day the fingers started deciding which finger would get the next note. I let them decide and Good things happen. So I bet your index is doing most of the work. Running your scales up and down the fretboard should help and if the middle finger can get the next note, let it.
    swallowedlight likes this.
  4. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I just let them hover closely over the string that I'm playing. They may drift over one of the other strings but that's the basic idea.
    BlueP and swallowedlight like this.
  5. bolophonic

    bolophonic Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    I use mine to mute the other strings while I prepare to play the next note, I guess. Never really thought about it before.
    swallowedlight likes this.
  6. There is something I like to call the ideal playing position. Start in the middle of the neck, and line your fingers up—one finger per fret—on the same string. Don’t cradle the neck in your palm. Next anchor the thumb on the back of the neck, right behind your middle finger, pointing up toward your face.

    This is the ideal playing position. Now move the index finger down to its fret and play that note. Keep the other fingers still, hovering just above the now slightly depressed string. Release, and return to the ideal position. Now repeat with middle finger’s note. Then ring, then pinky.

    While playing, the only two things touching the neck are the thumb in back, and the current fretting finger—like a C clamp.

    Economy of motion. Keep the fingers in line just millimeters above the current string. As relaxed as possible from the fingertips, to the wrist, to the forearm, arm, shoulder, and back. Let the natural resting weight of your plucking arm on the body keep the neck up.
    BlueP and swallowedlight like this.
  7. reverendboom


    Dec 10, 2019
    Sonora CA
    That doesn't work so well when you only have three fingers that still work on your fretting hand.

    Sometimes you just have to go with what works FOR YOU.
    swallowedlight and Sean150 like this.
  8. Sean150


    Jul 18, 2018
    Without specification on which hand you are talking about I’ll answer both. On my plucking hand I keep my pointer finger either on the string above or against my thumb (exceptions apply but that is something you learn over time) and the others tucked up near my palm. For my fretting hand I keep my other fingers relaxed above the strings but close enough for quick action. Think similar to piano hammers if you have ever seen the inside of a piano.

    I also have to disagree with my fellow Albertan on a proper position. I am self taught and ran into all sorts of problems trying to keep a perfect position and my playing greatly improved when I forgot about what is right and focused on keeping my hands relaxed and doing what felt natural. I’ve had a lot of hobbies and I have found the teachings of professionals are excellent foundations to build upon but are not the law to success.

    Keep playing and have fun. :bassist::thumbsup:
    swallowedlight likes this.
  9. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    I keep them close at hand.
    swallowedlight likes this.
  10. Tottery


    Aug 17, 2015
    Learn to dampen the strings with your free fingers.
    swallowedlight likes this.
  11. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Mar 2, 2021

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