Fingerpicking - thumb & 2 fingers OR thumb & 3 ??


GrandadRob
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GrandadRob
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03/07/2022 6:45 pm

Hi

Did Lisa Mcormack's lessons on fingerpicking which I enjoyed - but I'm a little confused. All of the different patterns she showed used thumb and 2 fingers - with the thumb mainly used on bottom 4 strings. Then I came across Caren Armstrong who was teaching fingerpicking using thumb and 3 fingers. I think I prefer the 3 finger approach but after learning with 2 fingers am struggling a little to train my old brain to learn the new way. My question is - is it worth the effort to change to 3 finger method or should I just stick on what I have already learnt.

As an aside - most instructors can be asked questions direct - wondered why Caren doesn't have her own place for forum questions

Regards

Rob


# 1
mjgodin
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mjgodin
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03/08/2022 12:26 am

Hi fellow picker here,

Caren is no longer with the site which is too bad as she has some great tutorials. I learned a lot from her. I too completed both courses from Caren and Lisa and from my take on it is I don't think it's required to add the third finger as Lisa did talk about that in one of her lessons if I recall, but that it doesn't hurt to start to get used to it because fingerpicking can lead to so many more variables down the road and it helps to have that third finger available for more melody notes. Classical style, for instance, would probably use more of the third as well as any chord melody style you may want to get into later on. Acoustic level 2 Anders has some exercises that use it. It feels awkward I know, but it's like anything else on here just got to give it some time. Trust me it won't take as long as you might think, however again im not saying you have to learn it. Lisa and I'm sure many others do just fine without it. Im starting to get better at it. The good thing is it stops there. I don't think anybody is using the pinky. At least let's hope not. [br]One of Carens lessons I would suggest you look at is the song "Foolish Games" by Jewel which was done on piano but Caren converted for us on guitar. There's only a few chords in there she uses the third finger so it's a great lesson to get started on using it.

Hope that helps.

good luck,

Moe


# 2
aliasmaximus
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aliasmaximus
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03/08/2022 5:16 am
Originally Posted by: mjgodin

The good thing is it stops there. I don't think anybody is using the pinky. At least let's hope not.

One of Carens lessons I would suggest you look at us is the song "Foolish Games" by Jewel which was done on piano but Caren converted for us on guitar. There's only one chord in there she uses the third finger so it's a great lesson to get started on using it.

Hey Moe,

Thanks for the tip on "Foolish Games". That's a challenging and fun song to play (more of the former at the moment). Chris Schlegel recently posted in response to a Travis picking question and said that use of the pinky is common for those who dare brave the unforgiving world of Classical music. I'm sticking with Jewel!

Nicolai


# 3
GrandadRob
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GrandadRob
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03/08/2022 8:48 am

Hi Moe

Just listened to your recommendation of Jewel - okay I give in ! Inspiring me to persevere with learning Travis picking Carens way. I like a challenge so this really gives me a great incentive.

By the way - it shows the value of a forum where fellow travellers along the road can help each other out

Rob


# 4
mjgodin
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mjgodin
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03/08/2022 9:40 am
Originally Posted by: aliasmaximus
Originally Posted by: mjgodin

The good thing is it stops there. I don't think anybody is using the pinky. At least let's hope not.

Glad you enjoyed the lesson. It's a tough one to learn especially the intro, but I finally got it. Enjoy.

moe


# 5
mjgodin
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mjgodin
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03/08/2022 9:42 am
Originally Posted by: GrandadRob

Hi Moe

Just listened to your recommendation of Jewel - okay I give in ! Inspiring me to persevere with learning Travis picking Carens way. I like a challenge so this really gives me a great incentive.

By the way - it shows the value of a forum where fellow travellers along the road can help each other out

Rob

actually there may be one or two other sections she uses the third finger but still manageable.

No problem that's what we're all here for. Enjoy that song lesson and good luck in your studies. [br][br]

Moe


# 6
ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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03/08/2022 3:32 pm
Originally Posted by: aliasmaximusChris Schlegel recently posted in response to a Travis picking question and said that use of the pinky is common for those who dare brave the unforgiving world of Classical music.

Just be clear, most classical players use thumb plus index, middle & ring.

Some use the pinky. But not all because it is not part of standard classical guitar technique. So it is somewhat of an exception. To my knowledge Villa-Lobos was the most prominent advocate of including the pinky in picking hand technique. There were others, but I'm not as familiar with them.


Christopher Schlegel
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Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory
# 7
aliasmaximus
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aliasmaximus
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03/09/2022 5:52 am

Thank you for the clarification, Christopher. I should have re-read your referenced post before quoting you on that. My bad.

Nicolai


# 8
innocci
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innocci
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03/26/2023 2:36 am

The more you play, you'll find what works for you. The instructors on here are great, although when I learn a song one of them are teaching, for instance, I don't always finger a chord the same way they do. I would also look into doing some flamenco lessons, it will really help with your finger picking.


# 9
Rumble Walrus
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Rumble Walrus
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06/15/2023 5:08 pm

Wow - don’t know if I’ve sat down and thought about this for a long time.


Certainly thumb, pointer, and middle.


Thumb pretty much always for bass line, down beat usually on the low E and A strings, sometimes on the D and every so often on the G string if I’m wanting that extra “oomph” that only the thumb can give to emphasize a particular note or rhythmic beat.


Pointer and middle do the heavy lifting for picking duties usually carrying the melody usually on the high E, B, and G strings.  I’ve found my pointer drifting down to the A every so often but that’s usually by mistake ;P.  Usually if there’s a chord triad, these two and the thumb take it.


Ring finger?  Melody sometimes, but usually playing a harmony note of some sort to mix with the thumb or the middle.  While finger picking I tend to “pinch” chords with the ring sometimes chiming in to add a high note on the E, B, and every so slightly often the G.  I find myself using the ring more while accompanying a vocalist or “vamping” in the background.  I’ll use pointer, middle, and ring for position friendly chord triad positions with the thumb providing bottom end.


And the pinky - I don’t have near the dexterity to actually pick with the pinky but the little guy does come in (using the fingernail) for leading the other fingers on a downward strum (Flamenco?  Perhaps?) when I need a percussive chord hit.  I’ve very rarely brought the pinky into play when pinching chords because a full 5 finger “pinch” is almost non-existent for me but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t do it.  From a taste standpoint that would usually be a bit too much, I think.


Wow again.  Long winded response.  Thanks for provoking the thought.


# 11

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