Use of the little finger..

The first thirty years are the worst

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Use of the little finger..

Postby Rich » Tue Sep 13, 2005 4:00 pm

I've been playing guitar for around 10 years now and when playing lead I rarely (if ever) use my little finger on my left hand to fret notes, and have managed to get away with it fine.

Now that I've started playing gypsy jazz I'm starting to think this may be stopping me playing as well as I could. So i've started to try and use my little finger, but compared to my other fingers it has no strength at all.. it's like starting to play again from scratch.

Now that I've sat and thought about it i suppose I should just go look at the masters on the bireli dvd and see what they do.. but still i'd be interested to hear people's opinions on this.
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Postby troychapman » Tue Sep 13, 2005 4:16 pm

Guitar can be played mind-boggling well with 2 fingers, 3 fingers, or 4 fingers (plus a thumb). I haven't heard of a 1 finger guitar genius but I wouldn't rule it out.

The only person's opinion that means anything is your own. Decide how you want to play and go for it.

2 fingers-Django
3 fingers-Stochelo
4 fingers- Angelo
5 fingers and one thumb- Hounddog Taylor
8 fingers- Stanley Jordan
1 thumb- Richie Havens
2 teeth and a tongue-Jimi Hendrix


The only thing that stands between you and greatness is the amount of practice not the amount of fingers.

Of course some people may need 2 or 3 hundred years of practice but thats a whole 'nother topic :twisted:
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Postby Rich » Tue Sep 13, 2005 5:22 pm

Hey, thanks for the advice.. watching the dvd this afternoon and messing around with different fingerings I came to a similar conclusion. So it really is just a matter of practicing..
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Postby bad b. » Wed Sep 14, 2005 8:01 pm

i've had the same problem, played for many years without using my little finger. when i started playing gypsy jazz, i've realized that (for me) it was nessesary to use my littlefinger as well.
a good way to practice is to start using a finger per fret:
if for examble have a c major/a minor scale:
E:5-7-8
B:5-6-8
G:5-7
D:5-7-9
A:5-7-8
E:5-7-8
then use 1st finger for notes on the 5th fret, 2nd finger on the 6th, 3th on the 7 and your 4th (littlefinger) for 8th & 9th fret.
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Re: Use of the little finger..

Postby emicad » Fri Sep 16, 2005 11:35 am

The use of the little finger is something strictly personal, but there are some positive and negative things, as in all the things:
using the little finger you can go longer in the fretboard, without any doubt, but you must to do a lot of practice cause the finger is very weak, not strong like the others. Another thing is that using the little finger you can't have a big vibrato like with other fingers, in particular medium and ring finger (look at Stochelo for example :shock: ) but there are some situations in which you need to use it, for example in major or minor scales, in the octaves, and personally i think also in some diminished arpeggios, in particular vertical diminished arpeggios, but also in other situations. I can say that a lot of GJ musicians try to not use or to use a little the little finger for a question of sound, of vibrato, for hammer-on pull-off situations, someone for increase the speed or simply to emulate the master(s). I come from classical and a little of bop guitar and i've always used my little finger, i've started to try using 3 fingers (with very poor results) playing this style for the reasons i've already wrote but i see here there are people who had the exact opposite path. Anyway i think that you can't say is an unuseful finger, not, for sure. I'm with Troy about the practice but not completely, you can say "The only thing that stands between you and greatness is the amount of practice not the amount of fingers" but personally i see the difference between 1,2 or three fingers and thumb and people who use all the fingers, for exmple if you try to play some amazing phrases of Angelo you can't do it with 2 or 3 fingers, it's impossible, if you study Romane you can understand it's easy to play with 3 fingers but you can also use all the fingers, difficoult but possible, don't you think?
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Postby emicad » Fri Sep 16, 2005 1:11 pm

troychapman wrote:Guitar can be played mind-boggling well with 2 fingers, 3 fingers, or 4 fingers (plus a thumb). I haven't heard of a 1 finger guitar genius but I wouldn't rule it out.

The only person's opinion that means anything is your own. Decide how you want to play and go for it.

2 fingers-Django
3 fingers-Stochelo
4 fingers- Angelo
5 fingers and one thumb- Hounddog Taylor
8 fingers- Stanley Jordan
1 thumb- Richie Havens
2 teeth and a tongue-Jimi Hendrix


The only thing that stands between you and greatness is the amount of practice not the amount of fingers.

Of course some people may need 2 or 3 hundred years of practice but thats a whole 'nother topic :twisted:

5 fingers and one thumb- Hounddog Taylor :roll:
1 thumb- Richie Havens :shock:
Can you tell me more about these players?
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Postby troychapman » Fri Sep 16, 2005 7:07 pm

emicad wrote:5 fingers and one thumb- Hounddog Taylor :roll:
1 thumb- Richie Havens :shock:
Can you tell me more about these players?


Hound Dog Taylor was a bluesman who had 6 fingers on each hand (an extra pinky).
There was a good picture of his hand on a Guitar Player magazine cover a few years ago but I can't find it online.

Richie Havens played in an open tuning and barred chords by wrapping his thumb over the top of the neck across all the strings.

troy
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Postby Barengero » Sat Sep 17, 2005 9:05 am

troychapman wrote: I haven't heard of a 1 finger guitar genius but I wouldn't rule it out.


Once I saw a guitarist with a really massive handicap: His left hand had only one finger! Well, that guy played a stunning bottleneck in a blues band!

Best,

Barengero
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Postby emicad » Mon Sep 19, 2005 7:12 am

troychapman wrote:
emicad wrote:5 fingers and one thumb- Hounddog Taylor :roll:
1 thumb- Richie Havens :shock:
Can you tell me more about these players?


Hound Dog Taylor was a bluesman who had 6 fingers on each hand (an extra pinky).
There was a good picture of his hand on a Guitar Player magazine cover a few years ago but I can't find it online.

Richie Havens played in an open tuning and barred chords by wrapping his thumb over the top of the neck across all the strings.

troy

I've foud something on the net but in the photos seems Hound Dog Taylor had a normal hand, probably the additional fingers were very very little, do you know if he used that fongers? anyway i've not found big photos to see well, if you find something let me know please.
Can someone please explain me why Richie Havens used that strange technique? I've seen he have a normal hand...you can find a video performance here: http://www.homespuntapes.com/prodpg/pro ... prodID=814
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Postby SwingOpi » Mon Sep 19, 2005 3:04 pm

Tach,

I tried to play with 3 fingers and it's better to me. But for chords, I think the pinkie is very usefull.
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Postby emicad » Mon Sep 19, 2005 3:16 pm

SwingOpi wrote:Tach,

I tried to play with 3 fingers and it's better to me. But for chords, I think the pinkie is very usefull.

Essential...
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Postby james hart » Thu Sep 22, 2005 1:59 am

if youv'e seen the woodstock video, that bit about richie havens
and one thumb is true..... great list, i'd like to add danny gatton- beer bottle
shut up and play your guitar
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Postby james hart » Thu Sep 22, 2005 2:03 am

one more thing, i also spent years playing three finger, learning how to slide, accurately, with each finger goes a lonnggg way, i'm probably
preaching to the choir here...........
shut up and play your guitar
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Postby emicad » Thu Sep 22, 2005 6:59 am

james hart wrote:if youv'e seen the woodstock video, that bit about richie havens
and one thumb is true..... great list, i'd like to add danny gatton- beer bottle

Sincerely i don't know how in the mind of that man has come the idea to play that way...he's really strange to see him playing but his work...works! :D The same i can say for Wes Montgomery's thumb but it's all another story. I have something to ask, i've seen Richie use an open tuning, playing his guitar without fretting nothing he plays a E major chord ok? Using his thumb he can make other chords, but if he wants to play a minor chord? The first thing that comes in my mynd is to find the relative major of the chord but i want to see if someone knows something.
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Postby boral » Sat Sep 24, 2005 10:35 am

For me ,no problem with the little finger but I think we all have to do some stretching exewrcises to achieve this :
http://www.yatesguitar.com/misc/FiveCs.jpg
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