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-   -   Which two fingers do you use the most while playing finger style? (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=603253)

Rosewood99 01-07-2021 03:33 PM

Which two fingers do you use the most while playing finger style?
 
For a while it was my thumb and forefinger but lately Iíve been finding it easier to use the middle finger because itís longer and easier to reach. Does anyone else do that?

Slothead56 01-07-2021 03:36 PM

Thumb, index, middle, ring....

Acousticado 01-07-2021 03:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Slothead56 (Post 6598230)
Thumb, index, middle, ring....

^^^^^
This + pinky if called for. No picks. It wasn’t always this way though. For many years, just thumb + index. So glad I started to try using all which has become natural.

JayBee1404 01-07-2021 03:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by paulzoom (Post 6598227)
For a while it was my thumb and forefinger but lately Iíve been finding it easier to use the middle finger because itís longer and easier to reach. Does anyone else do that?

For many years I used thumb, index, and ring fingers, never used the middle finger, but a couple of years ago I trained myself to use thumb, index and middle.

KevinH 01-07-2021 03:47 PM

Thumb generally for bass.
index, middle, ring more or less equally for melody.

I tried learning the John Prine method many years ago, but it just didn't stick.

Rosewood99 01-07-2021 04:02 PM

I do use just about all my fingers at some point. I just meant what are the two that you use the most. But it looks like some people do use them all equally.

DukeX 01-07-2021 04:08 PM

I use thumb + two or three depending on the piece.

Methos1979 01-07-2021 04:08 PM

For years I used just thumb, middle and ring. Not sure why, it just evolved this way. I used the thumb on the bottom 4 strings and the middle on 2 and ring on 1. Over the past year or so I've deliberately begun to make myself use the index on the third string. It's not quite automatic and if I'm not thinking about it I just use the three but if I'm thinking about I try to make the index a regular participant.

I've also just begun trying to work with a thumb pick and it's coming along so now I'm looking into finger picks and that was one of my issues was whether to just get them for the middle and ring or include the index as well. I've got three different styles of finger picks on order and I'll likely do a post of my experiences down the line.

Btw, I did a poll on this exact subject over six years ago. Here's a link to that in case you're interested:

Fingerstyle players: How many fingers?

curbucci 01-07-2021 04:12 PM

Thumb and index finger only for fingerpicking.

Doons 01-07-2021 04:21 PM

PI (almost never) or PIM or PIMA... depends on the demands of the music. If it gets too confusing, I just use a pick and strum something else!

ljguitar 01-07-2021 04:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by paulzoom (Post 6598227)
For a while it was my thumb and forefinger but lately Iíve been finding it easier to use the middle finger because itís longer and easier to reach. Does anyone else do that?

Hi pz

No, I use the thumb, plus whichever finger is called for by the song. That changes according to style, and arrangement.





reeve21 01-07-2021 04:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by paulzoom (Post 6598227)
For a while it was my thumb and forefinger but lately Iíve been finding it easier to use the middle finger because itís longer and easier to reach. Does anyone else do that?

Yes, I think I do something similar. I tend to use the middle finger on the top two strings and the first finger on the third string. I learned by using PIMA, but find myself using the ring finger less as time goes on.

KenL 01-07-2021 04:35 PM

Yep, thumb and middle finger.

Silly Moustache 01-07-2021 04:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by curbucci (Post 6598263)
Thumb and index finger only for fingerpicking.

That's a me too!

Mark L 01-07-2021 05:41 PM

99% PIMA.

Every now and then a specific tune done in a specific way requires something more rudimentary, but itís easy enough to just see that as a specialized subset of PIMA.

David Eastwood 01-07-2021 06:29 PM

I use my index and middle fingers.

Iíve tried, many times, to add the ring finger to the mix, but it simply wonít cooperate.

I use my thumb as well, but itís my thumb, and I donít count it as a finger :)

buddyhu 01-07-2021 06:42 PM

Iíve been using thumb, index, and middle for years. But started guitar lessons with a new teacher who is nudging me to go with PIMA, and I am beginning to make the transition. A bit awkward so far, but Iím pleased with how quickly it is coming together.

rstaight 01-07-2021 08:34 PM

I am trying to use all five. But I keep falling back to thumb and index finger.

JonPR 01-08-2021 04:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by paulzoom (Post 6598227)
For a while it was my thumb and forefinger but lately I’ve been finding it easier to use the middle finger because it’s longer and easier to reach. Does anyone else do that?

Yes!
I've always done that, from the beginning. I was self-taught, learning from records (in the 60s), not from seeing anyone do it (let alone lessons), and I found my middle finger reached the strings better. That's because I was (mostly) using the "folk-blues" hand position, resting my wrist on the bridge or near it.
When I need another finger I use my ring. My index only enters the picture when I need a third finger.

I've never rested any fingers on the scratchplate, btw. Some people who use index and middle rest their pinky (or pinky and ring), but I find that very awkward and inhibiting.

I also play quite a lot of classical guitar, with my hand in a more "correct" position for that style - so my index reaches the strings more easily then - but by the time I started playing that way I was already in the "middle + ring" habit.

You can see my right hand style here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5LZ4s4mPKM

Andyrondack 01-08-2021 05:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by paulzoom (Post 6598227)
For a while it was my thumb and forefinger but lately Iíve been finding it easier to use the middle finger because itís longer and easier to reach. Does anyone else do that?

Mostly index and middle, thumb is usually reserved for playing bass notes on the strong beats so thats once or twice per bar and there are a lot more melody notes to play with fingers than bass notes with thumb, however sometimes I play single line bluesy runs alternating thumb pick and just one finger pith a pick.

Don W 01-08-2021 05:34 AM

3 fingers are required for fingerstyle. 1 or 2 finglers are fine for pattern fingerpicking...both are great but they are different. In order to play bass, rhythm and melody at the same time you need 3 fingers...there are a few guys that occasionally use 4 fingers.

kentwinterton 01-08-2021 09:24 AM

Whenever possible (which is often) I use my thumb and ring finger simultaneously on the first note of whatever picking pattern I am playing. Then index, middle and finally ring finger again.

JonPR 01-09-2021 04:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Don W (Post 6598620)
3 fingers are required for fingerstyle.

Tell that to this guy....

Thumb and index alone, all the way.

Mind you, he's probably just some old dude no one ever heard of again...

By the way, who was that style named after...? ;)

NormanKliman 01-09-2021 05:38 AM

I would call that Travis picking before I called it fingerstyle. The latter term isn’t well defined, as far as I know, such that all Travis pickers are fingerstylists but not all fingerstylists are Travis pickers. I know you know this, I realize it’s splitting hairs, and I wouldn’t normally correct anyone’s usage of the term, but since you corrected his with that example...

It seems to me that fingerstyle means two things: (1) in a very broad sense, playing the guitar with your fingers instead of a pick, and (2) specifically, a style of playing the guitar without a pick that was developed in the late 20th century and that combines several techniques and musical influences (examples of those techniques and influences would round out this definition).

And when I say pick, I’m referring to holding a plectrum between your fingers, so I’d (grudgingly) concede that fingerstyle includes the use of thumbpicks and banjo picks, although "fingerpick" would be a better term for that, in my opinion.

Nymuso 01-09-2021 06:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by eatswodo (Post 6598392)

Iíve tried, many times, to add the ring finger to the mix, but it simply wonít cooperate.

My experience exactly. Thumb, index and middle are getting the job done just fine.

JonPR 01-09-2021 07:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NormanKliman (Post 6599463)
I would call that Travis picking before I called it fingerstyle. The latter term isn’t well defined, as far as I know, such that all Travis pickers are fingerstylists but not all fingerstylists are Travis pickers. I know you know this, I realize it’s splitting hairs, and I wouldn’t normally correct anyone’s usage of the term, but since you corrected his with that example...

As a fellow hair-splitter, I agree! :)
I never really liked the term "Travis picking" to describe folk-blues fingerstyle in general. Firstly because he didn't invent it, and secondly because he had a particularly idiosyncratic technique, using just the index finger.
Almost everyone who plays in style that they call "Travis picking" plays differently from him. They'll use at least two fingers for a start. They might also allow the bass notes to ring rather than damp them as he generally did.
Quote:

Originally Posted by NormanKliman (Post 6599463)
It seems to me that fingerstyle means two things: (1) in a very broad sense, playing the guitar with your fingers instead of a pick

Exactly.
Quote:

Originally Posted by NormanKliman (Post 6599463)
and (2) specifically, a style of playing the guitar without a pick that was developed in the late 20th century and that combines several techniques and musical influences (examples of those techniques and influences would round out this definition).

Well - to continue the hair-splitting - that's more contentious.

Firstly, classical guitar is played "fingerstyle". How else would you describe classical guitar technique? That obviously dates back centuries - even to before guitars were invented.

Secondly, the non-classical technique is at least 100 years old, in American blues and folk music. It may have developed in the late 19th century, and certainly existed once recordings began.

It's true the technique evolved over the 20th Century, and I'd identify two separate styles as broadly "blues" (Big Bill Broonzy, Robert Johnson, etc) and "folk/country" (Mississippi John Hurt, Merle Travis, Doc Watson, etc). The latter is distinguished by the "alternating bass" technique, and there is a further distinction between the damped bass style more common in country music (Travis, Chet Atkins etc) and the freely ringing bass more common in contemporary folk (derived largely from MJH?).

There's also the more banjo-based semi-frailing style in country music (Maybelle Carter etc).
Quote:

Originally Posted by NormanKliman (Post 6599463)
And when I say pick, I’m referring to holding a plectrum between your fingers, so I’d (grudgingly) concede that fingerstyle includes the use of thumbpicks and banjo picks, although "fingerpick" would be a better term for that, in my opinion.

Yes, the term "fingerpicking" is not a clearly defined one. It seems to me it's often used as a more "downhome" term for "fingerstyle", but I agree it ought to imply the use of fingerpicks.
Then again, do we need a different word for the common habit of using a thumbpick but no fingerpicks?

TBman 01-09-2021 10:41 AM

I generally use thumb, index and middle. Sometimes I use the ring finger.

Dru Edwards 01-09-2021 11:03 AM

It depends. I usually use thumb, index, middle, ring (never pinky). If I'm playing one of the low E, A, or D strings combined with the High E string I'll use thumb and ring or middle. If its the same for low but with the B string, I'll use the middle.

There are always exceptions.

NormanKliman 01-09-2021 12:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JonPR (Post 6599493)
As a fellow hair-splitter, I agree! :)

Well, I don’t consider myself a hair-splitter. I like learning about the guitar and its history, but I don’t care much for bickering.
Quote:

Originally Posted by JonPR (Post 6599493)
...he had a particularly idiosyncratic technique, using just the index finger.

Are you saying that was unusual at the time and unique to him?
Quote:

Originally Posted by JonPR (Post 6599493)
How else would you describe classical guitar technique?

I would call it classical guitar technique. I didn’t say anything about it because it has nothing to do with what’s being discussed.
Quote:

Originally Posted by JonPR (Post 6599493)
Secondly, the non-classical technique is at least 100 years old, in American blues and folk music. It may have developed in the late 19th century, and certainly existed once recordings began.

Yes, but, on those old recordings, they played with just the thumb and a finger or two. Are there many (any?) from the first half of the 20th century in which the guitarist plays with more than that?

I use all five fingers (little finger only for strumming). The finger I use the most is the thumb and, after that, the index or the middle.

BKinBWa 01-09-2021 12:41 PM

I started growing my fingernails out some months ago. What I have found is that my middle fingernail wears down faster than the others, so I guess I use that one more. However, I have been practising Mary Flower's "Davis Street Rag", and I've found that utilising the index finger makes for a huge improvement.
-BK in BWA


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