Curious-- Playing Octaves

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by thesooze, Aug 31, 2008.

Which Fingers Do You Use to Play Octaves?

  1. Index and Ring (1+3)

  2. Index and Pinky (1+4)

  3. Middle and Pinky (2+4)

  4. Whatever happens, happens.

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  1. thesooze

    thesooze Member

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    Just curious what your normal hand position is for playing octaves.
     
  2. willhutch

    willhutch Supporting Member

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    I use index and ring for the two fret spans. Index and pinky for 3-fret spans (where the top voice is on the 1st or 2nd strings).

    But how about the picking hand? Do you strum through the strings, raking over the muted string between the octaves? I usually pick the lower note and pluck the higher one with my 3rd finger. Some guys use there thumb to strum both notes with a single downstroke.
     
  3. Flyin' Brian

    Flyin' Brian Member

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    Index & ring or index & pinky depending on the strings.
    Right hand depends on the music. For jazz, usually Wes style with thumb. For rock, raking over the muted string. For something more country, pick plus middle or ring finger.
     
  4. jazzandmetal?

    jazzandmetal? Supporting Member

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    Index and pinky usually.....or index and ring....or....****, I voted wrong. Whatever happens, happens.
     
  5. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    INdex and ring for the two fret span, index and pinky for the 3 fret spans.

    How do I play em ? Mostly I strum three strings, the 2 I want to ring, and the muted one in betwen. I mute all strings though, so if I overstrum, it does not matter.
    Soemtimes, ala Wes or SRV, I'll fingerpick the strings I want to ring, while muting everything else.

    Play enough rock, and octaves come like second nature. High gain teaches you to mute automatically.
     
  6. slyzspyz

    slyzspyz Member

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    Usually 1st and 4th fingers if the 1st finger is playing the lower octave. I play my 'power chords' the same way, especially in the lower frets. My 3rd finger isn't as flexible. If the 1st finger holds the upper octave then I'll use the 3rd finger, but that's not as common. Similar picking approach as Flyin' Brian.

    btw I tell my students, there is no such as thing as a 'pinky' in my room, we are not owned by America yet. It's either '4th' or 'little' finger. No offense intended to US citizens, but it's a generational thing, nobody called it that even 10 years ago here, you would have gotten slapped around. Must be the kids are sitting too close to the youtube.
     
  7. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    All of the above, potentially, depends on where I'm coming from and going to...
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2008
  8. teleman55

    teleman55 Member

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    Index and pinkie if 3 fret, index and ring if 2 fret, or ring on low note, index on high, if the high note is 2 frets below the low and an extra string up.
     
  9. jimfog

    jimfog Senior Member

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    thanks for typing it so I didn't have to! lol

    Pretty much what Brian said, although I don't break it down by genre as much............more by effect wanted.

    I will also do octaves across three strings .....such as an A = 4th string, 7th fret and 1st string, 5th fret.........usually hybrid or bare fingers.
     
  10. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    This is me too. I use a pick on both strings with downstrokes.
     
  11. Luke

    Luke Senior Member

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    What else am I trying to do? Do I need that ring finger to play another note soon and have to have it freed up? Are we talking octaves based off the E and A strings only?
     
  12. stevel

    stevel Member

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    I almost always use Index and Pinky. I think of it as a power chord without the middle string (which would be my ring finger).

    Rarely, I will use Index and Ring - like when going from an octave on strings 4/2 to one on 3/5 since the shape changes and vice versa.

    I will also, sometimes, very rarely, play an octave four strings apart:

    3
    x
    x
    5
    x
    x

    I'll do this if I'm doing something like going from the "basic" octave and jumping up an octave:

    -----3---
    ---------
    ---------
    -5---5---
    ---------
    -3-------


    Instead of:

    --------
    -----8---
    ---------
    -5---5---
    ---------
    -3-------

    so I don't typically so it on the lower strings - though I might.

    But I find it most easy to dampen the unwanted strings if I use the Index+Pinky arrangement.

    I just realized, haveing said that, I do also use Middle and Pinky sometimes, like:

    --------
    --------
    -4--5---
    --------
    -2--3---
    --------

    Where I do Index+Ring for the first octave, and Middle+Pinky for the second (especially if I go back and forth between the two).

    Here's a good exercise for finger dexterity:
    ----------------------------------------0--1--2--3--
    ---------------------------1--2--3--4---------------
    -----------0--1--2--3--4-------------------------0--
    -2--3--4-------------------------0--1--2--3--4-----
    -----------------0--1--2--3--4----------------------
    -0--1--2--3--4--------------------------------------

    Go up and down. Use "one finger per fret" (that is, notes on fret 2 will use finger 2 (middle) and notes on fret 3 will use finger 3 (ring), etc.).

    The B on the 3rd string (4th fret) could be played as 2nd string open.

    Best,
    Steve
     
  13. guitarwrench

    guitarwrench Silver Supporting Member

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    Depends on the song but mostly index, ring and index,pinky.
     
  14. Rob Taft

    Rob Taft Supporting Member

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    Left hand: ring index or index pinky depending on what string
    Right hand: Thumb middle or pick and ring
     
  15. frizbplaya

    frizbplaya Member

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    I guess I usually do index and pinky, no real reson behind it though. I probably first learned octaves by playing a power chord and leaving the 5th off.
     
  16. townsend

    townsend Member

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    You make interesting observations about terminology in referring to different fingers. I like "4th" finger, so long as you are referring to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fingers as such. These terms all belong to one series.

    Here is another possibility, taught to me by a hand surgeon. These terms might be a tad bit more transparent. We needed terminology that could be abbreviated, and NOT be ambiguous (in medical records). The series is "index," "middle," "ring," and "small," which are abbreviated I, M, R, and S respectively. "L" (= left) and "R" (= right) were added as prefixes, and "F" (= finger) was treated as a suffix.

    With this system, you can create a series of acronyms. For example, RIF = right index finger; LSF = left small finger; RRF = right ring finger; LMF = left middle finger and so forth.

    The middle finger is actually the longest finger of the hand, but "L" = "longest" is ambiguous, in that it might be mistaken for "little" (i.e., small finger). It is the middle digit of the hand, in that it is bounded on one side by a thumb and index (2 digits), and on the other by ring and small (2 digits).
     
  17. cram

    cram Member

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    don't forget that the "power chord" shape without the 5th is only one way to finger an octave.

    Take the open C chord and notice that the octave root appears two frets back on the b string (1st fret). I have played around with this up and down the neck in three combindations of strings -
    starting from the low E paired with the G string (3frets back)
    A and B strings (like the open c chord)
    D and E strings 2 frets back...

    I also use hybrid picking with my ring or pinky to strum that high note.

    hah! I just noticed that someone mentioned, "there is no such thing as 'pinky'" in their class... I guess I get an F from them! Sorry ;)
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2008

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