Left Hand Fingering 1,2,4 or 1,3,4

On a stretch from 3rd fret 5th 7th what left hand fingering do you use?


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notnac

Senior Member
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I posted this over at Guitar Lecture and thought it might be useful. Plus I spent so much time typing it that I feel obligated to pass it on since it's so easy to copy paste.

This was my response to someone who asked which left hand fingering is better for a (example: 3rd fret 5th fret 7th fret)

My answer was as follows:

I always use the index, ring, pinky but I think I am in the minority. My teacher, who went to GIT at the same time as Frank Gambale taught me that either way is equally acceptable but that once you have chosen one you should not switch back and forth between the two.

I recently noticed (I took lessons from him twenty years ago) that he uses 1,2,4 index middle pinky. while I use 1,3,4 index ring pinky.

Another very interesting thing I do is to play the stock Yngwie 3 string diminished arpeggio thing using 1,3,4 index ring pinky. Yngwie himself uses 1,2,3 index middle ring!!!

Skip to 1:28
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njxuor9uVQk&feature=related


I had been playing for years before I realized he was using that fingering. We can both play that particular run equally fast. (He's a lot faster than me on a lot of other runs :)

Another interesting idea that Daniele Gottardo uses is using different fingers on the same fret when doing arpeggios. He does this where most people "roll" their first finger.

I use the old fashioned rolling way but thing Daniele's way might be better. When I show younger students of mine I give his fingering as an option.

See here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W51e9hYeSuc


One final thing- The size of your hands may make a difference. I met Paul Gilbert way back in around 1990 and he has huge hands. Shawn Lane has very small hands. So the fact is, no matter what size your hands are you can do it... but you may opt for a different fingering.

Hope some of that is useful.
 

notnac

Senior Member
Messages
657
I am predicting an 80% "win" for the 1 , 2 ,4 folks although, as stated earlier, I think both are equally valid depending on the person.
 

notnac

Senior Member
Messages
657
same string? probably 1 3 3 (up) and 3 1 1 down, depending on context...
What???? Are you talking about sliding? I can't imagine building any speed like that. Are you talking about slow blues playing? I am confused.
 

notnac

Senior Member
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657
It seems I do 1,3,4 on the way up and 1,2,4 on the way down
?? I didn't mean if you shift into the next position. If you stay in one position I seriously doubt you are ascending and descending differently. If you actually are doing this you should stop because you are doubling your workload.
 

Jay Mitchell

Member
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5,643
I'm with Bill Leavitt on this one. Which finger you stretch depends on the scale fingering you're using at the time. See Page 3 of Book 2 of his Modern Method for Guitar for examples. IMO you need to work at developing equal facility with both first and fourth finger stretches. Circumstances will often make one preferable to the other, but which one is preferable is not a constant.
 

KRosser

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14,043
I see no reason to pick one and stay with one unless it's the only one you can do. I am a current GIT instructor.
 

medrawt

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559
I don't have a lot of occasion for this sort of thing, but a while ago I was watching a lot of technique-focused clips on Youtube, and noticed that 1-2-4 seemed very popular; I do it sometimes, depending on where I am on the neck, but 1-3-4 seems more comfortable. If I hold my hand out in front of me and splay my fingers, the stretches are all about equal, but if I turn it around into guitar position, I can "open up" the space between 3 and 4 a lot more comfortably.
 

notnac

Senior Member
Messages
657
Originally Posted by KRosser
I see no reason to pick one and stay with one unless it's the only one you can do. I am a current GIT instructor.
Maybe I was not clear in what I am talking about. I have many new students who come to me to learn scales. I show them a scale and they come back the next week to show me how they have been progressing. I can see as they are playing that there is a moment of hesitation while their brain decides index or middle. So I explain to them that when mastering a sequence they need to decide on a fingering and practice only that fingering. Ok, so I'm sure we can all agree on that much.

Now, extrapolating out into playing as a whole, we all have a finite amount of time to study and practice the guitar. So we need to approach the instrument systematically in order to maximize our study time.

Here's a concrete example. Say I have two students and they are going to both give a performance of a set piece of music after one week. They are both given the exact same amount of time to practice. Student A learns the piece using one fingering. Student B learns to play it with two different fingerings.

After one week I guarantee that student A's performance will be better. That's because he is spending 100% of his time on one task while student be is essentially learning two different tasks.

When push comes to shove and it's time to play you can only play one fingering at a time.

If you look at players like Paul Gilbert, Yngwie Malmsteen, Shawn Lane- You will notice one thing in particular, they always use the same fingerings on their pet licks.
 

notnac

Senior Member
Messages
657
Circumstances will often make one preferable to the other, but which one is preferable is not a constant.
Maybe we approach the guitar differently but I almost always (I've been playing all morning looking for an exception and can't find one) use the same fingerings. It has become second nature. For me a half step will be index middle and a whole step will be index ring or the reverse of that when descending.
 
M

Member 995

I'd approach that differently on bass, guitar, or mandolin. Probably good to be able to do it in lots of different ways.
 

KRosser

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14,043
but did you stay at a holiday inn express last night????????
:dude:dude:dude
I only said that because Notnac's teacher was a GIT student, who he was citing for authority; I'm a GIT teacher and I can assure you we don't all agree on all kinds of things.
 

KRosser

Member
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14,043
Maybe I was not clear in what I am talking about. I have many new students who come to me to learn scales. I show them a scale and they come back the next week to show me how they have been progressing. I can see as they are playing that there is a moment of hesitation while their brain decides index or middle. So I explain to them that when mastering a sequence they need to decide on a fingering and practice only that fingering. Ok, so I'm sure we can all agree on that much.
Sorry, I don't agree.

Now, extrapolating out into playing as a whole, we all have a finite amount of time to study and practice the guitar. So we need to approach the instrument systematically in order to maximize our study time.

Here's a concrete example. Say I have two students and they are going to both give a performance of a set piece of music after one week. They are both given the exact same amount of time to practice. Student A learns the piece using one fingering. Student B learns to play it with two different fingerings.

After one week I guarantee that student A's performance will be better. That's because he is spending 100% of his time on one task while student be is essentially learning two different tasks.
I know on paper this seems like it should be true, but I'm here to tell you from personal observation it's not necessarily. The better technique is often the more flexible one, not the more rote one.

Please note, I'm not telling anyone what to do or what to teach. Do whatever works for you. This is just what works for me.
 

Jay Mitchell

Member
Messages
5,643
Maybe we approach the guitar differently
Apparently so.

but I almost always (I've been playing all morning looking for an exception and can't find one) use the same fingerings.
I think perhaps you're missing what I said. Take a look at Leavitt's fingerings for basic major scales. Type 1 fingerings call for stretching the first finger. Types 2 and 3 call for no stretches. Type 4 calls for stretching the fourth finger. When you're playing C major in fifth position, for example, you'd be using his Type 4 fingering. This fingering will always be the same. Whenever the root is on the sixth string and you play that note with the fourth finger, you're using Type 4 fingering.

OTOH, when you play C major in second position, you're using Leavitt's Type 1 fingering. That calls for first finger stretches. As with the other types, this fingering is consistent across all keys.

In addition to the diatonic fingerings, Leavitt teaches to use a first finger stretch when you play an out-of-position accidental ascending, and a fourth finger stretch when descending. After a little practice, I find this comes quite naturally.

I'm with Ken on this one. There is no reason to adopt one of these fingerings and use it exclusively.
 

notnac

Senior Member
Messages
657
Ok for those wishing to follow along here is a link to the Leavitt fingerings you mentioned:
http://jonfinn.com/premium-content/free-lessons/billleavitts5majorscalefingerings

It looks to me like he's trying to keep things in one position. I can see where this might be of benefit to some. Having said that, I don't use any of the fingerings he gave all the way through. I organize my major scales 3 note per string and have no problem leaving the position.

Probably the reason my teacher gave me the scales like that was because he was influenced by Frank Gambale who did roughly that with the only time for even numbers of notes on a string being when reversing direction.

This is probably a case of "more than one way to skin a cat" but I'm going to stick to my way because I know how to teach it and I know it works. Not saying the other way doesn't work but I have no experience with it and therefor no business teaching it.

I will look into it further. Interesting topic.
 

notnac

Senior Member
Messages
657
Originally Posted by notnac
Maybe I was not clear in what I am talking about. I have many new students who come to me to learn scales. I show them a scale and they come back the next week to show me how they have been progressing. I can see as they are playing that there is a moment of hesitation while their brain decides index or middle. So I explain to them that when mastering a sequence they need to decide on a fingering and practice only that fingering. Ok, so I'm sure we can all agree on that much.

KRosser- Sorry, I don't agree.

Noztnac again:

Fair enough. Just so I understand better where you are coming from let me explain the analogy that I tell my students and you can tell me why the analogy is flawed:

I say this to random student who asks why only one fingering-

If you were a player in Major League Baseball would you spend 50% of your practice time batting left handed and 50% of your practice time batting right handed? Or would you devote 100% of your time to batting exclusively right or left handed?

Here the student will say- Well obviously you would spend all of your time one way.

And then I ask why.

and the student says- When you get up to bat you can only bat either right or left handed. You can't do both. So it makes more sense to spend all of your time practicing what you will actually use.

-----------------

So what's wrong with my analogy?
 

KRosser

Member
Messages
14,043
Originally Posted by notnac
Maybe I was not clear in what I am talking about. I have many new students who come to me to learn scales. I show them a scale and they come back the next week to show me how they have been progressing. I can see as they are playing that there is a moment of hesitation while their brain decides index or middle. So I explain to them that when mastering a sequence they need to decide on a fingering and practice only that fingering. Ok, so I'm sure we can all agree on that much.

KRosser- Sorry, I don't agree.

Noztnac again:

Fair enough. Just so I understand better where you are coming from let me explain the analogy that I tell my students and you can tell me why the analogy is flawed:

I say this to random student who asks why only one fingering-

If you were a player in Major League Baseball would you spend 50% of your practice time batting left handed and 50% of your practice time batting right handed? Or would you devote 100% of your time to batting exclusively right or left handed?

Here the student will say- Well obviously you would spend all of your time one way.

And then I ask why.

and the student says- When you get up to bat you can only bat either right or left handed. You can't do both. So it makes more sense to spend all of your time practicing what you will actually use.

-----------------

So what's wrong with my analogy?
For one:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/232143-the-top-10-switch-hitters-in-mlb-history

For two: What you're talking about is determined efficiency. For me, flexibility is more important than determined efficiency

I'll give you a personal example:

I had two different classical guitar teachers when I was young. The first felt very strongly that before you even start practicing a piece
we had to go through and mark all the fingerings, all the dynamic markings and all the phrase markings we wanted. That way, when I practiced the piece I did all that only one way from the very beginning, his theory being that come performance time if that was the only way I had been practicing it, chances are that's how I would play it.

The second teacher I had felt we should try the piece a bunch of different ways, different dynamic shades, different phrasing things, different ways of fingering the same passage. His idea was this made our technique follow instead of lead; that my technique would then be flexible and therefore more responsive under the stress of performing.

The real proof in the pudding came when I watched both perform - the first was as cold and lifeless as a dead fish, the second beautifully fluid and expressive

I picked up on that idea and found it worked for me. It may not for you. That's OK. You can and should do whatever you want.

If I determine that in order to get from Pasadena to downtown L.A. I have to take a certain route and I don't check out any others, because hey - I can't take more than one freeway at a time, right? - what happens when there's a road closure or a bad accident and I need to get downtown? If I'd checked out a number of different options I could just detour and be on my way. Otherwise I'd just be sitting, waiting for the only way I know to clear.

What's wrong with my analogy?
 




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