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View Full Version : How many fingers to use when finger picking?



dxdydz
11-25-2014, 02:08 AM
Some people some to use their thumb for the top two strings and others seem to use thumb + index + middle + ring assigned each to one string.

Is either approach "better"? Or more appropriate in certain situations?

Also, any leads on where to begin with finger picking are mightily appreciated.

barefootgypsy
11-25-2014, 02:22 AM
I'd say that neither approach is "better" - I've seen both, and it does depend on what style you're playing. Some players favour a particular style and stick with that, I'd suggest just exploring widely, and when you find a piece or style you particularly like, work on that for a while. Aaron Keim has done loads of stuff, easy and much harder! Here's a link - you may have see this already.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2buveFAqhYg
Good luck with your fingerpicking!

hammer40
11-25-2014, 03:14 AM
What ever works the best for you is the short answer. I used to use 3 fingers, thumb, index and middle fingers, and then I tore a nail real bad on my middle finger. Every time I used my middle finger it didn't sound good, it was just a thud. I figured I would try and get by with just the two fingers until my nail came back. Well, after a few weeks I found that I was actually doing better with just the two finger style.

So now I have stayed with that style for the most part, just using the third finger on occasion. You never now what's going to work, so try different techniques if you can.

stevepetergal
11-25-2014, 03:25 AM
I use three as a rule. Ring finger when I need four, but thumb, index, and middle are always engaged.

vanflynn
11-25-2014, 03:29 AM
I guess as a rule of thumb (pun intended) PIMA, thumb + index + middle + ring, seems to work best with a low G tuning and the three finger approach works just fine for high G (can anchor hand with pinkie)

Lots of "althoughs" here. Gordon Mark show you how to use two fingers here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miNX6CCQV6g

CeeJay
11-25-2014, 03:45 AM
I really and honestly think that this has no hard and fast "rule" ...and also depends on what you are picking.....Soprano (re entry)...probably just thumb and fore-finger as well as concert ...but with a concert there is a bit more wiggle room so sometimes get middle and fourth in as well....depending on the tune....simpler tunes (not disrespectfully "simpler" but the less complex) need less ...and often less is more.....Jazz and Classical ,which are more the remit (though not a hard and fast RULE) of Low G, Tenor and Bari territory and probably with the Low G the "assigned" finger system works better.....or could say bollo..........and use a plectrum (flat pick ? to the Over The Ponders) Scab...don't !!!

Kayak Jim
11-25-2014, 04:57 AM
I use three as a rule. Ring finger when I need four, but thumb, index, and middle are always engaged.

This is my approach as well.

wayfarer75
11-25-2014, 05:30 AM
I tend to use all but the pinky. It also depends on the tune.

Gary52
11-25-2014, 06:45 AM
A good resource for finger picking instruction & tabs is Aaron Keim's website:
http://quietamericanmusic.com/

And here's another site with patterns to practice:
http://www.ezfolk.com/uke/Tutorials/Fingerpicking/fingerpicking.html

I use thumb + 2 fingers most of the time, but some songs work better with thumb + 3.

Rllink
11-25-2014, 06:50 AM
I've been working on fingerstyle, or finger picking, for about three months now. I am learning different styles, and different styles use different fingers, so I sometimes use two, sometimes three, and sometimes I use four, it just depends what I'm trying to do.

Phuufme
11-25-2014, 07:02 AM
I use three as a rule. Ring finger when I need four, but thumb, index, and middle are always engaged.

+1 on this mostly what I use is 3 fingers

IamNoMan
11-25-2014, 07:18 AM
I rather enjoy two finger style picking. My thumb and index cooperate very well together. This allows a very clean and responsive attack. Much more satisfying way to get the 1/16 notes in.

I do use other fingers for picking. Especially I like to drone on the G and A strings when I pick.

philrab66
11-25-2014, 07:33 AM
Some people some to use their thumb for the top two strings and others seem to use thumb + index + middle + ring assigned each to one string.

Is either approach "better"? Or more appropriate in certain situations?

Also, any leads on where to begin with finger picking are mightily appreciated.

If you are just learning try to use all of them as you will need this to pick all 4 for a chord.

IamNoMan
11-25-2014, 07:43 AM
If you are just learning try to use all of them as you will need this to pick all 4 for a chord.I'm a little confused here. My left hand voices the chord. When I finger pick and I need a chord to sound I use my middle or ring finger to strum the chord, depending on whether I employ a two or three finger picking style.

philrab66
11-25-2014, 09:14 AM
I'm a little confused here. My left hand voices the chord. When I finger pick and I need a chord to sound I use my middle or ring finger to strum the chord, depending on whether I employ a two or three finger picking style.

For some fingerpicking passages you can pluck all the strings to sound a chord. For instance at 16 seconds in this video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbao-pEWR8w

Tootler
11-25-2014, 10:54 AM
I use just thumb and index finger and mainly pick arpeggios droning on the A string.

CeeJay
11-25-2014, 11:31 AM
Therefore the conclusion that must be sagely and safely reached is that there is no hard and fast rule....It's simply up to you and whatever it is that you are playing ....which is ,like music ,a personal choice.

ksiegel
11-25-2014, 03:33 PM
Hmmm...

Good question.

I'd have to say that I never really paid much attention - I just play, and whatever happens, happens.





-Kurt

Inksplosive AL
11-25-2014, 04:10 PM
I find on a soprano I can use one finger to fret two strings many times. 3 finger chords become 2 finger chords. Like said before whatever makes it happen for you is the right way.

peanuts56
11-25-2014, 05:07 PM
I had the chance to hear Ohta San in 2013 at Roy Sakuma's Festival. I was sitting very close and noticed he used his thumb the whole time. Picking is a matter of comfort and what works for one may not work for someone else.

Nickie
11-26-2014, 11:29 AM
On some songs I only use two....most of the time I use them all like this:
thumb g string
forefinger c string
middle finger e string
ring finger a string
pinkie anchor

pszy22
11-28-2014, 06:19 AM
I've only been playing a ukulele for a month, but I have been playing guitar for a bit longer. I basically transferred my guitar habits to my ukulele playing. I use two fingers 90% of the time, my thumb and index.

As I said, I am new to the ukulele but having studied guitar a bit more intensively, there doesn't seem to be any consensus. Try various combinations and see what feels the most comfortable/natural for you and your style of playing.

Laouik
11-28-2014, 06:50 AM
Usually three (thumb, index, middle), but sometimes all five. Getting consistent tone with your pinky can be tricky at first. As has been said, "whatever works", however I'll point out that a simple intuitive technique that will work on the first song you approach may not work on the second song you approach (e.g. needed to use more fingers). Following the path of least resistance at first can (and often) leads to larger obstacles down the road. 80% of what I learned was solo, tinkering, Ukulele Hunt or YouTube. 20% was through guitar lessons I took a year ago.