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View Full Version : fingerstyle: p-i-m-a vs. p-i-m



pluck
01-10-2015, 05:43 AM
After 2 months of thumb plucking I'm getting ready to move on to some fingerstyle material. Unfortunately, James Hill teaches P-I-M-A while Aaron Keim teaches P-I-M. I guess that to an experienced player there isn't much difference but it's a little confusing to a new comer. Is there any reason to pick one over the other or should I just learn both. I guess ultimately the particular arrangement will determine which one uses. What do you think?

CeeJay
01-10-2015, 05:51 AM
What does P-I-M-A mean ...?

Down Up Dick
01-10-2015, 05:59 AM
I use P-I-M, but it probably won't hurt to learn both.

CeeJay, P=Thumb (some Latin word), I=Index, M=Middle, A=(Some other confounded Latin Word). :old:

brimmer
01-10-2015, 06:12 AM
P is the thumb, I is index, M is Middle, and A is ring finger. The question is whether to use the ring finger for picking. Good question, I'm interested to see what other fingerstyle ukers say.

John King said he used mainly P I and M, and A rarely. That's also my preference when playing fingerstyle on soprano. I mainly use A for playing fast triplets in the A M I pattern thats also common for tremolo on classical guitar. A is a useful picking finger on the guitar, and many fingerstyle guitarists never learn to use it. Most of the great folk and blues guitarists just used P I and M, and the amazing Rev Gary Davis only used P and I. But classical guitarists use A all the time. Its not a very smart finger, unfortunately, and its weak compared to the others (the pinkie is the weakest and dumbest by far). If you want to use A you have to make a special effort to train and develop it.

The uke is rather small, especially sopranos, so I find it hard to pick with A as much as I use it for picking on the guitar. But on the tenor I use A more often because the larger body size makes it easier (for me, at least) to position and stabilize.my right hand for picking.

That's sort of a non-answer. My advice is to learn to fingerpick with P I and M first. A has to be developed thru practice, you can bring it in later.

But as with everything related to the uke, there are no rules. Ohta san plays amazing music mostly just using his thumb. I'll be interested to hear what others say. Great question!

CeeJay
01-10-2015, 06:21 AM
I use P-I-M, but it probably won't hurt to learn both.

CeeJay, P=Thumb (some Latin word), I=Index, M=Middle, A=(Some other confounded Latin Word). :old:

Okay thanks......I use thumb , index and middle....on Soprano and Concert and sometimes just Thumb and Index if ragging it or Clawhammering (Seeger Style I think it is.... where you up stroke as well as down stroke the index finger ...purists will shudder)

I would think the Tenor (or Baritone) will be better played Thumb Bass or 4, Index 3, Middle 2, 4th (A or Ring ) 1 as that seems to be played in a more Guitar like manner......assigned digits strings you have a more disciplined and rigid method...but easier to get going with because of said rigid structure...:rulez:

I don't play the T or B but I play the guitar fingerpicked as above ......(unless failing it of course!!!:o....fRailing it ...that should be ..fRailing *sheesh*:rolleyes:)

Rllink
01-10-2015, 06:37 AM
I use P-I, P-I-M, and P-I-M-A . It just sort of depends on what I want to do. I would say, don't limit yourself to just one style.

brimmer
01-10-2015, 06:51 AM
What CeeJay said about using PIMA, assigning each string to a finger, is what Pekelo's fingerstyle method book recommends. if you are learning fingerstyle, and prefer low G, Pekelo two books are really good. You'll learn to use your ring finger if you follow his approach.

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?44898-Book-feedback-Pekelo-s-Hawaiian-Ukulele-Method

The main hurdle with using A is that in fingerstyle the melody note is often on the highest string, and if A is your weakest finger, it can be difficult to get the melody to stand out over the harmony notes. So you really have to work on developing that ring finger.

bonesigh
01-10-2015, 07:49 AM
Hmm, I never looked up any special way to pluck, I just plucking did it and do with all fingers I can, even on the left hand (:

katysax
01-10-2015, 08:23 AM
James Hill seems to be someone who has taken classical guitar technique and applied it to the uke, and he is pretty literal in his interpretations. I play mostly finger style and use pim almost all the time but sometimes pima. On the guitar I usually use pima. Note that Aaron Keim plays a lot of traditional folk and is an excellent folk style musician. If you want to play ukulele like a classical guitar and play classical music, James Hill's way is probably the "right" way. If you are more interested in folk and popular music then there is a wider range of styles you can use.

As an aside: As far as the pinky I think most uke players use the pinky way too little in fingering with their left hand. When people are beginners they tend to avoid the pinky. If you use the pinky a lot, as in fingering the C chord or playing single note melodies, and get used to it, eventually you'll get comfortable using it.

IamNoMan
01-10-2015, 08:55 AM
Hmm, I never looked up any special way to pluck, I just plucking did it and do with all fingers I can, even on the left hand (:


We use much the same approach bonesigh.

pluck
01-10-2015, 09:06 AM
Many thanks to all for your ideas on this subject. It is very helpful. At the end of the day, the most important thing is for me to not to get hung up on these pesky details. I know they can sap my energy because I've let it happen all too often. Thanks again.

BTW, I probably am more inclined to go with the Hill method but I really like Kiem's book. Very classy. Can't hurt to do both.

OregonJim
01-10-2015, 09:28 AM
CeeJay, P=Thumb (some Latin word), I=Index, M=Middle, A=(Some other confounded Latin Word). :old:

P=Pulgar, A=Annular

In any case, don't fret about it too much. Which fingers to use is not as important as you think it is. You'll naturally fall into your own style after awhile. I use all five fingers on guitar, and just naturally fell into pim on the uke, but not through conscious thought. Don't overthink it.

ChasGrav
01-10-2015, 09:41 AM
I've played guitar for fifty years using P-I-M-A. But on uke I find that awkward. Both P-I and P-I-M work better, depending on the situation, and I use both.

janeray1940
01-10-2015, 10:03 AM
I learned P-I-M years ago, which works just fine, but recently have been trying to go with P-I-M-A. For certain songs it really helps (and I need all the help I can get sometimes!). Both work just fine, but if you're brand-new to fingerpicking, I'd recommend starting with with P-I-M-A.

Recstar24
01-10-2015, 10:09 AM
Many thanks to all for your ideas on this subject. It is very helpful. At the end of the day, the most important thing is for me to not to get hung up on these pesky details. I know they can sap my energy because I've let it happen all too often. Thanks again.

BTW, I probably am more inclined to go with the Hill method but I really like Kiem's book. Very classy. Can't hurt to do both.

I started with Hills the ukulele way method as we use ukulele in the classroom for my music kids, and purchased the ukulele way series for myself. Aaron keim 's fingerpicking book has probably developed my technique a little more than hill's. Aaron is a little more detailed, has a nice way of articulating key concepts, goes more in depth, and the songs are tabbed and move at a smooth sequence. The hill series is not tabbed, focuses more on music reading and literacy, is more classical in nature, and requires more musical background to get through.

PeteyHoudini
01-10-2015, 11:48 AM
Pulgar and Annular are Spanish words.

If you want to learn to do a Flamenco 5-note tremolo between two strings, you need to use P-I-A-M-I

It is hard to train the "Annular" (ring finger) but it is well worth it. I use both P-M-I and P-A-I for triplets between three strings.

Petey

cdkrugjr
01-10-2015, 12:05 PM
"Yes" The answer to "should I learn X" is almost always "Yes"

Learn PIM. Learn PIMA. Strum with your index, your thumb, all fingers, and every technique in every book or video you ever encounter. I might be exaggerating a bit wth that "every"

The only way you'll know what's going to work for your hands on your instrument is to learn it both ways and see for yourself.

Moreover, stretching yourself to learn varied physical skills has been shown to keep your brain active. Standing on one foot makes you smarter, yes really.

good_uke_boy
01-10-2015, 12:19 PM
In any case, don't fret about it too much.
Saw what you did here. :)

I'm a PIMA guy. Wish I could change my UU username to that...

Jim Yates
01-10-2015, 12:27 PM
I like T-I-B-R for thumb, index, bird and ring.

OregonJim
01-10-2015, 12:35 PM
Pulgar and Annular are Spanish words.

Yes, I learned the Spanish names too, but there is much (usually older) material that uses Latin names.

Spanish:

P = pulgar
I = indecio
M = medio
A = annular

Latin:

P = pollical
I = (I forgot this one)
M = medietas
A = annularis

The pinky is also "M" - minimus (Latin) or menique (Spanish), yet I have also seen "C" used (chico).

Ugh.

Camsuke
01-10-2015, 12:43 PM
I like T-I-B-R for thumb, index, bird and ring.

I'm with you Jim!

Rllink
01-10-2015, 12:49 PM
Yes, I learned the Spanish names too, but there is much (usually older) material that uses Latin names.

Spanish:

P = pulgar
I = indecio
M = medio
A = annular

Latin:

P = pollical
I = (I forgot this one)
M = medietas
A = annularis

The pinky is also "M" - minimus (Latin) or menique (Spanish), yet I have also seen "C" used (chico).

Ugh.
I'm not saying that those aren't Spanish words, but I've never actually heard them used. Except pulgar. I like Jim's TIBR with P for pinkie.

OregonJim
01-10-2015, 01:12 PM
I'm not saying that those aren't Spanish words, but I've never actually heard them used. Except pulgar.

Then you've never been exposed to classical music theory. :) Here is one source off the top of my head:
Finger Names (http://www.learn-classical-guitar-today.com/FingerNames.html)


I like Jim's TIBR with P for pinkie.

I like it too, but it doesn't help anyone who's reading a score with PIMA fingering. :)

good_uke_boy
01-10-2015, 02:13 PM
I like T-I-B-R for thumb, index, bird and ring.

Way better. Wish I could change my UU handle to TIBR guy.

Steveperrywriter
01-10-2015, 02:19 PM
PIMA is kind of like touch-typing; not the only method that works, but it does work.

Camsuke
01-10-2015, 02:24 PM
Way better. Wish I could change my UU handle to TIBR guy.

Good_Uke_Boy,you can make those changes here;
http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/faq.php?faq=vb3_user_profile#faq_vb3_changing_deta ils

good_uke_boy
01-10-2015, 02:28 PM
Good_Uke_Boy,you can make those changes here;
http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/faq.php?faq=vb3_user_profile#faq_vb3_changing_deta ils

Really? Don't see how to change "good_uke_boy" to something else...

Camsuke
01-10-2015, 02:29 PM
You can add a caption below it.

Rllink
01-10-2015, 02:47 PM
Then you've never been exposed to classical music theory. :) Here is one source off the top of my head:
Finger Names (http://www.learn-classical-guitar-today.com/FingerNames.html)



I like it too, but it doesn't help anyone who's reading a score with PIMA fingering. :)

Well, you are right about me not being exposed to classical music theory. I also am not challenging you and I am not implying that they are not used in "classical music theory". I'm saying that I've never heard fingers identified in those terms. But then I've never really sat down with anyone and pondered the proper nomenclature for each of my fingers in Spanish either. But I do call my index finger el primero, and my pinkie as el Chico, and the other two have just been dados. But rest assured, if I do decide to study classical music, I will refer to my fingers by their proper Spanish names to avoid confusion. Really, it was just a casual observation.

OregonJim
01-10-2015, 03:21 PM
Well, you are right about me not being exposed to classical music theory. I also am not challenging you and I am not implying that they are not used in "classical music theory". I'm saying that I've never heard fingers identified in those terms. But then I've never really sat down with anyone and pondered the proper nomenclature for each of my fingers in Spanish either. But I do call my index finger el primero, and my pinkie as el Chico, and the other two have just been dados. But rest assured, if I do decide to study classical music, I will refer to my fingers by their proper Spanish names to avoid confusion. Really, it was just a casual observation.

I think you misinterpreted my response to you. It was meant to be casual and non-confrontational as well. :)

The PIMA system of finger notation began in classical, but nearly all stringed instrument teaching methods have adopted it. You will run across it sooner or later.

Rllink
01-10-2015, 03:27 PM
I think you misinterpreted my response to you. It was meant to be casual and non-confrontational as well. :)

The PIMA system of finger notation began in classical, but nearly all stringed instrument teaching methods have adopted it. You will run across it sooner or later.
And when I do, I'll know.

Camsuke
01-11-2015, 09:35 AM
Really? Don't see how to change "good_uke_boy" to something else...


You can add a caption below it.

Nice work mate, looking good!

good_uke_boy
01-11-2015, 04:09 PM
Nice work mate, looking good!

Hey. Thanks for the assist.

drbekken
01-11-2015, 07:18 PM
A very interesting thread. I never gave this much thought, but I realise now that I play PIMA style. As a pianist, I am used to playing with all ten fingers, and it feels strange to leave that fingerpicking potential out on a stringed instrument such as the ukulele or the guitar.

Rock-A-Hula
01-11-2015, 07:38 PM
Wow!

TIBR

There's a river of knowledge flowing thru this thread!

Mivo
01-13-2015, 02:39 PM
I've been practicing P-I-M-A lately. Seems to help to strengthen the ring finger, too, and four strings = four fingers makes sense to me, but P-I-M came more naturally.

peanuts56
01-13-2015, 03:04 PM
I use both, depends on the particular piece.

Robin Harrison
01-13-2015, 04:24 PM
Do 'ukulele players ever use the little finger on the picking hand ?
I'm guessing classical guitar player do..............and if so does it have a Spanish name?

PeteyHoudini
01-13-2015, 04:43 PM
Magnifico, Jim! Thanks

Petey

CeeJay
01-13-2015, 04:46 PM
Wow!

TIBR

There's a river of knowledge flowing thru this thread!



Hahaha verry good ...right up my Via..

kokopellime
02-18-2015, 10:08 AM
I'm a one month in newbie and still figuring my way. I'm trying to set a daily routine that will help me get the fundamentals down for a firm foundation. Pratice a set of chords (using Uncle Rod's & my own patterns); learn new chords; do finger runs up & down the strings; practice strumming patterns; a couple of songs and finally, simple fingerpicking. I'm trying as many here suggest, to develop muscle memory, giving each of these there do before moving on. The internet and YouTube in particular is both a blessing and a curse, in that there is a wide wealth of info but sometimes it can be overwhelming. I'm still sifting through these resources as I tighten up my practice routine.

Thank you for posting this thread. I "literally" had the same question, thinking to post it on the forum. I figured that I'd check first, as to if someone already had (a reasonable assumption with all that's covered here) and voila, your query. I'm about to read through the postings and just wanted to send you a quick THANX before doing so.

kokopellime
02-18-2015, 10:13 AM
P = pulgar or thumb
I = indice or index/pointer finger
M = medio or middle finger, and
A = anular or ring finger

Taken from Spanish

JonThysell
02-19-2015, 04:44 AM
I started picking with pima. Pros are I always know which string I'm going to hit, so I'm much faster and more accurate. Cons are I have one more finger nail to maintain, otherwise if it's too short my melody playing gets lost, and I can't use a wound third because the upward pluck of the index finger catches the nail and makes a scratch noise that doesn't happen if I use my thumb.

I've been working on my pim technique, but the biggest issue I'm finding is getting that thumb independent for alternating bass. Pros are a cleaner sounding alternating bass, less fingernails to maintain, stronger melody lines. Cons are the thumb is doing double duty and I am less accurate.

Hikina
12-12-2015, 08:11 AM
no question if you are just beginning go for PIMA its always there when you need it.

cpmusic
12-12-2015, 08:35 AM
I learned Travis picking on guitar sometime during my Dark Ages, originally just PIM, but I added the A after hearing some other guitarists use it. Over the years it morphed into some variations, depending on the speed and style of the song at hand, and I imagine some of them sound fancier than they are.

I've been able to bring most of this over to the ukulele. It was a little odd at first with the high G string, but once my ear adjusts, the result can be interesting. Travis picking is really limited to PIM due to the lack of 5th and 6th strings, but the 4-finger morphed variations fit well fairly well.

I hope this makes sense. I can describe Travis picking for a basic lesson, but I've never broken down much of the rest into something I can explain. However, I can say with confidence that Travis was the key to all of it, as it all depends on the muscle memory of the alternating thumb and fingers.

phil_doleman
12-12-2015, 08:56 AM
Me too. In fact, when I wear fingerpicks (which I do almost all of the time when picking), I only wear two. I do sometimes use my ring finger on guitar, but on the uke it always felt like one finger too many! My thumb tends to alternate between the G and C strings, as much of my picking owes a lot to the alternating bass style of guitarists Chet Atkins and Merle Travis (who used just his thumb and index and did OK!)

Tootler
12-13-2015, 02:24 AM
When I first tried fingerpicking, I tried using P,I,M but my fingers seemed to get in a tangle so I gave up for a while. When I tried again, just thumb and index finger worked so I have stuck with that. I don't play fingerstyle instrumentals but fingerpicked song accompaniment for folk songs so it's mainly arpeggios with the thumb mostly on the G & C strings and index finger on the E & A strings with alternating thumb and finger. I have been trying out playing instrumental breaks and intros using the blues scale recently still using just thumb and forefinger.

kkimura
12-13-2015, 03:35 AM
Doesn't PIM carryover to banjo pick'n? Or maybe it's the other way around.

SoloRule
12-13-2015, 06:16 AM
I use P-I, P-I-M, and P-I-M-A . It just sort of depends on what I want to do. I would say, don't limit yourself to just one style.

I totally agree. If you look closely at Corey Fujimoto. He picks whatever he feels like picking (that's my observation but I could be wrong) while Jake pick with only his thumb, Mike Lynch is very specific what finger you pick etc....

Ele
12-13-2015, 08:27 PM
This is the BEST advice.
Feel the music through your fingers when playing🎶❗️🎶

cpmusic
12-14-2015, 08:21 AM
Doesn't PIM carryover to banjo pick'n? Or maybe it's the other way around.

On 5-string bluegrass style picking, it's all or pretty much all PIM. Bela Fleck and others from the Bill Keith school of melodic 5-string may use the A as well, but generally speaking, PIM is all that's needed for bluegrass.

The tenor banjo is commonly used in Celtic music, tuned GDAE or some variant and played with a pick. It's also used in Dixieland jazz, but I don't know what tuning is used there.

I expect a 4-string banjo could be played in the same style as a ukulele, but I have a feeling a banjolele would be more practical.

rappsy
12-14-2015, 08:38 AM
As an aside: As far as the pinky I think most uke players use the pinky way too little in fingering with their left hand. When people are beginners they tend to avoid the pinky. If you use the pinky a lot, as in fingering the C chord or playing single note melodies, and get used to it, eventually you'll get comfortable using it.

I am trying to learn to use the pinky as often as I can on the fretting hand. I am using it more on chords like C, but am also trying to get used to using it on chords like G and G7, as it then leaves the index finger available to use the barre chord up and down the fretboard.

bradben
12-14-2015, 09:31 AM
I would learn to use all four fingers (P-i-m-a) for a couple of reasons:

* To avoid repeating right hand fingers and get more "flowing" arpeggios
* To be able to pluck four note chords simultaneously
* To be able to play alternating patterns like "p / ima" for waltzes or Brazilian music

In general, it's just good to have it as an option, even if you wind up playing 95% of everything p-i, or p-i-m. The same for the little finger on the left hand - it's just good to have another tool available in case you need it.

(FYI - the "p" and "a" come from the Spanish pulgar for thumb and anular for ring finger.)

Cheers,