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View Full Version : Perhaps I should just become a two-finger player



Mivo
04-28-2016, 02:17 PM
More recently, I've focused a bit on fingerstyle, just using the PIM approach (with a bit of PIMA mixed in). But ever since I have heard Gordon Mark (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBMQ-JaiS1M) and Ledward Kaapana (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16eUxQwxxbs) play, both of whom use just thumb and index finger (I believe Kimo Hussey does also), I keep falling back on using only PI, too. It just sounds better to my ears and I feel I have more control over the tone.

My gut feeling was always that only using two fingers would limit what I can play and, if I got too used to it, it would eventually come back to haunt me. But since even some guitar masters, like Doc Watson (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cE2swkx9WXE) (this is actually an interesting video), use(d) only thumb and index finger (with six strings!), it seems that I may be wrong about that. Then again, maybe exceptional expert players shouldn't be the yardstick.

I think, though, I'll just stop worrying about "proper technique" and what may or may not be possible to do with this or that many fingers, and instead focus on good sound, which for now I achieve best with two fingers.

What about you folks? PI, PIM, PIMA? Or all of these and the pinky, depending on the piece?

Fleacia
04-28-2016, 02:32 PM
...all of these and the pinky, depending on the piece?

Yes. When I read your 2-finger approach, the first thing I thought was that I use all the fingers for things like rolls, fan strum, etc. And that's true. But I don't play those things all the time. I agree that if I want a focused tone, I automatically pick the string/s with my index finger. However, that's out of habit and because over time, it's gotten used to picking clear, single notes more than the other fingers. It's personal preference and also something that can be changed with practice, if you want to change it and "teach" the other fingers that focus and strength.

Gee, I hope this makes some sense. :o

Luckylibby
04-28-2016, 03:01 PM
If you think about it , many guitar players use a plastic plectrum ,equivalent of ummm one digit to stunning effect strumming AND picking melody :D

Two digits on a uke with two strings fewer is almost over egging the omelette n'est pas !!

It's your uke ,play it how you want, the important thing is, that you play it.

Inksplosive AL
04-28-2016, 03:07 PM
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Django_Reinhardt


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcE1avXFJb4

Doc_J
04-28-2016, 03:07 PM
Depends on what I'm playing. It varies for me, 2, 3, and 4 finger playing. Took a long time to get my ring finger to be as natural feeling for play as my index.

Booli
04-28-2016, 03:35 PM
With the RIGHT (non-fretting) hand...and nails about 2.5mm long...

MOST of the time when finger-picking I do PIMA with exactly one finger per string, unless I am doing a solo melody line (with no chords or rolls) and sometimes use the thumb(nail) alone and am working on getting the upstroke with the thumb so I can do a tremelo with one finger. If you've seen any videos of Jake, Aldrine or Kalei then you know the technique I am referring to. Downstroke is fine, but to go from that to down/up/down real fast and clean, moving pretty much only the thumb joints is a bit tricky...(more practice is needed)

When strumming simply and not fan-stroke nor trip-a-let stroke, I will use the fingernail of the 'A' finger going down, and the thumbnail of the 'P' finger going up, as this ALSO lets me follow the 'A' finger with the 'M' and then the 'I' fingers for a fan stroke quite easily if/when needed.

I never, ever, ever use a pick or plectrum on the uke - it feels clumsy to me and never gives me the sound I want, and I've tried ALL different kinds of picks...more than several dozens, nor will I ever use any kind of finger picks, EVAR - it breaks my physical connection to the strings.

OTOH, anything steel string and I will use a pick because otherwise the steel strings simply destroy my natural nails, and absolutely refuse to wear ANY kind of fake nails.

See here for reference of P-I-M-A:

http://www.guitarconsultant.com/images/pima.jpg

http://www.guitarconsultant.com/images/pima.jpg

Down Up Dick
04-28-2016, 04:17 PM
I notice a lot of good players (my opinion) just use their thumb (fingernail? Thumb pick?) I'm interested in that. It seems so simple and easy goin'. When I pick, I usually use P, I, M., but I'm really not fingerpicking much lately. Mostly, clawhammering or using a flat pick.

I, too, guess it's just whatever one likes to do. :old:

NatalieS
04-28-2016, 11:58 PM
My gut feeling was always that only using two fingers would limit what I can play and, if I got too used to it, it would eventually come back to haunt me. But since even some guitar masters, like Doc Watson (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cE2swkx9WXE) (this is actually an interesting video), use(d) only thumb and index finger (with six strings!), it seems that I may be wrong about that. Then again, maybe exceptional expert players shouldn't be the yardstick.



Well that explains it. I've always played only with my thumb and index finger. Doc Watson is also my cousin, so I'm going to blame it on genes. ;)

jddennis
04-29-2016, 12:22 AM
I've always been a P-I-M-A fingerstyle guy. But that's because I have a classical guitar background. There's actually strict rules for how the right hand is supposed to work, and I spent a huge chunk of my teens and early 20s making sure I had the technique down to second nature. I've come to prefer the simultaneous sound of plucking all four strings rather than strumming them.

If anyone is interested in practicing either rest stroke or free stroke, the proper "classical" technique I was taught means that the fingers are used in the following order:

When moving up the strings (from G to A): I-M, I-A, M-A
When moving down the strings (From A to G): M-I, A-M, A-I

I think the up and down meant more to the E-A-D-G-B-E tuning of the guitar, but I've always kept that terminology in my mind.

coolkayaker1
04-29-2016, 01:00 AM
The golden rule: the fewer fingers one uses for string instrument picking, the more they should rely on their spouse to carve the Thanksgiving turkey.

Ukejenny
04-29-2016, 03:23 AM
I feel that two fingers can get a heck of a lot done, musically speaking. If it feels good and sounds good, do it.

bonesoup
04-29-2016, 03:24 AM
Mivo, maybe you'll be okay with two fingers. It sounds like that's more natural and comfortable for you. James Jamerson (arguably the greatest bassist) (at least in popular music) played with one finger on his right hand!

Me, I pick with PIMA. That's how I learned it from Ukulele Aerobics. I took to it so I'm sticking with it, but yeah it took months to get that ring finger operational.


I've always been a P-I-M-A fingerstyle guy. But that's because I have a classical guitar background. There's actually strict rules for how the right hand is supposed to work, and I spent a huge chunk of my teens and early 20s making sure I had the technique down to second nature. I've come to prefer the simultaneous sound of plucking all four strings rather than strumming them.


Hats off for your classical training and the work you put into it. I often wished I'd had it. I had to comment bc that simultaneous pluck vs strum is what I'm working on now. It sounds so much better in the middle of classical picking. It's tough to do, especially slightly staggered.

Thanks for posting the technique too.

jddennis
04-29-2016, 04:33 AM
Hats off for your classical training and the work you put into it. I often wished I'd had it. I had to comment bc that simultaneous pluck vs strum is what I'm working on now. It sounds so much better in the middle of classical picking. It's tough to do, especially slightly staggered.

Thanks for posting the technique too.

You're welcome for the technique. I'm using it with the arrangement of "Over the Rainbow" from Fingerstyle Solos for Ukulele (http://www.amazon.com/Learn-Play-Fingerstyle-Solos-Ukulele/dp/0786687215/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461939451&sr=8-1&keywords=9780786687213). It's creating a very bright, music box quality sound.

The simultaneous plucking is a bit tough to master. Remember that the movement comes from the joints where the fingers stem from your palm, not from your middle knuckles.

NatalieS
04-29-2016, 06:21 AM
I feel Ohta-San should be mentioned here, as he plays primarily with his thumb but still sounds incredible.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32pQP8UGQdU

Croaky Keith
04-29-2016, 06:50 AM
I feel Ohta-San should be mentioned here, as he plays primarily with his thumb but still sounds incredible.

Check out the length of those 'claws'. ;)

Tootler
04-29-2016, 07:35 AM
For song accompaniment, I use thumb and forefinger but for instrumental work I use a leather plectrum.

hmgberg
04-29-2016, 09:03 AM
I feel Ohta-San should be mentioned here, as he plays primarily with his thumb but still sounds incredible.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32pQP8UGQdU

When I listen to Ohta-San play, I believe about my playing that I'm all thumbs.

Rllink
04-29-2016, 01:52 PM
What about you folks? PI, PIM, PIMA? Or all of these and the pinky, depending on the piece?I actually had to go play some songs to see what I do, and it seems that I do whatever I do. I played one song with all three at some point or another in the course of the song. I am always suspect of "proper technique".

igorthebarbarian
04-29-2016, 06:45 PM
Wow, this is magically awesome


I feel Ohta-San should be mentioned here, as he plays primarily with his thumb but still sounds incredible.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32pQP8UGQdU

whistleman123
04-30-2016, 12:56 AM
In the original post, what size uke is Gordon Mark playing?

coolkayaker1
05-01-2016, 01:26 AM
Miss Gardner uses tons of thumb. 👍🏻


http://youtu.be/GrUAd6mi7iQ

JoeJazz2000
05-24-2016, 09:16 AM
Two-finger picking is a well established school in traditional blues guitar. Texas bluesmen Lightnin' Hopkins and Mance Lipscomb were masters of this. And Doc Watson's fingerstyle method was two-finger as well. I think it is very effective on the ukulele, especially when incorporating strums with picking with either the thumb or index finger.

Soundbored
05-24-2016, 09:41 AM
Ohta San and Wes Montgomery, thumb only.

I use thumb only for everything except when I want a plucked sound, then I switch to index finger for single notes, or the first three fingers for plucking chords.