fingerstyle playing--fingers used and chord changes

BermudaBill

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After almost a couple of years of self-teaching through YouTube, etc. and becoming a decent chord changer and basic strumming, I'm branching out to try some fingerstyle. I've never played a stringed instrument before, so this is all new.

Do you mostly use PIM (thumb for top 2 strings for a low G tuning), or PIMA? Do you switch between the 2 depending on what you're playing?

It seems much more difficult to change chords in a timely manner playing fingerstyle, as opposed to changing chords while strumming. I'm sure like anything, it's 'practice, practice, practice' yet I'm also interested in any other hints / advice our seasoned players have.

Thanks!

Bill
 

ripock

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I am a PPIM guy myself. I usually just play my own music so chord changes aren't an issue since there is no pre-conceived notion for me to uphold. However, if someone held a gun to my head and I had to play something like a Tom Waits song and I had to keep to a certain rhythm to emulate the original, I would try to try to change chords while still holding down the previous chord. Here's what I mean, if I had to play a C# dim7 chord, I would finger pick most of the most, keep my finger fretting the E on the A string, and while I was playing that E, I would move my other fingers to the next chord so that they'd be ready when the E on the A string was done. Then I would move that finger to where it belongs while I was playing the bass strings. Of course, I would only do this if I had to. If I had enough dexterity to move between chords without missing a beat, I would just do that.
 

Bluesy

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Phil Doleman recently posted a video tutorial for "Sweet Georgia Brown" with a number of useful tips about fingerstyle/chord melody.

Phil's such a great teacher. He shares so many ways to play the uke with greater economy of movement. Check it out:


Bluesy.
 

Jim Yates

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For me, it depends. Lullaby lick in2/4 or 3/4
__________R____ x ________R____R_____
_________M____ x _______M____M_____
______I______I__ x ____I______I______I__
___T___________ x __T________________

Pattern pickin' with alternating thumb (Allof these patterns and more can be applied to Cotten Pickin' or Travis Pickin' or Thumb Pickin'. . . all similar styles where the thumb comes on the beat and the melody is applied on the treble strings.)
___M_________M_____ x ____M__________M_____ x ___M_____________
_________I___________ x ___________I____________ x _____________I_____
______T___________T_ x ________T___________T__ x _______T_______T__
__T________T________ x __T__________T_________ x ___T______T_______

Other arpeggio pickin' (R-means that this note gets a full beat)
______________R____________ x ____________R-_____________
________M__________M_____ x ________M_______M____M__
_____I______I_____I______I___ x _____I_______________I______
__T________________________ x __T________________________

These are a few examples of finger style. Of course there are many more.

Being a folky, I use TIMR rather than PIMA, although, I often refer to the middle finger as the "bird finger".
 
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Ms Bean

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For me it depends on the fingerpicking pattern:
- an outer-outer-inner-inner (4132 pattern) is easiest with only thumb and index
- a 6/8 time signature with 432123 pattern is easiest with pima
- other variations (fairly often with pinching) sometimes suit themselves to pim
 

BermudaBill

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If you have healthy hands train yourself to use all fingers, including your thumb, on both hands. Maybe the Little Finger on your strumming hand can have a rest, but if you are starting to learn and doing physical exercises to train your body, train it to use all fingers.

Changing chords while fingerpicking is more mentally taxing than when you are just strumming chords. That is why it is more difficult. If you have a healthy body and brain you can learn to do both.

What you are trying to learn may take you two years. When you see an exercise in a book, often that is designed to be at least a weeks work of learning. Its not a 10 minute exercise and then you move on, although sometimes you will pick up the lesson in 10 minutes. So count up the lessons in the book. A lot of them might have 26 lessons - IE 6 months work, or 10 lessons - IE a school term of work. Some books with 26 lessons are designed for a lesson every fortnight - IE a year of work. The process is designed so that you visit the teacher once a week or once a fortnight and work through the exercises.

So relax and plug into a lesson plan. If you keep working on the lessons and progressing, at the end you will have the skills and knowledge. if you do not have a lesson plan, I suggest you find one if you want to get the skills and knowledge in the most efficient process.
Glad someone else said the chord changes were more mentally taxing! Thanks!
 

captain-janeway

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I use both like most people are saying. Depends on the song timing and just the feel of the song. !
 
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I use both depending on how much work all the strings need. If I can get away with it, I’ll use thumb, index, and middle finger only but I’m not so set on it that I’ll make life harder on myself if there needs to be four string patterns. ;-)
 

Elly

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I usually try to use all fingers except the 'lil one, but often end up using just PIM.
 

Bluesy

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It seems much more difficult to change chords in a timely manner playing fingerstyle, as opposed to changing chords while strumming. I'm sure like anything, it's 'practice, practice, practice' yet I'm also interested in any other hints / advice our seasoned players have.

Thanks!

Bill
Bill, take a look at a recent Phil Doleman YouTube lesson on "Sweet Georgia Brown" on YouTube. I'd link the video, but it kicks the post into moderation.

In the video, he shares the effective left hand positions while strumming, picking this chord melody arrangement. It's a very helpful lesson.

Bluesy.
 

Jim Yates

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Bill, take a look at a recent Phil Doleman YouTube lesson on "Sweet Georgia Brown" on YouTube. I'd link the video, but it kicks the post into moderation.

In the video, he shares the effective left hand positions while strumming, picking this chord melody arrangement. It's a very helpful lesson.

Bluesy.
Here's the link Bluesy:
Sweet Georgia Brown - Phil Doleman
 
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clear

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After almost a couple of years of self-teaching through YouTube, etc. and becoming a decent chord changer and basic strumming, I'm branching out to try some fingerstyle. I've never played a stringed instrument before, so this is all new.

Do you mostly use PIM (thumb for top 2 strings for a low G tuning), or PIMA? Do you switch between the 2 depending on what you're playing?

It seems much more difficult to change chords in a timely manner playing fingerstyle, as opposed to changing chords while strumming. I'm sure like anything, it's 'practice, practice, practice' yet I'm also interested in any other hints / advice our seasoned players have.

Thanks!

Bill

I don't finger pick on the uke much, but when I do, I mostly just use PIM because (1) the uke only has 4 strings, and (2) the I and M are easier controlled for consistent tone and easier finger alternations without mixing in the A finger. However, in some situations, it is useful to bring the A finger on so I'd recommend getting comfortable with PIMA as well.

WRT chord changes, when picking notes, you can change the chord in a more linear fashion where you first get the part of the chord needed for the first picking note, then the rest of the chord. There's actually a term for this, but I can't remember it. For example, if you are on a C chord and need to move to the G chord and the next note is F#, you can place the F3 finger down first while still holding the C. This lets you play faster and without too much chord change disruption.
 

GVlog

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PIMA is needed to execute 4-string arpeggios without displacing the hand-position.

Depending on what is required by the piece, you may be able to just use PIM but you will be much rewarded by taking the time to develop the use of all four fingers.

For a while, I studied methods that encouraged the use of the smallest finger (PIMAC, where C=cuatro-menique) for guitar but concluded that it was not needed for most existing pieces.
 

wqking

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I never played Guitar, but I decided to go with 4 fingers on Ukulele, and I'm happy.
4 fingers are the most versatile, though it's difficult to control the tone and volume.
4 fingers are best for the sheets that converted from Classical Guitar.
 

Uncle Leroy

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I primarily use Thumb, Index and Middle. I guess it’s because I played the banjo in another life.