A fairly beginner question here so apologies if it's been answered before. I'm working on a song (open g tuning) where i'm required to fret an F chord - requiring all four fingers - then Pull-off the 1st string (that my pinky was fretting) while maintaining the position of my other fingers. My problem is that i don't seem to be able to move my pinky finger independently of my ring finger so i can't play the note cleanly. Is this something that other people have problems with? or just something that improves over time?
Hi, Don't worry! This independance of the fingers is something you have to learn with almost any instrument. It comes with practice. Try placing the tips of the fingers and thumb of your left hand on the table, and then lift them one at a time. You may find that, after a while, the ring finger is the least independant one. Cheers, John
I've been playing for a long time and last year decided to (finally) get a fuller tone from my pinky finger hammer-ons. John is right about finger independence being something that's needed on almost every instrument. I find it hard to keep my fingers properly aligned on the E string on upright bass. After the table top exercise, if you practice the phrase in which you use it you'll find that you'll improve. Be patient and persistent. It'll happen for you.
You are allowed to cheat. A tab is just a suggestion and the banjo police will not knock on your door if you deviate. Do you really need to hold down all 4 strings of that F chord ? Are you really strumming across all 4 string including the 4th ? Of course you will get a richer tone if you hold down a full chord even when not playing all of the strings. But plus one on "it will become easier with time". What's the tune ? Where's the tab ?
Go up the neck where the frets are closer together, maybe the ninth fret. put your 1st finger on a string. The whole exercise is on one string, one finger for each fret. Play the string in this fingering pattern:
If you started at the ninth fret, you're going to play frets nine-twelve-eleven-twelve-ten-twelve-eleven twelve.
When you go from 1 to 4, put all your fingers down, then lift only the finger or fingers you need to play the next note. So when you're playing "4", all the fingers are down. When you play "3", three fingers are down, an so on. You should pick each note with the right hand, to make sure you're fingering the string correctly.
To use this to improve your left hand stretch, move down to the 8th fret and repeat. Then the 7th, then the 6th, and so on.
This isn't music. It will drive the people you live with nuts. But you will develop some finger Independence.
Related to this is a techinque someone in a music store showed one of my guitar students.She then brought it back to me and I immediately stole it.
When working on chords which use the 4th finger, or which have a long stretch, finger it backwards. That is, put the 4th finger, or 4th and 3rd fingers, down first. Get the tough part out of the way.
I know it isn't always necessary to have all the fingers down in a chord to play a passage. I will often skip the strings I don't need to finger. But I don't see any good reason to limit myself. With a little work and patience, all these things become easy and automatic.