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Thread: One finger per fret rule?

  1. #1
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    One finger per fret rule?

    I've always tried to play 'one finger per fret' forcing myself to use my useless, pathetic, clamping pinky. However, the other night I tried playing a simple lick on 12, 14, 15 on the highest strings using my index, middle and ring only. It was so easy, and I could play so fast I just couldn't believe it. Is this wrong?

    My fingers seem to get so cramped up using one finger per fret past the 12th.

  2. #2
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    The one-finger-per-fret "thing" is a practice guideline intended to help us to develop our hands and our minds in a useful, practical and ergonomic way. But don't think of it as a hard-and-fast rule.

    Up high you may have no choice but to span multiple frets with fewer fingers. Down lower you have have to use multiple fingers for the same fret / different strings. Don't take anything to literally. Be aware of the guidelines and observe or modify them as your experience directs you.

    I spend a bunch of time on diminished arpeggios - invariably I have to break the one-finger / one-fret rule to be able to play these. Not because my hands are too small or too large but because of the nature of the notes locations on the fretboard.

    cheers,

  3. #3
    chewing bubble gum Chim_Chim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by captainezchord View Post
    I've always tried to play 'one finger per fret' forcing myself to use my useless, pathetic, clamping pinky. However, the other night I tried playing a simple lick on 12, 14, 15 on the highest strings using my index, middle and ring only. It was so easy, and I could play so fast I just couldn't believe it. Is this wrong?

    My fingers seem to get so cramped up using one finger per fret past the 12th.

    That's not wrong at all.

    As you move up past the 12th fret you also will have a hard time keeping your thumb centered properly in the back of the neck as well.

    The one finger per fret rule is more of a general guideline than a rule, as are all musical rules.

    Position playing involves one finger per fret plus the index having the ability to slide down one fret further and the pinky having the ability to slide up one fret higher.

    It's all just meant to help you to find the best and most comfortable fingerings for you while also offering you strict fingerings for developing finger strength and coordination.
    Some days I seem to do OK. Other days I feel like just shoving an M-80 right up my guitar's butt.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by captainezchord View Post
    I've always tried to play 'one finger per fret' forcing myself to use my useless, pathetic, clamping pinky. However, the other night I tried playing a simple lick on 12, 14, 15 on the highest strings using my index, middle and ring only. It was so easy, and I could play so fast I just couldn't believe it. Is this wrong?
    My fingers seem to get so cramped up using one finger per fret past the 12th.
    I think it's a very good rule for 99% of your playing. But as others have said - it's not a rule which is unbreakable.

    For completely new players, just starting guitar, there's a tendency to try playing everything with the index finger, which is of course quite hopeless.

    So in that case it's good to get used to the idea of one-finger-per-fret, just to teach the most efficient way to play whilst staying in position.

    But it's also right way for most of us to play most of the time.

    One situation where I find I need to break that rule is when playing certain very fast shred type passages - my pinky is just not strong enough or fast enough to play those licks cleanly at full speed (however many years I practiced it). If you watch other players on film (eg see Andy James shred DVD's) you will see they often use the 3rd finger instead of the pinky on those sort of licks ... it's not ideal because it means a bigger stretch to use the 3rd finger, but nevertheless after a good deal of practice I find that works better than using the pinky (however much I practiced with the pinky ... it would never have the strength and accuracy of the other three fingers).

    Having said that I should emphasise that in general playing I do make full use of my pinky following the one-finger-per-fret style. So I'm not suggesting that you/anyone should try to play without using your pinky so much .... you need to work on it, to practice it, but imho it's unlikely ever to be quite as strong as the other fingers.

    Ian.

  5. #5
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Ditto to everything that has been said. One finger per fret works so -- while learning force yourself to use one finger per fret.

  6. #6
    Registered User TheAristocrat's Avatar
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    Given that there are numerous finger patterns, you need to be more consistent than anything else. I personally always use an I-M-R~P sequence priority all over the fretboard, right up the neck. Keep your thumb centre at the back of the kneck as a pivot, concentrating particularly on area just above the middle of the pinky. You don't need to change position, not even when bending strings. Pinky usage is a hefty reward for patience and dedication.

  7. #7
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    The one finger per fret rule is designed to assist a guitar player in the fingering of scales, arpeggios, melodies, riffs or licks on the fretboard.I think it should not be taken as just a rule but as a guideline.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by joanaugusts View Post
    The one finger per fret rule is designed to assist a guitar player in the fingering of scales, arpeggios, melodies, riffs or licks on the fretboard.I think it should not be taken as just a rule but as a guideline.
    annoyingly, just like every single other thing you can learn in music theory. music is anarchy, there are no rules. but backwardly that doesn't mean there is nothing to learn.

  9. #9
    Bedroom metalurgist LaughingSkull's Avatar
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    I use pinky all the time while playing below 12 fret. I do use it above 12 fret most of the time. There are better solutions available sometimes without pinky, it would be pity not to use them, but mostly I would say 'one finger per fret' is very good guideline.

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