Insert your custom message here. close ×

How many ways can you use your fingers?

Question: What do your fingers do on the guitar?


Answer: Whatever you train them to do.


Which leads to this question: what are you training them to do?


What fingers do


  • They press
  • They stretch
  • They form patterns (otherwise known as chords)
  • They move one at a time (solos and riffs)
  • They move as groups of 2, 3, or 4 (moving between chords)


These are broad categories. Thinking broadly allows you to open up your thinking. For instance, thinking “pattern” instead of “chord” can lead you to chord shapes you may not have considered. Thinking “chord” usually triggers your brain to do what you already know.


Pressing and stretching

The first two things on the list – pressing and stretching – can be worked on in exercises. The last three things are involved in making stuff.


A lot of people ignore the exercises. Too bad, because they allow you do to more with the creative tools. They also keep your hands healthy.



How hard do you need to press on the strings? Most people don’t ask this question. They should because the harder you press, the harder it is to move the fingers.


Here’s a simple exercise that helps you discover the optimal amount of pressure you need to exert in order to make a sound on the guitar. It’s probably less than you think.


  1. Place your index finger lightly on the 6th string. Don’t press.
  2. Now start playing that string. Don’t press. You should only get muted notes.
  3. Keep playing and start pressing very gradually. If you’re doing this properly, you’ll continue to get a lot of muted notes.
  4. Keep pressing gradually, and the notes will start buzzing. Don’t press suddenly in order to get rid of the buzz. Go slow.
  5. Eventually, you’ll get a clear note. Maintain the pressure you’re using at that point.


Resist the temptation to press harder. Most people discover that they’ve been pressing harder than they need. Pressing hard becomes habit and feels natural. It’s not natural.


With this lighter feeling in your hand, try playing a few chords or a scale. Concentrate on pressing only as hard as you need. As this begins to feel natural, your playing will feel better and you’ll have less chance of injury.


Don’t play a lot at first. It’s easy to fall back on old habits without realizing it. Keep your concentration and stay light.


Next post: stretching the creative way.


Share : facebooktwittergoogle plus

No Response

Leave us a comment

No comment posted yet.

Leave a Reply