Query regarding fretting hand and finger positioning

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
Bluey

Query regarding fretting hand and finger positioning

Post by Bluey » Thu Jun 23, 2016 12:40 pm

Hello,

I've played (on and off) for a good while with slanted fingers. Since taking lessons I've began looking at a standard of technique for positioning the fretting hand so the fingers are perpendicular with the fretboard. I've just brought it up with my teacher and he thinks it's a good idea to work at it but judging by the fact I had to ask him about it I'm wondering if it's a fundamental that's worth changing to at my age in the game (40 years old) considering I'm confortable with the slanted approach?

Using this approach I've been practicing a note sequence this morning (played between open notes) and though I can do it, I can't seem to make the opens consistantly ring clear as my fingers make contact with the open string below and the only way to do it is to almost arch my hand to solely get the fingertips making contact with the string, it's quite labourous.

So I also wondered, if any of you guys get a spare few minutes, if you could try playing all the notes of the first 4 frets a string at a time and as you do it, ring the open string just below the string being played as in if you play the 6th string sequence E-F-F#-G-G# then you also play the open A string between every note and repeat on every string.

I'd like to know if the clear open note directly below notes being played is a standard to achieve or am I looking at something that's really quite difficult even for seasoned classical guitarists because I can never tell online if it's good or bad instruction. Any help is appreciated.

Ta,
Last edited by Bluey on Thu Jun 23, 2016 1:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

riffmeister
Posts: 4582
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 9:15 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Re: Query regarding fretting hand and finger positioning

Post by riffmeister » Thu Jun 23, 2016 12:55 pm

Yes, the fretted/open string excercise you mentioned should be something that is achievable without difficulty. For me it does require a little extra effort but still quite do-able.

Bluey

Re: Query regarding fretting hand and finger positioning

Post by Bluey » Thu Jun 23, 2016 1:00 pm

Ah ok. Is that by doing it with slanted or perpendicular (to the fretboard) fingers?


Ta,

User avatar
lagartija
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 11236
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:37 pm
Location: Western Massachusetts, USA

Re: Query regarding fretting hand and finger positioning

Post by lagartija » Thu Jun 23, 2016 1:03 pm

Being able to play single notes without muting the string below is standard classical technique.
If you are not used to doing this, there can be many things in your technique to attend to.
First, you chose the most difficult string (low E) and if you are not used to doing this with all four fingers placed, the most difficult position ( first position).
When you say you are used to slanted finger position, do you mean as used on an acoustic guitar set up for fast chord changes with a narrower neck, using the pads of your fingers and not the tips? A picture of your fretting hand would help people see what might be giving you difficulties, although your teacher might be more help because s/he can correct your position in real time.
Often, if you are used to playing without the fingers being perpendicular (for the most part) to the fretboard, you might have your thumb higher on the back of the neck and your palm too close to the edge of the fretboard.
Experiment with this technique at position V, and with the G string, keeping the B from being muted. Although sometimes one must have all fingers down on four sequential frets, there is no good reason to start there at the very beginning. :-)
When the sun shines, bask.
__/^^^^^o>
Classical Guitar forever!

Bluey

Re: Query regarding fretting hand and finger positioning

Post by Bluey » Thu Jun 23, 2016 1:20 pm

I'll check when I get up about if I'm hitting the pads or the fingertips, I suspect a bit of both with my usual slant and I'll try and post a few pics. I do have a teacher though but I'm not seeing him now until next friday and I'm wondering why it hasn't been something he's mentioned prior to me inquiring myself.

Thanks

User avatar
lagartija
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 11236
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:37 pm
Location: Western Massachusetts, USA

Re: Query regarding fretting hand and finger positioning

Post by lagartija » Thu Jun 23, 2016 1:23 pm

If he is not a teacher who was trained in classical technique, he may not use it himself. Or, if you have been playing acoustic guitar with a plectrum, he would not have thought you were interested in playing individual notes if you were mostly working on chordal pieces.
When the sun shines, bask.
__/^^^^^o>
Classical Guitar forever!

User avatar
guitarrista
Posts: 1683
Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2012 7:00 am
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Re: Query regarding fretting hand and finger positioning

Post by guitarrista » Thu Jun 23, 2016 5:04 pm

Bluey wrote:Hello,
I've played (on and off) for a good while with slanted fingers. Since taking lessons I've began looking at a standard of technique for positioning the fretting hand so the fingers are perpendicular with the fretboard. I've just brought it up with my teacher and he thinks it's a good idea to work at it but judging by the fact I had to ask him about it I'm wondering if it's a fundamental that's worth changing to at my age in the game (40 years old) considering I'm confortable with the slanted approach?
I just want to address this part of your question, especially given that you seem to have technical difficulties when using your existing fretting hand posture. Your age does not really matter, and it is easier to change fundamentals about technique than you might think. About three weeks of focused practice of the new position should do it. I don't mean practicing it for hours a day - maybe 15 minutes at the beginning of your practice, then go and play whatever it is you are currently working on.
Konstantin
--
1982 Anselmo Solar Gonzalez

riffmeister
Posts: 4582
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 9:15 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Re: Query regarding fretting hand and finger positioning

Post by riffmeister » Thu Jun 23, 2016 5:20 pm

Bluey wrote:Ah ok. Is that by doing it with slanted or perpendicular (to the fretboard) fingers?
Close to perpendicular. I have to pay closer attention to my 4th finger which requires a little more effort to get it perpendicular and not touch the adjacent string.

BTW, this is a great exercise! I will incorporate it into my routine, playing a full octave on each string.

Bluey

Re: Query regarding fretting hand and finger positioning

Post by Bluey » Thu Jun 23, 2016 5:53 pm

guitarrista wrote:
I just want to address this part of your question, especially given that you seem to have technical difficulties when using your existing fretting hand posture. Your age does not really matter, and it is easier to change fundamentals about technique than you might think. About three weeks of focused practice of the new position should do it. I don't mean practicing it for hours a day - maybe 15 minutes at the beginning of your practice, then go and play whatever it is you are currently working on.
Ah apologies, I meant I tried it with the new approach and not my usual slanted one. As soon as I get a spare half hour today I'll grab the guitar and actually try it with the slanted approach as well.



Thanks to everyone for all the input and I'll take some pictures as well later.

Bluey

Re: Query regarding fretting hand and finger positioning

Post by Bluey » Thu Jun 23, 2016 6:42 pm

Well it's easier with my usual slanted approach but I'm still not hitting every open. I probably just learn to make the room if I'm learning a piece and need to play an open as opposed to having a good technique.

He is a classically trained teacher but what's happened is that he's seen me play Calatayud's Waltz when I first went to him roughly a month ago and he threw me in at Trinity Grade 2 with a view on working on my theory etc. Fast forward to now and I'm 2 pieces through and only now have began to look at my finger positioning on the fretting hand. I'm just wondering why he hasn't mentioned it.

Here are some pictures.
2016-06-23 19.28.43.jpg
2016-06-23 19.29.27.jpg
2016-06-23 19.43.10.jpg
Thanks again guys.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

User avatar
lagartija
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 11236
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:37 pm
Location: Western Massachusetts, USA

Re: Query regarding fretting hand and finger positioning

Post by lagartija » Thu Jun 23, 2016 10:52 pm

We have teachers here with more experience than I have who could give you some helpful comments.
When I look at that top view, it appears from the position of your thumb that you are applying a lot of pressure to force your fingers to the strings. Do you find that the muscle at the base of your thumb feels tired?
Also, I can see from the picture that your elbow is pulled back and this leads to your palm being more below the edge of the fretboard rather than out in front. This might be part of the difficulty you experience when you try to do this exercise on the low E and keep from muting the A. If you brought your elbow forward, that would bring your forearm to be more in the same plane as the fretboard, and the back of your hand in the same plane as well.
You might find it more comfortable to try this position at the fifth fret, rather than at the first fret. In first position, I feel much more stretch in the triceps than when at five. It is easier at first at fifth position. Then move down toward first position as you get used to it.
When the sun shines, bask.
__/^^^^^o>
Classical Guitar forever!

Bluey

Re: Query regarding fretting hand and finger positioning

Post by Bluey » Fri Jun 24, 2016 2:03 am

lagartija wrote: When I look at that top view, it appears from the position of your thumb that you are applying a lot of pressure to force your fingers to the strings. Do you find that the muscle at the base of your thumb feels tired?
No not normally but I was holding my hand position in place and trying to take a snap at the same time and I think I also turned my wrist upwards a bit to get a good shot . Perhaps I should get my partner to take the picture from above.

I'm going to straighten up whatever now as the replies tend to support a perpendicular finger position. It just means I have to maybe scrap those pieces I'm working on and go back to exersizes whilst trying to change my technique.

Thanks mate.

User avatar
Paul Janssen
Posts: 1537
Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 2:05 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Query regarding fretting hand and finger positioning

Post by Paul Janssen » Fri Jun 24, 2016 1:20 pm

It's not easy to tell from the pictures, but I'm wondering whether you have the head of the guitar raised high enough? As a guide, the head of the guitar should be at about the same level as your own head. This will then give a steeper angle on the neck which should make it easier for your fretting hand. Just a thought?

Bluey

Re: Query regarding fretting hand and finger positioning

Post by Bluey » Sat Jun 25, 2016 10:11 pm

lagartija wrote:If you brought your elbow forward, that would bring your forearm to be more in the same plane as the fretboard, and the back of your hand in the same plane as well.
Yes mate, good spot. I've changed teachers and had my first lesson with him yesterday, this came up in a roundabout way. My technique is awful by the looks of things but at least I'm working on it now I suppose.

Bluey

Re: Query regarding fretting hand and finger positioning

Post by Bluey » Sat Jun 25, 2016 10:12 pm

Paul Janssen wrote:It's not easy to tell from the pictures, but I'm wondering whether you have the head of the guitar raised high enough? As a guide, the head of the guitar should be at about the same level as your own head. This will then give a steeper angle on the neck which should make it easier for your fretting hand. Just a thought?
Ah ok, I'm at work now but I'll look at this in the morning. Thanks.

Return to “Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists”