Fingertips: loose or flexed?

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

Fingertips: loose or flexed?

Post by Carl Peter » Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:52 pm

I searched a whole bunch and didn't find anything about this (which seems odd), so I would be grateful for pointers to any existing threads that cover this topic.

I'm wondering about the amount of flex in the tips of the fingers that pluck/stroke/smack/push through the strings to set them (the strings) vibrating. Shearer in his earliest book suggested the idea of 'painting' the finger tip across the string, but seemed to recant in his later books. I didn't much care about all this until recently, when I discovered that I could get great tonal variation just by changing the amount of flexing in my fingertips, without having to slide my arm up and down along the bout (although that of course gives even more possibilities). I still use the same from-the-knuckle (or in the case of a, more from the middle joint) finger motion; I'm not suggesting some sort of minimalist playing motion of flexing only the tip and middle joints (although I suppose that might be appropriate in some places; hmm, need to check that out).

So, the question is: are there any reasons (preferably good ones) not to play with the fingertips either flexed or fully relaxed or something in between?

LFP

Re: Fingertips: loose or flexed?

Post by LFP » Mon Apr 06, 2009 7:50 pm

You will probably receive a number of different replies here. Here is 2 cent's worth:
Carl Peter wrote:
I didn't much care about all this until recently, when I discovered that I could get great tonal variation just by changing the amount of flexing in my fingertips, without having to slide my arm up and down along the bout (although that of course gives even more possibilities).
One of the most important reasons for loose tips is the tonal variations you have observed. Loose tips = good tonal variation. Loose tips are also important for tension control/management.

Carl Peter wrote: I still use the same from-the-knuckle (or in the case of a, more from the middle joint) finger motion; I'm not suggesting some sort of minimalist playing motion of flexing only the tip and middle joints (although I suppose that might be appropriate in some places; hmm, need to check that out).

Yes appropriate in some circumstances. We needs all those variations but we also need an excellent RH framework to use those techniques effectively.
Carl Peter wrote: So, the question is: are there any reasons (preferably good ones) not to play with the fingertips either flexed or fully relaxed or something in between?
None what so ever. Starting with the fully relaxed tips is the base line. As you observed in you second quote above some degree of tip tightening has a role but as already suggested develop tip tightening after you have the fully relaxed tip mode as base line.

miker

Re: Fingertips: loose or flexed?

Post by miker » Tue May 12, 2009 11:14 pm

Thanks for this thread. It's an area I haven't thought about for a while and CFP's comments have made a difference. Thank you both.

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