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Classical Guitar Lessons: Left Hand Fingers

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In this lesson we're going to
cover the left hand fingers.
And so also some basic left hand
technique, technical concepts.
The left hand fingers are numbered.
1 for the index finger, 2 for the middle,
3 for
the ring finger and 4 for the pinkie.
And if we just if we look at the, the
guitar along the neck here,
you know, the left hand fingers are what
create, or
help create the different pitches along
the string.
And so they stop the string at different
points along the way,
which are marked by frets.
And that's what creates, helps to create
all these different pitches.
If we look at oh I don't know, we look at
the second string here which is
a B [SOUND] even just taking my first
finger only.
There, you can play
a scale on a note on one string
with, with one finger.
So these frets you can see are what divide
the string into the different notes.
And those frets also mark different
So later on when I say well, you know,
when we're working on a etude I say,
well this, you're gonna shift from second
position up to seventh position.
That means that your first, wherever your
first finger is,
is that, you know, if it's over here on
the second fret and
you're playing a D chord [SOUND] that's
second position.
And then in a, in a piece of music if that
shifts up to here [SOUND] to this,
you are now in seventh position.
So your first finger is, is, it marks
what, what position that, that you're in.
So, if we look at fifth position on the
guitar, and
we stay with our second string.
And we place each of the fingers on the
frets starting in fifth position,
on frets five, six, seven, and eight.
Let's just study the hand there for a
moment, just like that.
Just see what, what it looks like.
You should notice that naturally if you're
keeping your hand relaxed,
that your second and third fingers should
generally come
down onto the string and should look as if
they are at a, at a perpendicular or 90
degree angle to the string, or to the neck
or the fret board, or whatever you like.
And that your first finger and fourth
finger kinda come in at a slight angle.
The first finger however, you should not
try to place
the first finger at a 90 degree angle
because it's actually impossible to,
to have all four of the, four of the
fingers at 90 degree angles to the neck.
The first finger should really lie a
little bit on its side.
So, so it should land, the string should
touch the fingertip just
left of the center of the fingertip, like
Likewise, the fourth finger.
Conversely, the string should touch the
fourth fingertip just right of center.
So, slightly at an angle.
Go ahead and let the second and third
finger come down perpendicular to
the string and at a 90 degree angle to
the, to the neck.
And, and you want, with any of the
placement of the,
of the fingers, generally, at first, you
want to try to stay on the tips.
You know, sort of on point a little bit
like a ballet dancer.
any time you want to remind yourself of
just put all four fingers on a position,
any position, on the guitar pretty much,
below, you know, seventh position, and
you'll see that this is the case.
So, that brings us to the thumb.
Well, what does the thumb do?
Shouldn't do much.
You want to you wanna really basically
keep it relaxed.
Just the same way you want to keep your,
your finger placement relaxed.
Your thumb should not act as a kind of a
vice grip.
It shouldn't have to be very strong just a
counterbalance to the, to the hand.
Likewise your fingers should not land very
heavy onto the fret.
It should only require as much pressure as
And, and generally when we get into some
scales which are basically
scale passages combined with alternation,
I can give you an example of that here.
As the fingers travel down to the lower
strings, you can think of your thumb,
lightly as you, as you can see in the
overhead camera shot.
Should lightly follow them and
travel down to the, to this lower part of
the neck.
And I call it lower side of the neck,
meaning corresponding to the lowness of
the note, the lower strings, six and five.
Higher part of the neck in this manner,
moving in this direction from up,
up, down.
Higher means
first and second string area.
And it should just, that thumb should just
be very light.
The only time the thumb has to really
apply a bit of pressure is during bars,
a bar chord.
There's, there's a, there's a lesson on
bars in the curriculum.
So they have to be, so, you know, that
takes a little bit of strength, and
takes some time and patience to develop
that over time.
That, but that's just about the only time
the thumb should really be needing a, a,
a tremendous amount of strength.
And that's, that is our first lesson on
the left hand fingers.
And this is just a simple exercise that I,
I recommend for you on left hand using the
left hand fingers, and
getting more accustomed to placing them on
the guitar.
As I said in the last lesson in, in,
previous in a previous lesson,
you don't really have to press that hard
in order to get the note to sound once you
pluck it with the right hand finger.
So this is this is an exercise that,
that's it's kinda like a pressure.
And release exercise so that you're, you
depress the string, and
then you empty the hand, you empty the
hand of, of,
of the pressure to get you to feel the
difference on the string.
And so in fifth position with the first
second, third finger.
Rest each of the four fingers one, two,
three, four.
Very, very lightly on the second string.
Almost like they're the weight of a fly,
like each one of them is like a fly or
a mosquito.
And then, and then depress the string,
keeping the other fingers empty.
Empty of effort.
Or empty of tension.
Depress the string with just the first
finger only.
And so you should, it should be a feeling
that the first finger fills up with,
with energy or effort.
Like this, and then, and then release that
So pressure, release.
Pressure, release.
And then same thing with the other finger,
so second finger.
Again, go back to that original position
of all four fingers on the string very,
very relaxed.
And very, very light, not even pressing
the string down.
And now the second finger depresses the
string while the other three are,
are empty of tension.
And so when you, put, when you use
pressure with the second finger to depress
the string, you wanna feel that that is
the finger that is very different from
the other three, that the other three are
And this one is full.
Like this, and you'll feel the difference.
So full, and then empty.
Same thing with the third finger.
Full, empty.
You'll see the other fingers react a
little bit, slightly, they'll try to help,
they'll try to help the finger that's
getting full.
The one that's depressing the string,
they'll try to move in to help them out.
Part of this, a big part of this exercise
is learning the control
over the other fingers not to react in
that way.
They should just stay as relaxed, as
So that only the finger that is filling up
is doing the actual work.
And then fourth finger, pressure, and then
so full with the fourth finger, and then
empty with the fourth finger.
Full fourth finger while one, two, and
three are empty, again, and
now empty the fourth finger.
As you fill, fill the fourth finger, and
empty the fourth finger.
The, you should, the idea is that the
other three fingers feel the same all
the way through the, the other three
fingers feel empty.
All the way through the the alt, that
alternation of this exercise.
Okay, good so that's a, that's a good one.
You do that with on different strings but
the idea is to get that feeling in the
left hand fingers,
the relationships between, each of the
left hand fingers to each other.
So, have fun with that exercise, and I'll
see you for the next lesson.
Thank you.