by Logan Gabriel
me start by stating what this article is not.
It is not a treatise on what we should or should not use to set the
strings in motion. What I
mean by that is I will not compare the pros and cons over fingernails,
fingertips or fingerpicks. I will however address some of the essential
points regardless which method is used.
first point I would like to address is that of tone.
A good tone is desirable by all.
Well, what is a good tone? That
question means many different things to many different people, and ones
tone is as individual as ones personality.
All I can do is state how I define good tone, and hope that yours
is something similar.
tone is one that is warm, and round as well as easily projected and
consistent. In order to
achieve this definition of good tone here are a few points to consider:
of these ideas may be foreign to some people but I believe they are some of
the basic building blocks on good tone and proper right hand technique
which is so important in fingerstyle guitar.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to e mail me
I will reply as soon as possible.
of the hand in relationship to the strings.
This means that the hand should be in what Aaron Shearer called
it’s mid range. The mid range is this:
Place your arm straight out in front of you with the fingers
straight out. Now, turn your
wrist to the right while keeping the arm straight this is one extreme.
Now, turn the wrist to the left, this is the other extreme.
The best angle of attack is when the hand is in the middle of these
two extremes. So when you are
playing and your tone begins to falter look at your wrist and see if you
are in the midrange or not.
which knuckle joint does the majority of finger motion come from?
This is a question that should be on the mind of every guitarist.
The finger is broken down into sections that are separated by a
knuckle joint. From the
fingertip to the first knuckle joint is called the tip segment (This is
another Aaron Shearer idea), then you have the second knuckle joint, and
lastly the third knuckle joint, which I call the large knuckle joint.
All finger movement should originate from the large knuckle joint.
All other knuckle movement is sympathetic to the large knuckle
joint. The purpose for this
is that by observing this method the whole finger moves, this gives us
more volume, better tone, and keeps the hand relaxed.
last principle to good tone I will address in this article pertains to the
tip segment (from the fingertip to the first knuckle joint).
It should not be stiff and rigid, but collapse when a string is
played weather it be free stroke or rest stroke.
Try this: with the
index finger of the right hand (i) place it on the high e string as though
you are about to play the string. Now,
without playing the string apply pressure to the string so that the tip
segment collapses and is hyper extended ( not too much you don’t want to
dislocate the tip joint) when
that is achieved apply that little bit of pressure so the finger plucks
the note and the string sounds open.
That is the proper movement of the finger through the string.
Try that with all of the fingers.
About The Author
is a Classical/Fingerstyle guitarist. He began playing on a guitar that
his parents purchased at a tag sale when he was eight years old. He studied with a local teacher who introduced him to the playing of Julian Bream,
Andres Segovia, and John Williams, as well as Ralph Towner and Michael Hedges.
Logan attended Keene State College where he studied Performance and Theory with
Jose Lezcano, and Composition with Craig Sylvern.
release is called "Tree and Leaf: original music for
solo guitar", which can be purchased by emailing Logan for
details. As a
composer and arranger, his arrangements of Bach are published by Productions d'OZ
(the arrangements will be available at the end of the month). Logan lives in New
Hampshire with his wife Leah and their two children Mertz and Alina.