A few questions on fingerings for Guitar Chords

I’m finally getting back into playing my guitar after a long, long layoff. It’s been over a decade ago that I put it aside.

The web has some great info on playing the guitar. But, some of the chord charts I find use fingerings that are different than I remember. I can’t seem to find my old Mel Bay Chord book with all my teacher’s notes.

for example, the G Chord. I vividly remember it was always a little painful because I was taught to use fingers 2,3,4. It’s one of the few chords that use the pinky. Never seemed to get a good callous on the pinky and it was the finger that hurt first.
I’m finding a lot of chord charts on the web fingering it with 1,2,3.

this chart shows both of those fingerings. I alway played it 2,3,4. Is their any reason to practice the other fingering? Any advantages to either fingering?

A Chord I always played with one finger on the three strings. Seems like most Google chord charts use 1,2,3 or 2,3,4. My teacher always taught it with one finger because you have to use a single finger when you slide down into barre chords.

same question. Is their any reason to practice the other fingering? Any advantages to either fingering?

Is it mostly a matter of style (Rock, Country, Jazz) on how you finger chords?

I’ve been trying to recall which finger I used with an A chord. I think it was the 2. That left the 1 to use as a barre when needed.

this chart shows using the 1 finger for the three notes. That doesn’t sound right. I’d swear I used the middle finger. But, it’s been so darn long ago, that I can’t recall.

Those are the main two chords that are different from what I remember. I’m curious how others are fingering the A and G chords.

I have relatively big fingers and I do an A with 1,2 unless I’m making a 7th chord and do 1,3 with the 3rd finger on 1st string 3d fret. I go both ways on the G chord, it’s nice to have in your bag of tricks because you can get to some chords faster from one fingering and other chords faster from the other fingering. Plus with the 1,2,4 you have the 3rd finger available for the 2nd string 3rd fret D note that lets you vary the sound easily. Have fun

Right now I have all the fingers on my left hand sore. :wink:
I need to get some alum and start soaking my fingers in it. I did that a lot years ago when I was playing and it helped.

I always thought G was perfectly situated for 123. You have the longest finger playing the top string, the next string covered by the next longest finger, and the ring finger, which is essentially attached to the middle finger, playing the same fret as the longer finger.

The only reason I can see to play G the way you mentioned is that it might be easier to switch to C in the typical 12-bar blues pattern.

Using 1,2,3 or 2,3,4 for the A chord gives you more variation possibilities. Moving the 3rd (or 4th) finger up one fret will change it to an Asus4, whilst removing the finger completely will change it to an A2 chord. You rarely move from A major to A minor, but the minor version is more easily played with this fingering, so it’s worth learning.
I’d use my index finger for barring it, purely because that’s how most barre chords work, generally using 2,3,4 to create the chord, whilst 1 just covers the entire neck (with the exception of the lowest E string for barre chords in the shape of A). Playing this way gives you a fuller sound, rather than just playing 3 strings you can play 5.

If you are straight strumming then basically you can play the chord however feels more comfortable to you. But, for example, if you use three fingers to chord your A, then you have three fingers to move around and either embellish the chord (for picking) or easily change the chord to an A7, Am, Am7, etc. For the G chord, I usually play 123, but sometimes depending on what chord is next, i will play it 234 if it helps me get my hand in position for what is next. It is all about convenience and flexibnility

I almost always do the G chord with four fingers.

That makes it so much easier to switch to D as well by keeping the ring finger on the B string.

As for open A, depends on what key I’m playing in and the style. Sometimes I barre it with my index finger, or I use MRP if I’m not doing anything to the A chord or I use IMR if it’s going to Asus4 which I would hammer on with my pinky typically.

The G done with 1,2,3 can be quickly changed to a D7. The G with 2,3,4 can be quickly changed to a C and instantly changed to a G7.

Doing A with one finger makes it pretty hard to get a clean treble “e” note. The people I see doing this either mute that first string, or fret it which makes the chord an A6. I do A with fingers 2 & 3, the 3 being laid flat enough to fret the 3rd string “a” note. I can instantly get A7 by rolling 3 up off of the 3rd string.

The important thing about fingering is finding the best fingering for you based on the position that you just left and the position you’re about to move to. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing ‘Free Bird’, ‘Recuerdos del Alhambra’ or thumping out a bunch of cowboy chords - the ‘best’ fingering is the one that allows your hands to find the most guide fingers (where a finger stays on the same string, but shifts to a different fret.), parallel fingers (where a finger changes strings but stays at the same fret.) and pivot fingers (where a finger remains at the same fret on the same string).

[My convention - For the fretting hand, (left hand for 90% of the population) (*) is the string number, taken at the nth fret by the x finger - 1 = index, 2 = middle, 3 = ring, 4 = pinky. For the strumming hand, p = thumb, i = index, m = middle, a = ring (annular in Spanish, which is where this convention comes from.) and ch = pinky (chico in Spanish)]

The chords themselves are made up of notes. Take A Major - the most common position uses (1) = 0 (open), (2) = 2, (3) = 2, (4) = 2, (5) = 0 (6), if played, = 0. Gives you, top to bottom, an E, C#, A, E, A and an optional low E. Most folks will tell you to finger (2) with 3, (3) with 2 and (4) with 1. Cool. If you decide to play (2) with 4, (3) with 3 and (4) with 2 - the notes are the same, the shape is the same. Your hand may have better success cramming all 3 fingers in, because 2, 3 and 4 are a little smaller than 1, 2 and 3. (2, 3 and 4 is a fingering you’ll use for A shaped barre chords, but let’s not go into that just yet.) Fingering that same shape as 1, 2 and 4; 1, 3 and 4; 2, 1 and 3; etc. are all possibilities.

Consider now a basic three chord song in the key of A Major that uses the chords A Major, D Major and E Major. Allow me to suggest fingering the A Major this way (1) = 0, (2) = 2nd fret taken with the 3rd finger, (3) = 2nd fret, taken by the 1st finger, (4) = 2nd fret, taken by the 2nd finger. This is an unusual fingering, but hear me out. Finger the E Major in the standard manner (1) = 0, (2) = 0, (3) = 1st fret, taken by the 1st finger, (4) = 2nd fret, taken by the 3rd finger, (5) = 2nd fret, taken by the 2nd finger, (6) = 0. When A goes to E, the 1st finger is a guide, 2nd and 3rd fingers are parallels. Finger the D Major in the standard manner - (1) = 2nd fret, taken by the 2nd finger, (2) = 3rd fret taken by the 3rd finger, (3) = 2nd fret taken by the 1st finger. From that A Major chord, you see that the 1st finger is a pivot, 2nd finger is a parallel and 3rd finger is a guide. Between E Major and D Major, 1st finger is a guide, 2nd finger is a parallel and 3rd finger has to find its own way. Simple, efficient and it maximizes the potential to join notes when desired while it minimizes the time the fretting hand spends flapping in the breeze.

What he said :wink:

As a thumb-over blues/rock player, a cheater’s A with just my index tip flattened across all three strings is the only way to go. Meaning - for the specific blues-and-Chuck-Berry licks I am playing, having my other fingers free for hammer-ons and pull-offs is required for the genre. Fundamentally, I agree with **Le Ministre **and **outlierrn **- your fingering should reflect the function you need, but you should invest time in learning a variety of approaches.

For G, I often play it where I have both ring and pinkie at the 3rd fret - ring on B string, pinky on high E. This drops one of the thirds from the chord and adds another 5th - kinda “powers” it up. Great for bluesy stuff like Twice as Hard, and when you shift the middle and index to the C position while keeping the ring and pinky where they are, you get a nice G/C bass mix chord which is a great chord to use to mix up GCD picking and chording patterns…

Yep. Called a “Cadd2” or “Cadd9” for those who want to know these things. (Basically, a C chord with an added D.) I think that was one of the first chord progressions I learned on guitar–four fingered G to Cadd9 to D (or even Dsus4 if you want to keep those two high strings fretted at the third fret.) I had no idea you guitarists occasionally fretted the three-fingered G with 2-3-4. I’ll have to try that some time.

Start on D, add the sus4 with your pinky (like with More Than a Feeling) as a passing note, go to your Cadd9, then G. Doesn’t get any more big-strum rock ballad sounding than that :wink:

Thanks everyone.

I’ll keep your suggestions in mind. I’m mainly going to be playing for myself and family this time. I’ve missed playing and have been surprised at how much I’d forgotten.

My thoughts exactly…

D-Cadd9-G is a fun progression…

The Cadd9 is the main go-between in this song