Power chords with ring finger or pinky?

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by Ralyks, Jun 13, 2018.

  1. Ralyks

    Ralyks The One Who Knocks Contributor

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    So in all of my years of playing guitar, for some reason, this is something I've never looked into.

    Normally, when playing power chords, I use my ring finger to fret the 5th (and octave in this situations). I've always seen players do that, but also using their pinky instead. So recently, in the midst of what I would call reinventing my technique (and most aspects of my playing) from the ground up, I decided to mess around with using my pinky. So far, while it seems weird because it's my hand learning a new way of fretting, I almost feel my fretting hand, I don't know, more relaxed? I'm going to keep at it and see, because I also am seeing how I move.my hand around, can change positions any better/worse, etc.

    What say you, SSOers? Which is your preference? Any pros/cons to either you can see?
     
  2. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I mean, being able to do either is a big plus. In my experience, a lot of guys using their pinky finger to reach the fifth do so because they are uncomfortable in the way they are holding the neck.

    Using your ring finger, you set yourself up for placing your pinky somewhere beyond that position, with lots of open space to pick up the octave, ninth, minor third, or even the major third on the next string. You still have your middle finger if you need the major seventh. If you use your pinky, your ring finger and middle finger are boxed in with each other, without as many options for extra notes to grab onto.

    Neither way is "wrong," of course, but without context of what happens next, having the ring finger down for the fifth leaves you with a few more options and with a better hand position not to injure yourself.
     
  3. Avedas

    Avedas SS.org Regular

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    Ring on 5th, pinky on octave, extension, or just muting. Every time.
     
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  4. Ralyks

    Ralyks The One Who Knocks Contributor

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    I think this sums up what I'm starting to think quite well. Example, I probably use add9 chords as much as power chords, and I have a tendency to try and finding a extended chord voicing before just deciding to use a power chord. So probably learning to use my pinky while still being able to use my ring finger sounds and being able to do both comfortably is probably the way to go. As I mentioned, I'm basically breaking down my technique and starting from square one in a way after having inconsistency in my playing for a long time (due to real life...) So even little things like this (which I guess "little" is relative in this case...) I'm going back and looking at in my playing.
     
  5. groverj3

    groverj3 Biologist/Guitarist

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    Yes, I've always used my ring finger for the 5th and pinky for the octave. If playing in whatever position I always figured that the second fret of that position is for your middle finger, third is for ring finger, etc. So it's always seemed odd to me that so many people "scrunch" their fingers together to be able to play 5ths with their pinky. That seems more uncomfortable than ring to me. The disadvantage would be an inability to add more notes without moving more fingers around. 5th with ring and octave with pinky seems pretty ideal for power chords in most situations.
     
  6. Lorcan Ward

    Lorcan Ward 7slinger

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    Always pinkie. I just find it more natural and comfortable, I like to use my pinkie a lot in my playing.

    If I am playing something like this that involved playing something higher than the 5th then I'l use conventional fingering:

    ----9---------9---------9---------10--------10--------10--
    ----7--7--7--7--7--7--7--7--7---7--7--7---7--7--7--7--

    If I was playing something like this though I'd use my pinkie and middle finger, lifting my middle finger up and using my first finger then.
    ----9--9--9--9--9--9--9--9--
    ----7--7--7--7--6--6--6--6--
     
  7. JustinRhoads1980

    JustinRhoads1980 SS.org Regular

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    I do both to be honest. No problem doing either or, just depends for me at least in the context it is being applied to
     
  8. Bobro

    Bobro SS.org Regular

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    I use a "drop D" (actually drop Db) tuning, so power chords are a trivially easy one-finer barre. And add 9 and so on is as simple, and similar in shape, as a power chord in Spanish (standard) tuning.
     
  9. mongey

    mongey SS.org Regular

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    I use pinky but I never fret the octave. I just keep it to the root and 5th. sounds cleaner to me

    when playing straight octave I use the pinky as well

    I actually used to use the ring finger. for some reason over the years I just evolved to the pinky

    funny thing is with leads I'm the opposite. I rarely use my pink.,mainly just the first 3 fingers hendrix style
     
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  10. The906

    The906 Hella rad Contributor

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    George Lynch and Paul Gilbert are chagrinned.

    I too learned using the ring finger then started using pinky a lot. Now I just don't pay attention and seem to do it either way.
     
  11. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician SS.org Regular

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    Ring for the 5th. I don’t do the octave much but when I do it’s pinky time for that extra lil’ fucker. So in general the pinky is for all the cool fun notes.

    Sometimes I play the fifth with my index so I can get some wide stretches for party riffs.

    And when soloing I use all my fingers. I like my hand to move as little as possible when speed is a priority.
     
  12. Dayn

    Dayn silly person

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    If you don't barre with your ring finger, not only are you more relaxed (because you're not mashing it down), you have far more flexibility.

    • Ring on the fifth, pinky on the octave: you can move your pinky up to play 2nds and 3rds instead of the octave.
    • Pinky on fifth, ring on octave: you can move your ring down to play 7ths. Much easier to play diminished and augmented chords for both positions, as well.

    That being said, when I'm playing up near the nut where the fret spacing is wider, if I'm just playing root-fifth, I'll fret with my pinky. No point in stretching to use my ring finger if my pinky is just sitting there.
     
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  13. EverDream

    EverDream SS.org Regular

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    When I first started playing I used my ring finger for the 5th and pinky on the octave, but since then I've ditched using the octave because I discovered that power chords sound lower (and cleaner) to me when it's just the Root and 5th. And then it's easier to move around because I only have to fret 2 strings instead of 3. Also while doing so I discovered that it's more comfortable to me the way my hand feels when I use my pinky. I do use very long scale guitars though (28.625" on my 8-string, and 30" on my 6-string baritone), and when I first started out I was using a 25.5" scale 6-string with a very fast neck, and then my first 7-string which was a 26.5" Schecter C7 Blackjack, so it made sense in every possible way to switch as I started using longer scales.

    If I'm wanting to add a 9th then I use my middle finger because for me when I stretch my pinky out to the 9th my middle finger ends up in a better position to fret the 5th than my ring finger. However if I do the 9th + augmented 5th (which is one of my favorite chords actually), then I use my ring finger for the 5th in that case because it's 1 fret higher than the normal 5th. If I was doing a flat 9th + 6th then I'd use my ring finger on the flat 9th and my pinky on the 6th. If I was doing the octave + 6th, I'd use my middle finger on the octave and my pinky on the 6th. If I was doing the flat 9th + 5th I'd use my pinky on the flat 9th and my ring finger on the 5th (and not my middle finger, because the flat 9th is less of a stretch for my pinky, and so thus my ring finger ends up being closer to the 5th in that case, and not my middle finger, as it is with the normal 9th added to the 5th). If I'm doing the flat 9th + diminished 5th then it'd be back to pinky on the flat 9th and the middle finger on the diminished 5th (like with the 9th + 5th). If I'm doing the (minor) 7th + 5th then I'd barre the 7th with my index finger (from the root), and use my pinky on the 5th (also the same if I was doing 7th + augmented 5th or 6th). If I'm doing the sharp (major) 7th + augmented 5th (or 6th), then I'd use middle finger on the sharp 7th and my pinky on the augmented 5th (or 6th). If I'm doing the sharp (major) 7th + 5th, then I'd use my middle finger on the sharp 7th, and my ring finger on the 5th. For sharp 7th + diminished 5th I'd do ring finger on sharp 7th, and middle finger on diminished 5th. If I was doing sharp 7th + 4th, I'd bare the 4th with my index finger (from the root), and use my ring finger for the sharp 7th (or middle finger on frets higher up on the neck).

    If I was doing chords that had frets lower than the fret the root note is on (but still higher than 3rds), then I'd switch to using the middle finger on the root. For example... If I was doing the augmented 5th (or 6th) + 5th (or augmented 5th), I'd use my index finger on the augmented 5th (or 6th), pinky on the 5th (or augmented 5th), and middle finger on the root, in that case. If I was doing augmented 5th (or 6th) + 4th (or augmented 4th), I'd use my index finger on the augmented 5th (or 6th), ring finger on the 4th (or augmented 4th), and middle finger on the root in that case as well.

    I could go on forever with all the different chord variations, but I think you all get the gist of how I go about things now. ;)
     

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