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Using Fingers Independently in Jazz in Fingerstyle Guitar

Learn how to use fingers independently in jazz from guitarist Adam Smale in this online fingerstyle guitar lesson from Howcast.


So when you're playing jazz in a fingerstyle manner, it's a really good thing to think of each finger as a member of a band or an orchestra. Your thumb is the bass player. Maybe your first finger is part of the trombone section and maybe your second finger is part of the other section or maybe the tenor saxophone section. Maybe you have your alto section here, which maybe might be playing the melody or maybe you can even use your pinkie for the trumpet section, let's say to play the melody on top.

Think of it like a small big band. So the cool thing about it, is that instead of strumming like you would normally a guitar as I'm doing with my thumb pick, the cook thing about fingerstyle jazz is you can make your whole guitar sound like a mini-orchestra by playing chord jabs or chord shots or hits. Where everybody is playing at the same time or you can separate it. So on that time, that pass-through, you could hear me kind of separating things out and then it starts to sound more interesting. Another way to make it sound more interesting is to walk a bass line, while you're playing the chords.

Now this is a little bit harder thing to do, but let's see if we can try to show you how to do that. Let's try to use - think of the scale. So we're going to use a G scale to go up the notes to get to the next chord and I'm going to play. So now I'm using my thumb to just play a bass line and then I can use my other fingers to play the chords. Now it makes it sound more interesting, if I don't play all my chords with the bass line, if I separate it. So if I play on the upbeats with my hands it gives the music more of a forward motion. So have fun trying to put bass lines to your chord progressions in the jazz style.

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