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Right Hand Fingering Indications

David Raleigh Arnold

Of Individual Fingers

Right hand indications have varied a lot over the last two centuries. Here are a few examples of guitar right hand finger indications from published methods and other works, starting with my own preference. I haven’t tried to be thorough. The first column is the different indications for thumb, etc.:

t i m a q  (best)

p i m a (q, c, x, p) (Latin/Spanish/Portuguese/Italian)

t i m r  (English)

. .. ... ....  (Carulli, Legnani and others)

x . .. ...
+   (Carcassi and others)

t p l ?  (Dutch)

d z m g
⌃   (German)

For Striking Chords

The standard marking is to draw an arrow before the chord pointing in the desired direction. If the arrow points from the low note to the high (upward), you strike downward. That is always a mess, and a finger indication is still necessary.

A bit better is a short arrow above the chord pointing the same way. It is a problem that some less enlightened people will think that the arrow pointing downward means to strum downward.

This is a better way. It is very simple and intuitive:

From low note to high:
thumb=T index=I middle=M annular=A pinky=Q

From high note to low:
thumb=U index=N middle=W annular=V

The pinky up is not used.

Using a Flat Pick

  • pick downward: ⊓
  • pick upward: ⋁

Some have been known to use D and U. ☺

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©2008 David Raleigh Arnold