If you’ve been playing guitar for a while, you’ve likely heard of the “one-finger-per-fret” rule. It’s pretty standard stuff and serves as a great general guideline that will work well in many circumstances when playing single-note melodies or lead licks.
[I also use this set-up exclusively in my Finger Combination exercises, so that each finger gets its fair share of work.]
For the uninitiated, the OFPF rule means exactly what it says: If finger 1 is assigned to play the notes at fret 5, for example, then…
– finger 2 would be assigned to fret 6,
– finger 3 would be assigned to fret 7,
– finger 4 would be assigned to fret 8.
You could (and should) also use this concept in reverse: If the melody requires you to play notes on string 1 at frets 10, 9, 8 and 7 consecutively, you would be best served by playing…
– fret 10 with finger 4,
– fret 9 with finger 3,
– fret 8 with finger 2,
– fret 7 with finger 1.
Common Sense Meets OFPF
Unfortunately, many guitar students use the OFPF rule a little too strictly when common sense should prevail, especially where it concerns the use of finger 4.
Don’t forget that fingers 1, 2 and 3 are your dominant fingers and should be treated as such.
As an example, if I’ve got a phrase of notes that cover frets 2, 3 and 4, and there is one lonely note that has to be played at fret 1, I would not dedicate finger 1 to play that fret 1 note. If I did, it would mean that the majority of my phrase would be played with my most dominant finger out of the mix!
Instead, play in second position by moving your OPFP to frets 2, 3 and 4 and play with fingers 1, 2 and 3. Only shift finger 1 back to fret 1 as needed. Perfect.
The bottom line is that the OFPF rule is a great guideline to logical and efficient fingerings, but it’s a guideline only. Make sure that you think clearly about an entire phrase before determining the best fingering options.
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