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Thread: Mike Marshall Finger Buster question

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    Default Mike Marshall Finger Buster question

    Hi Folks,

    I have been working with the finger buster book for a couple of weeks now. I have just gotten to page 14 where we've just started to fret stuff. I know many of you use/have used this book so I had a question:

    On page 14 the exercise titled 1-2-3 Pivot Finger busters, it has you using each finger for two frets each going higher each time. I'm female with not tiny.. but well... female hands. I can do all the ones with fingers 1, 2 and 3 without moving my entire left hand position. I can stretch that far. But with the pinky ones for going to frets 7 and 8, it's really hard to do it without moving my hand a bit. Are these intended to be done without moving thereby forcing us to stretch? Or is it no biggie to move the left hand slightly to get up that far?

    And secondary question... can most folks stretch their pinky out that far (to fret 8) without moving their left hand down the neck?
    Lynn Tillman

  2. #2
    Registered User swampstomper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mike Marshall Finger Buster question

    Hi Lynn,

    I've been working with that book for quite a while, since it first came out, and have developed some of my own exercises off of it. I am of the opposite gender persuasion than you but do not have large hands, so probably we have about the same issues with left-hand stretches.

    1. I do try to keep one hand position (unless the exercise calls for a shift, as in the Improvisational Concepts book -- if you don't have that, it's worth it for all the cool ideas), relax my hand, get a good arch, and reach that pinky out.

    I try very hard to keep all fingers down as I ascend if possible, do not lift the trailing fingers!! I got this idea from John McGann (see his site) and it really helps fluid playing -- he explains why.

    You can see the benefits of this for the p. 14 exercises because you do the pivot 2x, so the trail finger has to be in place again for the 2nd pivot. It's inefficent to lift it and then have to plant it.

    2. However this is not always possible, then I rock my hand as little as possible towards the pinky or down (depending on which direction I'm going on the fingerboard) to get the note. It's important to get clean sounds throughout, so if you have to rock the hand so the pinky can plant cleanly, there's no way around it.

    3. Sometimes I have to lift one finger before planting the other, e.g. 2 - 8 stretch as you note. Then lift evenly to get even-sounding notes, although there will be some dead space. You have to work on getting a smooth sound (well, you have to do that anyway!)

    4. As for my stretch, it has gotten better over the years, but there is a physical limit. As your pinky gets stronger it will be able to plant at more of an angle. Also, I can easily do stretches on the E that I can't on the G, because (1) reaching over the neck robs some stretch, (2) thick strings are harder to fret.

    Have fun! Wait till you get to the 4-finger crawl, that's in my daily routine (not all of it -- one or two a day). The high A-G#(p.22) and B-Bb (P. 23) are also favourites.

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    Registered User mando on the side's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mike Marshall Finger Buster question

    Have you ever seen Mike Marshall's hands up close? They're ####### sausages, not vienna sausages, but bratwursts!

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    Default Re: Mike Marshall Finger Buster question

    And Grisman has small hands........so.......you just have to figure out how to work with what you've got. Most artists build a style around their limitations......in fact learning them is part of the journey, and you can still make great art, even if you don't have robotic hands like Tony Rice or Chris Thile.

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    Registered User Dan Hoover's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mike Marshall Finger Buster question

    this is a book i need to get....my pinky just went into hiding...
    "Enjoy every sandwich." Warren Zevon

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    Default Re: Mike Marshall Finger Buster question

    Quote Originally Posted by Mando_Lynn View Post
    And secondary question... can most folks stretch their pinky out that far (to fret 8) without moving their left hand down the neck?
    I can, but then again, I have pretty big hands...furthermore, it doesn't sound very good when I try to pick a note with an 8 fret pinky stretch.

    I have his vids and from the exercises he shows in there, I don't think you're supposed to take those exercises as advice on EXACTLY "how" to play. The exercises are first and foremost designed to build strength, coordination, and flexibility in your hand while increasing your comfort with the fretboard, or at least that's my take on the things. If you're going for a note on the 8th fret in a song you probably wouldn't want to keep your index finger on the first fret while stretching for that note with your pinky. I for one would just move my hand up.

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    Default Re: Mike Marshall Finger Buster question

    There's a reason they're called "Fingerbusters..."

    I would try to make the stretch, even for the next few weeks. I can still remember having to really work it out to form a G chop (and I still don't always hit it cleanly unless I'm moving the position from another chord)...you may find that you can make that stretch in time. You may also find that you just can't do it cleanly that way (I have pretty good sized hands but relatively short fingers) and that you have to make it work another way. The point, more than anything, I think, is to work that pinky out so that it's a more useful fretter. Keep at it, but if it just won't work for you, then adapt it in the least disruptive (to your playing/flow) way possible...

    Good luck...some of those things are pretty darn hard!!

    Chuck

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    Registered User Doug Hoople's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mike Marshall Finger Buster question

    Some of the stretches in 'Fingerbusters' are conceptual, and at least one is (I believe) a transcription error (i.e., the transcriber took the 'continue for all finger positions' instruction one position too far).

    To figure out what stretches you really need, think about playing in keys of E and B. If you play the scale for key of E, for example, you'll fret 2-4-6-7 on the D string for the lower tetrachord.

    Going down from there, though, you'll play 2-1 on the D string (sliding the first finger down from the E to the D#, and then the 6 on the G string for the C#. That's the half-position scale, and the stretch from D# to C# is one of the ones that you will actually be called upon to play in real music.

    The alternative is 2 on the D string and 8 on the G string to play the E and the D#. Ouch! But that's another very real possibility that you'll encounter in real music.

    You'll choose the one option over the other based on what comes before and what comes after, but neither one is particularly easy.

    Whenever I work on Fingerbusters, I work my stretches to try to take in that first-position 6-fret 1/2-step span. I know that I'll be playing music that needs it at some point or another.

    I don't sweat the stretches much beyond that, but that's enough!

    For a murderous, but real, example of this, have a look at the C section of the Brazilian choro "Fla-Flu" (which is in Mike's choro book) It's in B major, and it's a real fingerbuster because it works all these stretches.
    Doug Hoople
    Adult-onset Instrumentalist (or was that addled-onset?)

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