Question from a reader:
Is it ok to collapse the fingertip joint in the right hand when playing guitar?
This is a debatable topic and I’ve seen professionals promote both a yes and no answer on a number of occasions. That said, I believe as long as your fingers are relaxed and moving from the main top knuckle (attached to palm), and moving inward toward the palm, it is ok to collapse, especially when playing slower and lighter.
I will say, however, that when playing faster and with more force I do not collapse. In my videos, if I’m playing slow and somewhat light I collapse the tip joint since I’m relaxed. It makes no sense for me to force myself or students to not collapse the tip joint while simultaneously telling them to relax and not tense up. I recently had a student who spent the summer trying to not collapse and couldn’t do it at slower speeds, however, she had no problems with her playing. She had someone tell her to not collapse so she tried to avoid it. I suppose if a student was collapsing while I told them to play loud or fast I might object as it is a loss of energy due to the reduced power ratio when a joint collapses. Take the analogy of holding a heavy grocery bag with your fingers extended or curled. The curled fingers have a much higher power ratio. However, that does not mean they are relaxed.
I recommend you focus most on using a healthy hand position, moving the fingers in-toward the palm, and relaxation. Let the tip joint do as it may but realize that there is some power loss there when it collapses. I think the upper knuckle should be the primary focus but if you want a good power ratio you probably will not collapse. I’m not very picky about the tip joint but very picky about the finger movement and hand position.
Just remember, there is no question that you do not collapse in the LEFT hand!
Books to consider
- Classical Guitar Method – Vol. 1, Notation, Video Lessons, 100 pages, Free PDF
- Classical Guitar Method Vol. 2, Notation, Video Lessons, 89 pages.
- Classical Guitar Repertoire Lessons Grade 1 – Eight pieces at the grade one level with dedicated lessons preparing you for each piece.
- Classical Guitar Technique: Essential Exercises, Scales, & Arpeggios – Notation, 122 pages, Gr. 1-9. Video lessons, hundreds of exercises. Includes Giuliani’s 120 arpeggios and 100 open string exercises to learn good fingering habits.
- 20 Favorite Exercises, Notation + TAB, Video lessons, Gr.1-6, Great for crossover or a quick boost.
- Ten Classical Etudes, Gr.4-7, videos lessons, Notation & Notation + TAB