Eric Johnson used to write a column called “Wild Stringdom” for Guitar World magazine. I saw a recent post on his forums linking to an archive of one of Johnson’s old articles, in which he discusses his approach to soloing and shifting positions.
I always want to squeeze the optimum tone out of each note. Guitarists often say that your sound comes from your technique, your guitar or your rig. That’s true to a certain degree, but in my opinion, the finger you fret with and the string you use will also drastically affect your tone. I like all the notes in my lines to have a certain cohesiveness of texture. To that extent, I constantly work out my fingerings, using any and all permutations I can to play my lines. If necessary, I will skip around the strings in order for a passage to maintain tonal consistency; that’s why I might make some fingering choices that seem odd, illogical or simply more difficult to the average guitarist.
The article provides some insight into Johnson’s approach to fret fingering with some nice examples.
It may seem strange, but I’ve discovered this is true for playing bass guitar as well. As I play I experiment with different fingerings and positions, and it does make a big difference. At least to me, it does 🙂 That’s probably one of the main reasons I have come to enjoy playing my 5-string so much. For example, an “E” played on the low-B string sounds and feels much different than the equivalent open E. Playing up and down the neck as opposed to across the neck, etc.
Ricky Sharples says
I also go to great pains to keep the tone consistent. When I’m working out a tune or variation on the nylon string acoustic, if I start at say, the seventh fret on the fifth string, I tend to avoid the second and first strings so there’s no variation in the sound.