2 Finger Style Teaching DVD or Book

ArchiveArchive New
edited May 2023 in Technique Posts: 2

I am 52 years old and want to start guitar playing and want to play Django. 2 Finger style would use my most powerful 3 fingers and other my two are disaster. Can you point me to a DVD or book teaching this style ?



  • stuologystuology New
    Posts: 196

    I’ve never seen a book or DVD about this. There are a couple of people who play like Django but most people use all of their fingers. Even Django used his injured fingers when he could, there are several photos of him using all four fingers for chords.

    We actually don’t know that much about how Django played - only two short videos, about 2 minutes long, show him playing with enough clarity to work out how he approached the guitar. One of them is transcribed in Michael Horowitz’s book Unaccompanied Django. That’s probably the closest to a book that will give you what you want, although you still have to work out the fingerings for yourself.

    As a general rule, I wouldn’t worry about niche techniques, just focus on learning the basics. I’ve never seen a book in this genre or any jazz genre that doesn’t assume you already have a foundational knowledge of the guitar - like how to play a chord, how to fret a note, how to play a line, how to strum to a rhythm, how to read tab or notation etc. Even co-ordinating picking and fretting a note at the same time is a skill we all have to learn. A good guitar teacher will get you started.

  • krzyskrzys New
    Posts: 136

    I've noticed some Japanese players on Youtube who strictly use two fingers for everything.

  • pdgpdg ✭✭
    Posts: 472

    Yes, Ito Nobutake in Japan only uses two fingers. There are several youtubes showing him playing in detail. You could slow down the videos. Here's one:

    But you should carefully consider whether you really want to go that route.

  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 360

    I understand that some players will work out Django solos using two fingers--I saw Sam Miltich do so with the famous "I'll See You in My Dreams" arrangement, which Sam said he did as an exercise. (It worked quite well.) And I'm sure that there are those who will claim that the only way to get an absolutely authentic Django sound would be to work within the limits imposed by his injuries.

    But I suspect that that is not the best way to approach learning to play guitar from scratch, even if Django-style is one's goal. For one thing, Django's injuries (which apparently consisted of scar tissue and adhesions) did not completely prevent his using the ring/pinky fingers, only limited their deployment. I don't see much point in deliberately giving up resources--and I'd put serious money down on a bet that, given the choice, Django would not have, either.

  • Posts: 79

    He quite clearly uses his 3rd and 4th fingers on certain phrases tho? Look at 1:20-1:25, both the ring and pinky are used in quick succession

  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 879

    I think to do it correctly you need to start with the accident. I’d rent an old caravan, place furniture and mock flowers and maybe a full size mannequin. Get a friend to start a fire within said caravan after he rushes out enter and proceed to rescue the mannequin while burning only a certain amount of your hand so some of it is still useful and other parts not so much. Actually you should learn to play mussete style banjo for a few yrs before entering the burning caravan.

    Best of Luck!

  • richter4208richter4208 ✭✭✭
    Posts: 527

    If you are 52 and just starting playing guitar ALL of your fingers are a disaster. There is no advantage to not using all your fingers.

  • RipRip olympia, washingtonNew
    Posts: 352

    I recommend getting really clear on what you want to be able to do. This will determine your path.

    Since you said you want to do the 2 finger approach, I would conclude that you want to sound like django. duved sounds a lot like django and he uses all 4 fingers. i've heard some say that, that in order to sound the most like django that you have to use the 2 finger approach. i don't really know. but for what it's worth, part of why django was so great is because he was doing his own thing, therefore, to be like django, in part, is to do your own thing. i've heard that stochelo recommended to younger players not to try to sound like django, but instead to come up with there own thing.

    so, just get clear on what you want to sound like and then figure out how long you think it will take to arrive at that point. if you have 8 hrs a day and 10-20 years, i would recommend the 2 finger approach, but if you are just starting out and you want to start jamming as soon as possible, then i would hold off. with that said, if you just want to do the 2 finger approach for fun, then by all means, go for it. i've tried it from time to time and it's definitely doable for a player at any level, it's just a matter of putting in the time. ask yourself, why 2 fingers, and get clear on your goals.

    i'm glad you're picking it up, buy a guitar from djangobooks!

  • Posts: 4,810

    Learning an instrument from scratch in adult age can be frustrating enough. Putting this limitation on oneself makes it ten times more so.

    Django knew the instrument inside out at the moment of his injury. And was known to say that he wished he could fully use all of his fingers because things he hears in his head are impossible to play for him.

    I believe this person's intention is genuine. But I taught both adults and kids from scratch. Same thing happens, people have this romantic image of themselves playing a guitar. Like I said, it's genuine. But they don't really realize or think about the time it takes to get there. When I learned my first thing on the guitar, from then on that's all I wanted to do. It wasn't 10 hours a day obsession but I played every day learning songs because it gave me such a good feeling. Kids today, at least in the states, are jam packed with activities and adults are adults. Neither have a lot of time left over. My sense is that people think they can pick it up as if they're picking up basketball and can casually play with their friends soon after they learn the basics. So very soon it becames clear that it isn't going to happen. And that's the end of it. But maybe it's the teacher, I don't know.

    I'd love for this guy to become a competent player in a few years. We're the same age and I would like him to succeed in his wish. I firmly believe it's not the age primarily that makes you a good player, it's the time you put in and only then the age plays a role. So at this age there's plenty of time left to become good, even world class. But usually it starts exactly like this "I want to learn to play a guitar, can you help me", not "hey I picked up a guitar and something funny happened and now that's all I wanna do, can you help me get better faster ". My wish is to be proven wrong but my feeling is this is the last we'll hear from him.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 360

    As most of the posts above are suggesting, the learning-from-scratch and two-finger-technique questions are best seen as separate issues. Maybe twenty years ago, a then-middle-aged friend decided to take up the cello--maybe in response to John Holt's Never Too Late, which is about learning cello at age 40. When I caught up with him a few years later, he was playing in his local amateur orchestra. Now, he is an unusually disciplined guy, but the cello is also a demanding instrument, so his achievement remains impressive and inspiring. Guitar is, for all its challenges, a walk in the park compared to the fiddle family.

    I see the mimic-Django's-handicap effort as something for an already-competent player to take up. And, unlike the two-finger right-hand picking issue in some folk traditions, there's no technical/musical reason to pursue it. If you want to really play some of Rev. Gary Davis's material just like the Rev, you need to use his right-hand technique--though many players get there using more fingers. (I respect, say, Stefan Grossman's and Mary Flower's takes on this, even though I don't have the chops to follow their advice.)

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