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Can someones Pinky Fingers be too small to play the Bass?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Kuroth, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. Kuroth


    Dec 2, 2012
    Just starting out and my lesson called for fretting and playing frets 1, 2, 3 and the 4th fret of the E string with all 4 fingers.. I can only reach 1,2,3.. I mean my Pinky dont seem like it will EVER be able to reach Fret 4???

    And I noticed in Videos and in my lesson the teacher seems to have really long pinky fingers compared to mine...

    Is this just part of being a beginner and over time I will be able to do it?

    Sorry if my question seems kind of dumb but I am a little frustrated and wondering if my hands are too small..
  2. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    There are no dumb questions, just the dumb answers you get from Bassist4Eris! ;)

    I think with beginners, the problem with the pinky tends to be one of strength and flexibility, rather than length. In other words, I'd encourage you to stick with it for awhile.

    That said, if your hands are on the small side, you might consider a short-scale bass.
  3. There's absolutely no reason to do that, many folks can't do it, and they play just fine. Don't worry about it. If it hurts, don't do it.
  4. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    My pinky is a full inch shorter than my ring finger, and I get along just fine. Keep at it, and don't hurt yourself.
  5. I played with 3 fingers for the last 25 years because I believed that I didn't have enough strength in my pinky to use it... Fast forward to two weeks ago when I got my first 35" scale sixer and automatically started using my pinky. Didn't even think about it. It just started working. If I could have known before how much easier and better things would be, I'd have forced myself to use it before. It's definitely worth the effort.
  6. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    We get questions from beginners like this all the time.
    Fingers too small.
    Fingers too big.
    Fingers too fat.
    Fingers too.......

    There is always a way around all of those reasons, so you have to scooch a little. Scooch.
    Stretching exercises. Give it a shot.
    The neck gets smaller as you go up the neck, more than one place to catch a key. Our instrument is a three octave instrument. I bet there is a place you can use. Course you gotta know where that is. Hopefully you have someone that you can sit knee to knee with so you can work that out.

    There is always another way.

    Good luck.
  7. Kuroth


    Dec 2, 2012
    Thank you guys big time for your Info... I will keep at it...
  8. Already In Use

    Already In Use

    Jan 3, 2010
    Pick up some hand exercises to work on when ever! Stretches and independent finger movements. I have bulky hands...more club like..over time, I can easily work 4 fingers. Originally my teacher instructed 1,2 and 4th finger..Just practice and time and you will find what works best. As stated..shouldnt be hurting yourself. Peace!
  9. I have tiny hands. My pinky is about 80% of the length of a pack of gum. I can play a 35 inch scale 5 string. Sometimes I use 1,2,4 fingering across three frets, but typically I can make the stretch. It wasn't always that way. Your hands will begin to spread.
  10. It's quite unreasonable to be expected to reach four frets with four fingers. Use first on first fret, second on second fret, third and pinky together on third fret. This is a standard double bass fingering. The third finger and the pinky share a tendon, so use them to support each other. This is a perfectly legitimate method of playing bass guitar, and combined with your thumb placed in the back of the neck to act as a swivel, allows access to the four frets.
  11. Kuroth


    Dec 2, 2012
    Thanks guys.. All great advise...
  12. viper4000


    Aug 17, 2010
    Heck, I have rather large hands and I do not like the 1234 method at first fret. I use the double bass method of 124 at that end of the neck. Another thing to consider is that naturally your ring finger and pinky finger are "linked" or joined. Where ever your pinky goes, your ring finger follows. This natural tendency goes away after you begin playing an instrument like this, or begin another type of activity that required this type of dexterity. Over time, these two finger will begin to operate independently with lots of practice. It will not happen over night.

    Once I switched to a 5 string, I started playing low E and F at 5th and 6th fret. This allowed me to incorporate my pinky more, since the frets were closer together.

    Another piece of good advise already given is to consider a short scale bass. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a great sounding short scale regardless of what people say.

    Please don't give up!!!
  13. INTP


    Nov 28, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    People do have different hands, so there is no "one correct way" to play.

    For a visual demonstration of some ideas on how to deal with the left hand fingering, especially in the lower frets, I recommend Todd Johnson's video "Technique Builders", (at $15 for download, it's a real bargain). He has smaller hands, like many of us, and this video shows how to deal with this in a couple of ways. Of course, there is a lot of other great info, too.
  14. I have small hands too, but you will find they strengthen with practise. But as others have said, there's no need to stretch if it's too difficult, just move your hand position. I don't use my pinky much on a bass, even on the upper frets. Everyone's different, so just adapt to whatever works for you instead of trying to copy exact technique from a video lesson or another player.
  15. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    No not at all, the only "small" thing that inhibits a player is their thinking.......remember you only play what you know, so expand you thinking and knowledge and your playing will expand as well.;)
  16. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    nope, it will take a while to get the stretch.
    Stay at it. My DB teacher had short stubby fingers
    and had no issues playing 1234 spread.
    If need be compensate.
  17. Tom_RCJ


    Jan 4, 2010
    Cardinal, Ontario, Canada
    Band is sponsored by Trinity Amps and Sennheiser.
    I didn't even read any of the posts, I'm sure it's the usual brand of good advice you'll get on these forums (I really do love this forum). I'm only chiming in because I have an example that easily fits into the "Tony Iomi" "Django" argument, and this one is a bass player to boot.


    I'll admit I have no idea what he's up to these days, but I find this a strong example of there being no limitations other than the ones you choose to perceive.

    Heck, Bruce Lee had on leg shorter than the other, which led him do find a stance that worked for him. He was shortsighted, so he favoured close range fighting styles. So your pinky is short... and? Just make it work. If everything was always perfect, there'd never be any obstacles to overcome, and we'd never push ourselves. You, my friend, have an advantage.
  18. Kuroth


    Dec 2, 2012
    Yes.. I LOVE this site.. In my short time here I have already learned SO MUCH..

    Thank you all for your kind gentle advise..