Dreaded pinky...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Oblivisc, Mar 22, 2014.

  1. Oblivisc


    Mar 22, 2014
    So, as the title states, pinky feels even a bit uncontrollable at times.
    I manage to keep it in place so-so during some slower playing but whenever it gets remotely fast it tends to fly off.
    I've been doing the spider walk and some 1-2-3-4 exercises, anything else you'd recommend?
    In general, overall finger-to-the-board control exercise, not necessarily the pinky exactly, although it is posing the biggest problem.
  2. spz8


    Jan 19, 2009
    Glen Cove, NY
  3. Oblivisc


    Mar 22, 2014
    Much appreciated. Thanks.
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    I recommend NOT doing spiders and 1-2-3-4 exercises, especially if you are having pinky problems. I have never been to a concert where people paid lots of money to watch musicians do spider exercises!

    Try to find a teacher who can teach you the 1-2-4 fingering. In a nutshell, the 3rd finger in this system teams up with the 4th finger. They work together as a unit. It is a strong and comfortable hand position used by lots of pros with decades of experience.

    Here is a funky video of the 1-2-4 fingering system in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1i1RJeUw70

    Notice how relaxed and "controllable" his pinky finger is using this system. ;)
  5. BigJohnAZ


    Jun 26, 2012
    All I did to get my pinky going was to practice scales and make sure you use that little digit. For example, when starting a major key scale from the E string, the base note will start with the middle finger, the 2nd note will be the pinky and all the way up. Pretty basic.

    I would just do the usual 1-2-3-4/4-3-2-1 walk using the pinky to fret notes cleanly.

    It also helps that when you play octaves on frets towards the nut, use the pinky for the octave and not the third finger. That helps get it involved. Like anything else, just keep doing it, pretty soon, it becomes natural.
  6. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    I did some exercise to use my pinky like scale starting on all the fingers, arpeggio, scale in 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th, play some bues/rock pattern that use the pentatonic scale like :


    try to do that with only the index and ring then switch to only using middle and pinky

    I think the better your dexterity is the better you will play and many too complex music will open their door
  7. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Check out the link, once you have it down consider it job done and move on by just using your little finger in the music you play, or use it as part of a warm up.
  8. AaronVonRock


    Feb 22, 2013
    Like the OP, I have the "flying pinky" at times. I pretty much never use my left pinky at all. If it got chopped off somehow, I don't think it would effect my playing.
  9. I can't imagine the gymnastics I'd need to be doing to play without it.
  10. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
  11. exidor


    Jul 10, 2011
    I been doing this a couple days very easy,but I thought I used my pinky a lot, but man it brings the pain more than i Thought.it's a good one!
  12. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Same sort of idea, but i keep the exercises up around the 12th fret to lessen the strain.
    I sort of base it, as i do many of my ideas that i present, in what i got from my orchestral training....or onserved others doing.

    So the info is not really new to those that have had training, in fact they may have not even known they were doing it presented in some of the exercises they got.
    They work because they give the hand an over all balanced use.
    Those that play un-demanding music, that is music that does not need dexterity tend to favour the rhe Index or Middle finger when holding down and pumping of root notes....this means they have to lift up and hold the Ring and Little Finger out of the way.
    Where as if the just used all fingers down and played the root note from the Little Finger (all finger down on the string takes out the strain of fretting) then the results sound the same but the the fingers are kept down so helping to gently be stretched rather than being held up and allowed to 'fly'.
  13. Mudcat35


    Feb 21, 2009
    Austin, TX
    I have a destroyed knuckle joint on my fretting hand ring finger. I learned to use my pinky out of necessity, and I now play a lot if things using just my index and pinky fingers. Just play a lot, and make sure you use your pinky when you do. You might suck for a while, but you'll get better.
  14. At least you can play with your pinky. Mine's so weak I have to curl it under the neck because I can't fret with it.

    Edit: I just realized that sounded slightly rude. Sorry, didn't mean for that to happen.
  15. An audience member pointed out to me this weekend that I'm ALL pinky. I rarely use my middle two fingers on my fretting hand at all. Heck you could probably sense it from my avatar.
  16. theronbass


    Jul 5, 2013
    I have no dexterity in my pinky and gave up on using it years ago. I dont miss it. and sometimes fret with my thumb when needed. Far from good technique but it works for me.:bag:

  17. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    The best way to develop using your pinky finger is to keep on using it until it becomes a natural thing. It can take time, but there are no short cuts that actually work. You just have to be patient and keep using that finger.
  18. It's funny how the technique varies from person to person. For the longest time I had trouble learning from teachers who use their pinky to fret two frets away from their index finger (like Clef de fa above). It was confusing to my brain to see someone fret with their pinky when they "should" be doing it with the ring finger.

    My hands are such that not using my pinky would be a disadvantage as they are quite large.

    As for the "flying pinky" what helped me was to either arpeggios or play a piece really slow until my brain understood the mechanics.
  19. Ronbassman


    Jun 1, 2011
    When I started playing bass it was, either I HAD to use it, or I HAD to use it. Now I don't even think about it. It frets just as good as the other three fingers. I have large hands and hefty fingers so maybe that's why it was easy for me, I don't know what's your situation. The chromatic scale across the neck also helped me a lot. That and 3 notes per string scales (fingers 1,2,4 and 1,3,4).
  20. TrevorOfDoom

    TrevorOfDoom Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2007
    Austin, TX
    a trick to add to all of these exercises:
    Use a metronome set at a SLOW tempo.
    Do finger exercises and scales at 60bpm, and it'll up the strength and control of your pinky tremendously.
    (plus, it never hurts to practice with a metronome)