Evil Pinky (left hand)

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by chaosMK, Aug 12, 2005.

  1. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    After all these years of playing, I still have an "evil pinky" on my left hand. I have worked on it at times, but the progress was pretty difficult. Has anyone else had this problem and overcome it? Please share!

    Here is an example:
  2. So... what exactly is the problem you have with your pinky? Not sure what you mean by "evil"... :confused:
  3. are you talking about the british cup o tea pinky?
  4. I'd recommend starting with learning to play major scales with secondary fingering, i.e. generally the 1 (the 1st note in the scale) is played with the 2nd. finger, not the 1st. The 2 is played with the pinky, 3 with 1st, 4 -2nd, 5-pinky, 6-1st, 7th-ring (for majors anyway), 8-pinky.
  5. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    try positioning your thumb at the middle of the neck and make sure your fingers are +- parallel with your frets.
  6. Deadworks


    Dec 13, 2004
    St.Louis, MO
    I agree with what EASonbass said. Thats what cured me of the evil pinky when I played guitar. It gives your hand a more parallel position to the fretboard instead of angular like you have now.
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You've never worked on the pinky. Maybe you've done a couple half-hearted attempts and gave up, but if you tried to work it, you'd be using it. It's not evil pinky; it's pinky neglect.

    So just drill yourself on using it. Start on the E string playing 1-2-3-4 using each finger, then go up a string till you do all four (or five in your case), move up a fret and come back down doing the 1-2-3-4 left hand, and keep going. And this is very important...do it SLOWLY!

    As you get better at it, you can gradually increase speed, and then you can mix up the 1-2-3-4 pattern to something like 1-3-2-4 or 1-4-2-3 or any variation.
  8. OysterBoy


    Sep 19, 2004
    Ontario, Canada
    I have the same problem sometimes; though I'm very well controlled in my pinky and ring fingers. I just often let the pinky wander; usually under the neck, sometimes above. Its never really been a big deal (atleast, not yet), but if I could keep it where I want it, that'd be cool..
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Oh, I forgot to add that you need to use proper technique for the 1-2-3-4 drill...thumb resting in the middle of the back of the neck and not over the fingerboard, and your fingers curved and parallel to the frets with one fret per finger.
  10. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    Thanks everyone for the help pinpointing the problems. I notice that about 90% of the time my thumb is in the right position on the back of the fretboard, but when it moves (seems to occur most often when I am jumping positions) my hand falls out of the parallel alignment with the neck.

    The way I tried to work on it in the past was by doing 5-string scale/mode exercises with my index finger removed, based in the same left hand position (say, 2nd fret). I guess Ill have to try something new that rides up the fretboard more, changing positions, etc. I'll come back to this post when I've made some significant progress. Thanks again
  11. You may say you need to do drills, and while that will help you a lot, all you really need to do is practice everything you practice normally, save two things. You 1.) need to slow down EVERYTHING in order to 2.) keep all of your fingers on their own perspective fret. This way, you don't have to feel like "man, these excercises aren't working, maybe I need to change them."

    ALSO, if you practice correct hand position in the midst of your normal practice, jams, and gigs, and whatever else, you won't have the problem of tying the excercises into normal playing. Many times if one practices a certain technique, but he/she only does it in a certain context/situation, one must then still figure out how to do it in a normal context.
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You're letting your thumb move out of position when you shift so it turns your fingers all out of alignment. To get these techniques down, you have to drill yourself and force yourself to adhere to the right techniques even if they're not convenient at first.

    Sounds like you're self taught and haven't really pushed yourself to get good techniques, like you're halfway there but decide it's too hard and you give up. Well don't! And I would also recommend getting a teacher to crack the whip.

    I won't say technique means everything because I see tons of good players with average to poor technique, but on a strictly skill level, a player with good technique will always play better. You still have to play from the heart, but technique makes hard things easier.
  13. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    It's true I am self taught. I practice pretty seriously but have always spent the vast majority of my time trying to perfect and innovate right hand stuff (for crazy metal rhythms). Until bringing this Pinky business up here I didnt really know what the ideal left hand technique was... but I am starting to pick it up and will probably spend a lot more time in this forum.
  14. Andy3825


    Jul 31, 2005
    Meriden, CT
    Just force yourself to use it when you practice, and over time it will be much easier to control. I had a problem like this that i fixed, and now my pinky is like any other finger (except when it comes to tapping)
  15. kreplock


    Aug 6, 2005
    i had two bass lessons my first year of playing, and that first lesson my teacher emphasised that i should never never never favour the pinky and work it just as hard as any other finger.

    that's the best lesson i ever had; the lil digit is far reaching and lightning fast, tho it still cannot hammer on with authority for me.
  16. FunkSlap89


    Apr 26, 2005
    Albany, NY
    the problem is, when you bend your ring finger, your pinky also bends (something to do with how the tendons are attached), so you move it away from the fretboard so its out of the way and it just becomes a habit.
  17. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    I found the best and easiest way to use all fingers, is to Drag the fingers over the string(s), rather than an actual pluck by bending the fingers. As mentioned, when you bend the little finger, the ring finger tends to follow.

    So it's almost like a four finger rake, but dragging the fingers rather than pluck.

    "Drag, not pluck"
  18. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    I'll go into more detail about how I approach the 4 finger technique.

    1. I use the thumb as a pivot for the whole hand. That means the hand can pivot back and forward, and side to side. The thumb is always anchored either on top of the pickup, or, on top of the E or A string.

    2. At point of contact on the string, the little finger is completely straight and rigid, not bent at all. If you try to bend the finger to pluck the string, it just makes the little finger even weaker.

    3. I then use the whole hand, to help the little finger, to drag (or push) it across the string. As the little finger is being dragged over the string, the string it self is being pushed downward.

    4. Once the finger has finally passed over the string, the string is release, and the sound is made.

    5. At this point, the Ring finger is ready to do the same thing, as the little finger.

    So you see, to make the technique work easierly, particularly as the Little and Ring fingers are so weak, you have to use the whole hand, to get in behind and help those two fingers. The Index and Middle fingers are stronger, so they're not much of an issue (as you probably know).

    That how I do it anyway.
  19. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Yeah, I can definitely see that the Ring and Little fingers are bent. They need to be straight.

    Pivot the hand out and forward more, to give the R and L fingers more room to straighten out.

    And left the wrist off the body off the bass. Maybe even left the elbow out more.

    Should do the trick.
  20. RobertUI

    RobertUI Thumper Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2005
    Herndon, VA - NoVa
    Good advice, but he's working on his left (fretting) hand technique.

    The issue with the bending of your ring finger is something that you may struggle with, but my bass instructor (this was about 15 years ago now) had me use my pink WITH my ring finger whenever I use JUST my ring finger. In other words, unless the pinky is in play, just have it move along with the ring finger. You would definitely NOT want to get in the habit of pulling the pinky out of the way. Mess around with this and you'll see what I mean.

    I was lucky in that the day I started playing bass, a good bass playing buddy of mine drilled it into my head that I'd never be a respected bass player if I didn't learn to use all 4 fingers (ok 5 if you count the thumb) on my left (fretting) hand.

    Hang in there, you'll get it!

    - Rob