i don’t use my pinky finger most of the time, is this detrimental to my playing??

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by bon viesta, Jun 13, 2021.

  1. thewildest

    thewildest Supporting Member

    May 25, 2011
    Florida, USA
    I’d assume the OP is talking about the fretting hand. Perhaps the best is to prove the theorem by absurdity (“reductio ad absurdum”) which would go as follows:

    “I don’t use my pinky and middle finger most of the time, is this detrimental to my playing?”

    Mystery solved.
  2. downunder

    downunder Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2005
    YouTube is your friend. Search for electric bass left hand technique I’m sure there’s a lot of info. In the end it’s up to you of course,but I believe you should cultivate the best technique you can. Poor or inferior technique will eventually limit your ability. you won’t be able to progress past a certain point technically. So it’s good to Start off right.
    zie likes this.
  3. swarfrat


    Sep 23, 2014
    It's the ring finger that's the most problematic.... particular if there's anything on it, it can impede practice time and gear acquisition
  4. Indiana Mike

    Indiana Mike Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2005
    Start incorporating the pinky now and you’ll be glad you did.
  5. BassBrass


    Jul 6, 2009
    Boston MA
    This came up before and an anatomy lesson helps...the pinky has it's own motor nerve (Ulnar) that is shared with sensations from the ring finger which shares sensation with the Median nerve (which goes through the carpal tunnel) that controls the thumb and first 2 fingers exclusively. So no one nerve controls the ring finger, it is actually a support for the pinky in function. That's how I play actually. Can't conceive of not using the pinky. The pinky is "smarter" than the ring finger, actually the ring finger is confused by two nerve signals and needs special ed courses to keep up with the one nerve smart guys. If you have an injured or defective pinky the ring finger takes over eventually by necessity.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2021
    vin*tone likes this.
  6. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    I say the more the merrier. I even use my right hand pinkie on occasion.
  7. Yes. If you care, work on it, if it doesn't matter to you then don't worry.
  8. ProbablyTooLoud


    Aug 1, 2020
    You should definitely learn to use your pinky. When I play a major scale with the first pattern I learned as a teenager, I use my pinky three times. So if I play a scale around the cycle of fourths or circle of fifths or whatever, then that means I use my pinky at least 36 times (I didn't count descending), and that's just practicing one scale. If that sounds like a lot, then yes, I absolutely use my pinky a lot and consider it essential.
  9. I'm bad ass and barely use mine
  10. Wretched Banana

    Wretched Banana

    Mar 7, 2020
    MA, US
    Not judging or criticizing anyone, honestly. But... I come from a world of classical and electric guitar and I've never ever heard of anyone ever entertaining the thought that any given finger is redundant, and I'm perpetually baffled to see this topic being brought up time and time again in bass circles. I have no idea why, and again, no judgments, just honest confusion.

    If I had 8 fingers on my hand I'd strive to use them all.
    ProbablyTooLoud and gebass6 like this.
  11. TemplesOfSyrinx


    Sep 8, 2013
    I could probably play better if I lost my ring finger instead of my pinkie. My pinkie carries a lot of weight.
  12. K-irsh


    Feb 11, 2016
    Some people have mentioned using the 1-2-4 approach because it is more ergonomically sound. They are absolutely correct.
    Try spacing your 4 fingers as far away from each other as you can. There is a big space between 1-2, the smallest space between 2-3 and the biggest is between 3-4. Imagine how much you have to stretch in order to accommodate that lost hand spacing.
    Use your pinky save your wrist.

    On a side note, people with average and below sized hands should avoid using 1-2-3-4 fingering on lower notes.
    dcbluesbass likes this.
  13. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    As far as I know my pinky finger works right but not so well with playing bass. Maybe it because I have small hands? Maybe because I’m left handed playing right? All I know I don’t use it much and I’m alright with it.
  14. swarfrat


    Sep 23, 2014
    Probably because 1) the bass guitar up through at least the 14th fret, gives a span of about 2-3 semitones on the average sized adult male hand, and it's typically played monophonically or close to it. I didn't know the anatomy stuff BassBrass brought up (cool), but you could probably play 98% of your reportoire with just an index and pinky. But the middle finger is nearly as dextrous as the the index (isn't that sinister?) so it helps too. In addition to the ring finger being weak, and not as well controlled, there just isn't a whole lot it can really do to help much of the time.
  15. aprod


    Mar 11, 2008
    When I see a bass player not using his/ her pinky it is usually a guitar player filling in. I need all 4 fingers to play effectively. Its just easier.
  16. chicago_mike


    Oct 9, 2007
    Chicago - LA - Rome - Dallas
    Endorsing Artist : Genz Benz
    I almost always start with my pinky. Seriously! Position shifting with the pinky is so easy now.

    But isolate all fingers. I put rope in-between the fretboard and the strings and hammer on and pull off, one finger at a time.

    Also : put tape around your main digits so they act as one and your forced to use your weaker fingers...fretting and plucking...and after you do that as an exercise...take the tape off..this takes a while...but each finger becomes its own.

    Actually out of boredom I end up using my ring finger to pluck a lot of the time.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2021
  17. Fernando Costa

    Fernando Costa

    Aug 4, 2013
    Why ignore 25% of the potential you have to improve your technique and make your execution easier?

    Sometimes I use my pinky finger even on my right hand.
  18. Jack Deth

    Jack Deth

    May 7, 2020
    Some shapes require it, unless your ring finger has the odd ability to stretch that far. Seems like it’s called the fifth position of a scale.
  19. Groovy bass line. Definitely needs a pinkie finger for that.
  20. Matty Koff

    Matty Koff Inactive

    Aug 21, 2014
    Kind of feel like we're overthinking this.. your index finger at one point struggled to correctly fret a note with any sense of accuracy.. With time and repetition it got easier. Its the same with every finger, and its always going to be the ones you use the least that require more effort to develop. Opting not to use the pinky is effectively putting effort into three fingers and then giving up. Giving up is never an approach to music you want to take if you truly want to become more adept. Imo.. unless you have a medical condition preventing you from moving or exercising your weakest digit.. put that little sucker to work and eventually it will do what you tell it to do.

    You may have to use exercises that focus mostly on using that pinky.. but thats actually normal. We arent born with an inherent ability to use any of our fingers on a fretboard. It takes effort. Like developing any muscle, or group of muscles rather.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2021
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