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. Your pinky could be used for adjusting your bike chain. :D
    J_Bass likes this.
  2. Papageno


    Nov 16, 2015
    By not using your pinky, you are combining the inconvenients of both Simandl technique (access to only 3 adjacent frets in a given position) and those of 1-2-3-4 technique (you still need to stretch your hand to access those 3 frets in the low register).

    Using your pinky would enable you to access 4 frets if you are using 1-2-3-4 technique, or to access 3 frets with a relaxed hand everywhere on the fingerboard (also in the the low register) if you are using Simandl technique.

    Many players recommend to use a combination of these 2 techniques.

    Note that using the pinky efficiently (in my view) requires to play with the thumb located behing the neck, in particular in order to be able to access the E string. If you play with the thumb over the neck (baseball grip), using the pinky might be less easy.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2021
    SteveCS likes this.
  3. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    If you play a major scale, you either have to use the pinkie or shift positions.
  4. FrenchBassQC

    FrenchBassQC Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    Gatineau QC CA
    The pinky is a must in my book.
    SteveCS likes this.
  5. Unless you physically can’t use your pinky finger, not using it will definitely impede your playing.
    I suggest you get a beginners book and re-learn the basic major and minor fingering patterns.
    Using your pinky finger will make playing arpeggios more efficient as well, because you will be able to play them in many different positions.
    Heeding suggestions such as “do whatever is best for you” or “don’t change something you are used to doing” are counterproductive to developing proper technique.
    Good luck in your pursuit of excellence.
    SteveCS likes this.
  6. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Some of the greatest bass guitarists are or were no-pinky-using players. I mean world class technical and/or artistic bass playing, from gut bucket groove to fractured rhythm and harmony madness. They did their thing without dropping that pinky once.

    Here is some beautiful, virtuosic no-pinky bass guitar playing by Rich Brown. Fine-a** music, player, and instrument, but no pinky in use:

    Oh, okay... one more, same basic formula (fine-a** music, player, and instrument). James Genus using his pinky, yes, but only very rarely:

  7. Wood and Wire

    Wood and Wire

    Jul 15, 2017
    That's like a poor man's "Unsane" album cover.
  8. DJJazzV

    DJJazzV We are the Knights who say " Ni ". Supporting Member

    May 17, 2007
    New Jersey
    Using the pinky means less hand and arm fatigue. You don't have to move as much.
    It also enables you to know the 4 frets you are over without moving or looking.
    It can also make a easy bass line look even easier to play.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2021
  9. Wood and Wire

    Wood and Wire

    Jul 15, 2017
    He's constantly using his pinky - to mute the strings.

    If I were to play that part, I'd do it exactly the same way, as none of those passages required coverage by the pinky, and because I personally couldn't / wouldn't execute those string bends with any other digit than my ring finger.
    12BitSlab likes this.
  10. ProbablyTooLoud


    Aug 1, 2020
    Dude both those guys are using their pinkies plenty.
  11. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Whereas I disagree with "plenty", I allow that we can agree to disagree on the measure of extent. I was careful to say that Genus used his pinky at all.

    It may be that I didn't understand the OP's premise. Muting never occurred to me as being part of it; I thought only of fingering to select at least one pitch. Perhaps the OP will clarify for us.

    According to my reading, I am sticking with what my original take on those two performances.
  12. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Check out 1:37, for starters:
    12BitSlab likes this.
  13. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Okay, the internet wins: Rich Brown is a pinky player.

    SteveCS likes this.
  14. PrairieThunder13


    Dec 21, 2015
    I would say definitely. I used to think that Simandl (still needs pinkie btw) was cool for all-the-time use on the horizontal bass but as soon as i got good, i realized i was making a lot of extraneous noise sliding around all over the place, plus it was greatly hindering my finesse. Get the pinkie going, and in fact, make it your main finger for fretting, at least for a while. You'll be far quieter and more dextrous by using everything you've got. Using inefficient technique doesn't matter until it does, if you know what i mean. I will say, though, Rich Brown is one of the cats and he very rarely uses his pinkie, unless he needs it. There will come a time when you need it, too, and it's better to work it in early than to scramble later. Just my pair of pennies, but i find that the pinkie's a big help.

    edit: haha, funny with the rich brown stuff right on top, i only noticed that now
  15. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    I use my pinky, I believe that using 4 fingers rather than 3 is a better, easier and less tiring way of playing, but if 3 fingers gets you the outcome you're looking for then it's fine. I don't think I've seen any top pro bass player not using their pinky. That's got to be a clue.

    Forget 1 finger per fret unless you have a short scale bass, only play above the 10th fret or play guitar. You should always be looking to play without stretching. That means covering a 3 frets or an octave block. Outside of that you should also be moving your left hand to place your fingers over the right notes rather than stretching.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2021
    TomB likes this.
  16. MrNige


    Oct 14, 2020
    I would start again and use all your fingers, after a while you won't ever notice how much you use it and when you get old and everything hurts you will understand the importance of keeping your fingers moving.
    trseal likes this.
  17. Hawk9300


    Nov 12, 2014
    none to give
    I played lead guitar for a few cover bands back in the 70's-80's so I used my pinky in my solo's. I picked up the bass in the late 90's when my son picked up the trumpet for school jazz band. I kept using my pinky for the walking bass lines and to stretch over the 3 frets like someone else mentioned. I too use it almost as much if not more then my ring finger depending on the piece. I mostly play Christian rock for our church now. Weird not having stage amps anymore, took me a while to get used to that and having IEM's instead of having stage monitors!
  18. TimB1226


    Jun 4, 2018
    I can’t imagine playing “So What” without my pinky finger.
    12BitSlab likes this.
  19. trseal


    Mar 18, 2021
    That's the ONLY finger I use...

  20. Rhaco


    May 22, 2019
    There is an extremely common 'playing paradigm,' (I don't know what else to call it, weird as that sounds) that basically treats your left hand as if it has three fingers pointer, middle, and then your ring and pinky supporting each other as one unit. A lot of talented upright players have used it (more common on upright). I don't think it will hinder you all that much.

    That said, why not add another tool to your arsenal and start developing it right now. It's extremely hard to chord without your pinky, and so many quick trips through the sixth happen with your pinky, among other techniques, that is just the one I most obviously use my pinky for, quick flourishes on notes that aren't a part of the arpeggio.

    TL;DR I don't think you are going to ruin your playing, but why not use it now and improve with very little extra effort.
    BlackVincent52 likes this.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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