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. Kevin Colt

    Kevin Colt

    Feb 9, 2015
    Bokeelia, Fl.
    I use mine all the time. it's like having an extra pocket.
    JRA likes this.
  2. Matty Koff

    Matty Koff Inactive

    Aug 21, 2014
    So I just received yesterday a D'addario grip strength exerciser and I feel like if I were to record a video of me using it, it would become clear that the reason people feel so awkward about their pinky is generally because it's extremely weak.

    There are various versions of the device below but they all offer about the same general use

    I'm a weird type of dude that is "Cross dominant" meaning I use my left hand for certain activities, and I use my right hand for other activities. Not to be confused with "ambidextrous" which means being able to use both hands equally.

    I played sports righty, I write lefty, eat lefty.. and in general have more dexterity in my left hand. But I do have to wonder how much of that I can attribute to playing guitar and bass where I forced myself to start using my pinky when I became conscious of how little I used it.

    With the device above in my left and fretting hand at the least resistance, I can easily manipulate my pinky finger individually of the other fingers. I turned it to max resistance and can depress it fully, although at that point my ring finger wants to move.

    With my right hand, where I've never used my right pinky and ring finger for much of anything, at first it physically hurt to try to manipulate the pinky finger at the lowest resistance. After a day and a half, my right pinky is already getting stronger and I can actually press the #4 spot all the way down at the lowest resistance, with just a little pain.

    If I can manage not to lose this thing, I can only imagine how much stronger my right pinky is going is going to be, as well as my over all grip as there are several ways to use this thing to exercise forearm muscles.

    Having seen pre-teens with tiny hands using their pinkies to play and even better than I can.. without a doubt, it's not about the size of your hands.

    Your pinky is weak.. and like any muscle or muscle group, if you give it a workout it will improve over time. Of course barring any medical condition or injury.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2021
  3. Papageno


    Nov 16, 2015
    The pinky is not that weak: on double bass, it is used all of the time (it's possibly the most used finger) with strings that are much higher and have much more tension. It's just a matter of practice and efficient technique.
    12BitSlab likes this.
  4. Matty Koff

    Matty Koff Inactive

    Aug 21, 2014
    By practicing, you are in fact exercising and developing the muscle groups that control individual fingers. You couldn't always fret a note. You started somewhere. Yeah.. the pinky finger is generally weak until you build it up. it's true for all your fingers, even if you already have the grip strength you might not have the fine control.. the pinky generally being the weakest digit, followed by the ring finger. While I don't play DB, I have read about and witnessed DB players often using both their ring and pinky finger together for a single note, which I can only imagine is directly related to finger strength. Not to say just the pinky can't be done, but there's a reason this isn't the first time I've seen the topic of the pinky amongst guitar and bass players.

    It's pretty easy to forget our first fumbling steps in any new activity that involves muscles we aren't use to using when we've been doing it for years. It's easy to over look the pinky on guitar and EB without guidance. I'm sure I'm not the only one who had to play a little catch up at some point to get his pinky up to par, where it wasn't used quite as frequently as my other fingers. It also wasn't very surprising to me that my left pinky is way stronger than my right with my experiences with the hand exerciser above, which the point wasn't "Go buy a hand exerciser".. just that my fretting hand's pinky is the Incredible Hulk compared to the right hand pinky currently from years of playing guitar and bass. At one point, that left pinky was the runt of the litter.. just like at one point I could barely fret a note with any finger.

    You are correct in that with practice, it gets easier though. Matter of hours or days.. or weeks.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2021
  5. Papageno


    Nov 16, 2015
    A good place to start using the pinky is to use it when playing root (with index), 5th (with pinky), 8ve (with pinky). This places the hand in a very natural hand shape (over 3 frets). Put all your fingers down when playing the pinky.