I only have 3 fingers on my left hand, kinda

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Nickthebassist, Jan 11, 2005.

  1. I have a serious problem. My left hand ring finger and the little finger do exactly the same thing. I've tried everything, such as exercises, but they will not stop it. It's stopping me from playing New Born by Muse, which is a song i reall like. Is there any way of breaking or weakening the tendons between these 2 fingers so that they are more independent?
  2. If you break or weaken the tendons in these two fingers, they'll be more useless than they are now, as they will not work.

    I'd go see a specialist to find out what neurological deficiency you're having in re: to motor skills and your hand.
  3. Duct tape your pinky to your palm and your ring finger will have to work on it's own and vice versa. :smug:
  4. I broke my left hand ring finger a long time and it never healed right, which was a HUGE problem for me in learning to separate the two fingers.

    What I did was get this little hand exerciser called "The Gripmaster". it's got 6 springs on it, one side has 2 and it goes in the palm, and the other side has 4 and it goes against the fingers. then you squeeze. over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

    I worked in lots of different exercises, such as doing each finger individually up and down back and forth. Eventually I worked the poor gripmaster to death, but I can play with my fingers individually and it made playing a lot easier overall.
  5. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    You're saying you just can't spread them apart, or that you can't put one down without the other going down? Can you 'drum your fingers' on a table?

    In my experience, I do have the most trouble with independance between those two, but you don't have to move one very far to go from fretting to not-fretting. It seems that if I'm playing a very fast pentatonic run (two notes per string), it's fastest going index to pinky, but I suppose my ring is slopping down with it - I'm referring to 'fast as I can' ascending runs, where I'm just hammering the second note of each string.

    It's OK if your ring goes down with an intentional pinky-fret, but I guess if you want to play four-fingered electric-style, you gotta be able to get the ring down alone, with the pinky off the string (just the teeeniest bit).


    I guess what I'm mainly thinking about is that if you go to a doctor, and ask him to look for neuralogical problems, he might be obligated to do a battery of freaky tests - Remember that hospital scene from The Excorsist?

    Hmm. I'm feelin' a little queasy now.

    Maybe try mrWr0ng's hand-exerciser first, man...

  6. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Django only needed two fingers on his fretting hand...sorta.
  7. I was taught the double bass style of using pinky and ring figner together. That's because I was small(only 11 years old) and my figners werent very strong. I think it's done more harm than good.
  8. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Basicly, you're trying to make your fingers do something they are not designed to do - easierly.

    I had the same problem, and the problem resolved itself. The solution was pretty simple, but not obvious for me at the time, just lots of practice - year in, year out.

    The nice thing is, once you get it. It doesn't go away. Bit like riding a bike.
  9. _Unregistered_


    Nov 3, 2004
    Chromatic scale, first position. A lot. Great exercise.

    Another great one is the chromatic scale, 5 increments in either direction (up or down) then start again one down (or up) from the first note you started on, and do five more chromatically in a row (continuing in the same direction), then move back to the third note from where you started chromatically, and continue five more in a row, etc.

    In effect moving chromatically one increment at a time, playing sets of five chromatics in the same direction.

    Example (ascending):

    E-F-F#-G-G#, F-F#-G-G#-A, F#-G-G#-A-A#, G-G#-A-A#-B, etc.

    This is an AWESOME exercise. I play it all the time to warm up. It was taught to me by the late jazz guitarist Emily Remler.

    Thanks Em.
  10. I remember when i first started play and had the same problem, I was a powerlifter in high school, and had a really hard time getting my fingers to actually work separately, since all the muscle development i had done they were all locked together. It just took semi-painful stretching at first, and lots of scale practice. Something else that seemed to help, is keyboarding. I don't meant synth's, though that would probably be great, i mean regular ol computer/typewriter keyboarding, that really seemed to help. The independance of each finger in the range of motions I'm sure aided me as well. Good luck, and don't give up.
  11. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Yup. Practicing is the only way to do it. Exercises will work eventually. Here's a good one... (thumb at the back of the neck)


    Do it with a metronome. Once you get to the top, move up a fret and come down again...


    It's pretty dull, but it works. Once you get bored, move to scales, one finger per fret (first and fourth fingers are allowed to stretch one fret), going through all the modes of, say, C major one day then G major the next...
  12. IIRC the nerves that control the motion for these digits share a sheath through the back of the wrist. This (again IIRC) can cause some "crossfiring" of nerve impulses and this is why you have both fingers move when you are only telling one to. Don't be so hard on yourself. Some folks have almost total independence without any work while others (I guess you among them) must really struggle to get control of the two seperated. It's more of a mind thing than a physical feat except that you've got to have the muscles independently strong enough to move the fingers with precisely. Once you lick the 2 for 1 special problem, that should be easy.
  13. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999

    Try doing dlloyd's permutations on 1 string, too.
    Use your plucking hand to hold down the fretting hand's fingers...as needed.
  14. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    Gilbertos technique is what helped me through a similar situation.
  15. Practice the exercises above and also try using chinese balls to excercise your hands. I use two golf balls (much cheaper alternative). There is a good thread about these somewhere in TB.
  16. _Unregistered_


    Nov 3, 2004
    You know Joel Goddard, the announcer from Conan O'Brian's show, by any chance? You may not get it in Australia...
  17. I'm originally from Pennsylvania. I know who Conan O'Brian is and we get him at some wierd hour during the night. But I haven't seen his show in a few years. I don't know who Joel Goddard is, however. Why?
  18. I would suggest the Grip Master thing. I bought one of those in the beginning and started out just slowly stretching the fingers and slowly concentrating on building the individual muscles. Stretching and slowing down are more important than "beefing up the finger muscles". It's like some kind of Jedi Mind Trick that you have to figure out, but you will figure it out with time. (Also play "air bass" scales all day at work focusing on actually seperating the movements.) IF IT'S IN YOUR HEAD IT CAN BE PUT INTO YOUR FINGERS.
  19. 5stringFanatic


    Mar 3, 2004
    NY, USA
    I used to have the same problem... 3 things that really helped me, is number one, someone here suggested to drum on the table with ure fingers, this was great for me, it actually helps you have more mind control over which finger to move at what time. Second thing is keyboarding, again mentioned above. This really did help me a whole lot!! i am also a webdesigner/programmer, so using the keyboard is like nature to me, and that really did help me with my finger muscles.. And one final thing, is a simple exercise on ure bass, i just played an octave between the A and G string, and then between the E and D strings, or if u have a 5, between the B and A, just went up and down the fretboard playing octaves, and then switching from higher strings to lower strings alternate the pinky and the ring finger for the higher note. Hope that makes sense... actually becasue i practiced so much at getting them seperated and at getting them to work independently, i find that i dont use my middle ifnger anymore, rarely! But i find that when i do use it, it feels very natural and easy.

    Hope this helps, and good luck.