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I'm beginning to think my pinky is defunct

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Lowpro, Oct 31, 2006.


  1. Lowpro

    Lowpro

    Sep 25, 2006
    Birmingham, AL
    Okay, for about a few months now, I've been fretting with 3 of my four fingers. I barely use my pinky because I guess I don't "curl" my other fingers enough, so when I'm playing on E my pinky has to stretch, but I've been trying those 1-2-3-4 exercises for weeks, on all strings on all areas of the fretboard, but my pinky isn't getting anything. Even through repitition I can't keep the string from buzzing, I can't even get it to land where I want it to right behind the fret. Compared to other bass players I've known my hands are a lil smaller, not padded or thick, but also long. (to try to illustrate, stick your fingers out, but next to each other, like ou are going to karate chop someone, then curl up your palm, but try to keep the fingertips aligned to eachother. My pinky doesn't even curl at the joint. I have to keep it straightish just to keep it matched up with my fingertips. My parents don't have that , which is wierd X.x)

    I don't really know what to ask, but is there any other style or technique aside from the 1-2-3-4 technique which can either build pinky endurance, or perhaps another way to fret which may be easier?
     
  2. LookIt'sSteve17

    LookIt'sSteve17

    Oct 31, 2006
    Michigan
    From my experience as a fellow weak-pinkied bass player, I'll be honest... practice as often as you can to try and make that pinky do what you want, but when it comes down to it, those three fingers that do cooperate will serve you just fine. True enough, sometimes you have to move your hand around the board a little more, but if your pinky's on strike, you have few options. But I've seen pros who use 3 fingers fretting and one finger plucking who'd blow your mind.
     
  3. Testing123

    Testing123 Eschew obfuscation

    Jan 21, 2006
    Orange County, CA
  4. Asaf

    Asaf

    Jun 9, 2003
    Israel
    i had some problems with blood flow in my hands the Gripmaster made them go away and made my fingers much stronger.

    but IMO playing scales is the best way to play better.
     
  5. Human Bass

    Human Bass

    Aug 26, 2005
    My pinky does its job with no problem, i use it a lot since i dont usually play one finger pre fret in the lower register.
     
  6. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    scales. Run the modes in each key.each position. SO it double or triplet picking when 1/4's and 1/8th's get smooth. Be patient and log the hours. There is no substitute for muscle memory ...
     
  7. chaosMK

    chaosMK

    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Too much hip thrust
    Your thumb position on the back of the neck might have something to do with it.

    It takes time.

    Most of my warmups/etudes involve pinky.

    Maybe spend 5-10 mins a day just doing exercises that involved 3-4-3-4 type trills (start out slow).
     
  8. Lowpro

    Lowpro

    Sep 25, 2006
    Birmingham, AL
    Hmm, as for thumb position, I usually place in on the center of the neck, and if you were to look at it on the side, my thumb would be placed in the space between my index and middle finger. When I try playing the 1-2-3-4 exercise I don't move my thumb, but twist my wrist a bit in order to give my pinky some reach, but when I do that my index finger has to lift, which also makes my middle finger move off the fret; so basically I can't keep all 4 fingers down simultaneosuly. I'm still working at it, but it's frustrated me that I've done this I know every day, I did it through all of the movie Naked Gun even, I remember that ;P but still haven't seen much in I can't pick up my bass and put my fingers on the correct position the first time I do it.

    As for scales I guess I should change them around, usually I'm just playing quarter notes or badly timed eighth notes.
     
  9. MAJOR METAL

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    I think this should go here. :)
     
  10. SurrenderMonkey

    SurrenderMonkey

    Aug 18, 2006
    Liverpool
    I've been practising strengthening my little finger too. I found that 3-4 is the hardest, so I've been working on exercises based on 3-4, and 2-4, and I must say, I've got a lot more feel and speed through my 4th finger. It's also important to take a break, I found that if I stop for a while, and come back to it, it gets easier.

    I also practise exercises in 3 (e,g, 1-3-4, 1-2-4, 3-1-4, repeat...) on multiple strings, to build up independance between my left and right hand (and my left hand fingers). I have this bad brain lock that when I use the index finger on the left hand, the right hand index wants to pluck the string too, and it's annoying. Working in 3 and 5 note patterns can get quite challenging in that respect!

    Here again, as soon as I find a pattern that I can't nail without prior thinking, I just work on it for a while. Then work on another completely different exercise, something I am comfortable with, and come back to the first difficult pattern. Sometimes, it just clicks after a while.

    It takes some time, but I've improved a lot in coordinating my fingers. I also try to run those exercises using scales and chords, not just 5-6-7-8. It's stretching my left hand quite a bit, so I'm quite slow at the moment.
     
  11. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    I think that your problem is right here:


    Your not supposed to keep all 4 fingers down simultaneously. I have huge hands and finger joints that bend every which way, but I can't do that either. You just want to keep the previous finger/fret held down.

    When you do "the 1 2 3 4 exercises" You: fret the 1st fret with the index finger, keep it held down, fret the 2nd fret with your 2nd (middle) finger, then release the first finger on the first fret (but keep the 2nd finger on the 2nd fret) while you fret the 3rd fret with the 3rd finger and so on.

    That's how I was taught anyway - I don't think anybody can fret 1-4 using finger per fret spacing and hold down all 4 at the same time. it's a good thing it's not necessary!
     
  12. Audiophage

    Audiophage

    Jan 9, 2005
    It sounds like you need to raise your strap.
     
  13. Personally, i think its important to have every finger on the hand pulling its share. My pinky isnt the strongest, but a good exercise to strengthen it and make each finger more independent is to place your fingers at say 5th fret any string. Then just play 5678, first slowly then gradually quicker. Try it with reversed and different orders like 8657, 8765, 5867 etc. It really helps to get each finger as dexterous as it needs to be. Other than that, just play songs that challenge your fretting hand, and require pinky usage.
     
  14. Lowpro

    Lowpro

    Sep 25, 2006
    Birmingham, AL
    Hmm, I've got the baised raised to what seems to be the norm. Slight angle neck-up, with the bottom of the bass body at my waist line. Tuesday will be my first bass lesson, and I 'm going to ask him about fixing the hand position; sometimes you just need someone to see what you are doing in order to find the problem
     

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