Middle and Ring Finger Development

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by AndyMania, Apr 28, 2010.

  1. AndyMania


    Jan 3, 2010
    I have been playing bass using the one finger per fret/ Jaco style of playing and have been making great progress. However I have been doing middle and ring finger isolation exercises and noticed that I tire and fatigue very quickly when using those fingers only. Over time, will those fingers ever get to a level of speed, endurance and coordination as the index finger? Same thing goes for the pinky as well. I notice that the big muscle along the bottom of my hand that controls the pinky tenses up pretty quickly and gets fatigued.
  2. 251


    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA
    Fergie, I think Andy is talking about Middle, Ring fingers on his Fretting Hand. Have you posted about fretting hand technique to your blog?

    Thx for the useful link. I've been working on a 4 finger (Garrison) technique & as expected, you have good advice.

    Andy, keep doing the strength exercises. It is likely to take months to see the results you want. I always find keeping a log of training sessions reminds me that I am on target with my plan. Patience & diligence will get you there. :cool:
  3. AndyMania


    Jan 3, 2010

    Yes I am talking about my fretting hand. Sorry about the confusion. So 251, you say just to keep practicing and doing the exercises right? Ok, I'll keep at it.
  4. K2000


    Nov 16, 2005
    It's definitely a matter of patience and practice. I bet everybody has weak fretting pinkies when they first start out. By isolating those fingers (along with your regular practice) you will improve - it worked for me. My index finger is still my "best" finger, but those other two have improved a lot, and I don't consider them weak any more.
  5. I think my ring is weaker than my pinkie - 124
  6. 60's Bluesman

    60's Bluesman

    Feb 7, 2010
    well im in a similar spot as you i use my index and middle finger mostly but i need the ring sometimes and my pinky is in the way lol, my ring finger is stronger but when i bend my ring finger my pinky comes down with it, it sometimes can screw me up, is there anything i can do for my pinky? just keep playing?:confused:
  7. 251


    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA
    It's like any other kind of strength or fitness training. Work in multiple sets rather than pushing to the limit, add 10 or 15% per week & the fitness will come. Ultimately you will find the limits of your current ability. To advance from there may need a new plan. The approach is the same, develop a plan that avoids injury, work the plan, judge the results at the end of the plan, set a new goal. Good luck :cool:
  8. 251


    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA
    No clue here, what to do when the pinky is splinted to the ring finger. Fergie?
  9. 60's Bluesman

    60's Bluesman

    Feb 7, 2010
    not all the way down but enough it sometimes hits a string and mutes it when im trying to play on that string
  10. perfektspace6


    May 9, 2006
    Best thing you can do is devote five minutes each day to performing various combination's of trills (hammer-on's). Alternate mid-pinky-mid-pinky-mid-pinky (rpt)....change it up ring-mid-pinky-ring-mid-pinky etc. Go through all the combination's you can think off.

    All fretting hand. Not playing with your other hand. Try to make each note sound as strong and clear as possible. It gets tiring very quickly. It won't take long before those muscles strengthen.
  11. AndyMania


    Jan 3, 2010
    Thanks guys for all the input. 60's Bluesman, remember that the ring, middle and pinky share tendons. If you put your hand flat on the table and try to lift your ring finger only, you will notice you can lift it only a tiny bit. After you try lifting the ring finger, lift the middle one and you will notice that the ring finger needs the middle finger to be lifted in order for it to go higher. Unless you get all your tendons surgically relocated you can never get complete total finger independence. Also try holding your hand out and moving your ring finger only. You'll notice that it takes alot of effort to prevent the middle finger from moving as well. Same goes for the pinky as the ring finger will move when you try to move the pinky only.
  12. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Sorry for the confusion, normally finger isolation is about plucking hand technique.
    The hand has to have the fingers working as one unit so in a way isolation of the fretting hand can be pointless unless there are good sound medical reasons to do so. I suggest properly fingered scales as a way to develop the fingers, it is how i learned.
    Scales have many uses and the least understood of these is there relationship to the hands.
    Many play them for the wrong reasons, as in a way to learn better improv or harmony skills, which they will sort of do, if you separate out the relevant notes.
    But most of all they are a dexterity skill that is learned from scales, and if your ear is "in" you will learn other aspects of the scales.

    Follow the link for some out takes about scales and using them to improve your hands.:)

  13. Ray34


    Apr 30, 2010
    I'm far from an expert, but I did have some good results using a "Gripmaster" hand exerciser. I keep it in the car and fiddle with it at least once a day. It also helps get my had warmed up when I'm running late for rehearsal.
  14. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Sorry i missed this
    In most cases like this the little finger will follow the ring finger down, but once there the little finger can lift back up and the ring finger will stay. Rather than restrict the finger motion let it go and then move it back afterwards. What you have is tight attachments, so any kind of gentle movement generated by the fingers will help, and as it improves then harness the movement as control. This is the way the body learned movement when you were born.
    Babies learn in a specific way, eye movement to fix a target that come in view, then it starts with learning to control the head to seek out targets.
    This lets the eyes fix on targets, this lets the hands reach for them, this lets them bring the targets to the mouth to taste and feel.
    This reaching and grasping exercises the arms and the upper body, then on the floor crawling develops the limbs till standing and balance lead to walking.

    That is much the same as learning new or forgotten skills, remember babies are born with a grip, a throw back to our tree dwelling days. So always enhance a movement, let it flow then control and develop it.:)
  15. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    I will add this as it was late last night when i did he previous post and to relate to most points on this thread.
    In the clip in the link

    notice my finger shape in relation to each other and the neck?
    my fingers only lift off enough to allow the next finger to fret the string.
    There is no excess lift away, because the further the fingers lift away from the strings the further the have to come back to them. So in being fluent they need to be close to the strings ready for use. As you can see me hand has its natural curl to it so for me the action is always a lifting action not a fretting action. Like most people, and that includes people that never play an instrument, i can fret a note, a single note....but unlike most of those who do not play, i can lift off the finger and replace it with another finger and fret another note.
    If that finger does not get out the way then the note will not sound, if that finger gets sort of out the way and the other finger is in place the note will not sound. If the finger gets out the way and the other finger is not in place in time, the note will not sound.
    What we need is the play a note, remove the finger and replace it with another in a clear path and the note will sound.
    Well it will if the fretting hand can respond to the action of the plucking hand, again we see the need of the hands to work as a unit, so that means both hands to make the note and give the note quality of sound.

    If another finger follows it down then let it do so, then lift that finger away if it is in the way, but only enough to be out the way.
    Any finger movement is minimal so to see this and appreciate this curl your fingers in and hold them just off the palm. Now touch the palm with any finger.
    Notice that the tips are all basically level so the touching process covers the same distance.
    Notice where that movement is coming from, its not coming from the fingers as such but the joints, the joints control the action.

    If i call the joints from the wrist 1-2-3, the first one is the big knuckle joint on the back of the hand the followed by the two smaller ones on the finger. The lifting action comes from joint no.2 if the fingers have the correct curl, if the fingers are to straight the the action comes from joint no.1 that big knuckle, so using more of the finger and therefore more of the attachments. Joint no.3 is the one that works with no.2 and that sets the angle of the finger tip to the action. have a look, a close look to what your fingers are actually doing.:)

    Since the fingers share certain attachments that low in the palm of the hand base of the finger area, then certain functions in movement will be shared. If you hold you fingers straight you can move the tips off each one with enough movement to fret without the finger next to it getting in the way.
    This movement come from joint no.2 and 3.
    Joint no.1 only pulls it back... not lift it off, don't confuse the action of pulling back a finger out the way with that of lifting a finger off.

    I see the fingers working as a unit but in both hands together, not just one and using both sides of the hand and forearm( the ulnar and radial) to achieve the movement me want in playing.
    OK i have broken it up into a body mechanics thing, so understand it at its basic level and then use it. There is no deep hidden ideas in this, just use your hands better.
    Bass guitar was never one of the tasks the hands were evolved to do, its a trade off we can do. So in that trade off understand what it is you need to make it work for you.:)
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