Pinky barring

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Oleg BassPlayer, Jul 28, 2018.


  1. Oleg BassPlayer

    Oleg BassPlayer

    Feb 4, 2016
    Ukraine
    I've been trying to strengthen my pinky to be able to play things like:
    -----------------------
    -------4----7---------
    --5--------------7----
    -----------------------

    In order to play that descending fourth in the end I try to use pinky. I can do it smoothly when I have to go from 1st to the second string:
    IMG_20180728_212558.jpg
    However, as I move down exactly as written in the tab above, the only way I can do it is to collapse my pinky:
    IMG_20180728_212632.jpg
    which kind of restricts further hand movements.

    My teacher says I should just exercise my little finger until I am able to do it without collapsing. He easily can do it. But when I don't collapse the finger, flesh just doesn't reach the upper note and I can't play this fourth.

    What am I doing wrong? Should I just cut myself some slack and not worry about collapsing or is there some secret to play this thing?
     
  2. Nashrakh

    Nashrakh

    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    How is your setup? Looking at your second picture, your hand seems to be under a lot of tension, which certainly doesn't help. When I play a line like that, my pinky isn't barring two frets but rather gliding or rolling from one string to the other, but that only works if I don't have to use a lot of strength.
     
  3. Oleg BassPlayer

    Oleg BassPlayer

    Feb 4, 2016
    Ukraine
    at first glance, 3 to 4 millimeters at the 12th fret. On my second bass action is lower, but the problem is the same. The teacher also thought it may be setup, but he managed to do it on my bass as easily as on his.
     
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    You have too much tension in your hand. You're using too much force. Let your fingers relax and come closer together, parallel to each other. Relax the fingers you aren't using (no need to fret notes you aren't playing). Use your 3rd finger to support your 4th finger. And there's no reason you necessarily need to barre; two other good options are to move your 4th finger from the A to the E, or to use your 4th finger for the A and your 3rd finger for the E. Also consider an alternate fingering: open D string, 4th finger on F# at the 4th fret, and your 1st finger on A at the 2nd fret and E at the 2nd fret.
     
    Lobster11 likes this.
  5. See if you can play it on guitar
    - if yes it's a strength thing.
    - if not it's a technique thing.

    +1 your hand should stay relaxed.
     
  6. callofcthulhu

    callofcthulhu

    Oct 16, 2012
    I just can't think of any good reason to play that last E with your 4th finger. I would use the 3rd finger.
     
  7. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    PS you don't need to "strengthen" your pinky. If you can type 'A' on your computer keyboard, then your pinky is already strong enough to play the bass guitar. If anything, looking at your photos, I think you should pretend your pinky is weaker than it actually is, and play with less tension and force.
     
  8. Nashrakh

    Nashrakh

    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    3 to 4 millimeters? That's insane. I wouldn't be able to play that, but I'm really peculiar about my setup...

    However, if you think setup is not the issue, the tip of using your ring finger to fret the E on the 7th is good. It's a very good alternative to barring your pinky. Instead of trying to keep your fingers over their respective frets, you shift your hand a bit to reach the E with your ring finger. This may also lessen the tension in your hand. You may as well consider adapting the "double bass fingering" for scenarios like this.
     
  9. Oleg BassPlayer

    Oleg BassPlayer

    Feb 4, 2016
    Ukraine
    Thank you all for answers.

    Ring finger or separate fingers approaches do work fine, but the point was to learn to play fast arpeggios without moving my hand too much. This particular fingering occurred when I was trying to walk through major chord - root, 3rd, 5th, octave, octave + 3rd and back. Besides that, it just bugs me that I can't do it with my little finger, even though it may sound perfectionist and irrational.

    I've just tried to turn my pinky a bit on it's side at about 45 degrees, it seems to work much better, is it considered a bad practice?
    IMG_20180729_075040.jpg

    update: and yes, action was too high, after some adjustments I'm able to do that but only with the way described above, turning pinky a bit on it's side.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
  10. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    You're on the right track. That looks much more relaxed than the first photos you posted.

    My somewhat paradoxical-sounding advice: if you want to "learn to play fast arpeggios without moving your hand too much," then practice arpeggios very slowly, and move your hand a lot.

    For example: Completely release your left-hand grip, so that none of your fingers or thumb are in contact with the neck. Let your hand relax into a totally neutral, tension-less position. Now gently put your 2nd finger on the 5th fret (and only the 2nd finger; your thumb and other fingers shouldn't be in contact with the neck yet). Press down with the absolute minimum of force to fret the D note, about as much force as you'd use to type on your computer keyboard. The strength comes from your arm and shoulder, letting gravity drop your elbow toward the floor, not your hand, wrist, or finger. Imagine you are pulling open a door, or sliding open a drawer: do you keep your arm rigid and pull with your fingertips, or do you relax your hand and drop your elbow so that gravity is doing the hard work?

    Once you have fretted the D note with your 2nd finger, let your other fingers and your thumb go wherever they want to go, whatever is most comfortable and relaxed. Don't squeeze, stretch, or contort. Don't worry about what your hand looks like; worry about what it feels like. Remember this feeling! Now repeat the exercise for the next note: Completely release your grip on the neck. Put your 1st finger at the 4th fret and gently press down on the F# note with the bare minimum of force. Once your 1st finger is in position, then let your thumb and other fingers go wherever they naturally want to go, whatever feels most comfortable.

    And then repeat for the A at the 7th fret with your 4th finger, and finally the E at the 7th fret with your 4th (or maybe your 3rd) finger.

    The idea is that, for each note in the song, your hand is in the most comfortable and relaxed position to play that one particular note. Every note might have a slightly different comfortable position, so you are repositioning your left hand for every note. This is perfectly fine and okay; most pros play that way. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
  11. Marley's Ghost

    Marley's Ghost Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2002
    Tampa, FL
    Wasn't Pinky Barring the guitarist for the NY Dolls? :roflmao:
     
    St_G likes this.
  12. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    You shouldn't really bar it but use a kind of a rolling motion with your pinky across the two strings. It comes in handy for a lot of stuff.
     
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