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Pinky Fretting

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by SeedyBloke, Dec 8, 2003.

  1. Hey All,

    I've noticed that lately when practicing I've stopped using my ring finger quite as much and my pinkie has taken over. For example when I play a G on the E string fretting with my index, if i play an octave above on the D string in quick succesion i will now fret with my pinky.

    I may have just imagined this, and that is quite likely, but i think i may have heard on an earlier post that double bassists don't fret notes with thier ring finger either.

    My explanation for me ditching my pinkie in such situations is that I don't have to rotate my wrist nearly as much when using my pinkie. Problem is though that my brain is somewhat confused between the battle for fretspace between the two fingers and seems to alternate them somewhat randomly at times.

    Is this bad practice or just normal behaviour?!:confused:
  2. playbasstoday

    playbasstoday Guest

    Dec 5, 2003
    Lancs, Todmorden.
    I have also just started to use my 'pinkie' a lot more often now, it also to help me with my playing, i can usually play a lot faster whilst using it.

    The problem with using that finger though is that u end up getting weaker fingers through lack of use, my bass teacher just told me to play scales at a slow speed using all my fingers.:bawl:
  3. I do the same. It's less tiring than using the ring finger since you dont have to stretch so much. Even 2 fret stretches on the same string are usually done with my pinkie, for example, G-A-G-A-G-A on the E string. Just feels comfortable.
  4. playbasstoday

    playbasstoday Guest

    Dec 5, 2003
    Lancs, Todmorden.
    I do exactly the same:bassist:
  5. Ben Jammin'

    Ben Jammin' Guest

    Jul 13, 2003
    Falmouth, Cornwall, UK
    i use my pinky for high end runs and stuff but just find it easier to use ring finger for the big stretches, i guess its preference. I might try to get into the habit of using him a bit tho, he tends to get bored when im doing simple stuff.

    Man that sounded camp
  6. INTP


    Nov 28, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    I second playbasstoday's teacher here. If you practice this way, you'll have a much harder time breaking the habit later. You'll hit a limit sooner with 3 fingers than you will with 4.

    The scale length on an upright is much longer, so fingering 1 1/2 steps in first position isn't really an option. As you get further toward the bridge, it becomes feasable, and it is done.
  7. SyntaxError


    Sep 24, 2003
    Isn't it proper technique to use one finger per fret?
  8. My teacher told me that it's correct to use the little (pinkie) finger when playing the octave.

    I tend to use my third (ring) finger for playing the fifth, and my little finger for the octave unless of course I'm playing a run (maybe a scale) when it doesnt make any sense at all to not use one finger per fret.

    I was taught that the rule is one finger per fret unless youre playing an octave, then you use the little finger
  9. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I don't think the 'one finger per fret' rule is particularly useful. I go for playing with minimum stress on the hands - that means I can play consistently for longer and don't risk damaging them.

    That often equates to just using the first and fourth fingers but it depends on the notes I need to reach. I weigh up the different options to minimise unnecessary shifting and tension and also to get the right kind of articulation in the line (so, if there's a little pause in the middle, that might be a very good point to shift position).

  10. Well, obviously when playing a scale I'll use all fingers. But I find unless I need to use my both ring and pinkie (such as in a scale) I don't make useless stretches. Unless you really stop using your ring finger, I doubt it'll weaken much. Personally, I still use all of my fingers, and I wouldn't say I use my pinkie more than my ring finger. Thus I don't think my fingers have weakened unevenly.
  11. It is proper technique, but you have to consider the strain that would be placed on your hand.

    if I'm playing 1st fret F and want to play G# why not make the stretch easier and keep my hand as loose as possible, because once it starts tensing up from lots of stretching, everything else that is being played gets tougher.

    This can also have a drastic influence if you're playing a 5 or 6 string with jumbo frets where a lot of times you have no choice but to use your pinky and still stretch your hand
  12. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    This is very good advice, and the way most of the players I've seen approach it, especially in the lower positions.
  13. Slot


    Oct 17, 2003
    Sydney - The Shire
    I dont see anything wrong with using the pinkie for 3 fret stretches. Everyone does it, but you've gotta be thinking about what the next couple of notes you're going to play are.

    Just say you doing in octaves in C. If the next was to be a G# on the D string, using your pinkie wouldnt be the best option, due to the fact that you'd need it to hit the G#. Or another example is the G A G A one.....just say the line then changed to G A G A G A Bb G A. You would have to make sure you used your third finger on the A so that could hit the Bb(pinkie) as crisply and cleanly as possible.

    Using your pinkie can minimize hand movement which is a good thing, but like anything, only use it when its applicable.

    Always be thinking a bar ahead so you know what position is going to best for getting you where you need to go.

    If you're a begginner though, i'd recommend the ol' 1 finger to a fret routine. Its best to do the hard yards 1st, and its a great hand strengthening exercise too. Check out some bachs preludes, the bass parts are great for left hand training and conditioning
  14. Slot


    Oct 17, 2003
    Sydney - The Shire
    Another thing .....just because your using your pinkie doesnt mean you can get lazy with it.

    Make sure your pinkie is nice and bent, and that you are striking each note right on the tip of the finger, like literally right on the point, not too far under the nail.

    Flat fingers = sloppy and slow fingers. Keep 'em curved
  15. That's another good reason to use all your fingers. Underdeveloped fingers tend to go flat or even curve inwards when applying pressure, which is definitely not good. My bass teacher always stressed that when I began.
  16. tkarter


    Jan 1, 2003
    Basically use what works for the run you are doing. Reasoning your ring and pinkie share a common tendon. Using both ring and pinky on a wide spread would cause medical problems.

    I sort of learned as I have played over the last year to use 124 fingerings for walks. Still use 13 fingerings from time to time on the slow stuff when I gotta go fast I fall back to 124 or I should be saying 214 fingerings

    I do have carpel ts which I got from factory work for 20 years both the guitar and bass don't hurt because I make sure I don't let it.

    Find a way to make it work and I am sure the pinky will be the way it never hurts

  17. bplayerofdoom


    Aug 6, 2002
    try playing rancids adina with out using 1 finger per fret, and you may find a simple tune become very difficult. Although you don't always need to play with good habit, it sure as hell helps to for when you need it. It's fine on occasion to leave out fingers here and there for comfertability, but don't neglect any figure completly, you may find out you might really need. And bad habits can be hard to break.

    also was wondering does anyone else use only there index and ring when playing pentatonic scales(with the occasion middle for chronic halfsteps. I find it real smooth that way.
  18. SyntaxError


    Sep 24, 2003
    okay, I suppose using index-pinky on the lower frets is alright. I play a 5 string, and I like using minor 3rds on the same string (ie a tone and a 1/2 up fro m the root) even when I could just use the open string below it, so I'm always using one finger per fret (even for octaves) I guess it's a matter of prefrence
  19. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    also keep in mind that having the index finger on the root isn't always the best fingering. I mainly use use my index finger on the root for playing lines that are natural minor, phrygian, locrian, harmonic minor, etc.

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