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pinky-is it necessary?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by patrickroberts, Mar 29, 2001.

  1. patrickroberts


    Aug 21, 2000
    Wales, UK
    i just don't feel comfortable using my pinky, is it necessary in the use of bass playing?
  2. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Yes. Just keep using it, eventually it will get stronger.
  3. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA

    you can play with your thumb and fret with your other thumb if you want....

    as long as you get the sound you like. There are certainly no rules on how you MUST play. But in time, you may decide to put that pinky to work to get more out of your bass. there are some songs that are written that would probably require it (on the fret hand at least). But for your own stuff it's all up to you.
  4. Acacia


    Apr 26, 2000
    Austin, TX
    i use my pinky much more so than my ring finger when i am fretting.
  5. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    Me too. I couldn't play without it.
  6. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    It's not absolutely mandatory but it sure will make playing easier for you, Pat.

    The pinky is the weakest finger so some exercizes might help.

    Start typing, using only the pinky. while listening to music, instead of tapping your foot to the beat, tap only your pinky.

    A good exercize is to hold your hand out, palm up, and spread your pinky as wide as possible without seperating your other fingers. after a few repetitions with the pinky, do the same routine, seperating the ring and middle finger. Repeat, seperating the index and ring finger.

    It is finger independence as much as finger strength. I can spread the fingers on my fretting hand nearly an inch wider than on my picking hand but I've probably been playing longer than you.

    Hope this helps, Pkr2.
  7. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i've always heard that the ring finger is the weakest finger on your hand, it's supported by the fewest muscles, and the most likely to spawn injury if improperly used. in fact, the opponents of the "1-finger-per-fret" school usually advocate the 1-2-4 style.

    i started out using my index finger, middle and my 3rd&4th finger together (with the 3rd finger reinforcing the pinky), and still do use it that way sometimes, when i don't need finger-per-fret.
  8. I don't know if that is factual or not, but what I do know from experience (and from having taken classical guitar lessons long ago) is that proper arm-wrist position in relation to the neck is of utmost importance. I can run through my bass fretboard (16th notes) up and down, using all fingers, for hours without pain or discomfort. I hold my bass at slightly abouve waist level (when standing) with the neck at about a 35 - 45 degree angle. Once you alleviate the stress on your wrist, you'll find that you're well on your way to utilizing all fingers for fretting at minimum (or no) discomfort. And that's not something you can do if the bass hangs below your waist. (I think this theory reflects in the way most jazzers carry their bass at a higher position).
  9. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Nothing is "necessary" as an absolute.

    BUT, if you mean on the fretting hand, I'd say, you'd better learn to use it if want to get ANYWHERE on bass. If all you do is play Sid Vicious parts, then you don't need it.

    If you mean on the plucking hand, I'd say, no it isn't. But I'm sure glad I learned to use it, especially when there are 5 strings or more, (I'd guess J. Turner probably does, too). It really reduces finger and wrist fatigue and expands what you can play.
    its there anyway so use it
  11. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    Yep, especially on JTs new 48" neck. You need that pinky to go (in 1st position) from the first fret to the second... of course after some time using that bass you will mutate and be able to reach the third fret. :D
  12. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Necessary? No.
    But get it going, and you will go further! :)
  13. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...exactly right! Too, the 1-2-4 style is used a lot as URB technique.
    Somewhere, now buried at this site, is that finger indepedence exercise from Bass Player mag; you know, the one where you isolate two fingers, say the ring & pinky, while keeping the other two fingers stationary?
  14. my pinky gets just gets in the way if i don't use it so, why not?
    i guess you could just cut it off...:D
  15. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Maybe "weakest" may not be technically correct. I can only speak for myself but other than for fretting purposes my pinkie is almost useless.

    Try laying your hand palm down on a table and press down with each finger and see which one is weakest. Touch the tip of your pinkie to the tip of your thumb. I can barely do it with my left hand and can't do it at all with my right hand. I would think that dexterity and strength would be pretty much the same thing in the context of the thread.

    Good point about the URB part that Jim mentioned. I've played URB for a LOT longer than BG and I couldn't play URB without my pinky.

    YOMV :) Pkr2
  16. BaroqueBass


    Jul 8, 2000
    Salem, OR
    Even though he'd never admit it, your brain would terribly miss your pinky.

    I suppose it all depends on your style. Like on the DB board, about going across or going along, if you play across the fretboard you might favor 1-2-3, whereas if you play along you would probably go 1-2-4. Gross over-generalization there.
  17. The reality is that of your 4 fingers, the pinky is actually the STRONGEST finger! :eek:

    Don't believe me? OK, try this test: Get a hammer, take a big swing with it, normally. Now, do the same thing, but consciously do not use your pinky. I'd recommend doing this in an area with no breakable objects. ;) If you eliminate any other finger, you'll find it's not much trouble holding on, but the pinky, if eliminated, makes it difficult to keep a solid grip on that hammer.

    The downside is that it's also the least coordinated, as you don't use it for much aside from gripping.

    (It's) Pat, just keep working with the pinky and eventually it'll catch up to the other "smarter" fingers. It's not absolutely necessary, but if you learn to work with it, it sure makes life easier! :D
  18. Larry Kaye

    Larry Kaye Retailer: Schroeder Cabinets

    Mar 23, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    Think of a pianist or any other instrumentalist not using their little finger. It gives your fretting hand the "reach" that is almost 1.5-2 times wider than between your forefinger and ring finger. Unless you have humungous hands, you need two positions to cover the lowest four frets, especially on a 35 inch scale bass if you don't use your little finger.

    I'll take my chances that I along with any other bassist can do more, more accurately, MORE often, than those who have a three finger idiocyncracy in their playing technique.

    I use all four fingers but will use my forefinger, middle finger, and pinky to cover some patterns depending on how much "stretch" is needed. It's my personal "technique blemish" that makes it much easier to handle certain tunes and avoid hand fatigue.

    Personal opinion, when I see someone on electric bass not using their pinkies, they look STUPID. Maybe the audience doesn't know, but I do. Most, not all, but most of the time, they don't play worth a crap either. I'll admit exception, but the top players don't in even a small minority skip their pinkies.

    Probably a reason why that no one has disputed with any evidence, even if the instrument is 50 years old now.

  19. I've read on this board before that it is much easier to get carpal tunnel syndrome if you are using the ring finger, because it is connected to the middle finger, as in they share a tendon. Of course there is the high high high high chance I'm wrong.

    Anyways, I usually don't use my ring finger as much as my pinky, but that's not how I started out.
  20. ga_edwards


    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    you are the weakest pink(y). goodbye.

    English humour.

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