Poor right hand pinky

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by SSINTENSE, Feb 4, 2009.



    Jun 6, 2005
    So my bass teacher wants me to play bass with all 4 fingers like a real man rather than 2 because the ability to do so would balance out my right hand and make playing with 3 a million times easier.

    So I learned how to use my wrist to help my pinky out and this technique is evolving to the point where I use the right fleshy side of my pinky to sound the note (and thus in my rolls my wrist does a somewhat circular motion).

    First question - Anyone here play with 4 fingers? I'm also thinking about incorporating the thumb slap with the 4 fingers to make things more versatile. Please tell me your experiences and what you are able to do with this technique.

    Second question - Worst blister ever on the right side of my pinky. I haven't had a blister since I started playing bass about 5 years ago. What are some tips to take away the pain or blister so I can play with no pain? Right now i'm just playing through it waiting for that callous to develop.


    Jun 6, 2005
    Yea. The goal is for me to play with pick and other three fingers. He just wants me to play with my pinky for now because that strength will make everything else so much easier.


    Jun 6, 2005
    But yea its interesting how there are so many different ways to approach the bass. I kind of ignored it when I started a few years ago but realized that there are so many different tones and feels you can achieve by just the approach.
  4. ysand


    Mar 26, 2005
    My advice: Get a new teacher
  5. +1... what the hell...?
  6. Silas Martinez

    Silas Martinez

    Jan 17, 2007
    Denver, CO
    Umm... I'll agree unless this is one of those things driven somehow by student request. That doesn't seem clear to me.

    Seriously.... I've been playing for 15-20 years, and I'm still not done working on my two finger+floating thumb/movable anchor technique. As for using my thumb in actual note generation, my slap/pop is abominable, but I can approach some classical guitar fingerstyle bits easily enough. But I'm still focused heavily on two finger plucking and muting with the thumb. Three fingers work for some folks - but I don't see a need.
  7. kevin_n


    Mar 30, 2007

    I would rank playing with my eyeball higher on my priority list.
  8. :eyebrow: Who does this guy think he is? Ever heard of James Jamerson? Talk to your teacher about this. I understand, the strengthening benefits, etc... But +1 to all the other comments about focusing on more common techniques. And tell your teacher that James is waiting on the other side to punch him in da face! Haha I kid... Good luck!
  9. Nick Kay

    Nick Kay

    Jul 26, 2007
    Toronto, Ontario
    Your pinky is, generally speaking, more than an inch shorter than the rest of the fingers on your hand. Instead of trying to compensate for that, there's another way to get your ring finger up to scratch with your index and middle. Two-finger style, like you're used to, but instead if index+middle, use index+ring and middle+ring, switching back and forth between the two. Index and middle will strengthen slower than the ring, since they're being used half as much, and your ring should be tip-top in no time.
  10. I started playing in 1974, but I still haven't told my right pinkie.

    RE: The blister-- pop it and pour Crazy Glue in it. Instant hard callus. Choice of gui****s around the world.

    Seriously-- crazy glue was invented to suture wounds in combat (not to glue together your mom's precious china). It's safe and works great.
  11. I can't see the value in learning to play with your pinky.

    If this teacher is insisting your learn this way, ask him to show you the door any say good bye. Echoing earlier sentiments, there are much more important things to focus on than this.
  12. Craig_S

    Craig_S Inactive

    Oct 15, 2008
    Metro Detroit
    +1 :scowl: Where do these guys come from??
  13. Ampeg SVT

    Ampeg SVT Son, I am disappoint.

    Sep 9, 2006
    Sounds like you have a gui**** for a teacher.
  14. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    yeah I'd at least ask him to demo his 4 finger technique. Even the really super advanced experts out there like gary willis, billy sheehan, stanley clarke and so on use only 3 for most of their stuff. gary willis and billy sheehan are 3 finger players full time but I've rarely seen either one use all 4. stanley clarke reportedly uses all 4 from time to time.

    Most mortals use 2 most of the time and really make hay with just those. I can just barely play with 2 after more than 25 years of playing....

    So yeah... I'd have to say unless it's really integral to a particular type of technique, I don't see putting a lot of work into something like this, for sure not at the neglect of other basic skills...



    Jun 6, 2005
    No No you got it all wrong. I was having difficulty playing with three fingers before and playing with pick, middle, ring because my ring seemed out of sync. It just seemed out of sync and no matter how much I practiced I couldn't get the three up to speed. He analyzed what I was doing and determined that my right hand is unbalanced because he could tell by the way my pinky was acting when I would play with three. So he wants me to play with four to make playing with three a hundred times easier. It's working because last night I noticed that it is becoming much more easier to play with three. Not perfect yet but improving. I find myself reserving the ring to hit octaves and 7ths but I want to increasingly use it as an extra finger when I need to do something quick on the same string.

    But I did find something else from this. It's true that the pinky is shorter than the other fingers, that's why I am using the right side of my pinky to strike through a string. But if you orientate your wrist slightly to the left, I found that I can play a four string bass the following way: E string - index A string - middle D string - ring G string - pinky. There won't be too much use of this technique but i'm still going to practice it. Never know what it will lead to.

    I don't pluck the strings like a guitarist. I tought myself how to actually play with the right hand before I started taking lessons . When I first started the major technique problems were in my left hand, but I was only playing with two fingers then.


    Jun 6, 2005
    Thanks for the advice! Nick Nay, that sounds like a good idea. I noticed something similar to that when I was messing around last night. But it was more of a ring + index + ring + middle (actually that is probably the same thing). index - middle - ring - middle - index also really seemed feasible. I couldn't play with the pinky last night because the blister pain was so bad. Today it seems like the pain is lessened so i might try again. Why not? Maybe something new can come out of it.

    But to everyone who is confused about the teacher - it's a group of teachers. They are all studio musicians who have their own teaching space. So I very between being taught by a drummer, bassist, and guitarist, mostly the bassist and drummer though. The drummer is the one who suggested trying something like this, and he did understand that most bassists don't do this. He said they have had masters come in for sessions and they would never do something like this. But whenever they take a student in they ask them what they want (if they want to do this recreationally or potentially make money). I said that I really want to stand out and am willing to put in the time to become great. To this end, they've had me try some crazy stuff that isn't too common like this and some stuff that is common and useful. They try to challenge the hell out of me and put me on the spot, because in their philosophy that's how someone becomes great. The drummer for instance makes all new drumming students play on a left handed kit or whatever is opposite of their dominant hand to make their usual playing a million times better (and yes he is pretty incredible at drumming - easily best i've played with).

    I've learned alot so far. It's been a few months and the things that have improved the most so far is my ability to listen and complement the drummer and left hand freedom. I will admit that sometimes they threw things at me that I was like "***?" But overall I improved alot and I'll stick around.
  17. dj150888


    Feb 25, 2008
    Belfast, Ireland
    Work on being able to play your instrument before you learn to become great. Its no good being able to do "flashy" stuff if you can't hold down the groove. You've got a lifetime to learn, get the basics down first, then, if you still want, work on the 4 fingers.


    Jun 6, 2005
    Ofcourse. I think everyone thinks that the teacher is trying to focus on this one thing. Let me clarify that this was a question I posed and that's how this idea all started. The one thing we've been working on as student - teacher is listening to the drummer and making the perfect compliment from inside. Tell the story from my perspective. The first few lessons were to improve my then aweful left hand technique. Since then it has been all grooves and some lessons on polyrhythms. It's becoming more and more fun to play because before I started taking the lessons I could play to the pulse but I really didn't understand how to listen specifically to what the drummer has been doing.
  19. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Common problem you have with the little finger on your right hand regardless of the technique used whether one two three four or five fingered. What you are in essence and make no mistake on this is a classical technique for guitar and there is no reason why it cannot and should not be applied to bass guitar. One of the benifits is that it will better for you hand in the respect that the technique requires a straight wrist, always a good thing, and it will to some extent balance your hand. The main thing to over come is the different tonal sound you will get from each of the fingers as the strings are so thick this will be more noticalble on a bass guitar than on a guitar where this technique was developed for.

    I play with two fingers and have the use of my ring finger when required as in triplett play, octave work, chords, working in compound time sigs etc. The little finger is always a problem because of the muscle groups it uses and it size. So to balance your hand another way give your little finger something to do. I notice you wish to incorparate a pick in your hand technique, so hold the pick in your little finger when you play with your fingers, i think you'll find an instant difference in your fingers, and over a couple of weeks a very noticable difference in your hand technique.
    Practice releasing the pick from your little finger in to your pick grip and back to your little finger till it becomes smooth and that will solve another problem...where to keep the pick for easy access to introduce it in to your playing.

    Why you wish to do this i don't know but why not, all ideas and techniques start somewhere so good luck and let us know how you get on.
  20. Sahm


    Dec 18, 2007
    Delaware, OH
    When I first started working on three finger technique, I purchased some Baoding balls while visiting Chinatown in Toronto. They really helped build dexterity and worked on the circular motion of the fingers. By the end of the summer, I made a huge leap in my technique.

  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jun 16, 2021

Share This Page