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Songs & Pinky Collapsing

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by AnnaGhostt, Dec 9, 2019.

  1. AnnaGhostt


    Dec 9, 2019

    I'm a new bass player, I had my bass for a while and was on again and off again. I live in an incredibly small town and the nearest teacher is in another state. I have to learn on my own and a YouTube channel, Bass Buzz, has been a good help. It was going well, until I had to use my pinky.

    Everytime I would try, my pinky would "collapse" and fixing it caused pain. I had my thumb in the middle of the neck, below the neck, and above it at different angles and it still happened. Even in the correct position, I have seen videos on pinky excercises. Nothing seems to be helping to stop the collapsing. Anyone has any ideas? Maybe it's a weak pinky.

    Also, any good absolute beginner songs that's not happy birthday and has some notes? I don't care what genre but I do tend to like things like Mitski more, but that's for a higher level lol.
    Fergie Fulton and Kriegs like this.
  2. Kriegs

    Kriegs Peace

    Feb 14, 2018
    Southern New England
    Welcome to Talkbass. I'll save you a lot of heart/finger ache.... there's no absolute need to use your pinky. No kidding. Many of us play with only the pointer, middle and ring fingers on the fretting hand :thumbsup: You can just slide up a fret and use your ring finger instead of your pinky.
  3. You'll just never look like this guy. And maybe you're okay with that.

    AnnaGhostt and dkelley like this.
  4. Malcolm35


    Aug 7, 2018
    Slide if you need to, I'll not tell. We do with what we have.

    Might as well be playing songs you like, let Google find them for you. Use these search words: chords, name of the song. That will give you the active chord and the lyrics used under it. Recite the lyrics and pound root notes to the beat the song wants.

    That is normally one beat per lyric word syllable.

    Happy trails.
    AnnaGhostt likes this.
  5. Check out Scott's Bass Lessons on YouTube as well.

    I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "collapse", but it may just need to build up strength. There really aren't many things you can do (if any) to shortcut that. Keep up with practicing but obviously don't over do it. Like others have said, you could always learn to play without it.
  6. Thumb n Fingers

    Thumb n Fingers

    Dec 15, 2016
    @AnnaGhostt , true as others mentioned, you don't need to use your pinky, but depending on what you're expectations are for growth and development, it will help a lot if you learn to use it. Personally, I find it absolutely indispensable. To keep from the collapse, fret the note you are playing with the tip of your finger (not the meat of that last joint) as best as you can with the knuckles curled slightly. Over time and practice, you'll develop the strength in your pinky to do just what you are trying to do. Work with the position of your thumb to find a comfortable way to do this. You thumb is an anchor, sure, but it's not glued to a spot in the back of the neck. You need to be able to move your hand about to get the fingerings you are trying to achieve.

    And although instructional videos are great, they are a one way street. I strongly suggest that you find a good teacher who can help you work through this. The advantage to having a teacher is that you get immediate feedback on what you are doing correctly and incorrectly and can fix things before they become (bad) habits.

    Good luck!
  7. You could also check out the Simandl method - it’s mainly for double bass, but could be helpful. You use your pinky and ring finger together as one finger.
  8. five7

    five7 Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2009
    When I was younger I hurt my ring finger, bruised the bone. I had a house gig at night playing 5 sets. Couldn't take time off, had to play everything with my pinky. Strengthened it up and still to this day use it more than my ring finger. Keep practicing with it.
    Thumb n Fingers likes this.
  9. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    OP: do not try to look like that guy.
    His left hand is too bent for normal wrists to endure for long
    his fingers are unnecessarily splayed to slavishly achieve one finger per fret
    (maybe he's a famous pro and it works for him, but copying that is not the only legit option)

    Watch the Holy Trinity of safe left hand technique videos

    check out sticky in the technique forum on examples of straight wrists

    If you are just getting started, you may harbor the illusion that finger strength is what holds strings down. In reality it's the whole system of bones and muscles from your back, through your shoulder, elbow, forearm and wrist and finally, last and rather least (for strength) , your fingers. The role of the left hand fingers is not strength but accuracy. You'r not gripping the notes, you are moving fingers to the right spot, and applying pressure with your arm and shoulder and everything else.

    Try this: take your thumb off the neck entirely.
    curve your fingers, no straight knuckles !
    curved fingers resist collapse
    Fret notes using only the pressure from your arm and shoulder
    practice a whole scale that way
    learn how little pressure you actually need to make the note ring.

    you may be anchoring your left palm and stretching your pink needlessly.
    (stretching inhumanly to span 4 frets is also not the role of your fingers.)
    the most unspoken "secret" of left hand technique is that
    you are allowed to move your left hand to reach the fret needed
  10. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    foolforthecity and Ewo like this.
  11. bbh

    bbh Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2011
    Peter Gun. Simple repetitive. Should be on YouTube.
  12. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    Holy diver , Dio Holy Diver Bass Tabs - Dio @ BigBassTabs.com

    ( note this Youtube channel is an excellent TB'r @TJH3113 , he has excellent video covers for a lot of songs, playing and tones spot on, and you can clearly hear and see what he's playing-- a treasure trove)
    this fingering choice uses the pinky on the lower strings, and in a good pattern to assist you with your forward progress with the described issue/request.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2019
  13. Here’s a vital question: how hard are you pressing the strings? If you’re pressing hard, especially as a beginner, you’re going to slow your progress and may cause yourself harm ... like a collapsing finger while playing that evolves into things that in the long run may be more serious.

    Yes, you do want to increase finger strength but do it over time, not all at once. Crushing the neck is bad juju.
  14. Jim Kernan

    Jim Kernan

    Sep 25, 2008
    You said pain straighten it out. Does it collapse other than playing?
    You might need to have it checked for trigger finger or some other ailment.
    Bahjark likes this.
  15. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    Actually if the Bass's action is good, I often force myself to play with the MINIMUM finger pressure, often without the thumb in play at all (not even touching the neck.)
  16. bfields


    Apr 9, 2015
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Kinda hard for anybody to help without seeing what you're doing. If there's absolutely no one in your area, maybe try a lesson or two over skype or whatever?

    Nothing should hurt, so definitely stop when it feels bad.
  17. kalanb


    Dec 17, 2012
    May need to get the bass setup. May need to switch to lighter gauge strings. May need to slowly strengthen your pinky. May need to... you get the point lots of maybes and lots of potential solutions. Best bet is to sit down with someone who can look at your bass and technique to see if there’s a solution. Maybe post some pictures or videos
  18. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    Augusta, GA
    It's hard to say what your weakness is in your small finger other than weakness. Where is the pain you get? Maybe consider Skype lessons for a bit.

    Good beginner songs:
    Fu Fighters - Everlong
    The Temptations - My girl
    Queen - Another one bites the dust
    Sublime - What I got
    Red Hot Chilli Peppers - By The Way
    Wolfmother - Woman
  19. J_Bass


    Feb 7, 2008
    Porto, Portugal
    What strings are you using? How is the setup on your bass? These are important questions that influence the performance of your left hand.

    I say, use your pinky. In my opinion it is a fundamental finger to use in bass playing. Even when using only three fingers, one of them is the pinky.

    When you go running for the first time your legs hurt. That doesn't mean you shouldn't be using them.

    Of course you have to avoid bad habits that potentially can hurt your hand. If a teacher is not available, watch the videos that other TB'ers suggested. But keep in mind that you will have to overcome obstacles like this to evolve.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2019
  20. Samatza


    Apr 15, 2019
    I've had this before but your situation may differ so bear in mind this is what worked for me and it may not work for you.
    Firstly your hand needs to be totally relaxed, tension in your hand will cause pain so a good setup is paramount to help in this regard.
    Start higher up the neck say at the ninth fret and go up and chromatically go up and down the strings using one finger per fret, if it hurts stop. If it feels OK keep this up for about five days and then move one fret lower, again if it hurts stop, if not move one fret back after five days.
    Doing this helps you gradually build up strength in the fingers and gradually stretch the fingers. When I play near the nut I'll use pinky and ring finger together unless I need to play something intricate in which case I'll use one finger per fret, then I go back to pinky and ring together.
    If pain persists in any position you try and your hand is relaxed seek some medical advice, the point of the exercise is to do it every day and shift down gradually, your hand must be relaxed and make sure that your wrist is not bent at some uncomfortable angle, keep it as straight as you can.
    AnnaGhostt, Kipp Harrington and Ewo like this.

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