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Excercises/Practice to make my pinky more useful?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by TelZilla, Aug 28, 2020.

  1. giariccardopera

    giariccardopera TDPRI Member

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    FELDENKRAIS METHOD was a great solution for me. It's a doctrine especially developed for classical instruments. In the case of pinky:
    1) stop considering it only as a finger of your, but put it mentally in the team with other fingers, not "emarginating" it
    2) Consider the movement of pressing a string with the pinky, starting from your spine. Actually it's a rule which is valid for all the fingers. Think of your strength starting from your spine, then to shoulder, arm, elbow, wrist, and then finally the pinky, which is part of the whole chain.
    3) Consequently, when you play with the pinky, your movement starts at least from your elbow, which creates the impulse to move your wrist; the wrist literally pushes your pinky forward, and the pinky moves from it making a curve line, like an horizontal bracket which lands on the fret.
    4) so put your 1rst finger on a fret (let's say the 7th) and move elbow, wrist and pinky to land on the 10th fret, holding the 1ist on the 7th. play the 2 notes, focusing on this flow of strength that starts from the elbow.

    That's the system to make the pinky, if not equal to other fingers, pretty close to them.
     
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  2. Skyscraper1952

    Skyscraper1952 TDPRI Member

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    For what it’s worth, Clapton never uses his pinky except when playing chords. He seems to have gotten away with it after all these years. The rest of us just need to practice more...
     
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  3. jimi00

    jimi00 TDPRI Member

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    Don’t torture yourself. I think there’s a time to practice and a time to actually play. When you’re practicing scales it’s all about the technique. But when I’m playing, I just let whichever finger gets there first play the note. This gives more emotion to the interpretation. Least we forget the geniuses of the guitar world who have physically lost some of their fingers?
     
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  4. Chuckboy

    Chuckboy Tele-Meister

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    Bring up Youtube. Watch Carlos Santana. No pinkie.
     
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  5. Lyle2010

    Lyle2010 TDPRI Member

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    If you don't use your pinky, then you don't need to.
    Django Reinhardt's left hand was almost entirely deformed. He got by with a couple of fingers only.
    When you find a use for it, you'll know.
     
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  6. MoHump

    MoHump TDPRI Member

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    I assume you mean your left pinky? Well, I can speak to that as mine is a 1/2" shorter than it used to be. Minor accident from when I was in the Navy (22 stitches, nough said). Even while it was healing and wrapped in a splint, I was still practicing. After the splint came off it was numb but I put it to work and compensated by mentally making it reach as far as I could. I also work with a guitar player that was missing parts of two fingers on his left hand. He can still wail away on a tele and you wouldn't even notice.
     
  7. DaveG

    DaveG Tele-Meister

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    Not to put a too fine a point on it, but I cannot understand why anyone would want to limit themselves by not using all their fingers. Sure, some of it is stylistic e.g. old school blues guys "play the box" with three fingers. But if you ever want to do anything more than that, including playing anything approaching complex music (jazz, swing, any classical, etc.) it's just not possible.

    Ways to get started:
    1.) Learn some scales such as the Berklee "CAGED" major scale patterns. You can find these many places. Like here: https://jenslarsen.nl/major-scale-caged/ Start with C and G in the first position. These are moveable patterns anyway, so if you learn these two, you are way ahead of the game.
    2.) Learn the "cowboy" open string major scale patterns (C, G, D) like these: https://www.cyberfret.com/guitar-scales/open-position-major-scales-for-guitar/
    but anyplace you would use your 3rd finger, use your pinky, and don't use your first finger at all. This way you are "saving" you first finger to be a barre. If you learn these patterns, you now have the ability to play just about all the major pentatonic tunes you know in any key, simply by moving up and down the fretboard and using your first finger as a "capo".

    Somebody earlier suggested learning to play the power chord thing with you 2nd finger and pinky instead of 1 and 4 - I'll second that
     
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  8. Supereditor

    Supereditor TDPRI Member

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    No easy way out, I’m afraid. If you avoid using your pinky, it will always feel awkward when you do. I’ve been using it so long that for me it can feel awkward not to use it when I’m playing up above the 15th fret ... even though I seem to play cleaner if I just let my ring finger make the reach in that territory.
     
  9. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Guitar does not have to be as hard as a lot of you seem to make it.

    Either the "rules" crowd or the "just do what you feel, man" crowd.

    I suppose that's not much of a tangible contribution.
     
  10. arnie5150

    arnie5150 Tele-Meister

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    Play the Crazy Train opening riff over and over and over and over....
     
  11. lammie200

    lammie200 Friend of Leo's

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    Vibrato with a pinky is not all that practical. It can be done but even masters like BB King didn't do it. Not enough control. I suggest that you work on chords that require the use of the pinky. Eventually you can get to changing chords and hammer ons and pull offs with all your other fingers anchored and just manipulating your pinky. It's like figuring out ways to lead and harmonize with your pinky. I also suggest single note stretches just using your index finger and your pinky. I don't know if any of that is an easy way out, but it should probably lead to development rather than stagnation.
     
  12. pi

    pi Tele-Meister

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    Not that I'm great at using my pinky but I have improved a lot, and what helped was incorporating the C-shape and G-shape barres more often.

    For example, playing an F as:

    e 5
    b 6
    g 5
    d 7
    a 8
    E x
     
  13. Sconnie

    Sconnie Tele-Afflicted

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    Fixed Finger Exercises. Basically type "guitar fixed finger exercises" into youtube and watch and try every single piece of clickbait you come across haha. Find a few you like, or better yet don't like, and warm up with one for 5 or so minutes every time you pick up a guitar. Pick some really annoying ones you can modify to make it different each time.





    Oh yeah, and just start bending with your pinky or learning some wacky new chord shapes that workout your entire hand. Lastly, self-discipline!
     
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  14. billy logan

    billy logan TDPRI Member

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    +1 to kenni's suggestion to play the cowboy a/k/a open chords without the index finger - even put a socket wrench socket or a hollow slide on your index finger so as you don't backslide :)

    btw 4 teaching someone not to be intimidated about barre chords or venturing up the neck ... you could have them lay their index finger ON THE NUT, zero fret, right? ... they'll see how E MAJ moved up becomes whatever.

    prolly someone said this but, when doing those dreary chromatic and etc finger exercises including the pinky, skip over strings e.g. 6th to 4th to 2nd to 5th to 3rd to 1st - that's a thing, too, in addition to smoothly rolling up a string then onto its next-door neighbor.

    A two-octave F MAJ scale played as open as you can get (the index finger NOT participating) requires a lot of pinky. but you knew that.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2020
  15. hepular

    hepular Tele-Holic

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    apologies . ..
     
  16. jrblue

    jrblue Friend of Leo's

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    Grteat question. When I had the same revelation, one thing that worked for me was to "shift everything down a funger" which in addition to instantly utilizing my pinky, broke a whole lot of muscle-memory habits. I now do changes like this (ex: playing with all upstrokes, or only big intervals, or playing from high to low, and from up the neck down to the nut...) often and they all help a lot.
     
  17. Electric Warrior

    Electric Warrior Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    Nothing wrong starting to use it if you want. Using your pinky gives you even more options on the fretboard for chord construction, licks, you name it.

    I think that the key is to start using it. There are a lot of good exercises but find some practical applications too (a different chord voicing or fingering, lead phrases, whatever) to get yourself used to it. Expand from there. It will feel clumsy as hell at first, and you might want to go back to what you're familiar/comfortable with, but keep at it.

    This is only based on my experience. I find that the hardest thing to overcome with playing is my desire to retreat back to my comfort zone. But you can do it!
     
  18. aadvark

    aadvark Tele-Meister

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    It just requires frequent short sessions of exercises. Mix them up. dont obsess on any one thing.

    here's one by Marlmsteen, I think it is:

    ---6-3-------3-
    --------5---5--
    ----------6-----
    ----------------
    ----------------
    ----------------

    LH 4 1 3 4 3 1

    its a diminished seventh arpeggio, so move it up 3 frets and you get a rotation of the same 4 notes. up another 3, etc and back down.

    play it with 'good' LH technique, keeping you fingers curled and knuckles bent.

    good luck,
    it definitely helps to have all 4 fingers at your disposal!
    cheers Neil.
     
  19. pippoman

    pippoman Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    You’re not alone as I’m discovering. Personally. I find it difficult NOT to incorporate mine, but I’ve seen some good players who tend not to use theirs. I think the best suggestions have been given, especially full scales. All the best!
     
  20. Tubeboy

    Tubeboy Tele-Meister

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    Don't think you have to use the pinky just because it's there. Watch videos of Gary Moore or Michael Schenker two shredders that rarely use the pinky while soloing. Personally I use mine but not for big bends.
     
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