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Thread: My pinky won't go where I tell it!

  1. #1
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    Default My pinky won't go where I tell it!

    I have been trying to play four fingered chords, and that little finger will not go where I tell it to. I drive a truck for a living and was thinking there must be a way to train it driving down the road. Any thoughts or exercise that you all do.

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: My pinky won't go where I tell it!

    I have similar problems. Besides not being very co-ordinated in my pinky, I nearly lost complete use of it when I broke my wrist a few years ago, then had to relearn how to use it. However, here are some tips that helped me tips that helped me.

    1) Two exercises from a violin teacher years ago. First, do hand "spider push-ups" with your fingers and palm. Second, lie your hand palm down on a table (truck seat?), then lift fingers one at a time about ten times, pressing each fingertip down in different positions to build up strength and co-ordination. You could do this with just the pinky, but why not exercise them all while you're at it? I do each of these exercises ten times once a day. (I hope the description is understandable.)
    2) Experiment with the angle of your wrist. Flex your wrist while playing -- and driving.
    3) Depending on the style of music, use two-or three-note chords.
    4) Keep trying, even using your right hand to flex and position the left pinky.
    5) Think of Django and his hand.

    All I'm saying is that these things help, not that they've given me a highly flexible pinky.
    Good luck.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: My pinky won't go where I tell it!

    I’m just a beginner myself, so don’t listen to me, but I would just say keep doing what you’re doing. Those pinky muscles take time to develop, but they will stretch out. As will whatever brain synapses you need to control them. So, have patience and give yourself a break. It will happen in its own time. Keep at it!

  5. #4

    Default Re: My pinky won't go where I tell it!

    Slow everything down to a speed where you cannot miss and start there. If it is 40 BPM then go that speed till your fingers are trained.
    Make sure every finger is exactly in position at the slow speed.
    Try adjusting neck angle. Small changes can make a big difference.

    I had to retrain my ring finger and pinky after a Django level injury. The dexterity and movement will increase very significantly with time. It will take more time than you want it to or expect though.

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    Default Re: My pinky won't go where I tell it!

    I think Ranald's #1 sounds like a good suggestion for something good to do while driving - you want to develop some independence in the fingers. One of the best things I've found to help with both strength and dexterity, is to play scales. The fingers get used to moving individually and it really helps when trying to position them for learning new chords or changing positions. It doesn't have to be anything fancy - just playing ascending and descending major scales can go a long way toward training the fingers to move on their own, and go where you want them.

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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: My pinky won't go where I tell it!

    I hope that I can describe this properly - it's an exercise that some magicians use to have quick, nimble and independent finger use . . . and the best part is that you can easily and safely do it while driving . . .

    Simply take your fretting hand, hold it out straight and (beginning with the pinky) simply drop each finger one at a time until you have done all five. Once you have your hand closed, begin to raise each finger, one at a time, until your hand is open again. Repeat this about a million times, slowly building up speed, until you can do it quickly and smoothly each time.

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    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: My pinky won't go where I tell it!

    When forming 4 finger chords (chop chords):

    1. Make sure you're approaching th fingerboard like a fiddle player (fingers almost parallel to length of fingerboard, not 'across' the board.)

    2. If you can't hit the right place with the pinky, try placing the pinky after you place your index and middle fingers, but BEFORE YOU PLACE THE RING FINGER. (Although eventually you will want to place ALL fingers simultaneously.

    3. Practice changing back and forth between two different chords like G and C or A and D. In fact start out by changing between B and E because the frets are closer up there and will be a little easier.

    4. Do this back & forth thing at least 100 times every day till it works. (that number was pulled out of my hat at random, but is about right. )

    5. Persist and be patient because it wll come.
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” “Accidentals”

  9. #8

    Default Re: My pinky won't go where I tell it!

    Not sure this will help with that big ol’ chop chord...I think that just takes some time and practice...and patience. But one thing I did to get the fingers on my left hand to move faster and more independently was to drum them...now I can do it very fast from 4321 (start with pinky) but doing it 1234 or 2134 or 3124, etc (many more combos to work out) took time and patience - but don’t do it for too long, I’m not a doctor but you don’t want to over stress your tendons. I think it helped me to get each finger to act more independently like it does when I’m playing at faster speeds. As for the 4 finger chop chord, I hardly ever use them but TEHO, you didn’t say how long you’ve been playing but keep trying it’ll come.
    Northfield F5M #268, AT02 #7

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    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: My pinky won't go where I tell it!

    Make a fist,palm down,extend pinky straight out,now start moving the pinky around,up,down,back and forth,in and out etc. to gain independence ...very challenging to do with ring finger..

  11. #10
    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: My pinky won't go where I tell it!

    You may find some help here:

    https://youtu.be/2wyXPyRPE-U
    -----------
    Pete Martin
    www.PetimarPress.com www.Jazz-Mandolin.com
    Instruction books, videos: Bluegrass, Jazz, improvisation, ergonomics
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    http://www.jazz-mandolin.com/PetePlaysWes.xht

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: My pinky won't go where I tell it!

    I think the key is to begin with the pinky. Put all the other fingers down after the pinky. That way the interdactyle space are evened out for the pinky from the start.

    I did the following amazing experiment once, and though it is hard to do it totally without some kind of bias, my results are consistent: Measure the span of your extended hand. Measure it once with the thumb pinned down and stretching to the pinky, and again the other way, nail down the pinky and stretch out to the thumb. I have found I get another half inch or more the second time. Mind blown. Again it has something to do with how the interdactyle spaces are distributed.


    Besides i wanted to use the word "interdactyle" twice in one post.
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  14. #12

    Default Re: My pinky won't go where I tell it!

    My pinky hurts when I nail it down

  15. #13

    Default Re: My pinky won't go where I tell it!

    I have always used my pinky- because that's what Jack Tottle advised in his book which I bought in 1976. However, when it comes to chords, with the Gibson scale, I have always had trouble with the G chop chord. I reckon if my fingers were a bit fatter then the pinky would be buttressed by the third finger- but there's a gap and it means holding this chord is problematic at this position for me. Well, that's just the way it is- and I'm a guy that did 50 push ups on his finger tips when I was younger and more gung ho. Now, I don't care and the last time I did push ups on my fingers something went TWANG.

  16. #14
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: My pinky won't go where I tell it!

    "Fingers are too weak; fingers are too fat; fingers are too skinny; fingers are too short; I have no talent."

    Then I turn around and see a crowd of 9 year olds with tiny hands, all knocking out chop chords like they've done it for 40 years.

    Most of the things I do in a jam these days, I couldn't do at all for years, because I didn't know better how to make it happen.

    95% of it is proper technique, good instrument setup, and adequate proper practice.
    I'm sorry, but that's what I believe. (You may believe otherwise, and that's okay.)
    Phil

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  17. #15
    Yarrr! Miss Lonelyhearts's Avatar
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    Default Re: My pinky won't go where I tell it!

    This isn't an exercise to do at the steering wheel, but maybe the idea will help you get where you want to be. I call it "clamping." The goal is to get your fingers to work as one unit.

    Hold a three-finger C major chord (GDAE = 5320). Push your fingers down and strum the chord. Then let the pressure off, allowing the strings to come up off the fingerboard--but keep your fingers on the strings in their position for the chord. Then clamp back down and strum the chord. The goal is to move all three fingers as one unit (not one finger at a time). Repeat until it feels easy. (Within reason--don't overdo it to the point of a repetitive stress injury!)

    Next, press down on the C chord, and then move that chord down a string (GDAE = 0523). Do this by releasing the pressure, but stay in touch with the strings and keep the chord shape as you move. Your fingertips will graze the strings as you shift down to the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st strings. It should feel the same as just clamping on the C chord. Strum the G major chord. Do this until it feels easy.

    Finally, shift from C to G again, but this time add your pinky on 4th string, 7th fret. Go slow and try to place your pinky at the same time the other three fingers--as a unit--are landing on their strings. Look at the string and fret where you want your pinky to land. When you get it right, really focus on what it feels like--how far your pinky reaches, the feel of the pinky tip on the string, the arch in the last joint of the pinky (so it clears the 3rd string).

    Switch back and forth between C and G. When you go to C, keep your pinky low and close to the strings so it's ready to land again in G.

    Finally, you can also hold the full four-finger G chord, release pressure, but stay on the strings, and clamp back down, all fingers working as one unit. Pay close attention to how it feels when it's right.

    You can do the basic clamping exercise with any chord shape. And if the pinky reach feels too far in G, just slide everything up the neck 2 frets and go between D major and A major (same shapes as C and G, just 2 frets higher).

    Hope this helps!
    Oops! Did I say that out loud?
    Once upon a time: fiddle, mandolin, OM, banjo, guitar, flute, whistle, beer

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