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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,

Lately I've noticed how far away my pinky finger gets from the fretboard while riffing with index, middle and ring finger. I just recorded a quick clip of a riff idea that clearly shows my problem and I was wondering if there are any tips to keep my pinky closer to the fretboard, other than just making a focused effort to do so while playing. Utilizing my pinky for riffs is my biggest weak spot right now, especially when trying to practice scales or just warming up. Thanks in advance! :yesway:

 

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Bork!
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Making a focused effort to do so while playing is the only real way you'll break the habit and get used to how it feels.
 

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Bro of Bros, Bro.
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There are some basic licks you can do that will help. This one seems very simple, but it works. I think it's called the spider or something like that, because your fretting hand will resemble a spider if done correctly.

Ascend chromatically up the neck like so:

e-------------------------------------------5-6-7-8
B-----------------------------------5-6-7-8
G---------------------------5-6-7-8
E-------------------5-6-7-8
A-----------5-6-7-8
E---5-6-7-8

Now here's the trick. When you go to the A string from the E, only move your index finger to the 5th fret. Leave all other fingers on the board. Next, just move your middle finger, leaving the ring and pinky still on 7 and 8 of the E. Then move the index, leaving the pinky, and finally the pinky.

Essentially you are only moving one finger at a time. Eventually as you pick up speed, your pinky will start to become "trained" to stay put, and only move when commanded, instead of lifting with your index or other fingers.
 

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I spent a lot of time doing chromatic runs up and down the same spot on the neck to kind of force my fingers to stay close to each other especially my pinky when using the first two fingers. The more I did it, the closer my fingers stayed together and I wasn't pulling my fingers back from massive distances to fret a note. Then again, I'm not much a lead guitarist so my fingers are used to riffs, chords and long stretches.

^He said it better than I could and also quicker than I. :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
There are some basic licks you can do that will help. This one seems very simple, but it works. I think it's called the spider or something like that, because your fretting hand will resemble a spider if done correctly.

Ascend chromatically up the neck like so:

e-------------------------------------------5-6-7-8
B-----------------------------------5-6-7-8
G---------------------------5-6-7-8
E-------------------5-6-7-8
A-----------5-6-7-8
E---5-6-7-8

Now here's the trick. When you go to the A string from the E, only move your index finger to the 5th fret. Leave all other fingers on the board. Next, just move your middle finger, leaving the ring and pinky still on 7 and 8 of the E. Then move the index, leaving the pinky, and finally the pinky.

Essentially you are only moving one finger at a time. Eventually as you pick up speed, your pinky will start to become "trained" to stay put, and only move when commanded, instead of lifting with your index or other fingers.
Just by visualizing this I can already tell it will help me out a ton. Thank you!!!
 

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I've struggled with this my entire guitar-playing life. :rofl:

I've never been able to kick this habit (probably because I also struggle with little things like "practicing regularly" and "doing drills and exercises instead of just playing songs"), but a few things I've come across that should help if you stick with them:

1) Play scales and various simple exercises to a metronome, VERY, VERY slowly. Focus on keeping the pinky in position, and gradually up the tempo, stopping and slowing back down any time the pinky starts straying out again. This is also a good way to practice keeping your left hand loose and not playing with more pressure than necessary.

2) An exercise my guitar teacher gave me when I first started playing: Play any four consecutive semi-tones, one finger per note, four notes per string. So like 5-6-7-8 on the E, then the same on the A, etc across all six (or seven, eight, or god forbid, 9) strings. When you get to the top string, do the reverse and play 8-7-6-5 going back down.

Here's the trick though - take it slow, play to a metronome, and concentrate on not moving any of your fingers until you need them to play the next note. In other words, you play the 5th fret on the E with your index finger, and you keep that there even after you put the middle finger down on the 6th fret. Then you keep both in position when you fret the 7th with your ring finger, etc. Same thing when you move between strings. Keep your middle, ring and little fingers down on their respective frets on the low E when you move your index to the 5th fret on the A string.

If you want, you can start on the 1st fret of the low E and then shift up a half step every time you get to the top or bottom string, and just play it that way up and down the neck until you and anyone else in ear shot goes absolutely fucking mental from listening to slow-ass chromatic scales. :rofl:

Edit: Son of a bitch! Yeah jaxadam's explanation is way clearer and more concise :rofl:
 

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Wirelessly posted

jaxadam said:
There are some basic licks you can do that will help. This one seems very simple, but it works. I think it's called the spider or something like that, because your fretting hand will resemble a spider if done correctly.

Ascend chromatically up the neck like so:

e-------------------------------------------5-6-7-8
B-----------------------------------5-6-7-8
G---------------------------5-6-7-8
E-------------------5-6-7-8
A-----------5-6-7-8
E---5-6-7-8

Now here's the trick. When you go to the A string from the E, only move your index finger to the 5th fret. Leave all other fingers on the board. Next, just move your middle finger, leaving the ring and pinky still on 7 and 8 of the E. Then move the index, leaving the pinky, and finally the pinky.

Essentially you are only moving one finger at a time. Eventually as you pick up speed, your pinky will start to become "trained" to stay put, and only move when commanded, instead of lifting with your index or other fingers.
Jesus, Adam. Most of the time, you're posting the funniest posts on here, and then you go and post this, which will be insanely helpful to me (and probably OP). My fretting hand pinky goes all English tea a lot, too, and I wanted a way to fix it. That exercise will clear it right up. :yesway:
 

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I am Groot
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Wirelessly posted :)dio:)

Wait, your pinky gets dumped in the Boston harbor? :scratch:
 

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I wish I had that problem! My pinky and ring finger are practically conjoined twins. Only on my left hand, though (figures!). Apparently those two fingers share a tendon, and in some people that causes the ring finger to follow what the pinky does. It's soooo hard to keep my damn ring finger off the FB if I use my pinky.
 

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Bro of Bros, Bro.
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Jesus, Adam. Most of the time, you're posting the funniest posts on here, and then you go and post this, which will be insanely helpful to me (and probably OP).
Believe it or not, I can actually be serious sometimes!

When I first learned sweeping, I had a problem with my pinky flying up off the board to meet the top note on the high e string. It looked really bad, and I told myself that I needed to do something about it, because it wasn't going to be the most efficient way of becoming more proficient at sweeping, as well as other techniques.

There are also some other basic hand movements that can be practiced, even without a guitar that will help attain pinky independence.

This also sounds very simple and boring, but just taking your left hand and bending your first finger at the big knuckle down, then the middle finger, index, then pinky will let you immediately see how attached your pinky is to your index finger motion. 9 times out of 10 I see the pinky move down once the index finger is moved, and index with pinky. Using some jedi mind tricks can help to overcome the mutual agreement these two digits have with moving together.
 

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My left hand pinky sucks. I think I broke it when I was a kid and it didn't heal quite right (I basically needed at least a severed head to see a doc when I was a kid :( )

I once considered switching to playing left handed :lol: I tried a bunch of different exercises and basically I just ended up with tendonitis / carpal tunnel.
 

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jaxadam said:
Jesus, Adam. Most of the time, you're posting the funniest posts on here, and then you go and post this, which will be insanely helpful to me (and probably OP).
Believe it or not, I can actually be serious sometimes!

When I first learned sweeping, I had a problem with my pinky flying up off the board to meet the top note on the high e string. It looked really bad, and I told myself that I needed to do something about it, because it wasn't going to be the most efficient way of becoming more proficient at sweeping, as well as other techniques.

There are also some other basic hand movements that can be practiced, even without a guitar that will help attain pinky independence.

This also sounds very simple and boring, but just taking your left hand and bending your first finger at the big knuckle down, then the middle finger, index, then pinky will let you immediately see how attached your pinky is to your index finger motion. 9 times out of 10 I see the pinky move down once the index finger is moved, and index with pinky. Using some jedi mind tricks can help to overcome the mutual agreement these two digits have with moving together.
Just tried that. I can move the ring finger without the pinky moving, but not the other way around. I have a lot to learn.

Adam, you should start your own blog/column with this stuff. It's great.
 

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Believe it or not, I can actually be serious sometimes!

When I first learned sweeping, I had a problem with my pinky flying up off the board to meet the top note on the high e string. It looked really bad, and I told myself that I needed to do something about it, because it wasn't going to be the most efficient way of becoming more proficient at sweeping, as well as other techniques.

There are also some other basic hand movements that can be practiced, even without a guitar that will help attain pinky independence.

This also sounds very simple and boring, but just taking your left hand and bending your first finger at the big knuckle down, then the middle finger, index, then pinky will let you immediately see how attached your pinky is to your index finger motion. 9 times out of 10 I see the pinky move down once the index finger is moved, and index with pinky. Using some jedi mind tricks can help to overcome the mutual agreement these two digits have with moving together.
It wasn't until I was about 15 that I learnt people have difficulty with that. I have almost complete independent movement in all my fingers for some reason or another. However the trade off is I can't actually bend my wrist back more than about 15 degrees.
 

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Is Actually Recording
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Now here's the trick. When you go to the A string from the E, only move your index finger to the 5th fret. Leave all other fingers on the board. Next, just move your middle finger, leaving the ring and pinky still on 7 and 8 of the E. Then move the index, leaving the pinky, and finally the pinky.
Jeez. That IS a good suggestion. :yesway:

Lee, if you're throwing your pinkie in the Boston Harbor, at least don't be a wanker and look me up for a beer before or after, I work like two blocks from the Harbor. Preferably after. The Harbor's a lot cleaner than it used to be, but... :ugh:
 

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Is Actually Recording
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Tell you what, if you promise to replicate that pose you did on that sofa with your 2027 for me, I'll buy you all the beer you can....actually, screw that.
I accept your challange.

Also, that was a CST, I think. :crooks:
 
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