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> This Question Is For All The Instructors..or As Many As Possible., pinky issues. need help.
FenderBeater
post Oct 30 2008, 07:19 AM
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Hello,

I have just ONE question and need help figuring something out.
I've been playing for 10 years now and I can play anything related to the pentatonic and as long as I practice things like SRV, etc it all comes rather easy but I want more and I'm getting desperate to the point where I'll sell all my equipment and guitars and just quit forever. I don't want to be stuck playing Rock Blues or Blues the rest of my life. Maybe I have no choice??

I can't use my pinky, i've tried it all, tons of exercises for pinky alone, my own made up torturing pinky exercises and nothing works. I've talked to a ton of people and teachers about this and have gotten no results. It's frustrating and I've wasted a good 2 years or so of playing just trying to improve my pinky. For about a year now all I've done is pinky exercises and I end up the same way every week. No improvement and a tired, weak pinky that loses control and stiffens up on me a couple of times a week. There's never any pain, NO PAIN, no signs of injury or anything else, nothing outside of fatigue. The only thing I can think of is that I'm grossly over training my hands or pinky thru so many exercises but how much is too much? Don't you have to practice exercises over and over to play like Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, etc, etc?

I do 10 exercises for 5 min. each using 1st, 3rd and 4th fingers and concentrate on ring and pinky. I do 5 with alternate picking and 5 more exercises using hammerons and pulloffs and by the end of the session my pinky is dead. I come back again for another session later on but this time I work on learning Flight Of The Bumblebee and a Michael Angelo Batio song but my pinky is so tired from the earlier workout that I can't play comfortably and I force it and end up with a torturing session. I can keep this up for 3 or 4 days and usually on the 5th day when I start my session, my pinky just won't respond. It stiffens up and it feels weak and I can't control it when I start doing 1,3 and 4 exercises once the 3rd finger hits the fret the pinky immediately locks up before I get to use it. I then have to take 1 to 3 days off because it's like that for a few days, then start the cycle all over, and over and over. It's been about a year of this with zero improvement and nothing but a fatigued pinky. I have no other issues, my picking hand is exellent, my vibrato and bends are perfect to pitch, etc, etc, it's just the pinky and it keeps me from learning to play things like Neo-Classical stuff or other pieces that utilize the pinky. Can you help or give me any advice?

I'm not a beginner and I've tried everything from supplements to gripmaster exercises. When my pinky is at it's weakest it sort of gets stiff, it straightens out right before I use it to fret a note and it also shakes sometimes. If I take a few days off it's fine and I can start again but as I said, it's always a vicious cycle.

Thanks.
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Dejan Farkas
post Oct 30 2008, 10:31 AM
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Hi there smile.gif

I developed one exercise for pinky:
https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/solo-guit...inger-work-out/
maybe you can give it a try and see if can help smile.gif

But, if you have no progress over a year, that only means that you do something in a wrong way smile.gif

I would really like to see it, do you have a possibility to record a video?


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Noangels
post Oct 30 2008, 12:15 PM
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Well it sounds like you have realy tried to use your pinky and you cant,perhaps you have a pinky that will never work how you want it!I know there are lots of players out there who hardly use ther pinky,and it doesnt realy harm their playing

SOunds strange to me as you have realy done a lot of work into getting it working as it should,you realy shouldnt be having any problems?Normaly pinky use comes naturaly with all scale shapes and arps used

If it still doeasnt work out for you,dont feel bad!By the sound of it you can play very well with vibrato and in pitch bends-If you realy want to you can added tapped notes to extend your scale shapes,give you wide interval licks,pedal licks,ect,ect.

The lack of pinky use can be worked around!


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Oct 30 2008, 12:16 PM
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Maybe you are pushing your pinky too hard so it stiffens up a bit? It would be best if you could send a small video sample of you playing so I can check out how your pinky actually works, and then we can recommend some exercises for it. Don't worry, everything is solvable, this is probably just another obstacle that you have to cross, look it that way.


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Gerardo Siere
post Oct 30 2008, 05:31 PM
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Yeah a small vid wuld hel us a lot, it is very important what part of the tip of the pinly your using and what angle, also that the pinky preasure come just from the big knuckle, If you dont do it this wat you will have to put your pinky in position and press with the whole hand, and that is very tired, also ther is the position of the whole arm/hand.


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FenderBeater
post Oct 30 2008, 06:33 PM
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QUOTE (Gerardo Siere @ Oct 30 2008, 05:31 PM) *
Yeah a small vid wuld hel us a lot, it is very important what part of the tip of the pinly your using and what angle, also that the pinky preasure come just from the big knuckle, If you dont do it this wat you will have to put your pinky in position and press with the whole hand, and that is very tired, also ther is the position of the whole arm/hand.


Thanks alot for the replies guys. biggrin.gif

I don't think this is about exercises any longer. Dejan Farkas, that little exercise you recommended, I've beaten to the ground since I found out a couple years ago it was a pedal point Yngwie uses to death. I've done that so many times I see it in my soup. I did it for at least 2 months straight day and night. I ended up with a sore and tired pinky that's all. Like always.

I think Ivan is right and that's what I've been thinking, that I'm doing too much and too hard but since I have no idea of how much is too much, I'm confused. The thing is that I can use my first 3 fingers and play for hrs on end and have no issues but as soon as I do 5-10 min of pinky work where the 3rd and 4th fingers are involved..it starts to happen.

I'll send a video but I must tell you, my form is good since it's been already checked out by many teachers, even classical teachers and they say I have a good form. Hopefully you guys could pick something up that I'm doing wrong.

Where do I send the video to?

thank you guys!

Oh sorry, one more thing. You say fret using the big knuckle? Well, that's how I tried it for a couple years and that was the natural way my hand curled on the fretboard, like most my pinky wouldn't curl like the other fingers but it curled enough. By not having the pinky FULLY curled/bent, that is, bent at the very last joint, it places the stress on the big knuckle (man, i've studied and tried almost everything trust me) so that's how I always fretted. Now, recently the last month or so, I tried curling my pinky ALOT and having it fully bent at the last joint and noticed that it had a little more strength that way and less stress on the base (big) knuckle. That's usually where the soreness or fatigue occurs just so you know, it's the base knuckle that's always sore.

This post has been edited by FenderBeater: Oct 30 2008, 06:41 PM
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Jose Mena
post Oct 30 2008, 06:49 PM
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Man, haven't heard of this before, maybe you are thinking about it too much, don't use the pinky for when not needed, that is my approach, If a certain lick doesn't require the use of the pinky, and I find it more comfortable to use the other 3, that is what I do.

Upload a video on this threat, playing something that requires the use of pinky, maybe don't try to do a crazy neo-classical piece, but something simple. I'd like to see what you are talking about.


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Oxac
post Oct 30 2008, 07:02 PM
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I actually have a couple of tips.

first, place your pinky on the string, do not push it down yet. Play the exercises this way, without fretting, just touch the string. Does your pinky get tired?

Then start to push down little by little untill you hear a clear sound, push any harder than that and you're overdoing it.

Try playing piano, start really slow, doing basslines mostly.

Other than that... Look at Marty Friedman, he has very small hands so he slides and skips strings to get great intervals instead. You could do the same but with only three fingers.

I don't think that you'll be able to do 3 nps pentatonics without a pinky but almost everything else is possible for you to do. You will however have to rewrite the fingering a little on everything, try to get good at tapping. Tapping could work as a substitute for the weak finger.

I mean, instead of the 14th fret, pull off to the 9th fret on the B string in for the love of god, maybe you should economy pick the 14th fret on the B string and 13th fret on the G-string. or just tap the 14th fret and release to the ninth.

If you can't solve a problem, work around it.

This post has been edited by Oxac: Oct 30 2008, 07:04 PM


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FenderBeater
post Oct 30 2008, 08:03 PM
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QUOTE (Oxac @ Oct 30 2008, 07:02 PM) *
I actually have a couple of tips.

first, place your pinky on the string, do not push it down yet. Play the exercises this way, without fretting, just touch the string. Does your pinky get tired?

Then start to push down little by little untill you hear a clear sound, push any harder than that and you're overdoing it.

Try playing piano, start really slow, doing basslines mostly.

Other than that... Look at Marty Friedman, he has very small hands so he slides and skips strings to get great intervals instead. You could do the same but with only three fingers.

I don't think that you'll be able to do 3 nps pentatonics without a pinky but almost everything else is possible for you to do. You will however have to rewrite the fingering a little on everything, try to get good at tapping. Tapping could work as a substitute for the weak finger.

I mean, instead of the 14th fret, pull off to the 9th fret on the B string in for the love of god, maybe you should economy pick the 14th fret on the B string and 13th fret on the G-string. or just tap the 14th fret and release to the ninth.

If you can't solve a problem, work around it.


Well, actually I have huge hands so I can reach a great span. I can do 3nps pentatonics with just my 3 fingers. I have a long pinky so I'd like to use it. biggrin.gif The only reason I'm set on using the pinky is because I've always been told that I have to and it's a must and the correct way. I do want to use it also since it's there and it does serve a purpose.

Here's the video. Notice just before I have to use the pinky how it sometimes stiffens up and it takes me about a sec to control it. Right now it's really sore from yesterday. I did a small lick at the end so you could see that I can play but I don't go any further because I haven't solved this issue. I actually get exellent results and pick up things rather quickly but everything's been put on hold until I solve this..if I ever will.


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Emir Hot
post Oct 30 2008, 08:19 PM
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I would really like to help but I don't know what advice I can give you. Looks like you're really trying hard. My pinky developed equaly the same as any other finger over the time. Each of my lessons are played using pinky wherever possible. I can agree with Ivan when he said that maybe you're pushing it too hard. Don't do most difficult exercises and stretches before you feel comfortable using piky within 4 frets. I would like to see the video of you playing so maybe I can give you some more advices.


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FenderBeater
post Oct 30 2008, 08:23 PM
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QUOTE (Emir Hot @ Oct 30 2008, 08:19 PM) *
I would really like to help but I don't know what advice I can give you. Looks like you're really trying hard. My pinky developed equaly the same as any other finger over the time. Each of my lessons are played using pinky wherever possible. I can agree with Ivan when he said that maybe you're pushing it too hard. Don't do most difficult exercises and stretches before you feel comfortable using piky within 4 frets. I would like to see the video of you playing so maybe I can give you some more advices.


I uploaded the video. Please look at it. (my last post before this one)

I'd play more using the pinky but it's beaten to death right now and I can barely fret. I did that small sample so you could see what goes on.
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berko
post Oct 30 2008, 08:57 PM
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OK, so what i would like to say to you is to RELAX. Firstly, why would you give up playing the guitar if you have technique, you have experience... secondly, even if this pinky-issue doesn't work, you'll find a way around it as people said it here before.

My advice on your training would be to start learning songs (or revise older ones that you know), and where you find a section you can use your pinky at, use it. If it is a repetitive part of the song, only use you pinky once or twice and then return to your original fingering. Try this with easy and straigt foreward pieces of music.

This approach helped me a lot when I was getting rid of (e.g) bad habbits. Your case isn't so, however, after 10 years i bet your other fingers are far more stronger and more well trained. Compared to them, it is hard to get your pinky to get suitable. Perhaps it will be hard, because the angle you held your fretting hand in throughout those years kinda prevents your tendonds running to your pinky to move properly.

According to my experiences, such a delicate part of human body as your arms and hands (AND FINGERS especially) will never fail you. They learn a lot of precise and soft movements; what they need is a sufficient amount of training. Don't push hard, don't betray your delicate tendons, because they will learn and get strong in time.

So try only in smaller steps and tell us here what you've developed biggrin.gif

Kepp on rockin, man cool.gif wink.gif

This post has been edited by berko: Oct 30 2008, 08:59 PM


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Emir Hot
post Oct 30 2008, 09:15 PM
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QUOTE (FenderBeater @ Oct 30 2008, 07:23 PM) *
I uploaded the video. Please look at it. (my last post before this one)

I'd play more using the pinky but it's beaten to death right now and I can barely fret. I did that small sample so you could see what goes on.


I have seen the video. 50mb for 1 min but ok smile.gif

I can see something weird. Every time you play a note with your pinky looks like you are pressing one fret ahead and slide down one fret to execute the right note. Why are you doing this? You already have that "lenght" of four frets in your hand, you don't need to push your pinky further. If you manage to get rid of this habit I hope you'll start to breath again. I just tried it on my guitar and I can't do it that way even if I want to smile.gif I would like to hear what others say also.


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Oxac
post Oct 30 2008, 09:17 PM
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one thing that I noticed is your movement. Look at your pinky, you're not curling it like the other fingers, you're keeping it stiff all of the time. Maybe you should try to mimic the other fingers movement with your pinky. Because now it's like stiff, going in a circular motion which seem pretty unefficient.


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FenderBeater
post Oct 30 2008, 09:45 PM
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QUOTE (berko @ Oct 30 2008, 08:57 PM) *
OK, so what i would like to say to you is to RELAX. Firstly, why would you give up playing the guitar if you have technique, you have experience... secondly, even if this pinky-issue doesn't work, you'll find a way around it as people said it here before.

My advice on your training would be to start learning songs (or revise older ones that you know), and where you find a section you can use your pinky at, use it. If it is a repetitive part of the song, only use you pinky once or twice and then return to your original fingering. Try this with easy and straigt foreward pieces of music.

This approach helped me a lot when I was getting rid of (e.g) bad habbits. Your case isn't so, however, after 10 years i bet your other fingers are far more stronger and more well trained. Compared to them, it is hard to get your pinky to get suitable. Perhaps it will be hard, because the angle you held your fretting hand in throughout those years kinda prevents your tendonds running to your pinky to move properly.

According to my experiences, such a delicate part of human body as your arms and hands (AND FINGERS especially) will never fail you. They learn a lot of precise and soft movements; what they need is a sufficient amount of training. Don't push hard, don't betray your delicate tendons, because they will learn and get strong in time.

So try only in smaller steps and tell us here what you've developed biggrin.gif

Kepp on rockin, man cool.gif wink.gif


Well, I'm not having any fun, I'm incredibly frustrated. When I pick my guitar up to play all I want to do is smash it and sell my gear since I can't do what I want to do. What's the point of taking up a challenge, goal or project if you can't reach it or accomplish it? That's just how I think, I have a huge flaw in that I'm a perfectionist. Actually, I make a perfectionist seem like a sloppy, half assed person. If I can't do it 100% it's not worth it to me. Then the frustration multiplies by 100 when I think that all these years I wasted all that time and it never got me closer to my goal and thinking back that in 2 years I've wasted doing just about every single exercise for the pinky and nothing. Then add to that the fact that I'm in limbo because I don't know what the problem is and neither does all the people I've talked to. Not knowing what a problem is and how to solve it is very frustrating. I take it out on my gf, my family, I don't want to go out and do anything.

In all honesty you guys will never understand how hard I've been trying and fighting this and how much it affects me. This is the only goal I've never reached in my life and partly because I don't know how to solve ONE, single, f'n problem. When I forget about it and decide to give it up at least I can accept that and live with the fact that it wasn't for me. The problem is that I don't know if it's something I can work out or not. I've been to doctors and they say there's nothing wrong with my hands. I don't want to do it half-assed with 3 fingers when just about everyone else does it with 4 and they don't have that issue. It's hard to explain man, but trust me, I'll be better off just saying screw it if I don't figure something out. There's no way in hell I'll stay interested if I know deep down that alot of techniques will be out of reach and I need those techniques to reach my goals. Last year I put it down for one week thinking I was burned out and then came back, same thing after the first day back and then I threw and broke one of the strats. I then decided to just play with 3 fingers and quickly lost interest and didn't play for a month and all was well. Something keeps calling me back though and I have to keep trying to use that pinky and end up like this all over again.

Now it's nothing but frustration every time I pick up the guitar and it's easy to say relax when I'm already past that point and have relaxed tons of times with no results. I've already tried everything adviced here and more, lots more. From stupid yoga that made me feel like a weirdo to breathing exercises to super light touch, playing everything with just the pinky, etc. etc. The only thing left is to try and back off like some of you already said. That's the only thing I haven't tried to do yet and do less instead of more.

Anyways, I just wanted to see if anyone encountered this and how they fixed it, if they did. If not then it's cool and thanks for at least trying to help me and for listening.


QUOTE (Oxac @ Oct 30 2008, 09:17 PM) *
one thing that I noticed is your movement. Look at your pinky, you're not curling it like the other fingers, you're keeping it stiff all of the time. Maybe you should try to mimic the other fingers movement with your pinky. Because now it's like stiff, going in a circular motion which seem pretty unefficient.


Right, that's the effect of the fatigue though. Earlier in the week I have it curled fine. Just to add something when I spoke to Paul Gilbert and Rusty Cooley they said (specially gilbert) that not curling the pinky all the way is very common and normal and Gilbert himself showed me how he does it the same way alot of times. A few others have said the same thing, "that's just your hand and how you fret". A teacher from MIT recommended to fret using not the tip of the fingers but the meat of the finger (as weird as that is, supposedly to mute better). Also, read above where I stated that over the last month or so I've been curling the pinky alot. In this example like I said, my pinky is already beaten down and tired so I CAN'T control it and had to fret that way for the video. Also, the height of the fingers or pinky in relation to the fretboard is a myth and if you see any of the top guys up close you'll see how damn far they come off the fretboard during alot of runs. Yngwie Malmsteen is ridiculous when it comes to that specially when he uses his pinky. I attend NAMN alot and get to see all those guys up close and personal and talk to them here and there.

QUOTE (Emir Hot @ Oct 30 2008, 09:15 PM) *
I have seen the video. 50mb for 1 min but ok smile.gif

I can see something weird. Every time you play a note with your pinky looks like you are pressing one fret ahead and slide down one fret to execute the right note. Why are you doing this? You already have that "lenght" of four frets in your hand, you don't need to push your pinky further. If you manage to get rid of this habit I hope you'll start to breath again. I just tried it on my guitar and I can't do it that way even if I want to smile.gif I would like to hear what others say also.


Again, that's the effect of the fatigue and not being able to control the pinky. I have no choice, it's very difficult to control when it's tired. When it's fresh then it's not an issue really.
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ItsMe
post Oct 30 2008, 09:48 PM
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While reading this at first I thought you might have a mild case of a focal hand dystonia.
But I guess you don't have cramps and your pinky doesn't move uncontrolled.
Anyway perhaps you can look into that. It looks like repetition of a movement increases the risk for dystonia. Musicians are statistically more affected than other people. Modern imaging technology of the brain revealed the following: Individual fingers occupy their own specific areas on the primary somatosensory cortex. Given that functions such as motor control cross over from the right side of the body to be represented in the left hemisphere fellow scientists found that the distance between the representations of individual fingers was smaller in the somatosensory cortex side corresponding to the hand that had undergone continued repetitious training (the left hand in case of right handed guitar players for example). In people that suffer from focal dystonia somehow, as these regions of representation begin to smear or overlap, the one-to-one correspondence is blurred. (Neuroreport. 1998 Nov 16;9 (16):3571-5 9858362).
Sometimes that involves only one digit of a finger. It gets uncontrollable and tends to cramp or just doesn't move as wanted. Good thing is, there are treatments and some affected musicians overcame the condition.
But I guess the symptoms are usually more severe than yours but that stiffening of your finger sounds a little bit like a symptom.
(sorry, beeing a scientist i always look for scientific explanations)

BTW check out this guy: Terry Syrek
he has problems with two of his fingers. They stiffen up shortly after he starts to play. He didn't have problems when he started out playing the guitar. But after some years it started

This post has been edited by ItsMe: Oct 30 2008, 10:03 PM


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Noangels
post Oct 30 2008, 11:16 PM
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I agree with emir,you have a bad habit of extending your pinky a half tone above the note your playing and shift it side ways to the target note?I wouldnt worry if you cant use your pinky,its no big deal.I have been playing now for 20 years or so and I have met a few guitarists who couldnt use thier pinky's too!there good musicians too,not like they have just started-When I looked at their pinky while playing it looked like their pinky would never play!lol

here is a great example of a great guitarist who hardly EVER uses his pinky!I swear you could cut it off and it wouldnt effect his playing in the slightest!Reb Beach

Dont worry about it,guitarists like Reb didnt worry and came up with lots of cool tapping licks!Its not the end of the world if you cant use your pinky-IMO your one of those few people who have dodgy Pinkys!Bit of a pain,but you can work around it

Just another quick observation I made while watching your vid clip again.when you where doing your cromatic 4 note per string exercise you also have a habit of bending the string up a microtone when you use your 3rd finnger!I can only think the reason you do this is your twisting your hand slightly towards you to make your pinky come down on the neck?


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superize
post Oct 30 2008, 11:28 PM
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I dont think that i can help with your problem but i must say that maybe your pinky cant get stronger..... I mean you have been training for over a year and it havent got stronge..... It is not impossible to play guitar without your pinky.....

As for myself i have a pretty strong pinky and always use it when playing solo... I cant see myself playing without it.

It dosent work.......

Hope you solve your problem


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Oxac
post Oct 30 2008, 11:36 PM
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Maybe it's not other guitarists opinions you need but a doctors..

This post has been edited by Oxac: Oct 30 2008, 11:41 PM


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Oct 31 2008, 12:33 AM
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Joined: 20-November 07
From: Belgrade, Serbia
Member No.: 3.341



Oxac he already went to several doctors are he write about it.


And as for you Fender Beater I kinda understand how you feel a bit. IMO you probably have some sort of physical disorder with your pinky. The question is are you aware of that?? I mean really. It sounds to me that you are letting this physical issue become mental issue. You shouldn't let yourself frustrate that much because you can't play well with your pinky, come on man, let's be honest a bit. You really destroyed a strat because you couldn't play good with your pinky? Now think about it and tell me is that a normal thing to do regardless of what you've been through with this pinky issue?? I think not.
IMHO, you should really try to control your frustration and enjoy the fact that you can play the guitar in general. Some people couldn't play guitars at all, some made great results with 2 fingers only. Now I don't know what is wrong with your pinky, you seem to move it quite strangely, but if that's the way you do it, then that's the way you do it. Accept it and try to make it better. All problems take time and patience to solve, and by destroying guitars and adding more and more frustration to yourself you will only make problem bigger not smaller mate.


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