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A little help needed.

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Defualt User ImageWornFrets
6:27 pm Thursday
December 20, 2007
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hello,

I have only one question since everything else comes with practice for me (including speed) but there's one thing that I have problems with. I need to build up my pinky finger. I've been playing for about 10 years and I can play Rock/Blues but for pieces or solos using classical licks (Neo-Classical etc) you must use the pinky alot and I just can't seem to get it to par with the other fingers.

I do a ton of pinky exercises such as up and down the strings using only 3-4 fingering but since I practice between 2-4 hrs a day..all that pinky work really fatigues my pinky and it gets sore after 2 days of heavy pinky exercises. It gets so fatigued, tired and sore that I have to take 3 days off before I can grab any frets again with my pinky. It's not an injury because I can tell the difference and it always goes away with rest but it's really annoying getting good and making great progress for a few days and then I have to take a rest. Do you have any advice for me? That's the only issue I seem to have, a weak pinky keeping me from playing the way I want to play and it doesn't seem to get stronger.

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. I've asked teachers before but I guess they've been playing so long that the only thing they remember about this is, to practice and keep practicing. Like I said I practice 2-4 hrs a day and it's been alomost a year I believe since I started to concentrate on the pinky but not getting much results. It's very frustrating since I seem to get exellent results from everything else that I practice hard on and that I stick to except this. Having a strong pinky is a must for me and for what I want to do.

Thanks in advance.
User Imagejeremy
12:22 am Friday
December 21, 2007
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This one dude posted this exercise once and I do this one every day now. It trains me to keep all of my fingers onboard at all times and it also strengthens my pinky a little bit. Try it out:
Quote From dkaplowitz:

E string: 1-2-3-4
A string: 1-2-3-4
D string: 1-2-3-4, etc., etc.

But instead of playing it normally (or as fast as possible), you gently hold all 4 fingers down on 1-2-3-4 of the E string. Then, with only moving one finger at a time, fret the A string 1 just at the very moment you are plucking the string, then stop.

Then with the rest of the fingers still not moving (all are lightly holding their positions over A string 1 and E string 2-3-4), do the same with the A string 2 (with your middle finger). Move it onto the fret just as the string's being plucked.

In fact, the objective is to only move each finger to the target fret at the precise moment the pick is attacking the string -- so in other words, move it into place only exactly when needed. Do this up and down the fingerboard...never moving a finger except the one that's going to the next fret on the next string.

It's an exercise that's meant to be done with a relaxed left hand, with no metronome, and to be done as slowly as possible --- and for no more than say 5 minutes a day.
User ImageMike Lindyn
1:58 pm Friday
December 21, 2007
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Hi WornFrets,

Long painful exercise sessions are rarely the answer to a playing weakness. Workouts are a great idea but limit them to ten or twenty minutes a day and do them EVERYDAY. Its MUCH better to do short workouts everyday than it is to do long workouts followed by days of no practice. Also if you are causing pain you are not helping yourself. Make sure your technique is correct and that you are not pressing too hard on the strings.

As to your pinky...

When I place my hand on the fretboard I think of each position as being 5 frets. The first fret it assigned to my first finger the second and third frets are assigned to my second and ring fingers but the 4th and 5th fret of every position is assigned to my pinky. So in a way my pinky is responcable for more than my other fingers.

Stop thinking of your pinky as anything special... Its just another finger that can do anything all the rest of them can do. So since its just another finger start incorporating it into anything you do.

The only thing that my pinky can't do as well as my other fingers is bend the strings. Other than that it does everything thing else. The reason its like that is I ALWAYS USE IT. For everything. Chords, licks, scales, songs, riffs, whatever. The pinky gets used just like all the other fingers because its just another finger.

Keep it up I'm sure you can get it.
Defualt User ImageWornFrets
5:15 pm Friday
December 21, 2007
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Quote From Mallard:
This one dude posted this exercise once and I do this one every day now. It trains me to keep all of my fingers onboard at all times and it also strengthens my pinky a little bit. Try it out:
Quote From dkaplowitz:

E string: 1-2-3-4
A string: 1-2-3-4
D string: 1-2-3-4, etc., etc.

But instead of playing it normally (or as fast as possible), you gently hold all 4 fingers down on 1-2-3-4 of the E string. Then, with only moving one finger at a time, fret the A string 1 just at the very moment you are plucking the string, then stop.

Then with the rest of the fingers still not moving (all are lightly holding their positions over A string 1 and E string 2-3-4), do the same with the A string 2 (with your middle finger). Move it onto the fret just as the string's being plucked.

In fact, the objective is to only move each finger to the target fret at the precise moment the pick is attacking the string -- so in other words, move it into place only exactly when needed. Do this up and down the fingerboard...never moving a finger except the one that's going to the next fret on the next string.

It's an exercise that's meant to be done with a relaxed left hand, with no metronome, and to be done as slowly as possible --- and for no more than say 5 minutes a day.


That's worthless for pinky strength. Trust me I've been doing it for 10 years. Laughing
Defualt User ImageWornFrets
5:37 pm Friday
December 21, 2007
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Quote From lindyn:
Hi WornFrets,

Long painful exercise sessions are rarely the answer to a playing weakness. Workouts are a great idea but limit them to ten or twenty minutes a day and do them EVERYDAY. Its MUCH better to do short workouts everyday than it is to do long workouts followed by days of no practice. Also if you are causing pain you are not helping yourself. Make sure your technique is correct and that you are not pressing too hard on the strings.

As to your pinky...

When I place my hand on the fretboard I think of each position as being 5 frets. The first fret it assigned to my first finger the second and third frets are assigned to my second and ring fingers but the 4th and 5th fret of every position is assigned to my pinky. So in a way my pinky is responcable for more than my other fingers.

Stop thinking of your pinky as anything special... Its just another finger that can do anything all the rest of them can do. So since its just another finger start incorporating it into anything you do.

The only thing that my pinky can't do as well as my other fingers is bend the strings. Other than that it does everything thing else. The reason its like that is I ALWAYS USE IT. For everything. Chords, licks, scales, songs, riffs, whatever. The pinky gets used just like all the other fingers because its just another finger.

Keep it up I'm sure you can get it.


I understand all of that and I do all of that and have been for years but your advice on not working out for longer than 20 min or so seems interesting.

I know the best players concentrated on specific exercises for strength when starting out and I've spoken with a few of the top guys that have told me to concentrate on the weak links but what I need to know is HOW MUCH work should I do. I don't have pain from injury so that's not even a concern. It's fatigue which is normal and expected but the strength doesn't seem to come for the pinky or at least it comes and goes which is strange. That's possibly due to the layoffs, again don't forget I can play it's just that like many I was always a Pentatonic and Blues player where my pinky took naps. I'm ready for more now since I make exellent progress these days (except with the pinky) .

I appreciate the advice, I really do but it gets frustrating hearing the same thing for 10 years and it's not what works. For example I never hear anything on very important things such as approach ob actually grabbing the guitar neck. The classical approach is bull and it possibly leads to more strain than the typical Blues/Rock grip. Have you noticed ALL the top guys play? What do they all have in common when it comes to grip on the neck? It's not the so called proper grip you described and others have been describing for years.

Watch P. Gilbert, Petrucci, Yngwie, Eric Jonson etc and watch their approach. Going by what's taught and by what you said above it's 100% incorrect but it's not true. Just watch all the top guys grab the guitar when they play. There's alot more that's not being said and I've watched some of these guys at namm or gigs warming up and the last thing they do is normal exercises. They don't need to concentrate on weak fingers because they have NONE but I'd like to know only two things.

How they actually grip and what they did for the weak areas and how long is a reasonable time to expect the results because they ALL had pain and played with pain. I never met a top guy that didn't play with pain so this is way overrated. I'm talking pain from fatigue and soreness though as it's obvious you should not play with INJURY pain. You should always play thru soreness and fatigue pain when possible. All this I know because I've watched them and my last teacher is one of the great ones as far as technique. The thing was he couldn't explain the specific questions.

I'm going to try to hammer my pinky to death 3 times a day and see what happens in about 6 months to a year. What the hell maybe i just answered my own question. Roll Eyes

Thanks for the advice though i know you're trying to help. Thumbs Up
User Imagejeremy
10:50 pm Friday
December 21, 2007
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I guess some things work for some but not for others. That exercise that I posted totally improved my pinky strength and dexterity. I play for 4+ hours every day. The pros play way longer than that. That's why they can own the neck like they do.
User Imagejeremy
8:08 pm Wednesday
January 2, 2008
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This kind of question (improving pinky strength) always intrigues me. Because the answer is so simple. If you want to improve something then do it. Unless you're physically incapable of doing it. End of story.
User Imagebeerzerker
1:28 am Thursday
June 12, 2008
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I would suggest that you go slow and create your own things [exercises or whatever] to play that work all of your fingers in ways that are fun and challenging but feel right and aren´t too weird or uncomfortable. You´ll find that some ideas you come up with just aren´t very useful or are just painful while others will be pretty good and challenge you in different ways whether you apply vibrato or work your picking hand or whatever. And then you will come up with some that are more personalized or based on some familiar themes or childhood songs or whatever. Sometimes I just try to come up with as many Slayer-esque type finger-twisting riffs as I can for 20 minutes. Stuff like that can turn up some cool and unique finger exercises or even some cool riffs. But in order for those cool riffs to be original cool song ideas you´ll have to rework them a bit to get them to sound a bit less Slayer-esque. Scared Guitar Thumbs Up Puppy Eyes

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