Little finger, ring finger inter connectivity

mungocherry

Member
Messages
8
I'm getting back into playing after a long layoff due to shoulder injury. I have a physical problem with my fretting hand that an article in GP magazine said affects approx. 10% of players. When I move my little finger toward my palm, my ring finger goes with it. This is not the case with my picking hand. This doesn't affect single note playing as much as with 4 note chords where my little finger seems to have a mind of its own and doesn't always hit the fret squarely. I w noticed this while play 9th chord on strings 1-4, frets 6-8.
Is anybody else hampered by this and does anyone have any suggestions to deal with this or offer a work-around? It hampers my ability to change chords quickly, and to say the least frustrating. It also prevents me from wearing my slide on my little finger as the slide hits the fingerboard when I try to fret with my other fingers. That I can deal with by putting the slide on another finger.
Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

Greg
 

OOG

Member
Messages
3,291
It affects quite a few more than 10%
The ring and pinky share a tendon
Learned this when my hand was broken 12 years ago at the joint where my ring connects to my right hand
Major drag for a finger picker
Couple of screws, a coral "bone graft", and doc + pt got me back to 90/95% pre accident
Not bad for a guy in his 50's

Best non-musical exercise I've come across for this is
Ring on 6th string 1st fret then pinky 6th st 2nd fret
Same on strings 5,4,3,2,1
Move pinky to 3rd fret 1st string and play that note (G) then ring plays 2nd fret 1st string
Same on strings 2,3,4,5,6
Next move ring to 6th string 3rd fret then pinky 4th fret and go up all 6 strings again
Go up an down the neck this way
 

mungocherry

Member
Messages
8
Thanks OOG, I'll try that out. At one point I had considered playing left-handed since my right hand pinky and ring finger aren't affected like the left hand fingers, but I quickly nixed that idea as it felt too odd, and I figured I was just too old to change at this point in my life as I'm in my 50's.
 

stevel

Member
Messages
14,928
Schumann, the composer, who was also a pianist, designed a contraption of some sort (so the story goes) to work his ring and pinky fingers to increase independence. He was on his way to becoming one of the greatest pianists ever. Then this contraption, or overworking tore up his hand and ended his playing career (which in some ways may be seen as a blessing by some because he then concentrated more on composition).


I'd be careful about "self-diagonising" like this (GP not being an accredited medical journal).

I'd also be careful about "blaming" something that might not be the root of the problem. This, in my non-medical opinion is the way it is. In fact, it may be your picking hand is weird! But you're trying to shortcut the issue. Switching hands is not going to help you.


If I move my pinky towards my palm, the ring finger follows. Either hand. If I put a slide on my pinky, I don't like it. I don't do it. I use slide on my middle finger and have developed my (albeit rudimentary) slide technique around that.

To be honest, I don't mind my ring "following along" with my pinky or vice versa as so many chord forms utilize the pair together (power chord with the upper octave is the basic "two move as one" shape for me).

That said, if your finger independence is not as good as it could be, yes I agree with the above - independence exercises.

These could take the form of single note exercises like that above, or chord or partial chord playing exercises.

Try junk like this:

4
5
2
2
(0)
x

to

5
4
2
3

(AMaj7 to F7)

I do, up and down each string, starting on the higher frets on the high E working my way down to the low E in one position, then working my way down the neck (this starts you relaxed and stretches a bit in each position, the stretches further "width" towards the lower frets as they get wider apart):

12
23
34

and

21
32
43

13
24
14

31
42
41

as well as (in triplets)

E 121 - B 212 - G 121 etc.
232 - 323 etc.
343 etc.

131
141
etc.

Every possible combination so all fingers get worked equally.

In addition to other independence exercises using groups of 3 and 4 fingers:

123
231
312

1232
2321
3212
2123

1234
2341
3412
4123

etc.

There are many "spider" exercises to help build finger independence.

You're going to have to work it. And not do it so much as to damage it. But I think it's completely normal, or at least more normal than GP is leading readers to believe.

Doesn't work in 9th chords? Play 9th chords a different way or with different fingers.

Many people can lay their ring finger flat and barre with it. I can't.

Many people play

5
7
7
7
5
x

with

1
3
3
3
1

fingers.

They do 9ths the same way. I can't. I do this 9th:

5
5
5
4
5
x

with

4
4
3
1
2

I play this:

x
7
7
7
5
x

with

x
4
4
3
1

(pinky barre on the upper two notes of both shapes).

I have to play
5
7
7
7
5

with

1
4
3
2
1

So you may just have to work out different fingerings.

If it truly is an issue for you, look at Django Reinhardt. But honestly, I think what you're experiencing a natural thing (unless it's far more severe then you're indicating) and like all of us, you either just work it till it works right, or work around it.

Steve
 

ShawnH

Member
Messages
1,387
You mean there are people whose ring finger doesn't move with the little finger?? I'm not sure that is physically possible - shared tendon and all.
 

MisterTV

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,058
You mean there are people whose ring finger doesn't move with the little finger?? I'm not sure that is physically possible - shared tendon and all.
Thank you, I was thinking the same thing.

Holding the ring finger in place with my other hand, I can move my pinky maybe a quarter of the way to the open palm. That's when the tendon pain tells me its not a good idea to go any further.
 

RLD

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,098
I get the "little finger toward palm brings the ring finger".
But why can I move my ring finger towards my palm and the pinky stays put?
Rhetorical question really...
In other word, that's just the way the human hand works is my guess.
 

amstrtatnut

Member
Messages
12,827
My deal is when using ring finger for fast petatonic stuff my pinky curls and tightens both fingers. My hand often stays more relaxed if I am able to do whatever it is with pinky instead of ring.

Just one of those things I guess.
 

mungocherry

Member
Messages
8
Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful responses. They were very helpful. Just to reiterate one point, on my right hand my ring finger doesn't start to move until my pinky is approx. 1/4 inch away from my palm. I'm gonna quit worrying about it and find different ways to play certain things. Hopefully this helps me develop my own style.
 

blueworm

Member
Messages
3,207
But why can I move my ring finger towards my palm and the pinky stays put?
Is it just me who think the OP seems to have that exact problem ? i.e. not the ring finger going with the pinky but the opposite ?

You might try some exercises where your pinky frets a note or two, stays like that and with your other fingers you play single notes around and you alternate picking fingers/pinky positions e.g. on a pentatonic scale pattern or something else. You could also work out chord progressions that involves permutation of pinky / ring fingers. There's many of them for jazz. VERY slowly at first to figure out what is the natural way for your fingers to go from one position to the other. You might realize that there are some "blocking" moves that you want to avoid, thus moving one specific finger before another works much better than the opposite - or maybe come up with different fingerings.
 

Seraphine

Member
Messages
3,600
hmmmm... Apparently my ring finger doesn't pull my little one, yet my little one seems to pull the ring, yet just a tad... not much. There seems to be some margin for how much it pulls the ring finger and mine is non-affecting ( for playing )... I would guess this margin can be stretched without damage, so some independence can be worked on without too much worry of dis-ease or damage for those with little margin between the two fingers.

I have worked at strengthening the little finger since the beginning, without doing damage and maybe it's just using it more that will stretch the difference... Working with it.

Would be interesting what a Medical ( and specifically Music or Sport related ) specialist has to say about this.

Good Luck... I figure it can be worked with and an improvement will come with the focus you are giving it now.
 

ShawnH

Member
Messages
1,387
hmmmm... Apparently my ring finger doesn't pull my little one, yet my little one seems to pull the ring, yet just a tad... not much. There seems to be some margin for how much it pulls the ring finger and mine is non-affecting ( for playing )... I would guess this margin can be stretched without damage, so some independence can be worked on without too much worry of dis-ease or damage for those with little margin between the two fingers.
I never really cared too much about this before this thread. But I have just noticed that the ring pulls the middle ever so slightly and the middle pulls the pointer even less but it does. And just as others are mentioning the opposite (i.e. middle pulling ring) is not true.

So I'm sure someone familiar with the anatomy of the hand could explain it. It doesn't seem to interfere with playing and I'm not sure you can really change it - but it is interesting.
 

Teal_66

Member
Messages
3,303
About a month ago, I saw a Tim Miller video where he mentions how important it is to keep your fingers close to the fretboard for speed, and also, to prevent a "hammering" of the string because of the distance traveled by the fingers to get to the string.

This was great until I got to my pinky. I have, for the last month, really been focusing on that finger with any exercise or chord. No set pattern, but using the pinky. After a month, my pinky accuracy has really improved. After reading the post, I thought "Oh no! I'm one of the 10% afflicted" - but no - it's normal.

The pinky takes a lot of use to get it to act truly independently. I can attest to the fact that it has improved just by using it more, and really focusing on its height from the string. Sometimes, I just can't avoid the pinky being higher. I just think that's the way the tendons work in the hands.

If you really want to see some SERIOUS pinky mastery - look at this video around the 31 second mark - and focus on the pinky. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YNoPecFBO8
 

RLD

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,098
There are also lots of players, Guthrie and Holdsworth for instance, who tend to let their pinky fall away from the fretboard when not using it.
Not saying working on keeping it close isn't a worthwhile effort, just that it's not a prerequisite for fast or accurate playing.
 




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