Powering Up Your Pinky

author: virtualetters date: 10/07/2008 category: for beginners
rating: 9.5 / votes: 22 
As an ace guitarist, you're adept with your hands. The dexterity of any of your fretting fingers is greater than that of the average person's entire body. Except, well, for that one rebellious one at the edge that sticks out as if you're drinking tea in the Queen's company. Yes, even if you occasionally utilize your pinky, I'd wager that your forgotten fourth finger spends a considerable amount of time hanging in space, vainly trying to avoid contact with your other digits. It may be small, weak and reluctant. It may have an incredibly effeminate name. Regardless, that one finger can mean the difference between an average technical ability and an astounding one. The first item on the agenda shall be coaxing cooperation out of your pinky. Try playing some simple single-note melodies using only your second, third, and fourth fingers and don't shy away from stretching. Fig 1 and Fig 2 show transcriptions of children's songs, but feel free to learn a few more. Work your speed up with them and, for the sake of your dignity, avoid practicing where others can hear your delinquent digit at work. Fig 1: Three Blind Mice (fingering below tablature)
e|------------------------------------------------------|
B|------------------------------------------------------|
G|------------------------------------------------------|
D|------------------------------------------------------|
A|--2-0-----2-0--------0000-2-0-------------------------|
E|------3-------3--3333---------3-----------------------|
    3   4   3   4  4444      3  4
Fig 2: Yankee Doodle
E|--------0---0---------0-----------0-1-0------------------------------------|
B|--1-1-3---1---3-1-1-3---1-0-1-1-3-------3-1-0-----0-1-1--------------------|
G|----------------------------------------------0-2--------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
   2 2 4   2   4 2 2 4   2   2 2 4    2 4 2      3    2 2

E|------------------------------------------------------0----------|
B|----0-------0-1----------------0------0-1-----1-0-3-1-1----------|
G|--2---2-0-2-----0-2-0------0-2---2-0-2----2-0--------------------|
D|----------------------3-2----------------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
     3   3   3   2  3    4 3  3     3   3  2 3    2   4 2 2
More than likely, as you played through those examples, you found that your pinky held up the progress a bit. Is it slower? Probably not as much as you're inclined to think. The reason your pinky is falling behind is apt to be the distance it has to travel. Try to consciously keep your fourth finger close to the fretboard as you play through fig 3, and feel free to fashion a few of your own chromatic pinky workouts. Fig 3:
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
G|-------------------------7-8----8-7------------------------------|
D|----------------7-8---------------------8-7----------------------|
A|--------7-8--------------------------------------8-7-------------|
E|---5-6------5-6-----5-6-------------6-5-----6-5------6-5---------|
     1 2 3 4  1 2 3 4 1 2  3 4   4 3  2 1 4 3 2 1  4 3 2 1
Now that your pinky has become acquainted with use, it's again time for a depressing reality check. Try to trill with your third and fourth fingers, as in fig 4, then work through the bending in fig 5. Fig 4:
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------7h8p7h8p7h8p7---------|
D|-------------------------------7h8p7h8p7h8p7-----------------------|
A|-----------------7h8p7h8p7h8p7-------------------------------------|
E|---7h8p7h8p7h8p7---------------------------------------------------|
     3 4 3 4 3 4 3 3 4 3 4 3 4 3 3 4 3 4 3 4 3 3 4 3 4 3 4 3
Fig 4:
E|----------10----------10-12--------10-12-13^15--------|
B|-------------13^15----------13^15---------------------|
G|------------------------------------------------------|
D|------------------------------------------------------|
A|------------------------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------------------------|
           1  4         1  3 4       1  3  4
It's likely you've found that your pinky's disadvantageous positioning was not it's only weakness, that it's involvement in trills and bends makes for thoroughly pathetic sound. The issue of bending can be remedied relatively easily: if you are not already, use your third finger to assist in the bend. Place it on the fret behind your weakling digit and use it for powering and controlling the bend. The pinky's terrible trills cannot be alleviated quite so simply, though. A lack of flexibility and coordination may restrict you from hammering onto the optimum place. Experimentation and exercises such as Fig 5 will be helpful in this regard. Unfortunately, the pinky is also weak in addition to it's lack of coordination and flexibility. Figs 4 and 5 are worthy drills for developing fourth finger strength and it's straightforward enough to come up with more. As Steve Vai has said in reference to his elaborate guitar workouts, If it feels difficult, you should probably practice it. Fig 5:
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------7h9p7h10p7h8p7---------|
D|-------------------------------7h9p7h10p7h8p7-----------------------|
A|-----------------7h9p7h10p7h8p7-------------------------------------|
E|---7h9p7h10p7h8p7---------------------------------------------------|
     3 4 3 4 3 4 3 3 4 3 4 3 4 3 3 4 3 4 3 4 3 3 4 3 4 3 4 3
Finally, for those still not convinced of the potential of their pinky, work through fig 6, 7, and 8, which display just a few of the instances when a powerful pinky is a valuable asset to your left hand's arsenal. Fig 6:
E|--17p12h14h15h17p12h14h15h17p12h14h15-----------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------17p12h14h15h17p12h14h15h17p12h14h15^17ZYABLA~HUYABLA-----|
G|------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
Fig 6:
E|----------------------------8-----------------------------------|
B|---------------8------------8-----------8-----------------------|
G|---------------7------------5-----------7-----------------------|
D|---------------6------------------------6-----------------------|
A|---------------7------------------------7-----------------------|
E|-------0--0---------0--0---------0--0----------00-3-5----------|
Fig 7:
E|---------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---8-----------------9---8-----8---8-----------8ZYABLA~HUYABLA~------------|
G|---7-----------------7---8-----7---7--------8ZYABLA~HUYABLA~---------------|
D|---6-----------------9---8-----8---6------8ZYABLA~HUYABLA~-----------------|
A|--------------6-8----8---------6-------------------------------|
E|---6---6-8-10------------8---------6----8ZYABLA~HUYABLA~-------------------|
More virtualetters lessons:
+ The Pentatonic Scale Scales 09/19/2008
Comments
Your captcha is incorrect