Hopefully this belongs in the right place... it makes sense...

I have what I've always considered a rather unique problem in that I'm stuck with what seems to be a genetic birth defect in my family... a curved pinky. This is basically caused by an undeveloped bone that becomes wedge shaped as opposed to... well... straight. Now I use my pinky quite often in scales, riffs, chord shapes, etc so me not being able to use it is not necessarily the problem... however overuse is becoming an issue. I use to be concerned about using my pinky for this reason but that kind of leveled off as I began to use it more (in fact I've found on occasions that my curved pinky actually helps).

Tonight I started learning the song the Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot by Brand New and it requires open G type chord shapes with my pinky on the first string moving around to the 3rd and 5th fret but I also have to stretch with my 1st finger to reach (bad description, I know)... which causes problems bending my pinky in with the curve. After a while of practicing my pinky was in a lot of pain. I hope it's not correlated but I'm under the impression that my left pinky (I'm right handed) has bent slightly more in the 2 years that I've been playing guitar.

I'm not really sure what to do with this and was just wondering if any one had any ideas to work around this or experience with this type of issue. I don't want to be playing, especially live at a gig, and my pinky just hits a threshold and snaps (boom broken finger). I was once jokingly given the advice that I should have it purposely broken and straighten it out with a cast... but that sounds horrible... Plus it will be extremely weird for me to have a straight pinky (let alone one straight and one curved).

So should I try to keep practicing this song and hope the pain goes away after use (as that could be a problem), is there something I should try doing to help my problem, or should I see a doctor?
Even if I just need to use it more (even though I do use it quite a bit already) I still feel like it may be a major issue at some point down the road... and I'd rather deal with before that happens...

Thanks for any advice...

For the record:
just try to work around it as necessary and don't do anything that becomes painful

best I can come up with
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might be more comfortable to play the G as a barre chord, or skip the E and A strings out of the shape so you play a implied G as below, this means you can barre the 3rd fret on the e and B and use the 3rd finger to reach the 5th fret A (when needed)


not familiar with the song. and i`d only use this for this song or any similar circumstance, otherwise play the conventional G chord.
Take it easy and always stop if you get any pain. Over practicing can hurt your finger.

Try to build the strength over time, this way your finger will learn to play and you'll have the right muscles to support it.
Last edited by sergiu at Nov 4, 2009,
Quote by ibanezgod1973

not familiar with the song. and i`d only use this for this song or any similar circumstance, otherwise play the conventional G chord.

Well I guess I was kind of confusing when I tried to simplify it by referring to them as G-style chords but the chords are...


So there's no way to do a G chord with the 3rd fret of B string held down (which is how I normally always play my G chords) cause I need my first finger ready to hold down the 1st fret of the B string... same goes for the other chords. I guess my biggest problem is moving back and forth the 3rd and 5th frets on the 1st string. I'm assuming that when I try to slide into the position, the curve of pinky kinda pushes up the string a bit making it kinda difficult to hit that note and just bends my finger. But it's awkward to have to lift all your fingers and go into that Dadd11 chord on the 5th fret (well at least that's what they refer to it as in the tab I have). As far as barring the chord... I could potentially barre it and that 1 on the 2nd string becomes the C on the 3rd string... 5th fret... so it'd look like: 3-3-5-5-5-3. No idea if it'll sound good or not but I'll try it. The problem I foresee is that I'd be going from a barre chord into that Dadd11... before i just had to slide my fingers over and bring my 1st and 2nd finger down a string... I think it might just be worth it more to take my time with the original way.

But yes, I do agree with everything you guys have been saying so far about taking my time and building my strength.
Last edited by Physcosick at Nov 4, 2009,
i`m wondering if changing the tuning to open G might be better for you, then obviously you`d need to work out the new chord shapes (but it might eliminate some of the awkward stretches you are experiencing).

open G = (DGDGBD)
Last edited by ibanezgod1973 at Nov 4, 2009,
Just try to work around it... or through it... as much a possible... lot's of people don't even use there pinky that much anyway.

BTW: I saw Tony Iommi in concert (with Dio on vocals, not Ozzy) during the "Heaven and Hell" tour and his playing was awesome! I pulled this up for you for some inspiration...

About Tony Iommi (guitarist, Black Sabbath)

By 1967, Iommi had played with several blues-based rock bands, and formed a group (Earth) with three old acquaintances from his school days -- bassist Terry "Geezer" Butler, drummer Bill Ward, and signer John "Ozzy" Osbourne. But Iommi's musical career was nearly derailed prematurely when he suffered a horrible accident at a sheet metal factory, when a machine sliced off the tips of the fingers on his right hand. Depressed and figuring that his guitar playing days were behind him, a friend turned him onto gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt (who lost use of two fingers in a Gypsy caravan campfire accident), inspiring Iommi to give the six-string another go, with soft plastic tips attached to the ends of his fingers. Shortly thereafter, Iommi received a tempting offer to join Jethro Tull's band in 1968, which he reluctantly accepted. After only a single performance with Tull (playing the track "Song for Jeffrey" on the Rolling Stones' never-aired TV special "Rock & Roll Circus"), Iommi split from Tull to return back to his pals in Earth.

With another band already playing around England by the name of Earth, Iommi & co. were forced to change their name, taking "Black Sabbath" from the classic horror movie.
Last edited by Jammy Pige at Nov 4, 2009,
@ Jammy Pige: good stuff, thanks

@ ibanezgod: I've been trying to transpose and amazingly the tuning does great things for the first two chords because they become:


which is so much better... but it kind of goes a bit down hill from there... I'm gonna work with it a little bit but that D (3rd fret) on the B string of the 3rd chord I have above is just not working out well... I'm still gonna work on it and try to mess with the other chords to... just figured I'd mention it in case any one had some idea.
I am interested in hearing from players such as yourself, those with some physical reason making the guitar more challenging.

I read an article a long time back about Django Reinhardt and I am amazed how some players can come back from losing fingers etc.

Have you found that your hand has compensated in any way when you play? Or does your hand kind of 'cheat' at certain moves or stretches?
Well I don't really know what you mean by cheat... but I don't think my hand has compensated in any way like a blind person having better sight. I can do most things normally with it and sometimes during scales and riffs the curve actually helps me hit a note properly (especially with high frets that have less distance between them) but it certainly makes things challenging that require a longer reach. I have relatively short fingers compared to most people I know... my pinky technically is proportional I guess... though the curve kind of forces it to act shorter than it is. I definitely try to use my pinky more than the average person cause I try to put myself in situations where my finger is actually beneficial.. or at least not a handicap. Where as anything else like the chromatic scale up on the 1st-4th frets I have to kind of move my hand over some to the right to be able to get close to the 4th fret. then move back to the left to get the 1st fret... it's kind of annoying since I have to do a bit more work but I tend to try to stay away from using my pinky too much when it comes to those frets but I can if needed. It's really only a major problem when I try to learn other people's songs that require more.... efficient pinkies...
I had a go at trying to play again after having all the fingers of my left hand cut off in an accident.
I had all but the 3rd one reimplanted, but they have very limited mobility.
After a while struggling with this I decided it was time to start over again as a lefty.
Maybe this could work for you!

The fretting hand is slowly coming together now, but I've got to admit that my picking needs a lot of work.
(My strumming is that bad that I'm loathe to actually practise it!)

Try it out, and see if it's any better.

Good luck :-)
Right handed guitarist trying to learn to play lefty after a ten year break, and a severe left-hand injury!

Wish me luck ;-)
Quote by RmB303
I had a go at trying to play again after having all the fingers of my left hand cut off in an accident.
I had all but the 3rd one reimplanted, but they have very limited mobility.
After a while struggling with this I decided it was time to start over again as a lefty.
Good luck :-)


I wish you all the luck in the World mate. Amazing.
dude i have the same "problem" i can bend the top part of my pinky almost 90 degrees back. its akward but you will get used to it over time