#1
Hello, I am 28 years old. I have always wanted to learn to play but when I was a kid and tried to get lessons I was told that there was no way I could learn to play due to the fact that I am missing my left ring finger.

I just recently bought my little hirl her first guitar and now I would like to get one for myself. LOL Other than a left handed guitar is it possible to play with only three fingers. I have tried holding guitars backward and it just doesn'tfeel comfortable, so I would like to know from experianced players if it would be possible to learn to play a right handed guitar with only three fingers.

Thank you,

Deven
#2
Of course you can play will 3 fingers. Obviously it will be harder than 4 fingers, but it still possible. Take a look at Django Reinhardt. He only had 2 good fingers. His ring finger and pinky were mostly paralyzed. Or Chris Poland. His index finger can't really bend much at all and he still shreds with his other 3 fingers.
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
#4
Work on your pinky a lot. It will have to be very strong to take the place of the ring finger. And also try to stretch out your middle finger and index finger. Work on some open chords and stuff. Take a look at the lessons here on UG.
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
#6
I don't know why you're objecting to a left handed guitar but it will be possible to use 3 fingers.
I'd work on learning to stretch the middle finger a fair distance from the index finger (whilst still keeping the pinky in a usable position), other than that you're probably going to be working out your own ways to play certain chords. A fair few people use index and pinky for root 5 power chords so that's probably something you want to do.
Speed is a by-product of shut the fuck up.
#7
My finger is completly gone. I'm only opposed to a left handed guitar because when I hold them they just don't feel right for lack of better words.
#8
Thats actually badass man.

If you can learn to play guitar, WITHOUT A DOUBT you can, thats gonna be something to brag about with only 3 fingers.
Fire it up, let the engines roll!
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#10
I know you say it doesnt feel right to play lefty, but if you arent an experienced guitarist already, I really think that the discomfort youll bear while getting used to lefty is far better than playing with 3 fingers, because you will get used to playing lefty after a while and you will not be handicapped in any way then
#11
What is tapping? I can see your point and I probably would get used to it, but I don't know. I guess I could try it, I would rather find a way to learn with a right hand though, more bragging rights. LOL
#12
Whoever told you you can't play guitar because you have three fingers, serisiously, find them, and punch them in the face.

There are people who are missing their arms, and still play guitar with their feet (not joking), and they're real accomplished guitarists. The only thing holding you back from playing guitar with three fingers is you. I honestly believe you can pull off playing with 3 fingers, and be better than a lot of people who play guitar. Half of the guitarists on youtube don't even use their pinky when they play anyways, so I think you can probably play just fine with three fingers.

The only possible "handicap" I can think of with you having three fingers is playing chords which require 4 fingers, but you can easily get around that by messing around with different open chord tunings (you'll learn that later on, for now just learn as much chords as you can physically play)

Also, I don't think you should try and learn lefty guitar at all, if its not comfortable for you, then its not gonna work.
#13
I saw a homeless guy playing guitar with no arm.... you can play fine with 3 fingers. Go at it man. Show people wrong.
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#14
Quote by DevenMichaels
My finger is completly gone. I'm only opposed to a left handed guitar because when I hold them they just don't feel right for lack of better words.

But remember when you first picked up a righty? did that feel right? took me a long time to feel comfortable holding a guitar.
What you have to ask yourself is in 1 year, what will limit you more? a missing finger or adjusting to a slightly more uncomfortable position?
If that answer is hard then I'll ask you another, what about 2 years?
and 3?

I expect you'll be used to a lefty after 3 months but 3 years? you won't have any disability at all.
Been in Japan since August, no fucking money left!
#15
if you do go with a right, just work on trying to make your other fingers do what the ring finger would normally do. barre chords might be kinda hard. i think you could do it tho
#16
Quote by DevenMichaels
My finger is completly gone. I'm only opposed to a left handed guitar because when I hold them they just don't feel right for lack of better words.

If I recall Jimi Hendrix is a righty, but he could only afford a lefty they had at some pawn shop so he trained himself to play lefty.

I'm not a huge Jimi fan so I could be wrong, but I remember hearing that somewhere.
Last edited by naedauuf at Dec 30, 2009,
#17
^jimi hendrix is a lefty. he bought a right handed guitar cause the lefty's were too expensive. he strung it upsidedown so it was like he was playing lefty
#18
Quote by dlguitarmaster7
^jimi hendrix is a lefty. he bought a right handed guitar cause the lefty's were too expensive. he strung it upsidedown so it was like he was playing lefty

Oh yea, that sounds more right lol
#23
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3iSiij98VY

Phil Keaggy is missing a finger too and he is a virtuoso of many styles (including fingerstyle!)

Contrary to popular belief, you are only as limited on the guitar as your imagination and desire to practice and learn.
Isolation is a gift. All the others are a test of your endurance.
#24
after being badly burnt Django Reinhardt had ony two usable fingers, you just need to learn to adapt.....a good quality teacher who can recognise whatever problems you might encounter and help you work around them is going to be essential in your case.
#25
Quote by GaijinFoot
But remember when you first picked up a righty? did that feel right? took me a long time to feel comfortable holding a guitar.
What you have to ask yourself is in 1 year, what will limit you more? a missing finger or adjusting to a slightly more uncomfortable position?
If that answer is hard then I'll ask you another, what about 2 years?
and 3?

I expect you'll be used to a lefty after 3 months but 3 years? you won't have any disability at all.


Agreed. Go with a lefty. However if you're doing this for bragging rights then do whatever you want, you will end up quitting soon anyway.
#26
I would say you can definitely do it, and I would play right handed. Open chords will not be a problem (most are 2 or 3 fingers). Power chords will be fine with index and pinky. Relatively compact 2 and 3 note per string scales will be fine. You'll have to learn to bend with your pinky, but that's doable. Some barre chords will be trouble, but most of them have a doubled octave that you can just drop. All triad forms will be fine. Thumb-over-the-neck fretting and muting will help in some cases.

All in all I don't see THAT much trouble ahead.

You might also look at playing slide, although I wouldn't do it exclusively.
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Last edited by Even Bigger D at Dec 30, 2009,
#27
you could tune to a open chord, although that would make playing along with your daughter a bit confusing for both of you during the early stages.
#28
i'd suggest going with playing lefty
the disadvantage of missing a finger is much greater than being a bit uncomfortable to start with
#29
I would also strongly recommend starting to play left handed, especially seeing as you are just starting out.

I used to play as a righty for ten years, then had an accident leaving me without my left ring finger. (I also can't bend the other fingers very much)
I've been practising as a lefty for just over a year now, and it's slowly coming on.
It definitely didn't 'feel' right at first (still doesn't in fact), and picking/strumming is still difficult, but I think the extra finger and mobility of my right hand is more important when it comes to fingering of scales, and especially when it comes to chords.

If you are just starting out, I'd say get a cheap lefty electric (try eBay) and give it a go for at least six months.

If I can do it - you can too! :-)
Right handed guitarist trying to learn to play lefty after a ten year break, and a severe left-hand injury!

Wish me luck ;-)
#30
Strangely enough, guitarists who have physical setbacks often become some of the greatest guitarists in the world.
Tony Iommi, who is missing some of his fingertips, turned out to be the inventor and pioneer of heavy metal.
#31
I don't know if anyone mentioned it,
but If I were you I'd play left handed,
Then I'd have full picking ability with my left hand, and full playability with my right.
#32
Nobody mentioned Tony Iommi, who played with thimbles in place of the fingertips he lost in an accident on his middle and ring finger. It's definately do-able. The 1-3-4 fingering can be done with the middle finger just like most people do the 1-3-5 stretch with index, middle, and pinky (personally I do index,ring,pinky but I'm in a minority). The 1-3 fingering can be either index-middle, or index-pinky depending on where you're coming from/to. There may be a few chords you can't hit, but there will often be substitutes you can use that will still get the point across.
For lead lines/riffs - there will often be cases where you can change up the fingering where not having your ring finger is really hurting your playing. The end result will be that you get very good at slides and position shifting, and have a bit of a different twist to your playing because you are going at it differently than most people (unique/unusual playing = a good thing).
About 6 months ago, I recommeded switching to lefty to someone here on UG that had a much more serious injury. His injury was so severe it took him about 10 minutes to make a chord shape. In your case, I'd stick playing right handed, because I think the loss of your finger can be overcome. Really, you want your strong hand to be the one establishing the rhythm if at all possible.
Best of luck, and don't let your limitation hold you back. Find ways around it.
#33
I have damaged fingers, only use 3 of them with one of those 3 (ring) having a fused joint, and I can play well enough to play in pretty decent bands. I can't play fast but I can express myself. You can do it.