#1
I recently started giving guitar lessons to a wonderful young lady who was born with amniotic band syndrome. This has left her fingers deformed where there are a few that barely make it to the first knuckle. Her pinkie is fully there and her middle finger is the second longest, so when teaching her power chords I have taught her to use her middle and pinkie rather than her index and ring fingers. She has a hard time stretching over the fretboard, which she really needs to do a lot of in order to make up for the lack of length in her fingers and this hurts her wrist. I've explained to her that Hendrix used his thumb quite often and maybe she could do that as well.

I have encouraged her that she can play guitar if she wants. It just takes practice and a lot of it so do not give up. EVERYONE plays horribly when they first start out. I'm wondering if some type of alternate tuning would be most beneficial. I know Curtis Mayfield played his guitar with a custom tuning that he claims nobody, no matter how good they were, would ever be able to pick up his guitar and know what they were doing..lol..

I'd like to teach her some major chords but without an alternate tuning I'm not sure it's possible because of the length of a few of her fingers. Anyone have any suggestions? I would be most grateful, as I would really like to make it easier on her. I'd love to see her keep it up. Thank you!

~Chad
#3
Firstly, let me say I already have a huge amount of respect for you and what you're doing.

I would suggest open tunings- an open major chord tuning will let her play the majors with just one finger. Of course, she'll likely want to use minor chords too so I'd suggest an open minor (or "cross-tuning" so that she can play minor chords with one finger and majors with 2.
#4
Django Reinhardt played (jazz, no less) with only two fingers.
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#5
tony iommi is missing the tips of his two middle fingers.and hes one of the first shredders ever.legendary riffs and solos.honostly,shes going to have to find a style that works.and it may make her really good at one thing because of her focus on it.maybe she will learn quite well (quite well something) i dont know tho,good luck.
#7
Django Reinhardt, Tony Iommi, Jerry Garcia. Who says you need ten fingers?
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#8
Quote by toine
^but Django started with all 5 fingers.

Yeah, but he had to completely relearn how to play the guitar.
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#10
Quote by toine
^but Django started with all 5 fingers.

And also did mostly lead, as far as I know.
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#11
your best bet would be to find a tuning that would work but not over complicate it for yourself, as said a open tuning would work, probably open E or G, people rattling off names of other players with the similar afflictions isn`t going to find a solution imo.
#12
are both of her hands that way?? coz otherwise she could learn how to play lefty
#13
An open tuning to start, maybe with a slide as well.
For power chords, a drop tuning with a light gauge would be the obvious answer.
#17
Quote by ShiningEntity
If her left hand is capable of holding a pick comfortably, then I'd start teaching her lefty immediately. Hopefully she hasn't been playing long, so the transition should be easy.


This.

I'm not very familiar with open tunings, but it seems as though while this will make it easier for her to do chords (obviously), this will limit what else she can do. You're teaching her power chords, so I'm guessing she wants to play more stuff along the lines of metal, punk, etc.
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#18
Mate, I'd like to say that... It is a wonderful thing that you're doing! You could've discouraged her rather than stick to teaching her but you chose what is harder for both yet you manage to help her and make it fun. And you want to make it even better rather than just don't giving a f*ck. You have my respect!
I really don't understand much from these syndromes but judging by your description of the case I'd give this tip:
If she's into metal maybe you can show her the way of Max Cavalera, who knows when you might help a metal machine by demonstrating how 4 strings can outmatch even the best rhythm guitarists (before a flame war begins, I'm not saying Cavalera's the best at rhythm guitar, but you gotta admit for a guy using only 4 strings he's effin awesome!)
If she's into something "softer" dunno how to call it your best bet might be the open tunings. Not sure about this but maybe you can help her pick a slide as well. There are some pretty lightweight and small ones which sound glorious. She might be the next Derek Trucks. That'd be awesome wouldn't it?
tl;dr: Drop tunings or open tunings.
P.S: I really respect what you are doing!
#19
Well. The OP is kind of vague about the exact limitations of the student in question. But it sounds like she has two full fingers and a few half fingers.

If she were my student, I'd steer her towards the trumpet. You only need three fingers to play. An instrument is just a means of expressing yourself musically, and people with handicaps I think often make harder on themselves than need be.
#20
Quote by ChadderCheeze
I know Curtis Mayfield played his guitar with a custom tuning that he claims nobody, no matter how good they were, would ever be able to pick up his guitar and know what they were doing..lol..


I just googled him and apparently he played in F#, A#, C#, F#, A#, F# I'm guessing he tuned them all down? Otherwise I wonder how he didn't break them all. But then again that would sound pretty crappy (I'd imagine) tuned down.
#21
as others have suggested, depending on the condition of her other hand, i'd get her to switch to lefty. i'm left handed, but learnt right handed, because there were only right handed guitars in our family. it was a bit hard at first, but now i'm fine.
if that's not feasible, i'd go for some open tunings, so that she can get a range of chords just by barring a fret. or if she's more into punk and metal, drop tunings, meaning that barring the low e, a and d can give power chords. also with open tunings, if she can't barre a fret, she has a full pinky. so she could use a slide.
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#22
Quote by ShiningEntity
If her left hand is capable of holding a pick comfortably, then I'd start teaching her lefty immediately. Hopefully she hasn't been playing long, so the transition should be easy.

definately this
#23
just a suggestion not sure if it works: why dont you teach her to use her left hand as the strumming hand and right hand as the fretting hand? might be harder at first but it might be better in the long run.
#24
Quote by CreepingDeath13
definately this


Given her situation, I think this is the most logical solution.

Other than that, providing she can barre relatively well with her middle finger, teach her some of the "simple" chords on the bottom 3 strings (like easy g for e.g.)

e|3----7
B|0----5
G|0----5
D|------5
Last edited by Calibos at Sep 9, 2010,
#25
Start teaching her power chords on the bottom 6th and 5th strings using her thumb for the root and her pinky for the fifth. Then when she gets the hang of that she can try putting the minor or major third on the 3rd string.

G major:
e----
B----
G--4-
D----
A--5-
E--3-

G minor:
e----
B----
G--3-
D----
A--5-
E--3-

I have rather big hands so this may be more difficult for her.. but it's definitely worth a shot. Good luck!
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#26
Switch to lefty or switch to drums.
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#27
Maybe a Drop D Andy Mckee kinda thing?

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