I couldn't think of any other section to put this in, so I hope this is the right one. Essentially, whenever I have to play something fast across the fretboard, be it a scale or a lick, I can rarely use my pinky because it seems completely impossible to move it separate from my ring finger. This really gets in the way, because in situations when I can use my pinky, I have to either stretch or slide my ring finger up to the fret, and trying to use my pinky usually ends me up on the wrong fret or in a pretty uncomfortable finger position. So, are there any techniques or warm ups to help at least partially solve this problem?
The way to solve this is practicing using your pinky, starting slowly. You need to build the muscle memory in your fingers to be able to use it properly, and to "separate" it from your ring finger. Just make sure you are practicing using it at a speed were you can actually use it, and relax.
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I have found that single finger bends can help with control and strength. In terms of more independent movement, you just need to practice with it more. Cartilage and ligaments are all connected so total isolation is not possible but you don't need that.
I've also found that working legato exercises that target the ring finger and pinky help as well.
I was I guess "lucky" enough to always use my pinky from the very beginning, and still use it more than most players, so I can't give from my experiences, but the best advice I ever saw on this rather common problem was I believe from Steven Seagull (I think), and it was something along the lines of..

"The best way to start using your pinky is to start using your pinky".

There's really no better advice than to just start using it. It will feel unnatural and I guess counter intuitive, but you just have to force yourself to use it really. There's no other way.
Last edited by vayne92 at Jul 29, 2014,
Quote by GregoryFrus
I've also found that working legato exercises that target the ring finger and pinky help as well.


also playing stuff that you have to use your pinky will help, obviously. but in this instance your other fingers already have a head start so a targeted exercise will probably help.
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The best way I've found has been to use what some call the 'cheaters' chromatic scale. Start on the 6th string and 5th fret to begin with and assign a finger to each fret from 5 to 8, with your pointy finger at fret 5 all the way to the pinky finger on fret 8 and play each note without moving your fingers from their positions.

So when you're playing fret 5 leave your fingers above frets 6, 7 and 8. Then move to fret 6, keeping your pointy finger resting on fret 5, your ring finger on fret 6 and your other fingers above frets 7 and 8. Do this for all 4 frets going up the scale on the 6th string and then reverse the process to go back down the scale, keeping your fingers above the frets each time.

Once you have that sorted for string 6, start on string 5. Once you have string 5 sorted start on string 6 and continue on string 5 going up and then down the scale. Then move onto strings 4 to 1 doing the same thing. In no time you'll be playing this on all 4 frets and all 6 strings and you'll have developed the strength and muscle memory for your left hand. And then after that move everything up 1 fret and repeat. Then start on frets 5 to 8 again but this time move up a fret each time to frets 4 to 1.

You're also better off doing this exercise to a metronome or drum machine to as it will also develop your sense of timing.
Always use the pinky when you play. Even if it's bending and vibrato. If the playing does not require the pinky expand so its in use.

Once it gets to be a habit which comes after you keep using it others calls it muscle memory.
One great tip: if you want to use your pinkie...then at intial stage you have to put the thumb right behind the middle of the next. This will allow you to use the pinkie on 5th or 6th string. Just observe some great players like buckethead, paul gilbert , joe stariani, etc
Use it in every situation you can, try and learn to play all the riffs you know while making use of your pinky. You may find that after some practice you discover that many of your riffs are actually easier to play if you are using your pinky.

Just use it everywhere, your pinky will become strong and fully functional in no time.