I have a hard time using my pinky for soloing but if I had my way my pinky finger would be as strong and fast as my ring finger. Is there anything I can do to improve the strength and speed of my pinky?
Trills really help. Or take any riff that you would normally play with your first, second, and third fingers and play it with your second, third and fourth fingers instead. Really, just use it as much as you can and it will get better.
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.
Thumb on the back of the neck and not over makes a big difference for the pinky, it makes it a lot more precise and gives more range to it.
Also you can just learn scales as four notes pattern instead of three notes pattern if you want a really dumb exercice that will still be useful later.
Soloing (as in legato type playing) isn't about strength ... quite the opposite.

Bending does involve strength, but not much from fingers, other to lock them in place ... bend comes from squeezing locked fingers (notice plural) towards thumb. Vibrato with bend comes from forearm rotation ... i.e. the bigger muscles are involved.

If you bend with your 4th finger, don't just use your 4th. Back it up, with at least the 3rd finger, usually jammed into same fret as 4th (as near as possible), doing as described above.
One piece of advise I could certainly share, especially regarding the 'stretching' for the pinky-finger.


This is a bit difficult to explain without a visual aid, but I shall try and elaborate on why I suggest starting (quite literally) at the other end. A very common technical habit guitar players have is to built their fretting and hand-positioning with their index finger as a starting point.

If you'd examine this closely, you'd see that if so, one is more or less leaning on the 'inside' part of ones fingers when fretting (so the flesh facing the thumb). This is a very natural thing to do, since the index finger is generally the strongest and thus the most likely starting point for orientation. The problem with it, is that you'd be giving the finger that needs the most help, the pinky and so on, the toughest position from which to fret its notes.

With enough turning around the wrist most players tend to catch/fix any problems this type of positioning creates, which is why its so common. The pinky would need to stretch the furthest, despite it being the shortest finger. And with the turning of the wrist to 'make it reach' its intended fret, that weakest and least used finger also needs to make the most dextrous movements to fret its note.

This is the first part, which corners a player technically, the second part comes from a musical perspective, but is just as problematic.

Musically, its quite common for a melodically important note to be at the highest point of the line, after which it can descend again. And the way our instrument is set up, this highest note tends to wind up being played with - I'm sure by now you'd have guessed - the pinky finger. And that highest pinky note, being a melodically dramatic one, begs for vibrato. So to add up the sum, we're trying to - while oriented from the index finger - put vibrato on a musical climax, while doing it with the weakest and shortest finger, which is positioned in such a way that it's furthest away from the neck and note it's trying to fret.

So in conclusion, I'd suggest that rather than trying to fight a risky, likely losing game. Take the other approach. Learn to position your hand adjacent to the neck, and fret with the flesh on the outside of your fingers (so the flesh facing your pinky finger). This way, you won't need to stretch that pinky, and it can strengthen through normal healthy (fun) processes, such as actually playing your instrument. Learn not to stretch at your pinky (so not splitting between your pinky and ring finger), but keep that pinky finger safe and nearby, while stretching that god that is your index finger (so split between your middle and index). That index finger can do anything, so trust it and give it the most demanding job and notes. It will perhaps feel disorienting at first, but you will find yourself and easier road to a higher technical plateau.
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