#1
Sorry if any of these pictures are blurry. I'm having some trouble stretching my middle and ring fingers out in some circumstances, and a little less often, my pinky and ring finger. I've been playing for a little over 4 years. I work on stretches, but I seem to not be getting any progress. I was wondering if anybody has any suggestions, stretches, or exercises they'd like to share to help me out. Now, pictures.

My hand is really big, so I feel like I'm having more trouble than I should. 4 note per string licks are hard because I can't stretch my fingers out. That's my hand next to a ruler.


When bent, as if playing guitar, my ring and middle fingers can hardly stay apart. That's as far apart as they can stretch when bent, with no pressure being put on either finger.


When on a guitar, and not a lot of force being applied to pull my fingers apart, they can do this. I feel like they should be able to do this without ANY stretching, but they can't. This is the main reason I can't do any 4 note per string stuff, because there can't be a whole step between my middle two fingers.


My 1st finger can stretch quite far, and I can touch frets 1 and 8 at the same time. No problems here.


I can also pull off hard chords with ease...there aren't many chords that I can't get my hand around. The reason I can play chords with stretches like these is because I put down my ring and pinky fingers, THEN I put down my middle finger, because it can stretch independently, and my ring finger cannot.


This is an example of what I can do if I put my ring finger down, and then my middle finger. It looks painful, but isn't. This is really only convensional for chords, I could never do this in a quick run.


Here's a picture from my view, where I simply cannot put down my fingers on frets 5, 7, and 9 using pointer, middle, and ring fingers.


Tell me if there are any more issues that I could clear up using pictures. Yes, I do use my pinky, although these pictures and descriptions make it seem as if I never do. This is mainly about my middle/ring finger issues. Also, my posture is pretty atrocious in a few of these pictures, but I honestly can't be bothered to fix them, it's past 1:30 and I need to go to sleep. Thanks to anybody who read this, and hopefully someone will have some good advice.
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Last edited by 6DgOfInTb at Jun 23, 2008,
#2
Don't bend your wrist so much. You want to try to keep it as straight as possible, so the tendons in your hand can work to their full potential. If that means raising your strap and neck, so be it. Check out Freepower's video on posture.
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#3
^I've seen his video on posture, had some good tips. I normally don't have my writst bent like that, but i still have the same issues. I was trying to have my hand in a position that I can't normally put it in while trying to one-handedly taking a picture without shaking the camera. I can hardly play with a bent wrist, that's why I usually wear my guitar high. If I had a video, I'd post it, but I don't. I might take more accurate pictures tomorrow, but it's 1:15 over here and I'm about to head off to bed.

But when I play, My wrist is always straight, except for maybe when trying to reach some of the notes on the low B and E. I usually try to make sure I'm playing with good technique. Thanks for noticing, though.

EDIT: I just tried playing the Bbsus2#11 chord in one of my pictures while keeping my wrist straight, and I had to tilt my guitar almost vertically. I'm not sure if it's possible to play that one at a lower position with a straight wrist and a conventional guitar position.
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Last edited by 6DgOfInTb at Jun 23, 2008,
#4
I'd suggest continuing with simple stretching excerscises. Start very high on the neck, and play your simple pentatonic scales. These are useful because they help your two fingers get used to changing between two and three frets distance. Work your way down the fretboard slowly, continuing to only use the middle two fingers. If you've been playing for 4 years, then you know that building a technique takes time and practice. Well, stretching is a technique just like any other, and will develope with time and patience.
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#5
Alright, I guess Il'l just keep working on that. It bothers me though, because some of my friends who play guitar very little, or not even at all can make a wider stretch between those two fingers than I can.
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#6
Don't worry about it. I have relatively small hands, so I had to work a lot harder than you will have to to make the same amount of progress.
"It is always advisable to be a loser if you cannot become a winner." - Frank Zappa

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#7
Quote by 6DgOfInTb
^I've seen his video on posture, had some good tips.


Thanks!


6DgOfInTb, thanks for your comprehensive pics and explanation, that's a perfect example of how to ask a detailed question. Can I suggest that the problem isn't just your reach (between 2 and 3 is extremely hard for everybody) but also that your 3rd finger is extremely week (ed: weak) and your inner fingers lack independence? Have you tried doing various chromatic exercises - not rolling motions like 1234 or 4321, but stuff like 3124 or 2134 - all across the neck and strings, while focusing on only moving a single finger at a time, and keeping the rest relaxed?
Last edited by Freepower at Jun 23, 2008,
#8
ive seen this in a michael angelo batio:

you can do some kind of chromatic exercises like 1-2 in each string and then movin on to 2-3 till 12th fret with the index finger and the middle finger
and then the same with index and ring finger but obviously a whole tone interval, 1-3
then index pinky 1-4, till 12th fret again

after that you choose other finger combinations, as in 1-2 with the middle and ring fingers.
and then 1-3 with middle and pinky.
and to finish that 1-2 with ring and pinky.

and then come the stretches! you do all the same as before, but with a half tone distance increased.

there are also some chords exercises, from rock discipline by john petrucci.
you should check that out also. if u haven't yet.
#9
To Freepower: Hm, that might be part of the problem. I've never actually sat down and worked on other combinations the 1-2-3-4 exercise. I just tried some of them out and it isn't hard or uncomfortable to play them, but I can't play them as fast as the simple 1234 by any means, so I'll work those out and hopefully that will help. I can do them without having my unused fingers flailing all over the place, however, staying very close to the strings, so that's a start.
Interesting you should say my 3rd finger is weak, I do the majority of my bending with it, I can do up to 2 steps on the high E as a .011 gauge. I also don't have any trouble whatsoever doing hammerons and pulloffs, or just moving it in general. I can also bend each of my fingers separately at the 1st joint without the others moving along with it. It just seems like I can't move it away from my middle finger if my middle finger is stationary. I will definitely work on those other exercises, though.

To RC: That is also an exercise I've never worked on. Played through it, but never really came back to it. I'll also work on that one. As with the exercises from Rock Discipline, I have gone through those. It gets to a point where I simply can't stretch my middle and ring fingers apart any further. I suppose that's one reason to work on them though, to help solve that problem. Regarding your first exercise, I'll note that I don't have any trouble playing the half-step intervals from 2-3 with my middle and ring finger, so It's not completely unindependent, but once again, isn't QUITE as fluid as my other fingers.

Thanks both of you for the helpful posts
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#10
Interesting you should say my 3rd finger is weak, I do the majority of my bending with it, I can do up to 2 steps on the high E as a .011 gauge.


Examine your bending technique carefully - is your 3rd finger being supported by your 1st and 2nd as you bend? Is the majority of the movement for bending coming from your wrist? Most people have severe trouble bending more than a tone with any control unless they do the above.

I also don't have any trouble whatsoever doing hammerons and pulloffs, or just moving it in general. I can also bend each of my fingers separately at the 1st joint without the others moving along with it. It just seems like I can't move it away from my middle finger if my middle finger is stationary.


Fair enough, have you considered the relatively simple exercise of just holding all your fingers stationary and moving your 3rd in all axes?
#11
Yes, most movement comes from my wrist, and I support my bends with my other two fingers. I know I can bend in tune and with control.

I've never tried moving my 3rd finger in every direction by itself, though. I'll try that.
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#12
Quote by 6DgOfInTb
Yes, most movement comes from my wrist, and I support my bends with my other two fingers. I know I can bend in tune and with control.


See, that's the thing; all the power on the bends isn't actually coming from your third finger so your finger is weaker than the others, you're just not thinking about it right.
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#13
^It's a GOOD idea to support your bends with your other fingers, though. I don't use all 3 fingers to bend the string, I use one to bend and one or two to support.
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#14
Quote by 6DgOfInTb
^It's a GOOD idea to support your bends with your other fingers, though. I don't use all 3 fingers to bend the string, I use one to bend and one or two to support.


But you're not even using your fingers to bend; all the power comes from the wrist from what you've said, it's a good idea to bend with all your fingers so you get used to it but don't let that fool you into thinking that you're developing you're finger independence.

You need to work on moving your finger independently before you can start stretching it so work on the independence exercise Freepower recommended, he really knows his stuff.
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#15
I CAN move it indepndantly. It's not quite as independant as my pointer finger yet, but whose is? That's not a reason to stop working it, though. The way you're talking, it seems like you think I can move it hardly at all. (sorry if that's not what you meant, thats just how I interpreted it.) I didn't say my finger was independent because I can bend with it, I was saying it's my strongest finger, the one that can support the most, not the one that can move in every direction the easiest.

Click that, it's a video showing an exercise I made up for working out my 2nd 3rd and 4th fingers. Hopefully that'll give you an idea of where I'm at.
EDIT: I'm not actually left handed... The Mac camera makes everything backwards.
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Last edited by 6DgOfInTb at Jun 24, 2008,
#16
If you are having problems moving/stretching your ring finger independently from your middle, have you considered trying to make the Spok (spelling?) Sign? Honestly, It sounds silly but it addresses the problem you have...Actually, after doing it right now, it's much easier to separate the middle and ring finger when straight than when bent..

Seriously though:

http://functionalhandstrength.com/finger_fitness.html
http://youtube.com/watch?v=oUB-hZHLtqU&feature=related

I've considered getting those for a while. They were originally done primarily for magician's and manipulators, but I think much of it would be applicable to guitar (building finger dexterity). You may want to look into it.
#17
Hmm, that looks interesting. I might look into it.
Yeah, I can make the sign haha...I can do it a fair bit, I don't struggle getting them a good distance apart. It's mostly 4 note per string runs that get me, like in Rusty Cooly's "Betcha' Can't Play This". If you can tell from that video, I'm fine with 3 notes per string.
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#18
I CAN move it indepndantly. It's not quite as independant as my pointer finger yet, but whose is?


Tbh, most people have TERRIBLE pointer technique, i'm actually considering making a new video about it. Most people forget about it due to it's position as the lowest note of each string (well, 99% of the time) and a lot of work needs to go into getting it to pull it's weight.


I didn't say my finger was independent because I can bend with it, I was saying it's my strongest finger, the one that can support the most, not the one that can move in every direction the easiest.


Point is, that that strength is structural, not muscular. It's because of the position of the 3rd finger relative to your wrist, arm and 1st and 2nd that it can "support" the most - support isn't motive force.



Whoa, boy! There's no point playing it that fast if it's a exercise for developing finger mobility, or to demonstrate your control to me. Plus, get that pinky under control!

Secondly, take a look at your posture, your thumb is constantly above the neck, while your wrist is straight, you need your arm "under" the guitar to make large stretches. Your posture is part of the reason for your flying pinky as well, i don't mean to brag, but if you click the rolleyes smiley in my profile, you can how I'd approach a similar kind of line, and how to bring the thumb behind the neck.

Also, check out the spider exercises here - https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=879853&page=2&pp=20 halfway down the thread for some of my favorite finger independence exercises. Focus on moving only one finger at any one time - and every other finger being relaxed.
#19
You're right...I did play it a bit fast. I'd been working up speed on it for picking purposes, and just sort of played it. My thumb is actually resting on the back of the neck in that video, though. My thumb is actually resting on the back of the neck, the tip is just showing over the top. I will work on moving my thumb a bit further back, though. I can do it, I just need to be more aware.
Don't worry about bragging, examples are examples, and you've obviously spent more time thinking about and working on posture than I have.
Also, thanks for the exercises.

I have a question for you now, though. When you have your thumb behind the neck, where is it in relation to your other fingers, depending on what kind of stretching you're doing? I'd take pictures, but the camera is about dead.

EDIT: I made another quick video, slowed down and paid more attention to technique. No amp this time. Can you tell me what I should fix?
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Last edited by 6DgOfInTb at Jun 24, 2008,
#20
^ yeah, what you need to do is bring your arm "under" the guitar more. In your current position all your stretch is coming from your 234 fingers - look at :34, you'll see your index is contributing nothing to your stretch. I'll try and upload a pic or something sometime, but just try raising your guitar a lot and wrist almost below the neck (wrist straight, obvo). Also,
#21
I know what you're talking about, for chords and stuff I always have my index finger stretched as far as it can go. Usually similar to the 4th picture in my first post, but not as extreme cause i've never had to do a 7-fret span that low on the guitar before...

Yeah, I just tried it, and I can't keep my thumb on the back of the neck while put part of the stretch on my index finger. Easier to explain with a picture...
I'm pretty sure this is what you mean


I can make the stretch, but it's very uncomfortable to do a lot of movement like that.

EDIT: Now I know what you mean about having my arm under the guitar now. The picture is only half of what you said I should be doing. What you mean is have my guitar like angled up more, like in a classical position. I just tried that, it's a little easier to have mobility in my fingers like that. I'd take another picture, but my camera just died
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Last edited by 6DgOfInTb at Jun 26, 2008,
#22
^ its cool, as long as i helped.

Yeah, stretch is from both sides of the hand, and you just need to improve one side. (and the mobility of the inner fingers, obvo, as that's what started the thread)
#23
Alright, I'll work on that.
By the way, I downloaded your whole picking exercise folder. I'm going to try what you did, taking an hour out of every night for about a month to focus on picking. Started a few days ago. Hopefully it'll pay off.

Thanks for all the help
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