Let's Strengthen That Pinky

Bored of the 1-2-3-4 or 0-1-4 exercises? Wanna learn riffs which strengthen your pinky and sound cool at the same time? This is the article for you.

Let's Strengthen That Pinky
33

INTRODUCTION

A common problem for most of the beginners is the weakness of the pinky. Most beginners ignore their pinky and try to play everything using the three other fingers. This results in the development of the three fingers, but not the pinky, which is a big disadvantage. The 1-2-3-4 and 0-1-4 / 0-2-4 exercises are very good for strengthening the pinky, but one often feels bored of playing the same "meaningless" riff over and over again. So, in this lesson I will provide the tabs (tablatures) to some riffs which are really good exercises for the pinky. NOTE - If you don't know how to read tablatures, try googling it up. TIPS - Don't rush it, move over to the next riff only after you have mastered the previous one. Use alternate picking, i.e, picking using alternate upstrokes and downstrokes.

Riff 1 - "Plug In Baby" (Muse)

Level - Beginner This riff is used as the intro and also a few times inside the song. It's a nice little riff, which sounds cool with overdrive/distortion.
e|--------------------------|---------------------------|
B|--------------------------|-----------7h8p7-----------|
G|--------6--------6--7-----|--6--7--9---------9--7--6--|
D|--8--9-----8--9--------9--|---------------------------|
A|--------------------------|---------------------------|
E|--------------------------|---------------------------|

e|--------------------------|---------------------------|
B|--------------------------|--------7--7h8p7------7----|
G|-----6--7-----6--7--9--6--|--7--9------------10-----10|
D|--9--------9--------------|---------------------------|
A|--------------------------|---------------------------|
E|--------------------------|---------------------------|

e|--------------------------|---------------------------|
B|--7-----------------7--9--|--9br--7------7------------|
G|-----7-----------7--------|----------10-----7--6--7---|
D|--------7-----7-----------|---------------------------|
A|-----------9--------------|---------------------------|
E|--------------------------|---------------------------|

e|--------------------------|---------------------------|
B|--------------------------|-----------7h8p7-----------|
G|--------6--------6--7-----|--6--7--9---------9--7--6--|
D|--8--9-----8--9--------9--|---------------------------|
A|--------------------------|---------------------------|
E|--------------------------|---------------------------|
NOTE - Use the index finger for the 6th fret, middle finger for the 7th, ring finger for the 8th and the pinky for the 9th. So, the riff starts with the ring finger playing the 8th fret on the D-string. Be sure to use the pinky whenever required, don't use the ring finger for the 9th fret stuff.

Riff 2 - "Walk This Way" (Aerosmith)

Level - Intermediate/Beginner This riff is used during the verses. The rhythm is a bit tricky, so make sure to listen to the song a number of times before attempting to play it.
e|------------------------------------------------|
B|------------------------------------------------|
G|------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------10-------------------|
A|--------10-(10)-10-12p10------10-10-13-10-12-10-|
E|--8-8-8------------------8----------------------|
NOTE - Use the index finger for the 8th fret, middle finger for the 10th fret and the pinky for the 12th and 13th frets. While on the 13th fret, you can use the index finger for the 10th fret.

Riff 3 - "Message In A Bottle" (The Police)

Level - Intermediate This riff is used as the intro and also a few times inside the song. It sounds better on a clean tone.
e|------------------------------------|
B|------------------------------------|
G|-------8-------4-------6------------|
D|----6-------2-------4----------6-7--|
A|-4-------0-------2----------4-------|
E|-------------------------2----------|
NOTE - use the index finger for the first note (in each section), middle finger for the second, and the pinky for the third (and the fourth note of the last section). Once you master the message in a bottle riff (which takes a long while because of the super-long finger stretch), you are ready for the fourth riff.

Riff 4 - "Floods" (Pantera)

Level - Intermediate/advanced This riff is used as the outro. It sounds awesome on a clean tone with some reverb/echo. Tuning for the song is (C# F# B E G# C#), but it sounds okay on standard tuning as well. NOTE - This one is LOOOOOOOONG, so be prepared to get a little bored. Listen to the song before attempting it.
|-------------------------|-------------------------|
|-------------------------|-------------------------|
|-----8---8-6-------------|-----------------6---6-4-|
|---6---6---------9---9-7-|-----4---4-6---4---4-----|
|-4-------------7---7-----|---2---2-----2-----------|
|-------------5-----------|-0-----------------------|

|---------------------------|---------------------------------|
|---------------------------|---------------------------------|
|-----8---8s9---------------|-----11---11s13------13----13s14-|
|---6---6---------9---9s11--|---9----9---------11----11-------|
|-4-------------7---7-------|-7--------------9----------------|
|-------------5-------------|---------------------------------|

|--------------------------------------|---------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------|---------------------------------|
|--------20----20-18-------16----16-14-|-----11---11-9-------18----18-16-|
|-----18----18----------14----14-------|---9----9---------16----16-------|
|-/16----------------12----------------|-7-------------14----------------|
|--------------------------------------|---------------------------------|

|-------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------|
|-------20----20-18-------16----16-14-|
|----18----18----------14----14-------|
|-16----------------12----------------|
|-------------------------------------|

|---------------|--------------------------|
|---------------|--------------------------|
|-----11---11-9-|-------18----------18-----|
|---9----9------|----16----16----16----16--|
|-7-------------|-14----------15-----------|
|---------------|--------------------------|

|-------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------|
|-------20-------20-18-------16-------16-14-|
|----18----18-18----------14----14-14-------|
|-16-------------------12-------------------|
|-------------------------------------------|

|---------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------|
|-----11-----11-9-------18-------18-16--|
|---9----9-9---------16----16-16--------|
|-7---------------14--------------------|
|---------------------------------------|

|-------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------|
|-------20-------20-18-------16-------16-14-|
|----18----18-18----------14----14-14-------|
|-16-------------------12-------------------|
|-------------------------------------------|

|---------------|-------------------|
|---------------|-------------------|
|-----11---11-9-|-------18----------|
|---9----9------|----16----16-------|
|-7-------------|-14----------15\---|
|---------------|-------------------|

|--------------------------|-------------------------|
|--------------------------|-------------------------|
|-----8---8s9--------------|-----------------6---6-4-|
|---6---6---------9---9s11-|-----4---4-6---4---4-----|
|-4-------------7---7------|---2---2-----2-----------|
|-------------5------------|-0-----------------------|

|------------------------|------------------------------|
|------------------------|------------------------------|
|-----8---8--------------|-----11---11s13------13----13-|
|---6---6-------9---9s11-|---9----9---------11----11----|
|-4-----------7---7------|-7--------------9-------------|
|-----------5------------|------------------------------|
NOTE - Finger usage is the same as the previous riff ("Message In A Bottle"). If you practice these riffs properly with determination, I'm sure you would have a strong pinky.

37 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    KerNeL_KLuTcH
    the main riff in cliffs of dover is always good too, but the slides may give you a blister, it did to me when i first learned it
    sideslick
    Glad I'm not the only one who plays Plug in Baby for pinky-exercise. Great song, great riff, great practice.
    Livingtime
    Legato riffs/exercises focused on the pinky will help considerably Even practicing trills can help!
    ZOSO <(")
    always loved the spread in 'Floods' beautiful song too.
    NRG_sama_
    yeah that's one of the most epic songs ever ! and that extra-long stretch is awesome once you learn it .
    TheSpatulaOfDoo
    First off, this is a terrible pinky exercise article, no dexterity to build that anyone that can play Crazy Train doesn't already have. (I had extensive fret hand pinky surgery in October and I can play all of these. If you can't or consider them tricky don't consider yourself anything past a beginner.) The first thing is to actually practice with your pinky and look forward to using it as much as the other fingers including bending(look at Neal Schon). Look at Vai's 10 hour workout, Pettrucci's Rock Discipline. and TRILL TRILL TRILL. go between fingers 1-4, 2-4, 3-4 and ever combination in between. Play all known scales and modes in all keys and positions 2 to 3 note per string using only fingers 1,2, and 3. Do this and my crippled ass (who by the way still cant fully straighten good ole' number 4) will respect you as a real guitarist and not a pansy. No Pain No Gain. AND DON'T YOU EVER CALL A SINGLE PART OF FLOODS BORING! DO IT AGAIN AND I WILL FIND YOU.
    NRG_sama_
    oh well i intended to put this article in the "for beginners" section , idk how it ended up here . If I had to put up a pinky exercise for this section , i'd not have put so many noob level riffs in here
    Realityburn
    I like to do minor third trills all over the neck to help keep my pinky in shape. Came up with a few cool riffs that way too when I started adding chugs and low note pedal tones to keep from getting bored with it. (A minor third interval is a 4 fret stretch, if you don't already know. So, if your index finger is on the 5th fret, the minor third is the 8th fret)
    Clarkinator
    I've been playing for over 10 years and still ignore my pinky often when soloing. I have really long fingers which makes it easier for me to "cheat" and trill, hammer and pull off with my third finger... even when reaching a bit for notes. This is a good lesson though, the Police riff really forces you to use your pinky with those chord shapes. I'd really like to get my pinky stronger to open up more possibilities with my riffing or soloing.
    syndemon
    Hey, I was wondering if its okay if i practice these riff with an acoustic guitar? It doesn't make a difference right?
    scarryman199
    it shouldn't, and actually might be better as the action on an acoustic guitar is generally higher than on an electric guitar forcing you to push harder which builds up more muscle. the only slight difference may be the size of the neck it might be a little bigger and spread out on an acoustic but that is not hard at all to compensate for on either side of it. if you can play floods on an acoustic guitar it is safe to say your pinky is strong!
    NRG_sama_
    as a side note i'd like to say that when i posted this article , i used to play only the acoustic guitar .
    DragonAvenger7
    ....plug in baby snd all these iare quite much for MY beginner level...anything more beginner friendly then these? I couldn't even managed a bare bit of fluidety in message in a bottle... Is therd hope for me?
    NRG_sama_
    start slow , practice a lot . u will get that fluidity in no time if u practice well .
    verticaltwin
    I wish I could get the part of my life back that I wasted listening to "Floods"... the outro was kind of cool, but didn't make up for the horrible songwriting. I can appreciate Dime's talent in other stuff though. Thanks for the pinky exercises!! Good stuff... trying to get my fingers in shape after many years of not playing.
    bezzo0
    Satellite by Dave Matthews is a good Beginner/intermediate pinky stretching exercise.