Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Poor Pinky

I give my left pinky a hard time.  At some stage in my life I worked out how to fret an A with just my pinky, letting the top E and the bass A ring.  This extends to any root 5 chord, like B for instance (bar second fret):


Note that only my pinky and first finger bar is doing anything here, the other two are off the strings.

Now being able to do this with your pinky is really handy, because using three fingers to fret root 5 chords is slow and often inaccurate. But look at that poor pinky, the top joint (wikipedia tells me it is the Distal Interphalangeal Joint) is bent backwards, and the middle joint is pushing it hard up against the frets. If I push too hard, too many times, for too long, I strain it.  My G chord fretting is similar, I often fret the top G with the D on the second string using pinky.  Like this:


Don't be fooled, my third finger isn't on a string - 3rd and 4th strings are open.  But as you can see, it is the same principle. I love the sound of a G chord with the D added!

Another thing I do with my pinky is stretch it out to fret a low F and a high A. It's an F chord...well, bass note is F, high A, second string C and third string A.  Fourth and Fifth are muted.  Yeah, I know, the photo doesn't look like it:


So, what?

Your pinky is probably the weakest finger you own, and yet, for the guitar, I rate it as the second most useful finger after your index finger. So, we should probably take care of it.

So to reduce the amount of abuse I throw at the poor little fella, I try to observe the following, with varying degrees of success:

  • Don't keep practicing the same song over and over, where it features the same pinky abusing chord structures.  That is a recipe for strain.
  • Avoid pinky abuse.  If you watch Naudo, you can see he does a lot of strange fretting and I think it is partly to reduce finger strain.  Don't put pinky in nasty positions, try other fretting!
  • If it is starting to hurt, stop.  I once did some damage to my hand "pushing through the pain" that took the better part of a year to recover from.  Enough said, there is always tomorrow.
  • If you do strain it, rest it.  Anti-inflammatory drugs will help, but let me throw a hippy cure which works for me - quarter of a teaspoon of tumeric stirred  into water once a day.
Be careful out there!
JAW

2 comments:

  1. Hey Jaw,

    I love your website and YT channel! You are a great player! Especially your arrangement of Wish you were here and Here comes the sun are awesome.

    I saw that you are also a huge fan of Naudo. Naudo is IMO one of the best fingerstyle players I've ever seen. Too bad he doesnt speak much English because I would love to see an interview with him. Do you have any information about Naudo? About how he learned to play, how he learned to arrange tunes etc?

    I love this arrangement of Tequilla by Naudo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feJ6d6I7Fzg I tried copying it but no luck so far. Do you have any tips for transcribing/learning Naudos tunes by ear?

    Thanks and greetings from the Netherlands!

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  2. Thanks Anon! Yep, Naudo is best :-) I emailed with him a few times in the early days, his English is much better than my Spanish! Naudo has a few web presences but none he maintains regularly, such as http://www.naudostar.blogspot.com.au/ or http://www.last.fm/music/Naudo

    I have written about transcribing a few times - type "transcribe" into the search and you will find stuff like this that should help: http://www.jawmunji.com/2012/01/jaw-can-you-arrange-into-fingerstyle.html

    Thanks for stopping by, greetings from Australia, and good playing to you!
    JAW

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