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I played guitar from 12 to 23, but haven't really played for the last 5 years and would like to start again.

However, when I used to play I rarely used the pinky finger because I have big hands (not an excuse, but this is how it happened).

Now that I almost forgot how to play after a long absence I thought, "Why don't I start training the pinky from scratch?"

What are the best exercises/techniques to train the pinky?

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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Minor Pentatonic scale

$6 2 5 $5 2 4 $4 2 4 $3 2 4 $2 2 5 $1 2 5 $3 ...or: 2 4/6 $2 5 7 $1 5 7/9

Try a G chord with Ring- Middle- and a Pinky-barre.

%3/3.2/2.0/0.0/0.3/4.3/4

In fact, all of the CAGED shapes will work your pinky if you use the "barre" fingerings: don't use the index (1) at all and form the shape with middle (2), ring (3) and pinky (4).

Also the usual folksy chord embellishments will serve as exercise: D-Dsus4-D, A-Asus4-A, G-Gadd9-G, C-Cadd9-C.

And from any of these "suspended" notes, you can slide up with the pinky to the next chord tone, and re-form the chord in the new position (and/or inversion).

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thx a lot! i will try that tonight and will give u feedback –  shadesco May 1 '12 at 23:19
    
yep, does the job! thx a lot –  shadesco May 4 '12 at 4:19
    
+1 for causing the jTab plugin ugrade! (ref. your support post in meta ) –  awe May 8 '12 at 9:42
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although @luser covered pretty nice most of the techniques you could use to train your pinky, but i found that this wasn't enough. sometimes after you stretch and reach out for a far fret using your pinky, what's happening is that you are stretching the muscles and tendons of your pinky so the moment you want to use it again in a semi-relaxed position you'll find it difficult.

to understand what i mean, i really encourage you to practice Money starting riff from Dark Side of The Moon - Pink Floyd.

in this riff you are starting with your pinky on 4th fret of the G then stretching it to reach 5th on E and 5th on B. and after that there's a little break down where you'll have your pinky on 4th of the D. that's when you'll feel that you can't relax your pinky enough to fret the 4th of the D.

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I find practising scales exercise the pinky quite a lot (with the "correct" fingering). Plain old major scale up and down will do fine, but also try e.g. 1-3-5-2-4-6... (The numbers refer to scale degrees, so for an A major scale it would be A-C#-E-B-D-F#...) If you e.g. start with your middle finger on the lower E string, 5th fret A, the pinky will be used on the E and the B and so forth. This can of course be varied infinitely with different scales and patterns.

Another thing to try are power chords with an added 9th:

%1/1.3/2.5/4.0/0.0/0.0/0

I think they sound pretty neat and are fun to play around with, something which is hard to say about scale exercises.

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