I would like some advice on my left (fretting) hand pinkie's (little finger) orientation when I'm playing three-note-per string scales at faster tempos. I find the pinkie flattens, especially the joint closest to the fingertip. I know my other fingers are stronger, and I see that they (middle and ring finger) are often perpendicular to the fretboard during such exercises. With the pinkie, it stays perpendicular when I concentrate, or play slower, but if I forget, I see it's flat again. I also find that it is harder to target the string with the pinkie when it is perpendicular; though perhaps that's less surprising.

Here is a photo showing the flattened pinkie orientation that concerns me:

flat pinkie

Here is a photo showing my pinkie with a more perpendicular orientation:

perpendicular pinkie

My question is: am I correct to believe that the flattened pinkie is indeed a weakness that may become problematic at higher tempos? If so, are there any exercises which can help improve the pinkie position, or is it simply a case of slowing down the exercises and starting a fresh effort here?

I've been playing on and off for about 30 years, but have picked the guitar up again during Covid-19 lockdown.

1 Answer 1


There's really no need to have all three fingers pressing for a 3nps scale. Only if you're pulling off to the lower two notes, which I doubt. So moving your hand slightly up/down the 'board will put any finger in a stronger, perpendicular position.

In fact, while the highest note is being played, on ascending scales, the other two fingers need to be moving to the next string up, not staying anchored where they've already done their job.

  • I'm not sure if I understand the answer. You normally don't want to move the hand too much for each note, that's inefficient. Indeed you don't need to press the string with all 3 fingers at the same time (or even you shouldn't), but they should be positioned just above the string, ready to press it, that is in almost the same place. Mar 14, 2021 at 22:09
  • @user1079505 - a lot of folk, myself included - and maybe the OP - can't stretch that far comfortably anyway. But even if they can, playing the three notes (especially on the bottom two strings, lower frets), there's no need to keep all pressed down - although descending there may be a tiny argument for that. Ascending, my 2nd para. covers it.
    – Tim
    Mar 15, 2021 at 15:38

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