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I have been trying for months but still not able to get my pinky perpendicular or to apply significant pressure with it. I've tried a few basic exercises, repeated hammer ons, etc. Does anyone have any ideas on how to make progress? I'm a beginner who has taken up the instrument fairly late in life. The instrument I'm using is a Fender CF-60.

  • I don't think the perpendicularity is important. I do lots of scales and it takes a LOT of time to get it. Don't get discouraged. – mike628 Feb 15 '16 at 23:02
  • The scales aren't such a problem; it's mainly with chords, but I'll keep at it. – pawnsinagame Feb 15 '16 at 23:44
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To get your pinky perpendicular to the fretboard, the geometry of your hand as it relates to the neck must permit the proper orientation of your pinky to the fretboard. For example, if you hold your guitar too low and your forearm is below parallel to the ground, you may not be able to get the heel of your hand below the neck to facilitate the proper attack angle of your pinkie.

Be sure your playing position allows the heel of your hand (particularly on the pinkie side) to rotate to a position below the neck of the guitar to allow you to get your pinkie perpendicular to the fretboard. The higher above your waist you position the neck, the easier this will be.

Also, in most cases it will be easier to get your pinkie perpendicular to the fretboard if you position your thumb closer to the center of the back of the neck as opposed to wrapping your thumb over the top of the neck.

As far as strengthening exercises, your best bet is to play chords that require the use of your pinkie often. The strength will come with time and practice (with emphasis on time).

Proper form is essential. If you are not sure about your playing position, hand position and form, it might be a good idea to have a qualified and experienced guitar teacher evaluate your technique and how you hold your guitar and position your fretting hand. It may be that an adjustment in technique or position may be all you need.

Good luck and have fun improving your playing skills.

  • Thanks for your answer, getting the right form is something I've been thinking about. I hold the guitar what I'd call the regular rock/blues style rather than with a high neck and on my knee, seated. I try always to have thumb behind the neck, also to keep my wrist flat and close rather than out and L shaped, but my hands aren't big and it sometimes shapes that way, like this morning doing chromatic scales on the low E. – pawnsinagame Feb 16 '16 at 11:06
  • @pawnsinagame when fretting the low E with your pinkie while playing a scale it should not be necessary to have your pinkie perpendicular. I have really short fingers myself but I have friends with very tiny hands. Your hand and finger size will impact the way you need to position your hand in order to play certain chords. I have to rotate my hand (around the high e end of the fretboard) such that the palm is almost above the fretboard to play some chords . – Rockin Cowboy Feb 17 '16 at 5:04
  • Yes position seems to be important. i do worry about the L shaped angle of wrist, which seems to happen automatically when bringing the hand above the fretboard. Working on it on it just now though this doesn't need to be so, tucking the elbow in and curling the fingers while keeping the hand close works fine. Thanks for your answers which have been very helpful. – pawnsinagame Feb 17 '16 at 23:07

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