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quick question here: I started playing guitar a few weeks ago, and I keep struggling to play some chords, such as G Major, because of my pinky finger. Every time I press the high e string it suddenly snaps into an uncomfortable position and also prevents me from quickly transition between chords. Sometimes, even the ring finger gets in this position too. Snapping Pinky

  • Forgot to ask the actual question... xD // What do you guys think might be causing this ? I've been doing strength exercises as some people have ben saying it might be due to a lack of finger strength. – Badns Jun 13 '18 at 8:58
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    strength exercises are not the answer. Dexterity exercises are. Try putting the guitar down and using each finger in turn, raise and lower each very slowly and with total control. Do it daily and your problem will go away. – bigbadmouse Jun 14 '18 at 13:01
  • In fact, you are fortunate: the virtuoso, Tommy Emmanuel, has stated that some of his pieces are unplayable UNLESS your pinky can bend in this way. – Areel Xocha Oct 12 '20 at 10:35
  • Strength exercises can actually do damage to your joints. You don't need to press harder, you need to press as lightly as possible consistent with getting a clean note - this is the only way you will ever get speed. – chasly - supports Monica Oct 13 '20 at 23:07
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Question is maybe how do I stop it happening. For starters, only use fingers on the top and bottom E and the A strings. You've only just started, your fingers aren't used to the position and pressure, make the job less by 25%. there's no real need for a finger on the B string. Keep things as simple as you can for now.

Sometimes our fingers actually have to get into that 'collapsed' shape to play certain chords, so it's not necessarily a bad thing. Pressing closer to the fretwire will mean you don't have to press as hard, which'll help as well.

Changing chord shapes is never easy, and will come with more experience, bearing in mind that sometimes you'll need a couple of different fingerings for the same chord. get used to hammering the whole chord on, as this will mean all fingers arrive at the same time, eventually meaning quicker changes.

Judging by lack of blood in your fingertips, you might like to press down less. Finger strengthening exercises are a waste of time - time which can be used better practising the guitar!

  • Great advice. Also, clip your finger nails. – ggcg Jun 13 '18 at 10:51
  • @ggcg - you mean more than they already are? They look good to me. – Tim Jun 13 '18 at 10:52
  • Thanks a lot for your help guys! @Tim I'll definitely be using the shape you suggested for the G Major chord. I tried it already a few times and it seems to be working much better now! Thanks guys ! – Badns Jun 13 '18 at 13:23
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    @Tim, yes, more than they already are. It is somewhat subjective but based on the pic It seems that the nails could hit the finger board. – ggcg Jun 13 '18 at 15:08
  • They're about the same as mine, and I have no problems. Agree to disagree! – Tim Jun 13 '18 at 15:54
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My experience suggests that scales and exercises that heavily involve the pinkie may help.

I used to get your trouble in my banjo playing. For certain chords, my pinkie would land in the shape you show. It felt like my pinkie finger joints were "cammed over," and a lot of time/energy was required to get them out of that angle. I never discovered why, and my instructor didn't have any ideas.

For me, the cure came unexpectedly after I started doing scales that required the pinkie to be heavily involved. I was very demanding of myself that the pinkie should be used wherever a scale demanded it, with no cheating by letting the ring finger do the pinkie's job. It was unpleasant because my pinkie did not want to be used in this way. My pinkie lacked strength to such a degree that the muscles in my arm would ache when I forced the pinkie to be used. But I persisted, and after the pinkie got strong enough and agile enough to do its duty when playing scales, I noticed that the chords that gave me pinkie trouble no longer did. The pinkie no longer feels "cammed over," it doesn't look like your picture, and it's quicker to change from the chord shape that gave me so much trouble before.

I don't know why pinkie exercises helped my chording. Perhaps increased strength in the muscles that work the pinkie caused this improvement. Perhaps it's just that my brain got better at using the pinkie.

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    except when playing string instruments, you don't normally use the pinkie independently. It takes time to learn to do so, slow and careful control of dexterity develops that skill. – bigbadmouse Jun 18 '18 at 8:49
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You might try looking at how you are positioning your thumb on the rear of the neck.

If you position your thumb near the centre of the neck as a classical guitarist would, it will enable you the arch your hand more. This should allow you to avoid this type of reaction. It may feel awkward at first, but you will find that this left hand positioning makes for much cleaner fingering.

If you are positioning your thumb so that it appears near the top of the neck or over then neck as most rock guitar players do, then you may have less freedom to maneuver your fingers over the fretboard.

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There are a number of ways of fingering a G chord. My preferred method is to use the middle finger on the A string (2nd fret), ring finger on the low E string (third fret) and pinkie on upper E string (third fret). For most musical purposes, I think the chord sounds better with the B string open, and fingering it as I described will enormously ease a transition to other chords.

To move to a G7, simply put the index finger on high E first fret and raise the pinkie. For C (move the middle finger and ring finger to the D and A strings, respectively, while placing the index finger on first fret B string and raising the pinkie). Transitions to D and D7 aren't quite as simple, but my preferred fingering for those puts the middle finger and ring finger on the second fret of G and upper E strings, leaving the index finger or pinkie to take the first fret (for D7) or third fret (for D) on the B string.

Although I often end up with a back-pend on the pinkie on some other chords (in fact, I'll often use the pinkie to fret both of the two upper strings), and I don't see it as a problem, I think you'd find the pinkie would naturally be straight vertical if you reach to the sixth string with your ring finger. While that may be a stretch, it will make transitions to other chords so much easier that I really can't imagine playing a G chord in standard tuning without putting the ring finger on the sixth string.

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Forgot to ask the actual question... xD // What do you guys think might be causing this?

From the picture your pinky is double jointed. Double jointed pinkies are a serious problem for string instrument players. I'm a violinist and my right pinky is double jointed and this affects by bowing in a bad way.

Regardless of the instrument and the hand the problem this causes the musician is the same. Apply pressure to the finger and it flattens and bends the wrong way. There is then a tendency for this to build tension which spreads out and starts to affect other fingers and even your thumb until your technique is worsened more generally.

There are two parts to the solution:

  1. Concentrate on good form (pinky bent in the right direction, relaxed, other fingers also behaving "properly") in all your practice and playing. You have to be mindful all the time until your pinky behaves properly.
  2. Exercises to strengthen the pinky so it doesn't collapse in the first place. The problem here is that these are some of the smallest voluntary muscles in the body so you have to be careful not to overdo it and get injured.

There's a lot of stuff out there on YouTube. Try searching for something like "weak pinky guitar". Here's one example:

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As a general principle we can think 'Barre straight, slightly rotated; all other fingers curved'. Holding that barre finger straight and rotating it slightly to make it more rigid goes against a finger's natural propensity to curve, whereas the other fingers are just doing what comes natural. Your pinky will want to default to that rainbow/Sydney Harbour Bridge shape, so ease off and don't press so hard. Just make sure your finger is in the right spot and in the right shape and don't worry yet whether it sounds any good: that will come with practice.

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