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This may sound strange, but about 5 years ago I suffered an injury to my forearm that severed my ulnar nerve. Now this may not sound like much to those not versed in the arts of medicine, but that means I cannot feel my pinky finger. I have very restricted and limited use of the little bugger. I still play guitar after 12 years of playing and I can work around most chords without needing my pinky finger, but I’m having quite a bit of trouble playing a B. Any guitar gurus out there please come to my rescue and show me some cheat “B’s”. Even though my pinky finger is dead, my love for guitar is still very much alive.

  • You might find it useful to read this question and its answers (its about Bb chords, but basically the same): music.stackexchange.com/q/29197/9198 – Bob Broadley Nov 28 '18 at 7:04
  • You could manage an E-shaped bar chord rooted on the 9th fret of the D string. It’s pretty high up, but if you plan ahead and play other chords up there it would work. You could also play a G shape on the 7th fret of the E string, but only play the bottom 4. – AJFaraday Nov 28 '18 at 12:13
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Q1. Is your issue one of numbness or also control?

I ask because it may be possible to train yourself to use the finger w/o feeling as long as it moves. That will be difficult but not impossible.

I'm pretty sure Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath is missing the tips of his ring and middle finger of his fretting hand and has prosthetic finger tips. No feeling but can still play.

Q2. What's so special about the B chord, as opposed to the Bb or other chords? Is your real question, how do I play Bar chords with a damaged pinky?

I would expect other chords to suffer as well, open G chord often uses the pinky. Also the 13th chord would use the pinky. If you have found ways to modify these chords you can do the same with the others.

I would add to the above answer that you may want to investigate alternate tunings of the guitar. Something like an open major or minor chord would allow you to bar a single fret with the index. Of course you will need to relearn scales, but that is what it might take.

Good luck.

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There are a few ways without a pinky finger to do a B major chord.

  1. Cut capo

  2. Stretch middle and ring finger to fret 4 while index is on fret 2

  3. Index finger on fret 2 A string - ring finger bar the D,G,B string and leave E open
  4. 7th fret index bar the E and A string then use your ring finger on 9th fret of D string and middle finger on 8th fret of the G string.
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    It is difficult to do number 4. As the ulnar nerve is also the nerve that controls the spreading of the fingers. But thank you for your suggestions. I’ll give those a shot and see if it helps – Zach Nov 28 '18 at 3:08
  • @Zach Hi - I broke my little finger (pinky) in an embarrassing car-polishing incident many years ago, just before a string of gigs. I was able to play the 3rd suggestion in this answer but by allowing the two E strings to mute on uncontrolled finger-flesh, concentrating on middle 4 strings, and just kind of grabbing the neck with forefinger on A string 2nd fret, and ring finger across 4th fret for the D,G,B strings. The hand position was almost like what I'd have if I was just picking the guitar up. Not graceful, but it worked. – user2808054 Nov 30 '18 at 13:54
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You may recall, before his death from pneumonia, that Christopher Reeve was beginning to get some small bits of sensation back in his legs. Now, he was quite wealthy, and able to afford daily massages and limb stretching from his nursing staff.

The point is: nerves can in fact regrow and reattach. If you have the time and the incredible patience, it may turn out that daily physical therapy on your finger(s) will lead, after perhaps years, getting feeling and muscle control back.

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