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it seems like I am anatomically disadvantaged for playing guitar. I have been doing on and off practice due to tight schedules. But I have still not got hold of a lot of chords. As you can see in the picture, my ring finger bends towards middle finger while closing the fist. I can't stretch my finger towards my pinky finger. It's physically impossible for me.

I don't know what to do. It makes me think I will never be able to play guitar perfectly even if I dedicate all my time to this. Any suggestions are welcome.enter image description here

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    Look up Django Rheinhart for an informative answer. – Tim Mar 19 at 7:38
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'Play the guitar perfectly...' There aren't many people who do that! I don't really think it's an issue for most. If they can play to whatever standard they do, it's enough. We (most of us) never reach the point where we can honestly say we play perfectly.

As humans, we are pretty adaptable - look at a lot of disabled - and become successful despite our shortcomings. There will be ways in which you can fret notes and chords which are possible 'non-standard'. So what? As long as they work for you. You may need to press two or more strings with one finger. You may have to leave a note out, or mute it, in order to play a chord cleanly. It really shouldn't be an issue. If you are relying on youtube type videos for lessons, they will generally address 'normal' (whatever that is!) people. Which, maybe, doesn't include that many of us!

Bear in mind that even the simple open D major chord has 12 different fingerings for it. There must be at least one that will work for you.

Bottom line - find a teacher!

  • +1 for last comment. Everyone should. – ggcg Mar 19 at 17:08
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A couple things, your nails are too long and that is a bigger issue than the bend in your ring finger. Second, how are you planting the finger on the string? That would be a better way to judge than just looking at your "claw". Post another pic of your hand on the instrument.

Nobody's body is shaped perfectly. We all have odd deviations. As long and your finger isn't broken or you have severe arthritis you can learn to work with what you have. You many not be able to play certain chords or scale patterns exactly as texts indicate but you will be able to find a way around that issue. You need to learn what works for you and your body and posture will adjust the best it can. Once the basics are comfortable and you understand what you are doing you can make judgement calls about how to change the things you can't play.

To tell you the truth in the pic your finger doesn't look too much different from mine. If I claw my hand like you are my ring and middle fingers touch. I've been playing for 45 years and professionally for less time. I have my own obstacles. One in particular is that even though I'm tall and have large hands the web in my fingers is longer than I'd like it to be making my stretch shorter than other guitarists. As a result I cannot ever hope to do these ridiculous 8 fret stretches from index to pinky like Paul Gilbert and Steve Vai. But my shifting is ridiculously fast. I compensated with another technique.

  • I agree. I think you will be fine. If you are having trouble with some particular thing you will find away around it (different voiceing, open tuning, etc). Every beginner looks at a chord shape tries to play it and says what the heck is wrong with my fingers, this is impossible. Keep going. You'll get there. – b3ko Mar 19 at 16:55
  • @b3ko, two words... Ted Greene. Make anyone's fingers want to quit. – ggcg Mar 19 at 17:07
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    I remember learning to play an E7 chord in open position. You can play it with the pinky on the D, and leave the middle finger on the e or lift the middle finger to get a second d. I couldn't believe how hard it was to leave that middle finger down and get my pinky to the 3rd fret. Still can't do it, so, yeah, I just lift the middle finger and call it a day. It's all good. – b3ko Mar 19 at 18:14
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I don't think that should be a problem but I understand you might feel this way. For any beginner fingering any chord is difficult no matter what is their anatomic finger "layout". But our brain and body quickly adjusts with regular practice and also you will adjust choice of fingers for chords ect. strategically to whatever feels best for you.

Aside from classical guitar there's no one established way of playing things and no canonical technique (many would probably argue that it's also true in the world of classical guitar but definitely to lesser extend). Actually the guitar greats are the living catalogue of "non optimal" or "not ergonomic". Gary Moore, a blues virtuoso played most of his fast runs using only two fingers. For already mentioned Django Reinhardt it wasn't even the matter of choice. Pat Metheny picking technique is super awkward.

To sum up. Experiment with different hand positions, keep practicing and stretching the fingers and in a few month's time you'll most likely either forget about it or find out the best strategies to make fiends between your hand and the fretboard.

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Put the ringfinger at first. Think to fix it there like it was nailed on the fret. Draw your wrist along the neck in direction to the point where you have to put the other fingers - without moving the ringfinger! Lift your wrist as high as possible by turning your ellbow away from your body. Then put the index finger and the middle finger.

This will help.

  • May work, but a lot of chords don't need the ring finger anyway. And chords in particular need all fingers down simultaneously, otherwise it's all too slow. – Tim Mar 19 at 12:41
  • In finger picking you start with the bass, so it can be practiced here. (I have similar problems). And in those chords that don’t need the ring finger I can’t see any problem. Yes, and perfectly what ever this means, I can’t play no instrument. – Albrecht Hügli Mar 19 at 12:46

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