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A few more questions.....reguarding pinky and thumb

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Trusted Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 43
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I've had lots of people tell me that you are not supposed to use your pinky when that true? If so..why?

I've always used it, and I don't generally have any issues....except standing up. It's difficult to reach my pinky to the lower strings...especially higher on the frets...but I figure that's something I'll get used to.

And also, I've always heard you are supposed to keep your thumb "pushing" the middle of the neck (my Ibanez Strat has a line there...). But generally I find my thumb pushing just slightly above that line...and when I get to the higher frets I see my thumb turning a slight it's almost pushing with it's side. for instance if I'm playing a 5th interval...E String 1st gret....A String 3rd thumb pushes the middle..but it's on the headstock there....but if I move up and play 2 frets down it's pushing a little closer to where my palm is...I'm not sure if I explained that right.

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Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2849

I always use my pinkie even though I don't have great control over it. I can't see how it is wrong anyway since you need it for some long stretches and chords and it is numbered 4 for a reason.

As far as the thumb goes, there are lots of opinions on that. Personally I just keep it somewhere behind the neck unless I am using it to mute the low E. I just do my best to not ever have my palm against the neck unless again I am using the thumb to mute and can't help it (small hands). The key is to have the finger perpendicular to the strings as much as possible to avoid hitting other strings.

Now I expect more opinions to follow :twisted:

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Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 169

Right from the get go, I was taught ALWAYS to use my pinkie (on the fretting hand of course :wink: ). There are some players that don't use their pinkie whatsoever (alot of blues player). Some shredders (Zakk Wylde for instance) use it - but like the strength and control you get from using your other fingers. But believe me, the more you use it, the more control you have over it.

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Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 4921

On the fretting hand, there's no reason at all not to use your pinky... in fact, if you never use it, you'll never play an open C7 or B7 chord! Some people, especially in blues, will avoid it, because it's easier to bend notes with the ring finger. I do that myself sometimes. But even those blues players will use the pinky when they're playing a boogie... unless you have huge hands, it's really tough to reach that sixth interval without it.

On the picking hand, fingerstyle players don't use the pinky. Most fingerpicking uses either the thumb and two fingers, or the thumb and three. Classical guitar uses the thumb and three. I've heard that some flamenco schools will use the pinky, but I've never seen it done (other than for rasgueado strumming).

Keeping the thumb behind the neck has a lot of advantages - for one thing, you're less likely to strain your wrist by having the neck too low. Exactly where it should sit behind the neck is going to depend on the size of your hands and the width of the neck; this is one area where proper playing position gets very, very personal!

If you have big hands, keeping the thumb in the exact center would cause problems with clean fretting, and if you have small hands, it will give you problems in reach. My hands are pretty average, so I tend to stay in the middle of the neck... but when you get into upper positions, the heel of the neck makes that impossible. If I'm fretting notes at the 14th-15th fret on a classical guitar, or around the 17th on an acoustic, my thumb is placed parallel to the neck, right beneath the 2nd string. If I play higher than that, my thumb leaves the neck completely.

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