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Advice for someone missing fingers

New Member
Joined: 6 years ago
Posts: 1
Topic starter  

Hoping someone might have some insight. I lost my right ring and small finger and my left ring and small finger are permanently curled like I'm making a fist as a result of
getting hit by an RPG in Afghanistan.
I love music and I play blues harmonica, but I'm trying to get over some personal roadblocks adapting to my injury and thought better now than later on picking up a guitar. I've got an Ibanez GAX 30 and small Yamaha amp to get me started.
My question is if there is any style that would be best for me to learn with. Any online videos with tutorial that would help me get started, any tricks to aid chords, etc.
thank you for any advice and for the consideration!

Member Moderator
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5366

Nothing specific comes to mind, but start by tuning to open chords (lessons on this site) and get yourself a slide. You'll be able to achieve a great deal.

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at:

Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 4933

Yes, there is a style.

Django Reinhardt became a professional guitarist at age 13. Five years later he was trapped in a fire, and spent a year in hospital. When he recovered, he reinvented his playing style, because his left ring and small finger were permanently curled - just like yours.

This was actually a breakthrough for all guitarists who followed. Because of his injury, Django began to think about the fretboard diagonally rather than straight across one position. Guitarists before Django were locked into two octave patterns... but since Django's fingers didn't all work, he had to settle for the patterns he could do - which covered THREE octaves. By the mid 1930s, five years after his injury, he was considered one of the best jazz guitarists in the world.

Here's a video for inspiration:

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL

Active Member
Joined: 6 years ago
Posts: 5

Play your favorite music! Play those songs to the best of your ability and your fingers, hands and wrists will accommodate you in ways you may not yet see.

You'll enjoy the process a lot more and you will simultaneously develop a unique style/method that you will naturally excel at. The results could be beyond your wildest imagination. The only limit is what you place on yourself.

In addition to Django (who played intricate gypsy jazz), there is a metal/shred teacher in NYC named Terry Syrek who developed focal dystonia in his left hand and has had to rely on his thumb, index and middle finger for fretting. It has not stopped him from continuing to play fast shred licks with his own cool method. Check out his videos to see what two fingers can do.

But in the end, don't intentionally adjust your whole approach to the style of someone else who might have the same perceived obstacle; let your amazingly capable and adaptable body adjust to the music that lights a fire in your soul!

You have everything you need to enjoy playing music on guitar.

Guitarist, Songwriter, Audio Engineer

Credits include Bellator, Lego and NewAlliance Bank

Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 398

Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) and Phil Keaggy immediately came to mind as guitarists working around hand injuries. I also found out that Jerry Garcia was missing part of his right middle finger as the result of a childhood accident.
Taylor Guitars had an ad in the past couple of years about a man who lost his right hand in a chemical plant explosion, in Texas if I remember correctly. I think his prosthesis is specially made to hold a pick. I tried to find a mention of it on their site, but no luck.
"Where there's a will, there's a way."
Maybe somebody here can offer some advice, too:

Thanks for your service, and "Welcome back to 'The World'." (As we used to say during the Vietnam Era.)