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JJFN
02-26-2015, 07:42 AM
I guess this is one of those questions. I just watched a great duo of Aldrine and another gentleman. While watching I noticed that their fingers reached from the tuners to the sound hole. Obviously I am exaggerating, but you get my point. My question is, are those long fingers something you are born with or has ukulele playing shaped the fingers? I remember watching Chuck Berry and Richie Havens, and they could almost barre the guitar with their thumb. So is it born with or acquired?

spookelele
02-26-2015, 08:10 AM
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=finger+stretching+exercises+g uitar

Some people surely are born with very wide reach.
But for the rest of us... stretching does work.

janeray1940
02-26-2015, 08:12 AM
Great question!

I used to think that to be a good player one had to have those long, slender "guitar player fingers" because I noticed them on so many excellent players. But when I started playing ukulele, I soon realized that some of my favorite players had stubby little hands - look at videos of the late John King (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=935ExOpT5bI), or Herb Ohta Sr (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAPpKvmDoeM).

As for playing shaping the fingers - I've got bent pinkies (fifth digit clinodactyly (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinodactyly), for what it's worth) that definitely made things a bit difficult at first since the curvature of my pinky really restricts my left-hand reach. But over the years I've noticed that my left pinky is now a bit straighter than my right one, which doesn't get used in the same way. It's not a huge change - I'm not going to magically acquire long, slender, straight fingers - but it's a definite improvement.

So, I suppose that's my long-winded way of saying I think the answer to your question is "both."

RichM
02-26-2015, 08:16 AM
I think having long, slender fingers is a benefit when playing stringed instruments, but not a necessity. I, too, have noticed how many technically excellent players have them. Watch Mike Marshall sometime-- his hands are huuuuge!

While I don't think playing an instrument will change the shape of your fingers, it will help you build strength and flexibility. When I rub my girlfriend's neck, she is amazed at how strong my fingers are...30 years of playing musical instruments finally got me a girl!

WestyShane
02-26-2015, 08:33 AM
Well, I'll be darned! I just put my hands together then spread my fingers apart as far as I could. The "ring finger" on my fretting hand moves about a finger's width farther than the one on my strumming hand. My fretting pinkie goes almost 3 pinkie widths farther!

Cool.

Olarte
02-26-2015, 08:47 AM
These skills are aquired more than born with.It's not really a matter of reach but rather to develop finger indpendence on both hands.

The hardest is between the 3rd and 4th fingers because like twins they seem to want to always move together... Also getting a strong curved press with the pinky that requires some muscle development of that finger. In the beginning it just collapses at the first joint in time it develops the arch like the other fingers.

I studied classical guitar and like voice lessons I was surprised at the range of my hands after a few years.

There is a basic book and video that many classical guitarists use early on called pumping nylon it has excellent exercises to develop finger independence.

I have met some world top guitarists that actually have small hands but play very complex music on a full size guitar. In fact Andres Segovia probably the most known classical guitarist was known as having "sausage fingers" both short and fat.. yet he is considered one of the best guitarists ever... It's mostly all about technique and knowing the instrument like part of your own body.

It is definitely quite possible with enough technique practice and motivation.

My latest challenge is to play the smallest Ukes possible I have a demo of playing a Sopranino on my YouTube channel and am currently waiting for a piccolo which is about a 3rd smaller than a Sopranino there you don't need reach but clean fingering and again finger independence so the fingers can move out of the way.

Inksplosive AL
02-26-2015, 09:14 AM
Since the egg is formed by a protein in the chicken the modern consensus is that commonsense dictates the chicken came first.

My friend who was a most awesome guitarist had those long thin spider fingers where I have short fat wedge shaped fingers. I used to think that I wasn't built right to play strings and gave up playing my BS rich warlock and my Aria pro2 cardinal series bass.

Fast forward a number of years and I start realizing the instrument I'm hearing in the opening on quite a few TV shows is a ukulele. Bought a tenor and quickly a soprano realizing the soprano is the coolest for a fat guy to play. I read so much about the difference in scale length of the different sized ukes yet when compared side by side its not all that much different. I find learning to lose unneeded fingers to form chords is quite fun on the soprano scale.

Now if I pick up a guitar its HUGE, I haven't dug my bass out in awhile but I can imagine what that will feel like now. There just isn't that much stretch on any sized ukulele in comparison. Got a friend with a bass? Plunk around in those football field sized frets and coat hanger sized strings then the ukulele will be a breeze.

I will add as I age the doctor telling me I had arthritis at 13 is starting to mean something. The last two nights my hands have ached like I did hard labor to a point I'm not playing my ukulele. I only just turned 49 but aging fast.

~AL~

oldfool66
02-26-2015, 11:32 AM
Al, your are not aging fast just starting "man-o-pause." happens around age 50. I really am not joking if you can get some men friends to talk you will see its' real.

Ukuleleblues
02-26-2015, 11:37 AM
I am always amazed at the reach Buckethead has. http://youtu.be/qFoBbNHvOME

JJFN
02-26-2015, 11:56 AM
Both, is kind of what I thought. Stretching and cod liver oil tablet's have helped my trigger finger on my left hand middle finger. I can do just about everything with my middle finger except bend it to fret two strings, it doesn't bend. But the stretching does help. So I guess Van Cliburn fingers are not essential. I'm still having a ball, and that't what it is all about.

ScooterD35
02-26-2015, 01:21 PM
I remember sitting with my guitar teacher at a John Gorka concert. He was playing this beautiful song, and there were places in it where his pinkie would reach down two full frets on the guitar to fret a note just for an instant. The rest of his stayed motionless on the chord, and that pinkie just reached impossibly far to hit that note and then went back to it's place in the chord.

I turned to my teacher and asked "How does he DO that?" She just smiled and said, "No day job."

Practice makes progress...


Scooter

Icelander53
02-26-2015, 01:44 PM
I guess this is one of those questions. I just watched a great duo of Aldrine and another gentleman. While watching I noticed that their fingers reached from the tuners to the sound hole. Obviously I am exaggerating, but you get my point. My question is, are those long fingers something you are born with or has ukulele playing shaped the fingers? I remember watching Chuck Berry and Richie Havens, and they could almost barre the guitar with their thumb. So is it born with or acquired?



Some of both is my guess. I have long fingers but they have not been stretched out with years of playing so I find that even with long fingers I really need to work on stretching.

Ukejenny
02-26-2015, 05:05 PM
While it certainly helps to be born with long, supple, boneless fingers with incredible dexterity, I believe great things can be achieved with "average hands" if you are willing to put the work into it. It amazes me how Kimo Hussey's fingers look 20 years old as they glide around. Has he dipped his hands in the fountain of youth?

igorthebarbarian
02-26-2015, 06:31 PM
I have small girl-ish hands(!), which is part of why I got into the ukulele. When starting out, it seemed like a good fit for my hands.

Nickie
02-27-2015, 02:48 PM
"The hardest is between the 3rd and 4th fingers because like twins they seem to want to always move together... "

This is merely lack of muscle tone, and can be cured by training the fingers. You might try a spider exercise on the fretboard for a warmup every day. It helps me.

I don't listen to too much complaining about this, because both my pinky fingers don't even reach to the 2nd joint on my ring finger, not even close. I just try harder. I wish I could chord without the pinky, but I'm not that creative. It's why I stay away from the bari and guitar.

janeray1940
02-27-2015, 04:45 PM
"The hardest is between the 3rd and 4th fingers because like twins they seem to want to always move together... "

This is merely lack of muscle tone, and can be cured by training the fingers. You might try a spider exercise on the fretboard for a warmup every day. It helps me.


Actually it's more than lack of muscle tone - I know I'm going to get this wrong but hopefully someone with more of a piano background than me can set me straight; this is something that comes up in regard to piano finger independence quite a lot (Google "piano third and fourth finger" to see what I mean). If I remember correctly, some people have a single tendon shared by the 3rd and 4th fingers, and some people have two separate tendons. Like those beautiful slender guitar-player fingers, it's genetic - so if you're a single-tendon person, you're going to have to deal with some limitations. That's not to say that exercise and training won't help, but it's not just lack of muscle tone.

I was told that to see if you have a single tendon or separate ones, place your hands on a hard surface like a table, fingers curved as if you are reaching for piano keys, then try to lift each finger without moving the others. If you can lift your ring finger without bringing your pinky along for the ride, you have separate tendons.

Someone correct me if I have no idea what I'm talking about; just passing along what I remember a teacher telling me long ago.

janeray1940
02-27-2015, 04:51 PM
http://www.ronankavanagh.ie/musicians-health/learning-from-keith-richards-fingers-why-musicians-get-sore/

I just can't stop staring at those hands!

JJFN
02-28-2015, 03:05 PM
Thank you Janeray, I tried your example and it seems I have separate tendons. So, I'll stop whining and practice practice practice!!

janeray1940
02-28-2015, 03:15 PM
Thank you Janeray, I tried your example and it seems I have separate tendons. So, I'll stop whining and practice practice practice!!

Lucky :) I certainly don't, but I've noticed that after years of playing, I do have a lot more independence in my left pinky and ring finger vs. my right. So - let's all keep practicing!

JJFN
02-28-2015, 03:18 PM
Amen! Practice Practice Practice!

Nickie
03-01-2015, 11:55 AM
Janeray, thanks!
I tried it, and my ringie does lift by itself, but it's difficult to do, and it raises less than the others....so maybe I'm a "half breed"?
I do practice Craig Chee's "caterpillar" crawl, and just tried Petey's crawl exercise. WOW! This may hurt a little....
(oops, I'm supposed to say that to my patients, not y'all)