View Full Version : How to keep my left pinkie finger (freting hand) from cramping?

06-30-2014, 08:52 PM
Most of the chords I know so far don't use the pinkie finger, so when I play, I tuck it out of the way. The problem is, I tend to subconsciously clench my pinkie so tightly it hurts. Do I just need to consciously relax whenever I catch myself tensing up, or is there a trick that might help keep my hand relaxed?

06-30-2014, 09:13 PM
I would relax it as much as you can. A few chords down the road, you'll need it, and if you have gotten used to tucking it away, you'll have to undo that.

06-30-2014, 09:30 PM
You don't want to clench/curl your pinky or stick it out. Let it follow the natural curvature of your other fingers and hover over the strings. Then when you need it, it will be ready to strike.


06-30-2014, 10:01 PM
I would actively try right now to start learning and using more chords that use your pinkie. This will strengthen it, but also give it a bit more dexterity and you should find it just naturally relaxes out of the way when you don't need it. They don't have to be hard chords. A really good one to start with is going between 0232 and 0233 over and over. If you play this in the right rhythm it's the intro to Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen, which most guitarists cut their pinkie teeth on a couple of decades back (it's all over youtube if you want a look). You could also try playing the chords you already know without using your first finger and substituting your weaker fingers instead. This will really help a lot when you move onto learning bar chords and closed position movable chords, because this is exactly what you have to do anyway!
All of this is hard work to start off with, but the earlier in your playing you start doing it, the easier it is to learn. And if you don't learn it you'll never be able to play all those cool dixie style chords that sound awesome when you blow a kazoo over the top.
Start with 5 minutes a day moving into and out of a pinkie chord, less if you cramp up. Really slow, but clean, changes making sure all your fingers are arched right and in the right positions. Just a little bit every day. After a week or two work a pinkie chord into a song or tune you already play, and play it every day. (I say every day, but to be honest a day or two off a week never hurt me, so don't sweat it, just keep going). Keep it going very gradually like this, and in three months you'll be amazed and will be able to perform ninja feats with your muscular little finger.

07-01-2014, 12:51 AM
I'm gonna try your advice. I don't get cramps in my pinky but I do rarely use it. It just isn't necessary for most of the chords I play, so it doesn't get enough practice. I get to the occasional 4 finger chord and can play them but they could be cleaner and more fluid. I hope this improves the strength and dexterity of my pinky. Thanks trickcyclist.

07-01-2014, 09:22 PM
I hope this improves the strength and dexterity of my pinky.
Cool. Let us know how it goes :)

07-02-2014, 08:23 AM
Thanks for the advice! I'll start working on it. :)

07-04-2014, 01:45 PM
Thanks for the advice! I'll start working on it. :)

What trickcyclist said is sound advice ....if you use your little finger to fret the single finger chords like C for example you can move to C7 by just putting your forefinger on fret 1 (A) and back to the little finger (pinky ...really) on A 3 ....or move between C and Am etc...your little finger will become a valuable little tool in later development ...let it range free and use it ...substitute.....blah blah ...but seriously use it ....

07-04-2014, 03:08 PM
I also agree. The sooner you get that pinky to be a real player in the game you're a man short.

07-04-2014, 03:39 PM
Hello Bookworm,
I know you are talking (writing) about chords but as soon as you can (like right after reading this HaHa) start doing the 1234 fingers on the fretting hand on your scales, you can ignore the g re-entrant or 4th string, if the different tone is a bother to you.

07-04-2014, 04:16 PM
I use my pinky whenever possible. I use it for just picking out single notes. I try to finger C with my pinky. I try to finger D with 234 and not 123. One of the things I see when uke players gather is minimal use of the pinky. If you start on guitar you have to use the pinky so maybe that's why I carried it over, but I consciously use the pinky when I have the choice. It will make you a better player in the long run if you use it every chance you get.