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Little finger, ring finger interconnectivity just on my fretting hand

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  • Little finger, ring finger interconnectivity just on my fretting hand

    I posted a similar message on TGP the other day and I'd like to hear what you folks had to say. I'm just getting back into playing after a long lay-off due to shoulder surgery. It's been about 9 years since I played and was a member of Harmony Central, but recently I started getting my range of motion back. My problem only affects my fretting hand, not my picking hand. If one were to hold one's hands out in front of them, palms facing each other, and then move the pinky towards the palm, on my left hand only, the ring finger follows the little finger towards the palm. On my right hand this does't happen until the little finger is about 1/4 inch away from the palm. The trouble this causes is 1, not always fingering 4 note chords cleanly as the little finger seems to have a mind of it's own  .2. I can't wear a slide on my little finger and then fret notes with the other fingers as the slide keeps hitting the side of the fretboard. I remember an article in GP many years ago that said it affects approx. 10% of guitar players. I was wondering if this affected any of you players ot there and how you deal with it. Also some suggestions on increasing finger independence would be greatly appreciated. I know the 2 fingers share a tendon, but to a much greater extent on my fretting hand.





  • #2

    To the best of my knowledge, shoulder surgery should not affect finger independence. That being said, finger independence was a common topic of discussion at school (many decades ago). The solution was always multi-faceted.  Cowling exercises often lead the list of solutions (google "cowling exercises" of "cowling system").  These will give you the basic idea and then you can add from there.

    For most of the (non-musical) population, finger independence is a non-issue. Even among musicians there is a wide spectrum of relative importance.  String players seem to have the most critical concerns / need for finger independence.  I never bought the Cowling exercises book, but there's enough info on the web to get you started and possibly address your concerns.

    The exercises are difficult at first and take quite a while to learn how to do.  A big part of the issue is reducing tension and learning to active one single muscle out of several muscles that control each finger.  Diligence relative to practice helps a lot. I used to work on finger independence morning and night for about 15 min each day at the beginning.  Slowly but surely I learned to gain much improved control over the separate fingers.  I haven't practiced cowling for years but these days I get enough finger independence exercise just by playing my instrument.

    Good luck with your search and efforts.  Don't worry about the shoulder, other than tension in the arm in general, the shoulder surgery is not the issue.




    • mungocherry33
      mungocherry33 commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the prompt and thoughtful reply. I found a source for the Cowling exercises. I may not have been clear about my rotator-cuff injury and surgery. I don't relate it in any way to my finger problems. It was causing me to be unable to move my whole hand down to the lowest frets of the guitar, but I have since found some exercises to increase my shoulder/arm/hand range of motion. So now with your suggestions I believe I have solutions to both of my issues.

    • Virgman
      Virgman commented
      Editing a comment

      I move my left hand pinky about 1/4 and the ring starts to follow.

      In addition I broke my pinkie when I was 18 and the middle joint has a big knob on it and the finger is crooked.

      You think you got problems?