View Full Version : Finger Tension

12-08-2003, 09:51 PM
I've just realised that I seem to have a surprising amount of tension in the 3rd finger of my left hand at certain times when playing. For example, if I am fretting a barre chord. The first finger will obviously form the bar and fingers two, three and four will form the remainder of the chord shape. For some chord shapes, if I simply want to remove the third finger to alter the chord I find it almost impossible to move. In fact, if I even try to pull it away from the fretbard using my right hand it simply wants to clamp back down again as soon as I let go. Is this form of tension in the third finger a common problem? Does anyone have any suggestions or excercises that will allow me to move it more freely?

12-09-2003, 05:18 AM
how long have you been playin?

12-09-2003, 05:47 AM
Well if i had to make a guess at what ur problem is..i'd say (just a guess) that ur ring (3rd) finger isn't independant from ur pinky (4th) finger..meaning that if u put pressure on the guitar with ur pinky finger..u can't lift ur ring finger. There are loadsa exercises u can do to make ur fingers more independant...

Example...using just your ring and pinky finger go up and down the guitar at the 7th and 8th fret..

E--8--7------------------------------------------------------------7--8- etc...
p r p r p r p r p r p r p r p r p r p r p r p

(p) = pinky (r) = ring

this kinda exercise should make ur fingers used to moving different ways at the same time...because normally when u bend ur pinky u bend ur ring finger at the same time...its just natural..but the more u practise using them each independantly the easier it'll get..

Of course like i say this is just a guess so if i've been typing unneeded crap for the last 10 minutes..because this has nothing to do with your problem..then feel free to completely disregard everything i've said. :D

12-09-2003, 08:58 AM
In answer to MJ83s question. At tis point in time I've only been playing for about 6 months. I played a bit when I was younger and got away from it for a long time (and still regretting that). Back then I was just playing a whole lot of power chords and cranking up the overdrive so many flaw would go unnoticed. This time I'm trying to learn properly so it's important for me to conquer these issues.

I've also been trying similar excercises to the one SVRules posted. Like the following one across the fretboard.


From what you're saying, I guess it's safe to assume that finger inpependance is something that will only come with time and practice and that I'm not some freak with dodgy ring finger?

Spin 2513
12-09-2003, 10:07 AM
The finger dexterity exercise everyone used to show me , when i first started playin was a simple 1234 exercise , where you keep all your fingers stationary on the low E string then shift your fingers to the A string individually , starting with the index finger , then middle, then ring, then the pinky.Then go up the D,G,B & E
What you do here ,is isolate each finger , and move each one independently . It kind of trains your finger muscles to move seperately from one and other.

Once you get this exercise rolling , it's actually , something, you don't need to think about, any more .

12-09-2003, 03:14 PM
Yeah finger indepedance and dexterity should just come with time..i also agree with spin thats the first exercise i learnt..just 1234 patterns all the way up the fretboard and 4321 back down or 1324..2314..3124...loads of different combinations.
This is probably the best kind of exercise u could do if your looking to increase the dexterity of all your fingers and it should also increase each fingers strength.

12-09-2003, 05:28 PM
Just got in from work and tried these variations on a theme. I think it's just going to take a bit of time. Spin 2513's exercise seems like a good one. Fingers 1,2 & 4 are moving from E to A string with ease but 3rd takes a bit more effort and concentration. I reckon doing this for a while every day and I might see some improvement in a couple of weeks. Thanks for the suggestions.

12-09-2003, 05:53 PM
There are 24 possible combinations on the 1234 exercise (I must know I tried them all back in the day <I used to practice them everyday all the way up and down the fretboard... it used to take me about an hour or so>) try them all but don't get too hung on them, they're just a mean not an end, then again by doing those your fingers will get a feeling of independency you never thought they could feel :D. SO give it a try.


12-12-2003, 09:28 AM
Indeed there are Jorge. And I figured I might as well post them here to save anyone else the time of working them out......

1234 1243 1342 1324 1423 1432
2341 2314 2413 2431 2134 2143
3412 3421 3124 3142 3241 3214
4123 4132 4231 4213 4312 4321

I'll be starting on these tonight.

Thanks for everyone's help. I'm already starting to notice a slight improvement in that stubborn 3rd finger!

12-12-2003, 02:44 PM
That's great! glad to help, just work your way out of it... that's what we all do :D and if you need any directions on how to head the right way, just post a question and one of these great musicians will lead you toward the right way.

Hail IBM!


Spin 2513
12-13-2003, 03:16 AM
Originally posted by DamnedForever
And I figured I might as well post them here to save anyone else the time of working them out......

1234 1243 1342 1324 1423 1432
2341 2314 2413 2431 2134 2143
3412 3421 3124 3142 3241 3214
4123 4132 4231 4213 4312 4321

I'll be starting on these tonight.


Man,That looks like what happens when my computer won't work .

I don't know if you need ALL of them , how 'bout 1234 and 4321.

12-15-2003, 03:24 PM
Using diffferent finger combos is good to practice motions you've "never" done before (is more like become concious of that particular motion) But you shouldn't get too hung up on them... like the 1234 Petrucci sweeping excercise is great to get the mechanics of sweeping (Eric has a very similar one, just as effective in his sweeping article) but if you only do that you'll become really good at the excercise but not necesarly at sweeping.... a good balance between mechanical exercises and music is necesary to get the chops we all need (crave :D ) .


01-06-2004, 02:47 PM
Rob Balducci has a cool list of possible combinations on his site.,,..

13234323 23134313 31214121 43132313
13432343 23431343 31412141 13231323
12324232 24341434 32124212 42321232
12423242 24143414 32421242 42123212
14243424 21314131 34142414 41312131
14342434 21413141 34241424 41213121

12131413 21232423 31323432 41424342
12141314 21242324 31343234 41434243
13121412 23212421 32313431 42414341
13141214 23242124 32343134 42434143
14121312 24212321 34313231 43414241
14131213 24232123 34323132 43424142

Check out hsi site at www.robbalducci.com

01-06-2004, 08:00 PM
I have noticed the same problem with my fret hand ring finger too. Just like DamnedForever said, if I do a barre chord, I can't really move my ring finger up. Also on my right hand, if I mold my hand like I'm giving a high-5 (all of the fingers extended), I can lower each one to my palm independently. But id I do the same thing with my fret hand, when I lower my pinkie, my ring finger joins it. I can't make the pinkie go down by itself. Will those exercises help with this problem? I've been playing for 7 years, and have never been able to do that with my fret hand.
Thanks, Mad hatteR

01-06-2004, 09:28 PM
You should be able to develop greater dexterity with some good exercises.

Have you tried playing any classical music? This is great because you have to fret chords while playing melody and bass lines. It gets you into the habit of keeping tension on your fingers (playing the chords) and then learning how to release tension on one (or more) fingers so you can play the melody or bass lines.

If you could work on a song like Pachelbel's Canon in D for about 15 minutes a day for a month you would be AMAZED at the increase in your ability.

The exercises for 1234-type stuff are great for single note lines, but classical-type songs are probably the best for increasing dexterity when multiple fingers have to move (or stay) in place.

There are tons of powertabs out there for classical songs.

I was fortunate to have a great instructor when I was very young. He *made* me learn many classical and fingerstyle songs. I now have exceptional finger dexterity and independence, thanks to him! :)

01-07-2004, 07:22 PM
Thanks for your help Bizarro. Funny you mentioned classical pieces with chording and melody @ the same time. I'm learning jazz right now and I want to be able to do the same type of thing with jazz. Sorta like Joe Pass. Bass, Chords, and melody all @ the same time. I did not know that classical music had that type of thing, and I think it will cool to be able to do the same thing in 2 different styles.
Peace, Mad hatteR

01-08-2004, 06:11 AM
madhatter, it's all the same with solo fingerstyle. You're sort of forced to play everything by yourself! Bass, chord, melody...

Joe Pass material is VERY advanced. I have one of his instruction tapes and it just blows me away. I saw him live before he passed away. He had more chops than I could comprehend.

He was a real storyteller and the whole night was a story about how he learned music and went in certain directions.

At one point he talked about playing "fast" and he started blazing, sweeps, legato, picking, you name it. I was with a bunch of my college jazz improv buddies and we thought we were pretty hot stuff :) but after we saw that our tails were definitely tucked under, if you know what I mean.

You might want to check out Howard Roberts. He was another great jazz guy. Howard was the founder of GIT...