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Guitar Exercises to Strengthen the Pinkie Finger

author image Luke Schmaltz
Luke Schmaltz has extensive experience in martial arts and personal training, which informs his writing on health and fitness. He also spends time in the entertainment world as a songwriter and performer. He has written and produced numerous studio albums and published many articles online.
Guitar Exercises to Strengthen the Pinkie Finger
Hand on guitar frets Photo Credit TanawatPontchour/iStock/Getty Images

The weakest of the fingers, your pinkie becomes stronger with exercise. As a guitarist, finger strengthening occurs naturally with practice and repetition. Playing an acoustic guitar is a good way to strengthen your finger muscles because of the thicker gauge strings. But getting used to using your pinkie requires more than just thicker strings. Because it is your smallest and weakest finger, it can be tempting to avoid using your pinkie and using your ring or index finger instead. However, avoiding use of your pinkie can cause awkward or choppy transitions between notes and chords. Instead, improve your guitar playing by strengthening your pinkie finger.

Chromatic Scale Variations

Chromatic scale drills improve finger control and dexterity. Use a variation of the basic ascending and descending chromatic scale -- a 12-note scale covering each note in an octave -- using a different fingering pattern. The normal pattern goes index, middle, ring, pinkie or 1-2-3-4, ascending the scale and the same descending. However, to strengthen your pinkie, finger the scale going middle, index, pinkie, ring, or 2-1-4-3 on the frets 2, 1, 4, 3 ascending and 3, 2, 5, 4 descending.

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D Chord Accent Exercise

An open D chord does not require the pinkie, but it can be added to the sixth string at the third fret for an accent note. Practice strumming the chord as you press your pinkie on at every other strum. To break up the monotony, move your hand up the neck one fret every four strums until you can go no further, then work your way back down in the same manner. Do this three times, then rest for one minute. Complete five sets total.

Index Finger and Pinkie Exercise

Start with your index finger on the first fret at the top string and your pinkie finger at the fourth fret. Strum single notes while alternating between the two fingers. Go back and forth two times, then move up the neck one fret. Keep going up the neck at a medium pace until you are at the guitar body. Move down one string to the fifth string and work your way back down the neck in the same manner. Once at the end of the neck move down another string and continue on until you have covered all six strings. Rest for a few minutes and repeat two more times.

Open C Chord Super Stretch

Continuously strumming an open C chord, add a D note every other strum by pressing your pinkie down on the second string at the third fret. After four strums move your pinkie up to the fourth fret, continuing to accent the second string every other strum. You will start to feel the stretch here. Continue accenting your strums while moving your pinkie up to the fifth fret. The stretch should really be felt here. Hold the position for eight strums and then take your pinkie back to the third fret and begin again. Do this drill for five, one-minute sets with one minute rest in between.

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