Dreaded ring pinky woes

Hi all!

Been playing on and off for about 10 years, made the mistake when I was younger to learn songs and not the instrument.

After a hiatus of a few years, I bought a bass this week and decided to really dive into technique and theory rather than just jamming.

I have an issue with the pinky flying off when practising 1 finger 1 fret, 1-2-3-4 - and whilst I’m sure this too will improve with practise, I see that when playing 4321 (pinky then ring etc) when I release the pinky, my ring finger almost wants to go flat - as in from my fingertip to 2nd knuckle, there is a straight line rather than a natural claw. This happens when I focus on not letting my pinky fly away. IF I let the pinky wander, the ring finger seems to stay curved.

Did anyone else find this an issue? And how did you resolve it?


The pinky is a a common problem with beginners. If you click on the magnifying glass in the upper right hand corner and search for “Pinky”, you’ll find a passel of threads on that matter.

Welcome to the forum @whitlock1987


Welcome @whitlock1987.
You’re definitely not alone with both of those issues. Practice and dogged determination is the way forward. As has been said many times it’s harder to unteach a bad habit than to start the right way.


Welcome aboard @whitlock1987,
Enjoy the ride.
Cheers Brian


Welcome @whitlock1987 - if that’s your birthyear: yay, someone in my agerange! ('86)

I did not have exactly this issue. I have the issue that when I lift the ring finger the pinky also raises further away from the fretboard. The only way I know how to deal with these issues is: do what I want as a result incredibly slowly. Like bullet time. Focusing on each little movement in my fingers.

It is a slow and deliberate process because you have to teach yourself to use a muscle combination that you have not used before. For me that is the only thing that works. Finding a mistake and bite-sizing it like Josh recommends in his finger exercises video - which is the other thing I would recommend. I usually do a 5-10 minute exercise warmup with the finger exercises on my practice website. You can do it with any drumbeat or metronome though.

Thread and info about the website: Groove & Scale Practice Website


It is indeed! I was a wee 16 when I started out haha

Unfortunately, from doing some reading, I think I have something called ‘metacarpal bossing’ which is essentially hardening of tendons after trauma (I thought I broke my hand a number of years back, which has left a hard bump on the ring finger’s metacarpal bone)

Current climate with docs etc makes it difficult to confirm as I’m loathe to just believe what the internet tells me, but it does explain why I get an aching pain when trying to practice ring to pinky.

IF true, it means the options are don’t do the thing that causes pain (oh hell no) or possibly surgery.

So yeah, short term is practice technique as best I can without it hurting too much. Best I can explain is it almost feels like I’m doing 100 hammer-on’s with that finger in 30 seconds - like it’s going weak if that makes sense?