Pinky Collapsing!?

Hello! I’ve been playing for a while now and notice that my pinky doesn’t curve like my other fingers! The second knuckle locks/collapses was soon as I go to press down on a string & it’s annoying! I can play fine like this, but after a while, I can feel myself getting tired/thinking about it to the point that I get frustrated while practicing!!! I’ve watched videos and read articles about how to solve this, but there are so many different answers!

Some say it just a weak pinky and that I just need to build up strength, others say it’s because of having small hands (which i do, so that already makes things difficult) and/or technique!
Others say to ignore it and that it’s fine, but some say that I have to fix this before I even want to start playing. I even read somewhere to get it check out by a doctor!

Does anyone else have this problem? What’s the right answer? Please help, this whole pinky thing is starting to discourage me from playing…

Thank you!


@dilerycorona Welcome to BassBuzz!

When you have time, join us on the Introduce Yourself! thread.

No one online can, definitively, tell you whether you should get it checked out by a doctor, or not. My suggestion is, if it hurts and it keeps you from playing, get it checked out by a Hand Specialist.

As to small hands, there is a myth that people with small hands can’t play bass. This is completely false. If you search YouTube you can find small children that kill on a full size bass and their hands are tiny. For some reason people like to tell other people what they can’t do. I have larger man hands and someone even told me my hands weren’t big enough to play bass. (That guy was a jackass about lots of things.)

As to the pinky, almost everyone has problems with their pinky. It’s just been sitting there for your whole life, never being asked to do anything on it’s own. It’s only natural there would be a steep learning curve for the little guy.

This is what makes me think you’re doing fine. I play, almost, everyday until my hands get tired and I frequently play till my fretting hand cramps. (The bass line for Billie Jean is a hand killer.)

Also, most new players fret notes too hard and hold the neck too firmly. If you can practice holding the neck without using a death grip and only using as much pressure as you absolutely need to get a clean note, this goes a long way towards saving your hand strength for longer playing times. However, this is much easier said than done. Most of us, when we get excited, go right back to strangling the neck like we’re trying to kill a duck.

Lastly, don’t let this discourage you from playing. We have had plenty of people on BassBuzz with various health and hand problems (including missing fingers). The joy that comes from playing is worth so much more than the temporary frustrations that come from getting there.

Let me know if any of this helps.


Check out this thread, for example:

Lots of discussions on very related issues.

I have Dupuytrens Contracture on my fretting hand and that (and a slightly botched up surgery) has led to a Boutonniere deformity on my fretting pinky (sorry, just google those for more explanation, please) - it is a constant struggle, and I might never play as fluent as some of my idols, but I will stubbornly refuse to quit playing bass because of that!

Your “ailment” might be similar to a Boutonniere deformity (i.e., the uppermost knuckle collapsing inwards)!? Don’t let it keep you from playing bass!!


I think everyone spoke to the points I would speak to! Thanks @joergkutter and @eric.kiser.

The main thing to remember when learning anything is - when you’re starting, everything is weird and nothing works right.
Babies talk funny.
For A LONG TIME. Then they figure it out. It’s not that they can’t do it, or their tongues don’t work right… it just needs time and constant practice to develop and smooth out into recognizable syllables.
So, be patient, and your pinky will be tamed!!


Yup. I just started and my pinky isn’t what it used to be. I shot it 4 years ago and now it’s a quarter inch shorter and it has a screw in it. It doesn’t curl(much). It mostly just goes up and down.

I used it as an excuse for years not to start. I wish I never would have done that because my pinky is actually stronger than it’s ever been since I’ve been playing bass.

It used to feel like a dud but now I make it pull its own weight so I can play better.


Small hands here.

Watch and pocket knife for reference.

I’ve considered getting a short-scale bass just because of that.
It’s only when I looked at a pic of Tai Wilkenfeld when I thought, sod it, her hands are smaller than mine and she plays a Fender Jazz Bass like a godess.

I have a few questions:
Is your pinky straight?
Do you have full mobility in it?
Can you, without undue effort, hold a Swiss Army Knife vertically between your thumb and your pinky without dropping it?
If the answer to all three questions is yes, you’re almost certainly good to go. Tell the skeptics to shut up, and go practice.
If the answer to one of those questions is no, consult your GP. Asking for advice of an orthopedic nature on the Internet may lead to undesirable results. :wink:

If there is a condition which would negatively affect your reach to the point where it would incapacitate your playing, a short-scale bass is always an option.


Lots of folks here seem to worry about their hands being small, or too small, @peterhuppertz :slight_smile:

Almost everyone (myself included) worries about their pinkies!

I also bought a short scale bass, and to my surprise, I don’t like it as much as I thought I would . . . so I suppose there’s a combination of factors involved.

IMHO, the more you practice, the better you will get, no matter what. :wink:

Cheers, Joe


Damaged pinky here too. You can do it! What are you struggling with?

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