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Long little finger, a musical advantage?

Roger the Skiffler 29 May 11 - 11:17 AM
GUEST,Jon 29 May 11 - 11:23 AM
Will Fly 29 May 11 - 11:24 AM
BrooklynJay 29 May 11 - 03:11 PM
GUEST,Bruce Baillie 29 May 11 - 03:14 PM
GUEST,leeneia 29 May 11 - 03:58 PM
gnu 29 May 11 - 04:11 PM
WalkaboutsVerse 29 May 11 - 04:28 PM
Gurney 29 May 11 - 04:55 PM
melodeonboy 29 May 11 - 05:23 PM
Jack Campin 29 May 11 - 07:05 PM
Betsy 29 May 11 - 07:15 PM
Ebbie 30 May 11 - 01:05 AM
GUEST,qwerti 30 May 11 - 11:31 AM
Will Fly 30 May 11 - 11:42 AM
Doug Chadwick 30 May 11 - 11:58 AM
Ross Campbell 30 May 11 - 12:24 PM
GUEST,Jon 30 May 11 - 03:53 PM
MikeL2 30 May 11 - 04:20 PM
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Subject: Long little finger, a musical advantage?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 29 May 11 - 11:17 AM

Another daft question! I've observed that several guitarists and saxaphone players seem to have a little finger that is almost the same length as the ring finger.As mine doesn't come up to the last joint of my ring finger I like to think that's why I am a musical klutz. Is having a long pinkie an advantage to a reeds and string player, or even a keyboard player?

RtS
(who's obviously just had a long boozy Sunday lunch listening to an excellent singer [Lee Gibson] accompanied by sax & flute player Andy Panayi -all his fingers seem the same length! BTW, the owner of the venue agreed with 'er indoors that he sees more of me than she does- I'm only going 3 more times this week, then off abroad for 3 weeks)


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Subject: RE: Long little finger, a musical advantage?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 29 May 11 - 11:23 AM

I certainly wish my little finger was longer rather than being like yours. While I get by as it is, it would make reaching the 7th fret (B on the E string a commonly played note) on tenor banjo, etc. playing in open position a bit more comfortable.


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Subject: RE: Long little finger, a musical advantage?
From: Will Fly
Date: 29 May 11 - 11:24 AM

I frankly don't think it makes a ha'porth of difference. I recall seeing Segovia at the Festival Hall many years ago - he was in his 90s then - and he had short, fat little fingers like sausages!

I have no problem with stretches. I have medium size hands and my little fingers just come up to the 2nd joint on the ring fingers. I think it's flexibility, co-ordination and strength that matter - and they all come from practice. :-)


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Subject: RE: Long little finger, a musical advantage?
From: BrooklynJay
Date: 29 May 11 - 03:11 PM

For what it's worth, having fairly short fingers (and a short pinky) has made certain guitar chords just about impossible for me, no matter how much I practice them. I will still attempt to do them in private (I'm stubborn that way), but have had to "work around" them, or find alternates, for anything I want to play in front of or with real live people. It's quite frustrating.

I have a friend who's only slightly taller than me (I'm 5'7"), but thin as a rail. He has the longest fingers I've ever seen - I'm sure his pinky is longer than my middle finger - and nothing is impossible for him when he plays his guitar. (Of course, the fact that he's been playing for over fifty years may have something to do with it!)

So, I guess I will say that while lots of practice can certainly lead to improvement, I'm still aware of things that appear to be beyond my reach (pun intended) for purely anatomical reasons.

Jay


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Subject: RE: Long little finger, a musical advantage?
From: GUEST,Bruce Baillie
Date: 29 May 11 - 03:14 PM

I agree. I have a short little finger and I think it DOES make a difference!


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Subject: RE: Long little finger, a musical advantage?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 29 May 11 - 03:58 PM

My short little fingers are certainly a disadvantage when it comes to reaching the lowest note on a recorder.


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Subject: RE: Long little finger, a musical advantage?
From: gnu
Date: 29 May 11 - 04:11 PM

YES! Especially with arthritis.


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Subject: RE: Long little finger, a musical advantage?
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 29 May 11 - 04:28 PM

I agree with Roger - ability on several instruments seems to have a lot to do with the strength and length of one's pinky: the oboe and clarinet families, the tenor-recorder/English flute, the guitar...


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Subject: RE: Long little finger, a musical advantage?
From: Gurney
Date: 29 May 11 - 04:55 PM

A short pinkie might have some advantage on an english concertina, reaching the bottom notes. Might. Flexibility might make more difference.

AS Will says, Segovia had hands like a brickie, I'd call them powerful rather than fat. I noted them watching him on TV.


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Subject: RE: Long little finger, a musical advantage?
From: melodeonboy
Date: 29 May 11 - 05:23 PM

It makes a difference if you're playing the bass. I broke the little finger on my left hand a few years ago. Once it healed, it wouldn't stretch as far, effectively shortening the finger reach. It didn't stop me playing bass, but it required more effort!


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Subject: RE: Long little finger, a musical advantage?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 May 11 - 07:05 PM

Somebody once complained to Arnold Schoenberg that his violin concerto was too difficult. Schoenberg's answer was "I want the left hand little finger to become longer - I can wait".

(In fact Schoenberg was a very good violinist himself and knew exactly what he was doing).


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Subject: RE: Long little finger, a musical advantage?
From: Betsy
Date: 29 May 11 - 07:15 PM

I think secretly we'd all like a much larger little pinkie


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Subject: RE: Long little finger, a musical advantage?
From: Ebbie
Date: 30 May 11 - 01:05 AM

Size doesn't matter much. :)


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Subject: RE: Long little finger, a musical advantage?
From: GUEST,qwerti
Date: 30 May 11 - 11:31 AM

Maurice Condie has a big one


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Subject: RE: Long little finger, a musical advantage?
From: Will Fly
Date: 30 May 11 - 11:42 AM

Anyone compared the span of the fingers on both hands, i.e. the distance that you can straddle from the thumb to the little finger at full stretch?

I'm right-handed, and the span on my left (fretting) hand is 22.5cm - and the span on my right (picking) hand is 20.5cm. Two centimetres difference - through playing the guitar for 45+ years!

The finger length on both hands is identical - I'm just exercising the left hand by stretching it more than I am the right hand.

Try it - and let's compare spans rather than lengths... :-)


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Subject: RE: Long little finger, a musical advantage?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 30 May 11 - 11:58 AM

It ain't what you got, it's what you do with it.


DC


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Subject: RE: Long little finger, a musical advantage?
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 30 May 11 - 12:24 PM

The man who first got me started playing guitar around 1958 (he also taught a multitude of other instruments, from Shand-style accordion to orchestral instruments) had short, stubby fingers. It doesn't seem to have held him back - Harry Bence (Obituary from the Glasgow Herald, 1997).

Ross


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Subject: RE: Long little finger, a musical advantage?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 30 May 11 - 03:53 PM

Spans here. 23.0 left, 22.0 right. I'd still like a longer little finger though.


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Subject: RE: Long little finger, a musical advantage?
From: MikeL2
Date: 30 May 11 - 04:20 PM

hi

I agree with Will Fly. Segovia, probably the most accomplished guitar player ever had short podgy hands but was a virtuoso.

Three of my favourite guitarists whom I have seen often are Wes Montgomery, Barney Kessell and Joe Pass. None of these have particularly long fingers but boy are they flexible and strong. Obviously long practice and technique help make the hands and fingers like this. These are two things that managed to escape me !!!

Cheers

MikeL2


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