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May 18, 2022 - 4:24:04 PM
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395 posts since 1/9/2022

So, what do you do when you have fingers that are too short? Or maybe that just won't reach?

Playing 16th notes-- third string second fret, followed by fifth string drone, followed by fourth string fourth fret, followed by fifth string drone. Only way possible for me is to fret the third string with the index finger and fret the fourth string with the pinky finger.

But fretting the third string with the index feels wrong because D7 frets third string with second finger. And the pinky fretting the fourth string on the fourth fret is really hard because my pinky wants to turn back toward my index finger... so it doesn't really reach hardly any distance beyond the third fret.

Similarly, fretting second string at the first fret and then hammering the second string at the third fret, third finger won't reach third fret and pinky is awkward as hellebore.

Any thoughts? Tips? Tricks?

May 18, 2022 - 4:32:57 PM
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4226 posts since 3/11/2004

I use index on the 3rd string 2nd fret and ring finger on the 4th string 4th fret. I don't try to hld a D7 chord at all. If I am going to strum after that note on the 4th string, I will strum string 3 and 4 lightly, or maybe hit the 4th string again instead of the strum. (I know you want to avoid strums.)

Hammering the 2nd string 3rd fret with fretting the 1st fret shouldn't be a problem. Perhaps your left hand position is limiting your reach. Don't press the palm of your left hand against the neck. Leave some space so your fingers can arc more vertically on to the string.

It seems you need some one-on-one help, either in person or via Zoom. I may be able to spend a little time with you. I play clawhammer, but we're talking left-hand work here. You might also search some videos by Tom Collins or Josh Turknett on YouTube for help with fretting.


May 18, 2022 - 9:02:50 PM
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4936 posts since 5/14/2007

Put both fingers down as a chord fingering, starting with the ring finger. I agree, index and third finger are best.

Edited by - John Gribble on 05/18/2022 21:03:43

May 19, 2022 - 9:12:54 AM



341 posts since 3/9/2017

If your playing index lead you could try fretting them one at a time, although 16ths would mean you'd have to be dexterous, I don't think it's impossible with practice?? Although might be 'bad practice'. Unless I miss your point.

May 19, 2022 - 9:44:38 AM

8388 posts since 3/17/2005

What David Brooks said ...

May 19, 2022 - 10:00:05 AM
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26041 posts since 6/25/2005
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May 19, 2022 - 5:39:22 PM
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8388 posts since 3/17/2005

You'll get to where you can go from the 20th fret down to the 1st fret in an 1/8 of a beat. Loosen your left hand. Most new players tend to have a death grip on the neck. Don't do that :-)

May 19, 2022 - 10:32:06 PM
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41631 posts since 3/7/2006

At the bottom of this page there are some finger stretching exercises: (from OldWoodChuck)

May 21, 2022 - 1:22:09 PM

303 posts since 8/25/2009

Have you thought of having the slots in the nut cut a little closer together to make the strings closer together? My fingers are "stubby", short with thick tips, so I have a limit on how much I can do with this --the worst of both worldssad

Another approach might be an A-scale banjo, or even a C-scale. That would make the frets closer together, not the strings. With an A-scale you can even tune the banjo down to normal (maybe even with heavier strings).

May 22, 2022 - 4:07:41 PM
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3 posts since 9/15/2019

Regarding the advice from a couple of the guys here, I see you are in Redmond. I'm a relative newbie, too and just recently had a really good in-person session with Martha Stone, a very good CH player who lives in Cascade Locks. If that's not too far from you, and you want a one-on-one. she would be a great resource IMHO. She's the admin for Clawhammer Rules.

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May 22, 2022 - 5:27:57 PM

8388 posts since 3/17/2005

Linhill, He may want to change, but he's been learning 2-finger Index Lead :-)

Edited by - chip arnold on 05/22/2022 17:32:37

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