Fingerstyle - Adding the Pinky | Hub Guitar

Fingerstyle - Adding the Pinky

How to Use the Pinky to Play Fingerstyle Guitar

  • Fret a chord with the fretting hand.
  • Play five-string patterns with the right hand including the pinky.

In fingerstyle guitar, the picking-hand pinky is often not used at all.

However, it is possible to train this finger and turn it into a useful asset in your playing—if you have the patience.

The pinky is primarily used for three purposes.

Reason #1: Bigger Rolls

You can use the pinky to play wider rolls with the picking hand. These rolls could be anywhere between 5 and 8 pulses, but 5 and 8 are the most natural.

Let “q” represent the pinky; this is taken from the Spanish term “meñique”. “M” was already taken.

“p, i, m, a, q”“p, i, m, a, q, a, m, i”

Five fingers rolling forward

This is likely some sort of arpeggioA chord whose notes are played in succession, as if it were part of a melody, as opposed to all together in harmony., as the notes need to be prepared before the fingers begin the roll. The most natural beat grouping is the quintupletA 5-note beat grouping, with a single beat or other rhythmic unit (such as two beats) being divided into 5 equal parts..

Note: The word “sim” is an abbreviation for “simile”. This term means to continue in the same manner. When it follows a fingering mark like “pimaq”, that means to continue to use that pattern.

Five fingers rolling backwards

Similar to the forward roll, but in reverse. And equally important.

Five fingers rolling forward and backwards (8-pulse)

A combination of the forward and reverse roll, producing an even 8-note pattern.

Reason #2: Four-Finger Tremolo

Using three or four fingers to play tremolo is a technique best suited for the nylon-string guitar, although possible on steel-string guitar as well. The classic Recuerdos de la Alhambra is a great example of a piece intended to help players of the Classical guitar build three-finger tremolo.

Four-finger tremolo is played using the pinky, ring, middle and index fingers—in that order.

Reason #3: Rasgueado Flamenco Technique

We’re not going to explore this technique here because it’s outside of the scope of this lesson, but in the rasgueado technique, the pinky finger provides an additional strum.

If you’re not already familiar with it, rasgueado is a strumming technique associated with Flamenco guitar. It uses four or five fingers on the right hand to rapidly strum the strings, by flinging a succession of fingers away from the palm of the hand.

To get an idea of how this technique works, make a fist. Now flick out your index finger, then middle, ring, and pinky in that order. This technique is unusual in that it can be practiced with no guitar at all.

As the creator of Hub Guitar, Grey has compiled hundreds of guitar lessons, written several books, and filmed hundreds of video lessons. He teaches private lessons in his Boston studio, as well as via video chat through TakeLessons.

©2018 Hub Guitar. All rights reserved.