Exercise to improve ring/pinky stretch

I’m wondering if anybody here knows of an exercise that will help me to fret chords like this Am7, where the pinky is landing a long way horizontally from the ring finger.


I find that when I try to stretch my pinky out and away from the ring finger, the knuckle kicks out to the side but the tip ends up right next door to the ring finger. I can’t seem to find any position to play this chord that feels OK. I always end up with fingers that are not close enough up on the frets for a good sound.

Any ideas? I already do the hammer-on “finger gym” from Justin’s course but not sure if that one is directly helping with this stretch problem.

1 Like

The only one I know that uses the pinky is the Peter Gunn riff that Justin has us learning in grade one. Possibly other more proficient players will have better tips

I lied. There’s another much more intense stretch lessen that uses the pinky on his app, grade 1, module 4. I don’t know if you have the app or not. Perhaps he has a lesson on YouTube or on the website. Sorry, wish I was more helpful

A finger exercise, using all strings:
starting on the bass E string
1 on I
2 on II
3 on III
4 on IV
then move to the bass A string
1 on I
2 on II
3 on III
4 on IV
all Tage way down to the high E string…
and then descending notes using the high E string
4 on IV
3 on III
2 on II
1 in I … all the way up to the bass E string

Then do this whole exercise, up one fret on the neck, using II, III, IV, V …

I’ll the way up the neck.

This should stretch your fingers and train them to land on assigned fret.

If you have any question, pls let me know.
Keep on playing.
Warm regards,


On his YouTube from 8 yrs back, he’s got ‘Guitar Techniques - Minimum Movement Guitar Exercises’.
Sorry, I would have posted the link to it but my iPad is on its last legs and just not wanting to play ball.
I did also see many on his website.

Here’s one for you Brendan: https://www.justinguitar.com/guitar-lessons/finger-stretching-exercise-te-101

I’ve been doing it for a while and it helps.

I’ve also found with Am7 specifically, that shifting grip is needed sometimes to get that pinky out. Thumb in the middle of the neck rather than over the top helps.

Also, practicing it super slow (like a stretch :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:)


Hi Brendan, I have the same issue with the Am7. I’m doing the finger-streching-excercise that JK mentioned almost every day, it helped me a lot, compared to the beginning a year ago, my finger position has increased enormously. I’m able to spread my fingers over four frets now. I control it with a mirror. Concerning the pinky with the Am7, I’m not there at all, but I think, the combination of a stretching excercise combined with building up strength in the pinky will help. As JK already mentioned, the positioning of the thumb in the middle of the neck AND, in my case In the middle of the hand, more opposite fingers 2 and 3 than finger 1, behind the neck help too. When I have a good day, I reach less than the middle point between frets with my pinky while playing Am7. A looong way to go!

1 Like

Thanks JK and Andrea, I will give it a go. :+1:

Yeah my thumb already drops down to the middle of the neck or even lower, it wasn’t a conscious choice but that’s the only place I can fret the chord from. If I try to do it with the thumb over the top there’s absolutely no way.

I don’t have any songs that use Am7, but I played around with it a bit.

What worked best for me was the same trick that worked with barre chords - start higher up the neck where the frets are closer together, and work down the neck.

It seemed to help to relax my grip each time I dropped down a fret, and to lift and drop my pinky several times at each fret while strumming the chord.

Doing this for a few minutes really seemed to help.

I remember making some comments on a similar question:

Maybe some other comments in that thread useful for your question as well.

1 Like

Thanks for all the replies, folks. I have had a couple of goes at the finger stretching exercise that @jkahn recommended, and it certainly feels like something is getting stretched, so I think it’s working.

I also like the bit about keeping my palm up close to the neck and fingers curled when playing on the thinner strings. I have a bad tendency to drop my wrist, so this is exercise is ‘two birds with one stone’ for me.

This came at a good time because I was getting kind of bored of the finger gym and it didn’t feel like it was doing a lot for me anymore. I think I will go ahead and swap the finger gym out for finger stretching in my regular practice. Plus just continuing to work on Am7 in songs and it should get there.

1 Like

so backwards on the way up. i like that

Stairway to Heaven for one