Finger Trouble

Hi - looking for a bit of advice about fingers, stretching, positioning, etc.
I have been playing for around 18 months and have recently started paying a lot more attention to exercises like the spider exercise and Justin’s pinky workout to try and improve my use of fingers but I am still really struggling and wondered if anyone else has the same issue as me… I cannot get my fingers to lay on the fretboard correctly (in certain positions)… e.g… the image below is my fingers playing one of the chords in ‘chasing cars’ (sorry dont know name).
as you can see, my first and little finger collapse completely onto their side. This makes it so much harder to keep the note ringing out true.

if you compare this to Justin…

his fingers look like the tips of the fingers are holding down the string… i.e. he’s doing what he says - play on fingertips.

does anyone else have this problem with fingers collapsing and what is the best way to address this?
thanks in advance.


How do David, I had the same results. I guess the solution is to start the exercise further down the neck and then work your way up as you progress.

Personally, I don’t play any songs yet which require such feats of stretching so I have just left it for now.

(Snow Patrol?)

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I have that problem too sometimes. The spider exercise and hammer on exercise has helped.
I am a big fan of exercises to improve technique. Every time I pick up guitar I always start with an exercise. I wish I had paid more attention to the exercises when I first started

Your fingers look fine to me. Of course they do that. Play for 30 more years, at a professional level and your fingers might look more like Justin’s.

Normal finger anatomy makes your fingers do that and there is no quick solution to it. Work in the exercises, stretching and anything that you think would be helpful without pushing to pain.

Remember that your hand is working very hard to play guitar and too many other exercise can add up to too much. Pace yourself and play as best you can and eventually it will be a little bit better.


I have been chasing this as well. I have a couple songs I want to play that have chords too spread out for me to reach. Our goals may be different, but the idea is related.
When I began guitar, my fingers really pointed to my palm, especially bending the largest knuckle. Reaching my 4th finger four frets away from the 1st finger was not possible on day one of learning to play. Today, I am trying to reach between frets 3 and 8 at the 5th string. A work in progress, but I see improvement in around 6-8 weeks to where I am buzzing the right note rather than not even close.
I treat the exercise a lot like weight training you would do in the gym. I reach for the chord, hold it a moment, then release. Repeat until I feel fatigue start, then relax and let the hand rest for maybe 90 seconds to recover. I’ll repeat this 3-5 times, then move on to whatever else i want to do. I think this is best done near the end of your session since you leave your hand fatigued. If I over-do it, I may need to avoid this exercise for a day or two so I don’t generate a longer term injury.
There are a couple things happening to your hand doing this: 1. you are improving muscles that generate the stretch 2. you are slowly gaining range of motion by stretching out stuff you probably never used in daily activities before guitar.
Your body adapts, it just takes a bit longer than we may want it to. :slight_smile:


Finding exercises that fit what you need is a great idea. When I started to learn piano years ago I was stretching my hand span by pushing my thumbs and little fingers against a table edge allowing me a greater note range.

I understand the OPs frustration, I know what I would try but not sure If I should mention it.


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It’s all about muscle memory which equates to time on task. The best exercises (in my opinion) are the air changes and back & forth changes for the specific chords that you want/need to play. Drill on the chord changes – you are not going to play the pinky gym, where is thumbkin or spider crawl in a song. If you want to stretch for the sake of stretching, then play scales, have at it when the time comes.

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Hi David, some really good advices have already been given. I don’t have more tips to add, just wanted to say, that my fingers behave exactly as yours. But I am certain, with time and lots of practice it will become better :innocent:.
A fix part of my daily practice routine are stretching and spider exercises - and it gets better (slowly but steadily :wink:).
So in 30+ years, my fingers will possibly look like Justins :sweat_smile:.

Never give up. :hugs:


These two are kinda related. Let me tell you though something which might be a game changer for you as it was for me, both at the gym and the “guitar gym”.

Mind-muscle connection.

Of course there are involuntary muscle spasms but that’s a specific case not of interest here. Here, what is inportant is for your concious mind to take control of muscle movement.
So, instead of relying to reflex (muscle memory) to do a movement, try to actually activate with your mind the muscle responsible for the movement.
You can do it. It’s not easy, but you can do it.
Go slow. Very slow. Be mindful. Be present at what you want to do and try to take control of your fingers.
And it’s like other friends here said, it will take some time but not ages and if you’re consistent with practicing, results will come soon.