Short Pinky Problems

I started playing guitar when I was 13, I’m 43 now. I’ve wanted so badly from the very beginning to learn to play fast, to shred. I recently bought an amazing Ibanez RG Prestige because of how well it played and it’s thin neck. I’m having negative thoughts around my fretting hand though. My pinky finger is only 2.25" long. I saw a video today of Troy playing and I swear he had 4 frets between his index and pinky as he ran up the fretboard.

Does anyone else have a short pinky? Did you learn to shred decently? Or am I wasting my time trying to gain that skill?


I don’t know man, I’ve seen young children shred. I’ve seen young children play Paul Gilbert stuff, and he has probably one of the longest pinky’s out there, So I would think it probably doesn’t matter as much as you think unless you are trying to do some really ridiculous stretch.


You might be right. I really hope I can learn to stretch the way I need to to learn some great riffs. Just FYI though, I’m a woman not a man :slight_smile:


Naw, don’t worry about that pinky - you’ll be fine! Looks like you are getting a stretch of 1st fret to 5th, so that’s good enough to get you started!

Start with an even number of notes per string (4’s or 6’s) on a single string and take it from there.
TheInterlude bit on Yngwie’s “I’ll See The Light Tonight” is a great place to start, it’s a cool sounding thing and really hits home the power of even number of notes sequences…

(Make sure you have fun)

(ps good luck!)


Measured mine just now, just under 2.75 inches. Is that short?

I’ve found your reach is something that improves over time, the more you do it the more comfortable you get. I use to find stretching my middle finger over 1 fret uncomfortable but now I’m pretty happy playing a whole minor arpeggio on one string (around 10th position and upwards).

Check out the finger stretches in this video for inspiration, especially towards the end:

If she can do it, you definitely can. Discomfort will be normal to start with but be sure to have breaks if you get any pain :slight_smile:

Also, play around with your hand and guitar position to make sure you have good access and that your hand is in the best position for these wider stretches (Li-sa-X demonstrates this well).


Clearly I can see that. I meant it more as a general figure as speech. I tend to use the phrase a lot regardless of gender. Fairly noted though, I wasn’t thinking of the implications of doing so or how it might come across, so for that I do offer my deepest apologies.

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Longer than mine lol. Mine is 2.25"

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No worries! You’re completely fine. I hope I didn’t sound too snippy. That was not my intent. Thank you for responding to my post. :slight_smile:

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So this is a question I posed in another thread yesterday about somebody asking about another similarly perceived physical limitation. If somebody told you that your pinky was too short, what would you do with that information?

Questions like this inherently tend to be self defeating.


Hey @AerithAngel

@Tom_Gilroy put together some great videos on fretting principles

Sure it’s easier for the ones with large hands, but using proper technique should allow you do any common or even slightly lengthy reaches.

Also, I follow classical guitarists and many are small women with small hands. They can do some pretty amazing reaches too! It’s all about the wrist angle and general setup as per the videos in the link above.

Congratulations! I bought an Rg5121 Prestige last week and I’m loving it!


Thank you for the referral! I literally have an RG5121 in it’s bag in my living room right now!! I bought both because I couldn’t decide if I wanted hardtail or tremolo lol. It’s a beautiful guitar that plays like a dream. I’m glad you enjoy it! I’ll be taking it back this weekend though as I’ve decided to stick with the RG5320C which is basically the tremolo version of RG5121. I could actually keep both if I wanted to because I got a bonus from work but they’re just really similar.


Welcome to the Forum @AerithAngel :slight_smile:

Like others have mentioned, your example picture shows a 5-fret spread in the lowest position, which is more than enough for a ton of “shred” vocabulary!

Excellent suggestion from Joe to look at Tom Gilroy’s thread, I believe he might be one of the world leading experts in fretting technique (no joke!).

Changing perspective a little, what music would you like to play? Are you already working on some songs that require stretches you can’t do? Happy to take a look if you have some examples.

Also, Did you ever try a 22’5 scale guitar? Both Troy and myself play on those a lot, I think they are fantastic and they definitely make stretchy playing easier. Paul Gilbert himself uses a 22’5 for some of his more stretchy solos :slight_smile:


Thank you for the kind welcome! I’ve not tried a smaller scale as of yet. I just bought this expensive Ibanez full scale so I feel like I have to make it work at least for now. As far as music goes, I love melodic rock. That goes from 80s hair metal, to modern post-hardcore with technical guitar riffs. In the past I idolized Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmstein. Now I’m mainly listening to 80s stuff from my childhood, some 90s stuff from my teenage years, and some modern melodic stuff with heavy guitars.

I might look into something like this some day!

That said, with the full scale I should be able to shred alright with enough practice? I hope I can. I just paid the RG off today.

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Mine is 3 inches even. I have a good reach (and I’ve posted about this before) but I have HORRIBLE independence between ring/pinky on my fretting hand. So much that I suspect physical defect or past injury. I’ve actively done independence exercises between the 2 fingers. It was part of my daily routine for years. I’ve never done anything of the sort on my right hand and guess what? I have better independence between ring/pinky on that hand lol!

I’ve recently tried to adopt the philosophy that things which are extremely difficult and require a ton of work (i.e. years or work) aren’t worth my time. Most of our heroes have very specific strengths. They also have very specific weaknesses but no one talks about that :slight_smile: (and they shouldn’t because it’s rude lol) When I listen to Satch I think “Wow! What a melodic player with great vibrato and a nice smooth legato!”. I never think “Hmm. I wish he’d try cross picking. It’s really bumming me out that he doesn’t do that”. We are tough on ourselves and tend to think we should strengthen all weaknesses. Probably better to find what we are naturally good at and capitalize on those things. That’s probably how the greats got so great.

:metal: :metal: :metal: :metal:


Which is it?! Lol. I’m sure you’re good either way. If you feel like it really does matter, you could switch to LP (24.75") scale guitars, or even shorter.


2.25" I didn’t read the ruler correctly the first time (it was dark in my kitchen okay?! lol)

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^ this! I wish I had come to this conclusion when I was in my 20’s. Some of this maybe comes with age though when you start realizing how much of your life overall has become a textbook example of a “sunk cost” fallacy.


I wish I’d come to it when I was in my teens lol! In fact, that’s where it all started with me being stubborn and thinking everything that was hard just needed “more practice”…I don’t even want to think about how much a better player if I would’ve gone “Oooh that’s really hard. Maybe I should try it a different way…”

But I guess things happen for a reason lol! I’ll count all the lost years (decades actually) as character building :slight_smile:


I don’t really think this matters at all for most things unless you insist on playing intentionally wide-stretch things. You do not need super long fingers for playing a scale, or pretty any interval up to a fourth. That covers most things people play on a guitar, outside of classical music, or again, wide things like trying to play an arpeggio on one string.

My pinky is about as long as yours, give or take. I have not spent even a minute worrying that finger size is somehow holding me back. The thought just never even occurred to me. I just play whatever is easy and sounds good.