2nd-3rd finger separation

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...

2nd-3rd finger separation

Post by gypscoun » Sun Feb 14, 2016 11:15 am


I have this problem with my left hand... whenever I'm moving my 2nd finger on my left hand, the 3rd finger moves along with it.
I know it's not uncommon for one finger's movents to cause some other finger's movement, but in my case, it's pretty severe.
Please see photo attached, where I'm moving both my right hand and left hand 2nd finger. See how my left hand's 3rd finger is curled almost all the way along with my 2nd finger (the only finger I'm trying to curl).

It's really frustrates me, as I'm a professional guitar player with very high standards, And this problem making my playing sloppy. Especially whenever I need to play the 2nd finger right after the 3rd finger (or vice versa).

Does anyone else around here suffers from the same problem? and more importantly, does any of you have any suggestion on how can I improve (or overcome? I wish..) this lack of seperation issue?

Many thanks
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Cao Nguyen

Re: 2nd-3rd finger seperation

Post by Cao Nguyen » Sun Feb 14, 2016 11:48 am

For me it's the right hand fingers that lack independence. I can flex any of the 4 fingers of my left hand from the middle joint without affecting the others. I can also simultaneously flex and/or extend any pair of them, including the 3rd and 4th. My right hand couldn't do those. But I realized that with some training, it could too. It just takes a few days to make a new set of muscle memory.

For your problem, I suggest practicing opposite movements: you flex one finger and at the same time extend the other. You can first practice away from the guitar. I find this particular exercise useful: pluck an inner string with a finger and simultaneously do a rasgueado on an outer string with another. My m and a fingers have gained a lot of independence after this. But be careful, don't over do the rasgueados or you may injure yourself. The practice is for right hand but I also do it with my left hand.

Rob Sheffer

Re: 2nd-3rd finger seperation

Post by Rob Sheffer » Sat Feb 20, 2016 1:57 pm

Like Cao, I also recommend you start stretching away from the guitar. Do some stretches any time before you play, and other times throughout the day. Start with large muscle stretches and move to the smaller muscles. Also try isolating that finger in a few different ways. For example, try moving just the middle finger. then try moving all fingers other than the middle finger. Try this from fist to open and open to fist. Also, move your fingers slowly and try to find out exactly what point in your movement the other finger is following the moving finger.

Also, the next time you go to your doctor it wouldn't hurt to ask about it! It seems unlikely just from your description that there's a medical problem- I'm sure that's not the case. But a doctor is likely to know way more than any of us about the way muscles work in your hand. I bet he/she could list off every possibility of what could be causing the lack of separation.

Hope some of that helps

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Re: 2nd-3rd finger seperation

Post by D.Cass » Sun Feb 21, 2016 5:43 pm

Well, the 2nd and 3rd finger are share the same tendon. it seems like maybe working on finger independence exercises would work. Try playing a trill on using the 2nd and 3rd finger. If you are gutsy try to keep it going for 15 seconds.

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Re: 2nd-3rd finger seperation

Post by lagartija » Sun Feb 21, 2016 6:24 pm

The picture shows your left hand pinky out straight and flat on the table. I seems likely that you are working very hard to do that and the back of your hand is likely very tense.
If you lay your hand on your thigh, relaxed and palm up,there should be a natural curve in all of your fingers. From this position, relaxed and slow, move finger 3 closer to your palm, allowing the pinky to move with it if it wants to. Stop as soon as 2 starts to move. Make sure that you are not doing any work to straighten 2 out; keep it relaxed with a slight natural curve.
What you are attempting is to isolate the muscles needed to move 3 without engaging the muscles in 2 or 1. You can also practice this exercise moving 1 & 2 while keeping 3&4 relaxed. I find this more challenging in the beginning which is why I started with 3&4 being active. Muscle isolation is easier to learn if you are attempting it from a relaxed state. Once you get the outer and inner pairs isolated, then you can work on the individuals.
Practice this any time you are away from your guitar. I used to do it in meetings or when waiting for appointments. :-)
Remember to keep your hand as relaxed as you can. The movements might be quite small in the beginning, but will increase with practice.
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Erik Zurcher
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Re: 2nd-3rd finger seperation

Post by Erik Zurcher » Sun Feb 21, 2016 10:19 pm

Ask this question to our member Matthew McAllister. He knows all sort of methods and exercises to overcome this problem.
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