Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

THE INFAMOUS 4 finger G chord

Hi Ben and Folks,

I am really struggling with the 4 finger G chop chord. My Pinky keeps deadening the G string at 7th fret. Now I know Ben has other ways of playing this chord, but I am just wondering is there an easier way to handle this beast? If I can get my pinky to stop, I will have it, but IDK. Any help is appreciated!!


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Make sure and watch this one to have in your back (or front) pocket:

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I think we all have trouble with that one. Just keep playing it and it will get easier with time. It’s a good shape to know because you can move it up the neck; and it gets easier because the frets get closer.



I found doing exercises up and down the neck that use the pinky, on a daily basis, for just a couple of weeks really can help with getting the pinky to work better on the chop. Something as simple as playing closed position scales, starting on the G string, climbing up to the 7th or 8th fret of the E string and back.

You can also practice the A or B chop a couple of frets up the neck. Since the frets are closer together, it won’t be as big of a stretch, and you’ll probably have more success.

Picking out some tunes to learn that use the pinky, and playing them regularly will help too. Sometimes, when Ben teaches a lesson with a position shift so you can play the 7th or 8th fret with your ring finger, I won’t shift, just so I can work my pinky.

If I don’t target the pinky, it doesn’t get a ton of use, and it doesn’t progress!


Hang in there!


I can’t remember where I saw it, but it was either a banjo ben lesson or another comment board, but here’s what I can say actually worked…".just keep doing it, and eventually u won’t even know why it was hard in the first place."

Now if u were like me, ur thinking this advice is crap because ur hand isn’t making the shape it needs to and ur thinking it never will. If u do make the shape ur muting ur buzzing strings and if u hit it right ur in some impossible position that is sensible for actual playing…am I right???
So here’s what I did. I trusted in the process. Every day I would practice for at least 5 minutes on just that hand position (obviously more than 5 if u can), but 5 minutes is easy to commit to. So for those 5 minutes I would force my hand and fingers to be where they needed to be. It was uncomfortable, it hurt, and it had to be forced. Then I would strum once and see what needed to be shifted and I would take my other hand and manually move the one or two wayward fingers into the right position. Then I would press as hard as I needed to make the right sound. After a while u will develop calluses where they need to be to match ur hand shape to that chord. And u will see where pressure needs to be added and reduced. U will also start to build muscles in ur hand and fingers u need for the shape… I would also do daily finger stretches (think thumb and pinky splits, haha) to limber up that pinky. As all this starts to come together u will start to hone in on the small nuances particular to ur hand to make that chord. I can’t stress this enough, IT WILL HAPPEN 100%, and IT WILL TAKE A WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIILE, and probablya long while at that. I have small hands and stubby fingers, and was ready to give up mandolin many times thinking my hands aren’t made for this, but trust me just keep making the chord and forcing your hand to make the chord sound clean and strum it. Even if its just one time and then ur hand or finger loses position. Reset it, and strum again… Where i started in hand finger position is not where I ended up if that makes sense. I started with my hand flat like I see my long finger brothers due with ease, but I ended up with a claw like fist shape that has me turning my whole hand and wrist inward like I’m trying to touch my finger tips to my shoulder. But it works for me. Also, I have to anchor my first two fingers under the fret board at the very top of the frets, first, and then roll them up onto the fretboard in a sweep/slide motion which slides the first fingers into a position on the frets that’s acually higher up the neck into the sweet spot and brings the other fingers into place. The reason I have to roll up and over so much is my pinky is fuzzing the other string.
Another hurdle I had was thinking I could only use one part of my finger pad, like the part u use when u solo. I posted a picture of the final product, (which still takes daily upkeep) and u can see my 1st finger uses the tip, the 2nd uses pretty much the skin right at the fingernail, 3rd finger the right upper finger pad and the infamous pinky, well as u can see i have to use the side of it and hang the top part has to hang over the fret board to make it not buzz the D string. It doesn’t look like it would play clean, but it does, for me, because I formed calluses and the right amount of necessary pressure in the right spots to let everything ring true.
So what I’m saying is, ur hand position will be personalized to ur hand, but just keep at it and it the most gratifying thing every when after a month or two of due diligence, u find ur home on there. Good luck, hope ootand keep at it :ok_hand:t4:


AScaleClosedCircular.tef (2.4 KB)

Here’s the latest exercise I’ve been doing to improve my pinky, thereby improving my chop. I took @BanjoBen ‘s circular scale, and closed it. So instead of playing open strings, I play the 7th fret with the pinky. It’s a real great workout for stretching the pinky and the ring finger.