I took up guitar in my middle-age some months ago. I’m teaching myself. I think that’s working out ok. But I have a question for you lurking shredders and orthopaedic medical professionals in the CT commentariat. My fretting fingers work thusly. I can make a nice A-shape chord with my pinky, which has learned to bend back at the top joint in an accommodating sort of way. But my ring finger refuses to bend back. At all. I can’t even get it a few degree back past straight, so I can’t even cover two strings, let alone three. (That whole ‘just let the high E be deadened’ kludge doesn’t work for me. I can’t get the B. One lousy note isn’t going to cut it as an A-shape chord.) So my pinky is getting a lot more A-shape barring work than is, I think, standard for his sort of finger. Yes, some people have real problems. My question is whether there is any healthy and effective way to train my ring finger to ‘break at the joint’. Intuitively the way to do it would be like learning the splits. A bit more each day until you’ve got it. But maybe I’m just going to give myself arthritis for my troubles if I try to become double-jointed where I wasn’t born to be. I’ve asked a few guitarists who have offered variations on ‘you don’t need to be able to bend your joint back, dude, just figure out how to sort of do it with what you’ve got.’ But, with all due respect, I suspect most guitarists can get their top joint to bend back at least a few degrees past straight. All my other fingers do, just not the ring finger. Discuss.

Guitar players: how far back do the top joints of your barring fingers bend? How long did it take you to get it there, if you happen to remember?