Adapting guitar playing for ex-special forces guy who lost finger

The place to chat with your fellow MIMForum members about whatever you want that doesn't relate to instruments, or isn't specific to one instrument family. Pull up a chair, grab a cold one out of the virtual 'fridge, and tell your friends what's on your mind.
Post Reply
Matthew Lau
Posts: 488
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:03 am

Adapting guitar playing for ex-special forces guy who lost finger

Post by Matthew Lau »

Hey MIMF,

One of my patients (ex-special forces combat medic) recently lost the distal half of his left middle finger this past month.
While he had the finger cosmetically reconstructed (with part of his wrist bone and grafted flesh), it's effectively nonfunctional.
He's a bit frustrated, since he can't play guitar anymore (he's been an avid player for 14 years, likes punk, rock, and blues).

Do you guys have any recommendations?

I was thinking of getting him a guitar slide, but wasn't sure which one works.

Craig Bumgarner
Posts: 370
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:03 pm
Location: Drayden, Maryland

Re: Adapting guitar playing for ex-special forces guy who lost finger

Post by Craig Bumgarner »

I don't have any direct advise though the slide idea sound promising. My thought was to have him read the Django Reinhardt story. Django lost the use of his 3rd and 4th finger on his left hand from a severe burn early in his career. Everyone thought his career was over but he adapted his playing to his badly damaged hand and became the most popular jazz musician in Europe from 1935 to 1945. He is considered by many to be the first great jazz guitar soloist and is certainly one of the greatest guitarist ever. Hopefully your patient will find inspiration in this and find a way.

Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend by Michael Dregni is excellent. The Django Reinhardt Biography by Charles Delaunay is also quite good, especially because Delauney was the closest thing Django had to a manager and promoter and was with the man for many years.

User avatar
Bob Gramann
Posts: 956
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:08 am
Location: Fredericksburg, VA
Contact:

Re: Adapting guitar playing for ex-special forces guy who lost finger

Post by Bob Gramann »

Richie Havens played in open tunings fretting with his thumb as well as his fingers. One performer that I know of relearned guitar left-handed after his left hand (his fretting hand) was damaged in a blast.

Over the years, I’ve played with several different slides. I tend to favor those with enough mass to hold steady against the vibrating strings. After that, fit is important. I’ve yet to meet the perfect slide.

In the end, the music you want to play leads you to do what you have to do to play it.

Randy Roberts
Posts: 435
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 9:11 pm
Location: Omaha, NE (a suburb of Iowa)

Re: Adapting guitar playing for ex-special forces guy who lost finger

Post by Randy Roberts »

Get him Django: the Life and Music, and get him some examples of his playing. What better way to show your support, and could end up being really inspirational.

Matthew Lau
Posts: 488
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:03 am

Re: Adapting guitar playing for ex-special forces guy who lost finger

Post by Matthew Lau »

Thanks for the tip.

I placed an order for the book.

User avatar
Jim McConkey
Posts: 921
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:00 pm
Location: Way north of Baltimore, MD

Re: Adapting guitar playing for ex-special forces guy who lost finger

Post by Jim McConkey »

If your friend has time to travel, an east coast summer music camp might be of interest: http://www.commongroundonthehill.org/index.html
They have a special program for veterans, and even scholarships to enable them to attend, and s/he would find a lot of camaraderie and support from fellow veterans, in addition to a bewildering array of classes on various instruments, folk arts, and social justice. Common Ground is great for anyone, but they reach out to veterans.
MIMForum Staff - Way North of Baltimore

Bob Francis
Posts: 522
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:28 pm

Re: Adapting guitar playing for ex-special forces guy who lost finger

Post by Bob Francis »

Jim McConkey wrote:If your friend has time to travel, an east coast summer music camp might be of interest: http://www.commongroundonthehill.org/index.html
They have a special program for veterans, and even scholarships to enable them to attend, and s/he would find a lot of camaraderie and support from fellow veterans, in addition to a bewildering array of classes on various instruments, folk arts, and social justice. Common Ground is great for anyone, but they reach out to veterans.
What a great idea.

Post Reply