Re: Guitar Technique

Posted by Gretchen (from: ) on December 17, 2004 at 05:59:16:
In Reply to: Re: Technique Practice posted by MrByngBell on December 17, 2004 at 01:43:49:

: : : I'm having trouble- when I play on the lower part of the fretboard, my pinkie really wants to flair up after I pull it off. Is this a common problem? I feel lke it's slowing me down by being generally sloppy.
: : : What's the best way to keep a tight flow when doing drills? What I mean is, how does one effectively keep their fingers hovering low witout straining them?

: : Hey guys - I think it's a common problem. As a bit of an ergonomist, (anatomy & physical science of playing, blah, blah), I personally feel it's in the wrist as much as in the finger itself. Now somebdy make a joke, but it better be a good one.

: : We all need to relax our wrists. You're never there, keep working on it. You know about those guitar hand exercise squeeze things. I prefer a soft stress ball, and constant curling 2 pound weights. Little dumbells. Damn, everything I say can be made fun of. But this will stop the pinkie from jumping up on its own, when you want it down on the board, in play.

Wow...I can't BELIEVE all the idiotic advice I read in this Forum! lol
: practice guitar to get good on the guitar, right? Ok. If you use those stupid guitar hand exercise squeeze pieces of crap, all it will do is make you better at squeezing those guitar hand exercise squeeze thing pieces of crap!!! READ THIS AND TRY TO UNDERSTAND!!!Forearm-curling weights is THE WORST thing you can do for guitar playing!! When playing the guitar, your fingertips should be floating over the fretboard, using very little pressure. That is allowed by nervous "fine-motor control". Lifting weights "tears" the muscle, and makes it grow. One other thing it does is "de-train" the muscle. Playing guitar is also a "muscle-memory" thing, so you're screwing yourself there too. So listen people...ya wanna play better guitar? Try practising!!! There's no fast-tracking way to do it. You won't become a great hockey player by dressing up with all your pads, skates, sweater and helmet, and sitting of front of the TV watching hockey! There's NO EASY WAY.
: So...for all of y'all who want a condensed version of this entry here it is: To get good on the guitar, PRACTICE! THAT'S THE ONLY WAY TO GET GOOD ON THE GUITAR. YOU CAN GET GOOD AT SOMETHING ONLY BE DOING IT, AND DOING IT ALOT!! WEIGHT-LIFTING IS DAMAGING TO GUITAR PLAYING! Name one WORLD-CLASS guitarist who has huge forarms from doing forearm curls! can't. Most of all use that grey thing in your skull.

Dr. Gretchen:
2 pound weights. Talking about ergonomics, not muscle training. Go read your dictionary. It's about flexibility - more like gymnastics. I got issues with your tone, jerk. Holy F* try getting up on the right side of the bed, use YOUR head! !-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------MrByngBell:----Woah, Princess!!! lol Don't get your panties in a bunch! To start off, here's a rebuttal to the boneheaded rubuttal to my rant on guitar technique: --------------------------------------------------LOL! Those guys are technical children! lol!! lol The fact that you even mentioned these guys' names proves you don't know what the HELL you're talking about!! lol "Michael Batio"....should be "Master Batio". I've heard these cats, and I laughed until I cried!!! lol If I played the way they play NOW, when I was 15 years old, I would have quit immediately out of embarrassment!! lol Michael Batio is a cartoon character. Kerry King??...Who? lol What I stated in my previous email it 100% true. I wish is WASN'T, because then I could lift weights to my hearts desire, and still be a hot player. That just ain't the way it is though, Jenny! Human physiology is the way it is, and you SAYING it ain't sure as Hell ain't gonna change it. So relax, and go back to your playing along with your Steve Lukather instructional vidoes, and leave the real playing to us. ------- Regarding the "you're a douche" comment...thanks! lol At least you spelled it "you're" instead of "yore" or "your", which is the way I'd expect you to. ------------------Ok...back to Dr. Gretchen.------ I've been playing for 45 years (40 professionally), and I've studied Medicine, and have played Semi-Pro Soccer, so I know a bit of what I'm talking about, ok? I've likely FORGOTTEN more words than you'll ever know, so I don't NEED to read a dictionary. I suggest YOU read one though. It serves no purpose to piss off on someone who's trying to help you. You don't have to listen to me when I tell you that ANY weight lifting involving the arms is bad for guitar-technique. "WORLD-CLASS" guitar technique I should have said. I should have known that that right there would rule you and all these other guys out. Another thing, Dr. Gretchen...Ergonomics involve muscles, whether you like it or not. If you move, a muscle caused it. Flexibility is primarily not a function of's range-of-motion, which has to do with joints, how far they move from flexion to extension, rotate, glide, etc etc etc. Muscles only contract to move the bones they articulate with closer together, is all. If you have issues with my tone, I suggest you ask your Dr. to prescribe you some Amitryptaline, 50mg o.p., o.d, for the first week, b.i.d. for the second week, and t.i.d for the third week. My tone was one of exaspiration....I see so much bullsh*t regarding playing guitar, technique, etc etc ec, that I JUST HAD to say something. I was laughing the whole time I typed it out! lol You however, sounded genuinely pissed off, so meds are the only thing that will help you now. I also recommend that you stop playing guitar, and also stop spreading bullsh*t about guitar, guitar playing, guitar technique, and ANYTHING about guitar! lol There aren't enough good players out giving sh*tty advice to wannabees will only make things worse. long have you been playing guitar, Dr. Gretchen? ---------------------------------------------------Believe who you want. Don't believe me...that's your right. Just don't tell someone to do something that's wrong and detrimental to their playing. These are guys, who even though aren't pros, or just aren't very good players...derive a great deal of pleasure from playing guitar. We, as good members of society, mustn't give crappy advice to these guys. Bad advice could cause ALL KINDS of arms/hand problems.
Remember...."Do No Harm".

Byng Bell

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I'm not sure I understand what this is all about, but I too was once cursed with a flighty “A” finger. The solution? Endless scales played with three notes on each string while observing strict alternation with the pick. At first my scales were painfully slow and choppy, but after a year I was able to wail all over the place with a well trained pinky in the mix. You seem angry, so you might want to explore the sadness of the harmonic minor scale or even, dare I suggest, the diabolical Phrygian mode. Good luck - tear it up!

Hi VitamineE....this topic is "Guitar Technique, and the misconceptions surrounding it".
I hope you're directing your reply to Gretchen. Anyway, practicing for a year? Good for you, dude! Practise is THE ONLY THING that will make anyone a better guitar player. You're on the right path. If you can see, feel and hear the difference good honest practice made in your playing, you don't meed anyone to tell you what to do. Just stay away from all those bullsh*t hand-exercisers, rubber balls, etc etc.
Guitar Lesson #1:...don't stretch the little finger on your fretting hand too far. The note you're trying to reach on the one-lower string, one or two frets higher, also occurs on the higher-up string, only 3 frets lower, so instead of using your little finger on the 7th fret, A-string, use your Index finger on the 2nd fret, D-string.
Lesson #2:...when picking, never go past a string, then back to it, to pick it. If you're picking the A note, 7th fret, D string, and your pick is going down, towards the G string, to hit the C note on the 5th fret....hit both strings with that one downstroke. Don't pick the first note on the D string, 7th fret, with a downstroke, then continue downward, past the G string, then back up to the G string! Hit both strings with that downstroke! Apply that idea to any instance where you're going from one string to another, and you will be using around 30% of the energy it would take to do it the WRONG WAY!!!! Less energy used to get the job done, means that it's easier to achieve your goal. Easier means SOONER. You get BETTER, SOONER! Sooner means FASTER! Not only will you become better, will be able to play unbelieveable FAST, because 70% of the resistance to fretting hand speed has been effectively removed. The only thing that can even REMOTELY be considered a drawback, is that the picking hand will be so fast, that the fretting hand will have its work cut out, just trying to keep up with the picking hand! lol
Ever see amazing players play? It looks like their fingers are hardly moving, and they make it look easy! IS easy, and their finger ARE hardly moving! lol Man!! lol If everyone started off with the correct technique, there'd be so much amazing guitar-playing out there to hear.
Unfortunately, so many dillitantes spread guitar-b.s, and the newby is off on the wrong foot, oblivious, and is never able to experience the supreme highs of playing guitar the way perfect technique would have let him/her play with.
Stay tuned!

Over the years I too have been bothered by some of the advice given to novice guitarists so, as a young player I went to the very top of the greatest technicians and found out what they did. None used those muscle toner sqeezy things. However, some use the "away-from-the-instrument" calithenics exercises.

Largely, the problems we encounter on the fingetboard are due to "wrong learning" in thre first place. I had to correct an appalling technique in order to play the sort of guitar that I wanted to play and that took some time.

The guitar seems naturally to be set up to use all four fingers on the fingrboard so that is what I recommend. The difficulty arrises in the transition from using three fingers, with the little finger used as an occasional afterthought, to a fully functional four-finger technique.

If your pinky is not behaving itself then this is due to "awareness" or rather, a lack of awareness. Slow down. Intentionally put your awareness into your fingers (and notice what happens). Devise exercises that force you to use the pinkie... I used the Moto Perpetuo form Fracture by Robert Fripp and The Flight of the Bumble Bee by Rimskij-Korsakov. It is not really possible to play these pieces without the full (del)monty of bananas.

Again, picking is about awareness. Alternate picking is a must.. but then sweep picking is also immensely useful. However, when you need to jump strings at a vicious pace (e.g. 5th to 2nd to 6th to 3rd) and do it all in 7/8 then an expanded technique is required and alternate picking becomes a God-send. (The Tarrega Tremolo Study is a perfect way to get your picking going).

To be able to play in, say, 7/8 and NOT change the direction of picking means that you will hit the strong beats with an up-stroke every other bar. (e.g. Frame by Frame) I learned the afore mentioned moto perpetuo starting on a down-stroke then re-learned it starting on an up-stroke. At first this was painful to my entire being but it paid off in the end.

As the late, great string bass player Lennie Bush said to me " Is it purposeful practice or meaningless meandering?" An hour of intentional awareness will produce the desired developement whereas 8 hours of finger-waggling will just reinforce what's already there.

As a recommendation try the "Beyond Bedroom Guitar" method which utilises NLP and other Richard Bandler distinctions.

Sorry MrByngBell. I was referring to practicing alternation on each string. I would hope the the extreme awkwardness of the technique you mentioned would alert the aspiring player to the fact that something was wrong. This is what I was talking about in the form of an ascending major scale. Please excuse the primitive diagram – I have never posted tab. on the web before. u’s and d’s for up and down and numbers for the tones of the scale. The first note on each string is played by the index finger and the last by the pinky. I realize that this somewhat violates the rules of position playing, but you can’t (shouldn’t) shred with sheet music.

-U|--------|---7 d--|--8(1)u-|-------|---2d---|-------|-------
-T |--4d---|--------|---5u---|-------|---6d---|-------|-------

Hi guys.....thanks for the replies. start, I went to, and read a bit of it. I don't have any problems with anyone trying to help others....helping our fellow Man is a noble thing. but I do have some concerns regarding the way some people, however well-intentioned, offer 5,000 gallons of paint to cover one square foot of wall. All a guitarists needs to know is this:
1. Never go past a string, then back to it to pick it...pick it as you pass it. Alternate picking, sweep picking, WHATEVER....just don't New York City from Los Angeles to get to Chicago. Alternate and sweep picking are meaningless if you don't follow that rule. If you are passing the string and going back to it to pick it, you most definitely AREN'T sweeping! lol I know....sounds simple, but it IS simple! lol It's so freakin' simple, I'm amazed that everyone doesn't know it.
2. Left hand stretching on the fretboard is ok, just don't stretch too far, or do too much of it.
The ideas proposes are undoubtably well-meaning.....I'm impressed by the amount of work that's gone into those concepts...I respect it. Playing guitar though, should be...playing guitar! lol I don't wanna have to "look inside to my inner child", or "explore the horizons of my spiritual music-ness", etc etc etc. Playing guitar is freakin' PLAYING GUITAR! lol I'll never muddle it up with psycho-babble (I'm not saying that is psycho-babble). Guitar-playing is first and foremost "the manipulating of the strings by the fingers of both hands". I don't care WHO you are, but if you have no fingers, you ain't gonna play, baby! lol You may do the Jason Becker thing, God bless him, but you'll quite likely never be able to perform with the hands-on subtlety and exquisite feel of Stephan Grappelli. That takes actual finger-string contact. The playing primarly comes from the fingers, and THEN, after years of playing, hopefully the ability is relegated to the subconscious, where it can be recalled at the players' whim. If the player has a mental, emotional, or spiritual issue, he may still play brilliantly, albiet machine-like...but brilliantly regardless, if his fingers and the muscles work properly. So, looks like the fingers win here! lol
A famous drummer told a fellow session player friend of mine..."Playing drums is just like walking". See where I'm going here? Simplicity!! Complicating things does nothing but....well, COMPLICATE THINGS!! lol
That saying, "Just Do It?" Well...that speaks volumes. In my studies, I've seen boards, tribunals, committees, this that, etc etc etc....and 99% of them were manned by procrastinators, who would rather sit around, drink coffee, and chat, while someone else is waiting for an organ, or a family loses their house, or a family pet gets euthanized because of idiotic bureaucracy. All that crap is wasted energy. Playing guitar shouldn't take anywhere NEAR as much energy as it takes! ----sheeeesh----Look....playing should be more like the word, "playing"!!! lol I know it's work to alot of us, which is why I want y'all to see that it doesn't have to be an agonizing ordeal to play "Flight Of The Bumblebee". I could do that at the age of 12, in my freakin' SLEEP, which was unheard of back then (1968). Why could I do it? Technique!!! I didn't have any of that bullsh*t "exploring the inner-child", or "Rainbow Freakin'-Body- Sculpture", and no "External Flagellate Phocase Disc Therapy"!!! lol
I just shut the f*ck up, and played with the right technique. I have no more ability than the next guy. My arms are like anyone elses. The only reason I can play at this level is because that's what I did...I PLAYED, with thr right technique, while eschewing all that other useless bullsh*t. All the guys I knew who DID use all that crap, never reached any worthwhile level of proficiency, and are all doing other things now with their lives. Nothing wrong with that...I love them...they're my bros...but the fact remains that they reached their level and I reached mine. I excelled, they dropped out. All this boils down to this one simple concept...TECHNIQUE!!!!!! What has boiled away, is all that other hogwash. Once you have the right technique, and it's been relegated to your subconscious, you're on your way, baby! You'll play for a few hours, and blow people's minds, and they'll say "that was absolutely fantastic!", and you won't recall very much of it! You WILL know that it was pleasant, and that you felt good, but you won't remember a whole Hell of alot of what you did for those few hours! lol That, my your muscle memory at work, and is your Subconscious playing through you. Famous studio player quote: "Stop thinkin' an' start playin'". lol!! I've always loved that line! Look....when you get up in the morning, and go out to your car to go to work, do you remember how many steps you took from the house to the car? Do you remember EVERY step? No! lol That's because you've "taken a step" so many hundreds of thousands of times in your life that your muscle memory and Subconscious take care of that for you. Your arm muscles are no different from your legs muscles. If you practice enough, with the proper technique, your playing will become as "second nature" to you as does walking from your house to your car in the morning! That's not just my opinion...that's fact. You don't need to bullsh*t yourself with all these other Oprah Winfrey Show self-help techniques. Just freakin' PLAY guys!!! Play with the PROPER TECHNIQUE, 4-5 (I used to do upwards of 10) hours every day, breathe properly, and practice proper posture, and you'll have NO PROBLEMS....EVER! More tips: tap water is full of chlorine and flouride. Both are f**king POISONS. Fill a glass bottle with tap water, and put it in the fridge for a day. The chlorine will have dissolved, but the flouride is still there. That water is ALMOST drinkable. Take your 73 Essential Minerals. "One-A-Day"??? lol Couldn't be more useless. Avoid MSG at all costs. Brush your teeth with Baking Soda. It neutralizes salivary acids, which attack teeth, and it's cheap. Toothpastes do nothing but make $$ for the toothpaste companies. Take care of your body, because it houses your soul, and is the main conduit between what you "are", and your guitar. Note: "Frame By Frame" by King Crimson is a good song to bugger around with if you wanna get into some primary forearm muscle tone.

Yours Truly, and thela hun jinjeet

Byng Bell

Bong...... Bong....... Bong........ time gentlemen please :lol:

Hmmmm....another BRILLIANT reply. :roll:

Too many words, could somebody please summarise, please?... I'm sure its useful stuff but I sort of zone out half way through.

"Simplicity, dedication, and proper technique are the keys to both good guitar playing and effective personal hygiene."


Thank you, I've got simplicity nailed the other two...not so sure about, but I'm sure I'll get there in the end...

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