Bad Left Hand Habits
Fiste
Jan 20 2009, 05:55 AM
Learning Roadie
Posts: 3
Joined: 20-January 09
Hi there folks.

Long time beginner player. Never had any lessons to speak of, but used to play every day for a number of years when I was younger before marriage and children... ;-)

Got decent enough to play lead in a few cover bands back in the mid-90's but never considered myself that good.

So now I'm older. Every couple of months I throw the guitar back on for a few weeks and decide I'm going to get 'good and fast'... ;-) But I think I have a ton of bad habits I need to break in order to do that...

So after all that - I have this question.

I'm trying to play through a Fates Warning song that uses a lot of repeating patterns around the first through fourth positions on the fretboard. When I play through this, after a few patterns my hand starts cramping and my thumb sets stiff as a board almost like I'm hitchhiking. I have to assume that's not good. I'm having a heck of a time breaking myself of it though. And I can't play the patterns more than 2-3 times before my hand gets so tense and I have to stop. I can play the patterns further up the neck without pain and my thumb stays much more relaxed. The patterns use a lot of the 1-3-4 finger pattern. This is much more difficult for me than a 1-2-4 pattern for some reason.

I'm trying to figure out if I need to have my elbow out further away from my body to keep a better angle on my wrist. Or what the proper posture, thumb placement, etc. should be when playing faster runs lower on the fretboard.

Thanks!

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utak3r
Jan 20 2009, 08:43 AM
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Well, I think your peoblem is you're pushing the neck too much with your thumb.
Try relaxing it, not pushing so hard. Besides that, try to move it from the necks bottom to its side, as if you were holding it...
Just my thoughts... smile.gif

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Dejan Farkas
Jan 20 2009, 08:48 AM
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From: Sarajevo, Bosnia
Try playing in front of the mirror, it will be easier to spot the tension smile.gif

And if possible, record a video clip, and we can help you even better smile.gif

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Muris Varajic
Jan 20 2009, 11:12 AM
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From: Sarajevo,Bosnia
You'll get over it, no worries,
all you need is some more practicing and stamina in your left hand.
Problem with 1-3-4 fingering (pinky and ring finger actually)
is pretty much muscle problem and we all are dealing with it.
I would suggest you to practice legato exercises I bit more often from now on,
that will help a lot to gain some extra straight in your left hand.
As for proper posture, I can't say if there is such a thing at all.
Not everyone has the same size of hand
which leads to different postures.
But as long as it works for YOU, it's "proper". smile.gif

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David Wallimann
Jan 20 2009, 02:08 PM
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From: Fort Collins, CO
Also, don't hesitate to play it a very slow speed, that will train your muscles to "think" independently of anything else. Often the problem with sloppiness while playing fast is the amount of concentration you use on that part.

In other words, if a challenging part is coming and you are not comfortable enough with it, you'll stress out, leading you muscles to tense. The solution is to train your muscles to perfect movement and that's done slow. At least it works for me.. :-)

Let us know of your progress!

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Fiste
Jan 20 2009, 08:20 PM
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Posts: 3
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Thanks much for all the suggestions!

I'll give it a shot tonight. I need to go ahead and pick up a web cam sometime too...

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Vasilije Vukmiro...
Jan 21 2009, 12:14 AM
Jazz Instructor
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From: Belgrade
I suggest left-hand exercises(maybe legato stuff). Play them slowly in order to keep your 3rd and 4th finger longer on the fretboard, it's harder that way. There are also exercises where you use just 3rd and 4th fingers, and repeat patterns, like:

Track 1
S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
E||--1-2-1-2-------------------------|------------------3-2-3-2---------|
B||----------1-2-1-2-----------------|--------------------------3-2-3-2-|
G||------------------1-2-1-2---------|----------------------------------|
D||--------------------------1-2-1-2-|----------------------------------|
A||----------------------------------|--1-2-1-2-------------------------|
E||----------------------------------|----------1-2-1-2-----------------|


S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
----------------------------------||
----------------------------------||
--3-2-3-2-------------------------||
----------3-2-3-2-----------------||
------------------3-2-3-2---------||
--------------------------3-2-3-2-||



Move it around a neck, play it with legato. 5-10 minutes is enough, daily. Play it with your 3rd and 4th finger, you can also combine like 2nd and 3rd finger, 1st and 2nd....

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