5 Bad Playing Habits Worth Breaking
Todd Simpson
May 21 2020, 01:10 AM
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Joined: 23-December 09
From: Atlanta, Georgia, USA


There are a million habits both good and bad that creep in to our playing. Let’s look at five of them in particular that may be getting in the way of your progress.

1.)NOODLING:

Noodling is just playing whatever comes to mind without thinking about it. So what’s the problem with this? Well, you may notice that when you sit down, you often play the same things every time. This can lead to a LOT of frustration on the part of the player. If you always play the same thing when you sit down to play, you may start to think that you have no creativity and get burned out just because you always get stuck in a rut playing the same bits. Instead of playing what you always play, stop for just a moment. Consider what you were about to play, and modify it. Turn it in to something special before you even hit the strings. Make it in to something musical in your head, build it up to being something musical before you hit the first note. This can help eliminate the feeling that you “always play the same stuff”. That said, a bit of noodling can be a good thing in that it is playing without restrictions. You can come up with things off the cuff that just work! So noodle now and then, but also try to take your noodles and think about them before you play and create something new out of them. It tests your creativity and expands your improv ability.

2.)TOO MUCH REVERB:

Guitar players tend to be pretty fond of reverb. It can be a sort of mask/covering that hides mistakes in our playing. It can be any effect, such as overdrive, delay, etc. Anything that covers up what you are playing. It’s a way of making everything sound a bit better. Combining these effects can really bury all of your mistakes under a wash of effects. This has the result of not requiring you to play in a precise manner. You can get away with murder as long as there is enough overdrive/delay/reverb on the signal. If you turn all of it off, and play with a dry tone, or even a dirty tone, just without other effects, you will hear what you are actually playing and you’ll hear all of the mistakes that the fx were hiding. So when practicing, it’s a good idea to play with as few effects as possible so that you don’t end up covering up the very things that you need to work on. Also, turn off your noise gate. If you are having string noise issues, the gate can cover that up as well. When you are playing with a very dry tone, there is nowhere to hide. Also, record your practice session and then listen to it all the way through. You’ll hear things on playback that you didn’t notice during the recording. Just by playing guitar, our brains focus on the playing rather than the sound, when we hear just the sound, we can focus entirely on what is being heard. You’ll hear a lot of things that you didn’t even know were there.

3.)ANCHORING TO THE BRIDGE

It’s not a great habit to anchor your hand to your bridge. It restricts the hands movement and reduces the ability to create dynamic pick strikes. This is NOT to say you should keep your hand way off the bridge. The best way to do it is to float the hand above the bridge so that you are always close to the bridge and you can pull it up when you want to make large picking movements, but you can drop down and mute every string when playing open string licks, and playing palm muted riffs. So whether you are muting or not, try to keep your hand right above the bridge. It’s the ability to pull it off and place it back on, that provides for dynamics in your play.

4.)USING MUSCLE MEMORY INSTEAD OF REACTING TO A BACKING

It’s and easy trap to fall in to. We find the key of a backing, and we start using our standard bag of tricks. We play things that we often play. Instead, we should try to listen to the backing and find some sort of melody that’s happening in the track and then create some licks based on the melody from other instruments. This can help you play things that are fresh and new. Not only does this make for a better experience for your listeners, it makes for a better experience for the player. The feeling that we are playing new things, and not just relying on our muscle memory is a great way to make yourself feel good about what you are playing and not frustrated that you have let your old tricks take over.

5.)PLAYING THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER

It’s very common for players to play solos and songs that they know very well. These things are impossible to forget once they are in your muscle memory and burned in to your brain. The bad news is that when your ears hear that your hands are playing “that” lick again, your ears will get mad at you. The fix is easy. Break out of your rut! Learn new songs, learn new licks. Try to find new music and new solos that are outside of your wheelhouse. Find a new song and just play along with it. See if you can adapt to music that you’ve never heard before. It will give your fingers something new to try and give your ears something new to hear.

QUESTION: WHATS A BAD HABBIT YOU”D LIKE TO GET RID OF?


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Kristofer Dahl
May 22 2020, 04:28 PM
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Great stuff! I would say noodling, muscle memory and playing the same thing - those are all strongly related. My advice is to stay away from them as much as possible!

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Todd Simpson
May 22 2020, 08:12 PM
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Good advice smile.gif It's always good to have some sort of intention when playing. It's very easy to get caught in the trap of just playing what's familiar and then realizing that one is in a rut. I'd say try to make the first few notes something you've never tried before, even if it doesn't sound good. Just make it different smile.gif


QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ May 22 2020, 11:28 AM) *
Great stuff! I would say noodling, muscle memory and playing the same thing - those are all strongly related. My advice is to stay away from them as much as possible!

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Kristofer Dahl
May 24 2020, 07:50 PM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ May 22 2020, 09:12 PM) *
Good advice smile.gif It's always good to have some sort of intention when playing. It's very easy to get caught in the trap of just playing what's familiar and then realizing that one is in a rut. I'd say try to make the first few notes something you've never tried before, even if it doesn't sound good. Just make it different smile.gif


Yes that is also a good strategy for "breaking the ice" when you dive into an improvised solo.

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Todd Simpson
May 26 2020, 06:41 PM
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Well said! It' often tough to find your way in to a solo, especially when it's still new to you as a player.

Todd
QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ May 24 2020, 02:50 PM) *
Yes that is also a good strategy for "breaking the ice" when you dive into an improvised solo.

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