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> Stiff Fingers Problem.., How do I get my fretting hand to relax?
liligi
post Mar 5 2010, 05:03 PM
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Hey folx,

I've got a bit of a problem. Wondering if anyone could give me some tips. I have really long fingers... like slightly less than freakish long. Perhaps this particular problem doesn't have anything to do with long fingers at all, but it feels to me that that's the issue.

Anyway, if I try to play a fast riff, because my thumb and other fingers are putting alot of pressure on the neck, this thing happens where my fingers and hand start stiffening up and sticking then popping at the joints when I try to move them around. Looks kinda robot-like and it makes it hard to gain alot of speed.

Anyone else had this problem in the past? How'd you solve it. How can you relax your hand for speed but still fret the notes with sufficient pressure for sound?

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jafomatic
post Mar 5 2010, 06:09 PM
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Two things going on here.

1. Usually we want less pressure, not more. You are most likely gripping too tight. Some notes and phrases deserve to be played pretty hard, that's fine. Bending the heck out of a good note also requires some grip. When we're playing fast, however, you very likely won't need that pressure OR the thumb gripping the top of the neck.

2. I'm willing to bet you're not warming up properly. Play the slowest song you know, or learn one that's slow. I mean slow, like 70-80bpm at most. Something with a lot of bends, not just some shred etude slowed down. Play a song with vibrato and proper bending. Play that song a few times through when you first pick up your guitar. Then play something a little less slow, a few times through, for a few minutes. We require different amounts of warmup, but for you it sounds like 5 minutes would do it unless you're an old arthritic guy that's been typing and cracking his knuckles for 20 years.

The length of your fingers doesn't have all that much to do with this except that they're making it easier for you to grip the neck with your thumb while still fretting notes on string 6. That may have prevented you from forming the good habit of slipping your thumb behind the neck, and thus naturally loosening up, when trying to play faster.

TL;DR version: relax your grip and warm up before trying to play "fast"


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NoSkill
post Mar 5 2010, 06:16 PM
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If you have the ability to record some video, there's even more help available. But Jafo is correct. As I've cultivated almost every bad guitar habit invented. (I could write a book.) Usually it's best to grip the neck only as tightly as required, rather than hanging onto it like your plane is about to crash.


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liligi
post Mar 6 2010, 12:52 AM
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Thanks much for the tips, jafomatic. I'll try warming up a little longer and see how it goes.
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Ivan Milenkovic
post Mar 6 2010, 09:20 PM
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Like Tom said, it would be very useful if you could record the video of you playing so we can spot the problem 100%.

In general, I think that the problem is in your technique, not finger length. It's just a matter of placing the fingers on the correct spot (behind the fret), and rehearsing on really really slow tempos, while staying there to polish up your technique, so you have good foundation for building up speed later. Keep practicing and it will be OK.

Like I said, if you can post a video, or at least a pic of you playing we could spot the problem more easily.


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Bogdan Radovic
post Mar 7 2010, 06:14 PM
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As some already stated, its not the problem with the finger lenght rather practice and technique. Make sure you warm up well before each practice session. When you catch your hand stiffing out try to relax on purpose loosening pressure in your hand (from gripping especially). Its normal for your hand to stiff up on higher speeds (ones you didn't practice enough). You should just take it slowly, practice using metronome slowly bringing up the speed and your hands will relax over time.


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Conrad Harpham
post Mar 7 2010, 10:25 PM
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i dont think its going to be a problem - steve vai has got beanpoles for digits!


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Daniel Realpe
post Mar 14 2010, 09:00 PM
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I think Paul Gilbert is the perfect example. His hands and fingers are freakishly big, and he is one of the most technical electric guitarist I've seen, and fastest, so it doesn't have to do with that.


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