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guitaro
post May 6 2014, 05:10 PM
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Hey guys, just a few questions:

1) When I was learning to play, I learnt off the Metal Method DVD series. The teacher always said that if you were to play a chromatic run along one string with all four fingers, that all four fingers should remain on the frets. So the index finger stays on fret 5 even after the middle finger is placed on fret 6, ring on fret 7 etc. I understand that part. However should we still apply pressure the the fret with the previous fingers? Or we loosen them and let them just rest on the fret? If we were playing a run of A, A sharp, B and C on the low E string for example, would fingers 1,2 and 3 be applied to frets 5,6 and 7 while the pinky is fretting 8? Or do we relax the previous fingers and just rest them on the frets once we are done with them?

2) I've been attempting to lighten the pressure that my thumb exerts on the back of the neck because that creates tension in the arm and hinders movement. When playing scales it is fine, but is it normal to use thumb pressure in the back of the neck to assist in fretting notes for things like chords and legato? I know with things like barre chords it is pretty much essential to use pressure from the thumb to make sure all the notes are fretted but what about non-barre chords and legato? I find with legato that my thumb almost automatically digs in for some reason...

Thanks in advance! Really want to know about these two!
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Gabriel Leopardi
post May 6 2014, 06:00 PM
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Hi friend! How are you? I will answer your two questions here.

QUOTE (guitaro @ May 6 2014, 01:10 PM) *
1) When I was learning to play, I learnt off the Metal Method DVD series. The teacher always said that if you were to play a chromatic run along one string with all four fingers, that all four fingers should remain on the frets. So the index finger stays on fret 5 even after the middle finger is placed on fret 6, ring on fret 7 etc. I understand that part. However should we still apply pressure the the fret with the previous fingers? Or we loosen them and let them just rest on the fret? If we were playing a run of A, A sharp, B and C on the low E string for example, would fingers 1,2 and 3 be applied to frets 5,6 and 7 while the pinky is fretting 8? Or do we relax the previous fingers and just rest them on the frets once we are done with them?


This suggestions that you found in the Metal DVD is very important. I think that's the best way to be effective with your left hand and to be ready to play licks without extra effort. About your question, I think that the best is to stop applying pressure once you are fretting the following fret. However this is not something that must be extremely synchronized. I use to keep the previous finger applying pressure a bit because it usually helps me to have more strength to do vibrato and bending.


QUOTE (guitaro @ May 6 2014, 01:10 PM) *
2) I've been attempting to lighten the pressure that my thumb exerts on the back of the neck because that creates tension in the arm and hinders movement. When playing scales it is fine, but is it normal to use thumb pressure in the back of the neck to assist in fretting notes for things like chords and legato? I know with things like barre chords it is pretty much essential to use pressure from the thumb to make sure all the notes are fretted but what about non-barre chords and legato? I find with legato that my thumb almost automatically digs in for some reason...


About this question, yes, the best is do the less pressure possible with your thumb, it's wasted energy, but it's true that you need to use some more strength (pressure) when you play tricky chords and stretches. It's something that you can avoid but you practice applying the less pressure possible.


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guitaro
post May 7 2014, 06:42 AM
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QUOTE (Gabriel Leopardi @ May 6 2014, 05:00 PM) *
Hi friend! How are you? I will answer your two questions here.



This suggestions that you found in the Metal DVD is very important. I think that's the best way to be effective with your left hand and to be ready to play licks without extra effort. About your question, I think that the best is to stop applying pressure once you are fretting the following fret. However this is not something that must be extremely synchronized. I use to keep the previous finger applying pressure a bit because it usually helps me to have more strength to do vibrato and bending.




About this question, yes, the best is do the less pressure possible with your thumb, it's wasted energy, but it's true that you need to use some more strength (pressure) when you play tricky chords and stretches. It's something that you can avoid but you practice applying the less pressure possible.


Thanks for the detailed reply. Do you think it is possible to play without using any pressure from the thumb at all? Or is it needed in some cases like tricky chords, stretches and legato?

Also when playing things like fast trills, I'm assuming it is better to get the first finger applied to the fret the whole time whilst doing the hammer-pull with the second finger simply because of the speed of the lick? This would probably be an exception to the rule of letting the before fingers rest after the following finger has been applied?

This post has been edited by guitaro: May 7 2014, 06:44 AM
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AK Rich
post May 7 2014, 07:32 AM
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The answer to your thumbless question is yes. The first time I had seen or heard of this was from one of our own instructors Mr. Todd Simpson. When I first saw him do it I thought he was a little bit nuts tongue.gif but the idea behind it is solid, what it does is to help reset the fret hand to use the least amount of pressure possible for things like doing fast scale runs and even legato with some stretches. In this video he is muting above the fret hand with his pick hand. You don't have to do it this way as long as you hold your guitar against your body so that you don't push the neck away from your fret hand. That way you can still pick the notes if you choose to. I am sure Todd will see this thread and add anything I may have forgot to mention.

Edit and PS: You are probably not going to want to do this all the time , but rather use it when you catch yourself applying too much pressure with your thumb or squeezing the neck. Like I said above, it is a trick to reset your fret hand and remind you to not use too much pressure with your thumb.



As for your second question about trills, yes, you will want to keep that index finger applying pressure to the string while you hammer and pull with another finger. Rock on!

This post has been edited by AK Rich: May 7 2014, 07:58 AM
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Cosmin Lupu
post May 7 2014, 02:28 PM
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QUOTE (Gabriel Leopardi @ May 6 2014, 05:00 PM) *
Hi friend! How are you? I will answer your two questions here.



This suggestions that you found in the Metal DVD is very important. I think that's the best way to be effective with your left hand and to be ready to play licks without extra effort. About your question, I think that the best is to stop applying pressure once you are fretting the following fret. However this is not something that must be extremely synchronized. I use to keep the previous finger applying pressure a bit because it usually helps me to have more strength to do vibrato and bending.




About this question, yes, the best is do the less pressure possible with your thumb, it's wasted energy, but it's true that you need to use some more strength (pressure) when you play tricky chords and stretches. It's something that you can avoid but you practice applying the less pressure possible.


I think that Gabi pointed things out really well. I too have the same approach as he does in respect to a chromatic phrase - I was thinking just now about the idea and since I have been practicing a little chromatic run in a solo on the acoustic guitar, I thought about the pressure and it varies as the phrase progresses.

In respect to the thumb pressure - a thing which I was following while playing legato for instance, was to be able to move my thumb along with my whole hand, without letting it drag behind - that's achievable while juggling with pressure on and off and becoming aware of how much pressure to apply. It's an experimenting thing and it's important to always know where you want to get, in order to asses the available solutions smile.gif


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Gabriel Leopardi
post May 7 2014, 02:44 PM
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QUOTE (guitaro @ May 7 2014, 02:42 AM) *
Thanks for the detailed reply. Do you think it is possible to play without using any pressure from the thumb at all? Or is it needed in some cases like tricky chords, stretches and legato?

Also when playing things like fast trills, I'm assuming it is better to get the first finger applied to the fret the whole time whilst doing the hammer-pull with the second finger simply because of the speed of the lick? This would probably be an exception to the rule of letting the before fingers rest after the following finger has been applied?



In my case, I never play without touching the neck with my thumb, however you can check that video by Todd where he does it. As many other things related to guitar technique, there are not strict rules, we can give suggestions and share the things that work for us but experimenting is the best way to do if things work or not for you.

Regarding trills, you are right, that's the way I do it to be effective and be able to play fast.


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Cosmin Lupu
post May 8 2014, 08:07 AM
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As Gabi said, we can only share what works for us, tried and tested - you are always free to try other solutions if you wish, but starting from something which is already tried and known to work, is a good point to begin with smile.gif


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guitaro
post May 8 2014, 10:03 AM
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Thanks guys, im after the technique that will allow me to play as fast and comfortable as i can. Alot of people say 'use what works for you' but if a certain technique is hindering your ability to play faster and cleanerer, you should change it. So you guya recommend resting the previous fingers after the following finger has been applied to the fret rather than keeping them all held down. I can see how it wpuld induce more tension in the fret hand. Should i begin to move the previous fingers to the next string(ie the A string) as the following fingers fret the notes on the low E string in order to be faster?
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Ben Higgins
post May 8 2014, 10:44 AM
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Hi there. To answer your first questions..

1. That description seems accurate. It is generally more efficient to leave your fingers in place on the frets (or lightly hovering over the strings on those frets) than to bring them up off the fretboard. I generally don't move my fingers unless I need to. However, a lot of this type of stuff is unconscious so try not to think too hard about it or you'll hinder what is natural. But yes, to answer the chromatic run questions, you would leave the fingers where the are but you don't have to continue to exert the same pressure. I have a tendency to lift my fingers slightly off the frets when I'm not using it. This applies to playing on the same string or crossing strings. If my finger is not playing the note, then it lifts off the string just slightly.

2. This can sometimes be affected by the sort of hand angle you are using. If you are using an angled position (the sort you use when playing an E or D chord on the 2nd fret) then the thumb is usually wrapped around the guitar. This position is often also used for general phrasing, bending and vibrato.

The other hand position is a classical guitar style position where the hand is held straight. People often use this for legato runs or any other licks that require more reach. It looks like this:

Attached Image

The thumb will shift to somewhere along the back of the neck.. it still plays a part in maintaining your position and so can still generate some tension in your hand and arm. It's down to us to try to reduce the amount of force so that we are using only as much as we need and no more. When you're practising a lick over and over it can be easy to do too much and then end up with an aching hand..



QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ May 7 2014, 02:28 PM) *
In respect to the thumb pressure - a thing which I was following while playing legato for instance, was to be able to move my thumb along with my whole hand, without letting it drag behind - that's achievable while juggling with pressure on and off and becoming aware of how much pressure to apply. It's an experimenting thing and it's important to always know where you want to get, in order to asses the available solutions smile.gif


This is what I do.. I can move my thumb along the back of the neck without thinking about it. I never think about the thumb, it just does what it does. I can go from an angled hand position to a classical position whenever I want to, right in the middle of playing. That's the kind of point you want to get to.

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: May 8 2014, 10:44 AM


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guitaro
post May 8 2014, 02:07 PM
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I play classical style 90% of the time, only moving my thumb over the neck for bends, vibrato and muting strings on open chords(like the low E and A on an open D chord etc). Would it be best to have zero pressure from the thumb whilst playing runs, licks, legato etc? Or is some light pressure needed to make fretting the notes a bit easier?
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Gabriel Leopardi
post May 8 2014, 02:49 PM
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QUOTE (guitaro @ May 8 2014, 10:07 AM) *
I play classical style 90% of the time, only moving my thumb over the neck for bends, vibrato and muting strings on open chords(like the low E and A on an open D chord etc). Would it be best to have zero pressure from the thumb whilst playing runs, licks, legato etc? Or is some light pressure needed to make fretting the notes a bit easier?


The pressure varies depending on what you are playing. In my case there is always a light pressure when I'm playing because it lets me be more precise and have my left hand more stable while I play.


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Todd Simpson
post May 8 2014, 03:28 PM
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Thumbless!! smile.gif The thumbless technique is a very handy way to reset the hand. Thanks to mr rich for sharing the vid and linking me via pm to this thread. smile.gif

I started doing thumbless versions of scales/licks to help my hand stop using "overpressure" which just slows things down. Once you can play without the thumb, just using the fingertips, you can then lay the thumb gently on the neck and use it just as a guide as Gabe mentions.

I rarely use this technique in actual play/solos, it's mostly a training technique to help folks stop over griping with the thumb and using too much grasp.

Playing with a light touch, when desired, can greatly increase your speed/precision on the left hand imho smile.gif Letting the thumb come over the top is something that is perhaps best used on deep bends and such. One faster bits, using classical hand position is more practical and a better idea imho.

Hope this helps smile.gif



QUOTE (AK Rich @ May 7 2014, 02:32 AM) *
The answer to your thumbless question is yes. The first time I had seen or heard of this was from one of our own instructors Mr. Todd Simpson. When I first saw him do it I thought he was a little bit nuts tongue.gif but the idea behind it is solid, what it does is to help reset the fret hand to use the least amount of pressure possible for things like doing fast scale runs and even legato with some stretches. In this video he is muting above the fret hand with his pick hand. You don't have to do it this way as long as you hold your guitar against your body so that you don't push the neck away from your fret hand. That way you can still pick the notes if you choose to. I am sure Todd will see this thread and add anything I may have forgot to mention.

Edit and PS: You are probably not going to want to do this all the time , but rather use it when you catch yourself applying too much pressure with your thumb or squeezing the neck. Like I said above, it is a trick to reset your fret hand and remind you to not use too much pressure with your thumb.



As for your second question about trills, yes, you will want to keep that index finger applying pressure to the string while you hammer and pull with another finger. Rock on!


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Cosmin Lupu
post May 9 2014, 09:29 AM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ May 8 2014, 09:44 AM) *
This is what I do.. I can move my thumb along the back of the neck without thinking about it. I never think about the thumb, it just does what it does. I can go from an angled hand position to a classical position whenever I want to, right in the middle of playing. That's the kind of point you want to get to.


Like in the martial arts - you don't think, you react smile.gif this means you have assimilated a technique that you can deploy as a natural response to a certain situation. This is how I like to think of it, maybe more often since I started sword fencing.

I think that if we take the time to understand our body, it dictates the mechanics itself in respect to pretty much everything - thumb included.

Want a bigger stretch? Bring your wrist upfront and place your thumb lower down the neck, want a strong grip on a barre chord? Bring it in the middle and put a bit of pressure smile.gif This is how I see it.


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Ben Higgins
post May 9 2014, 09:40 AM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ May 9 2014, 09:29 AM) *
I think that if we take the time to understand our body, it dictates the mechanics itself in respect to pretty much everything - thumb included.


Yes.. less time looking out at others and more time looking in. Not in a self absorbed way.. but in a self investment way. Practise with what you have, work with it. Many of the answers to our questions are revealed to us through constant practising, searching, readjusting, adapting.

Sometimes, I'll be trying something out on the guitar to try to tackle a certain issue and an answer to it may reveal itself a few days later or a week later... but I never would have gotten that answer if I had not continued to work at it. Nobody else could have given me that answer.

Man, now it sounds like we're two Buddhist monks having a conversation in the temple grounds ! laugh.gif


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Cosmin Lupu
post May 9 2014, 10:35 AM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ May 9 2014, 08:40 AM) *
Yes.. less time looking out at others and more time looking in. Not in a self absorbed way.. but in a self investment way. Practise with what you have, work with it. Many of the answers to our questions are revealed to us through constant practising, searching, readjusting, adapting.

Sometimes, I'll be trying something out on the guitar to try to tackle a certain issue and an answer to it may reveal itself a few days later or a week later... but I never would have gotten that answer if I had not continued to work at it. Nobody else could have given me that answer.

Man, now it sounds like we're two Buddhist monks having a conversation in the temple grounds ! laugh.gif


biggrin.gif We could change the setting and add a pint or two and it would be a tad closer to reality laugh.gif Battojutsu reminded me the importance of practicing with an active mind - being aware of what you feel and of the surrounding environment. Caught up in the storm of life, I forgot how to listen to my body and the sword brought that back to me smile.gif


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guitaro
post May 25 2014, 02:05 PM
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The thumbless legato video looks absolutely unreal! It looks so effortless, like his fingers are barely flicking the strings. When I try and do it my fingers slow down due to the resistance of the strings. Could it be that my strings are set a bit high, hindering easier legato? Or is it merely building up strength in the fingers and using the lightest touch needed?
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SeeJay
post May 25 2014, 06:12 PM
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You're hands are gonna get a workout! Going to hurt! embrace it!

QUOTE (Gabriel Leopardi @ May 6 2014, 05:00 PM) *
Hi friend! How are you? I will answer your two questions here.



This suggestions that you found in the Metal DVD is very important. I think that's the best way to be effective with your left hand and to be ready to play licks without extra effort. About your question, I think that the best is to stop applying pressure once you are fretting the following fret. However this is not something that must be extremely synchronized. I use to keep the previous finger applying pressure a bit because it usually helps me to have more strength to do vibrato and bending.




About this question, yes, the best is do the less pressure possible with your thumb, it's wasted energy, but it's true that you need to use some more strength (pressure) when you play tricky chords and stretches. It's something that you can avoid but you practice applying the less pressure possible.



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Todd Simpson
post May 25 2014, 06:37 PM
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That's the idea! smile.gif "True Skill is Effortless" as they say smile.gif Or at least "seems" effortless. Doing the "Thumbless" technique will force you fingers to adapt and get stronger. It's a great way to reset the pressure your using away from the thumb and towards the tips of your fingers resulting in more efficient fretting hand smile.gif

It's perfectly normal for this to feel like work and cause your fingers to slow down. That's your fingers trying to adapt to not having the thumb to use as a fulcrum. So play slowly and precisely and try to use a metronome to reinforce timing. With practice it gets really easy pretty quick and opens up your playing!!! smile.gif

STRING HEIGHT: BINGO!!!! I set my strings as low as I can get them without it causing horrible buzzing/fretting out. So yeah, have your guitar "setup" by a pro if possible and have them lower the action past the point they normally go. Live with a bit of fret buzz smile.gif

DISCLAIMER: This is just me sharing my way of doing things. Some folks LOVE to have really high action and like to work and dig in and fight it. More power to them smile.gif I'm just not one of those folks. I play with the strings lowered and use a very light touch typically.



QUOTE (guitaro @ May 25 2014, 09:05 AM) *
The thumbless legato video looks absolutely unreal! It looks so effortless, like his fingers are barely flicking the strings. When I try and do it my fingers slow down due to the resistance of the strings. Could it be that my strings are set a bit high, hindering easier legato? Or is it merely building up strength in the fingers and using the lightest touch needed?


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Cosmin Lupu
post May 25 2014, 06:59 PM
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I like things to be somewhere in between smile.gif Not too low and not too high - when the strings are too high, you work too much to play and sometimes even not get to enjoy things and when they are too low, I for one am not satisfied with the vibrato sound or the bends - as Todd said, each to his own wink.gif


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Todd Simpson
post May 29 2014, 05:56 PM
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P.S. One thing you can do to add a percussive sound and to get that fast picking type of tone is to lightly palm mute during your alternate picking. Here is an example. Notice how relaxed my RIGHT HAND is during the picking. Very important smile.gif We are going to work on this during the sat/sun video chat!



QUOTE (guitaro @ May 25 2014, 09:05 AM) *
The thumbless legato video looks absolutely unreal! It looks so effortless, like his fingers are barely flicking the strings. When I try and do it my fingers slow down due to the resistance of the strings. Could it be that my strings are set a bit high, hindering easier legato? Or is it merely building up strength in the fingers and using the lightest touch needed?



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