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Deliberate1 01-04-2022 11:13 AM

Relaxed left hand
 
Friends, I am just about three years into my guitar life, and have been working on fingerstyle for about four months. It has really transformed the playing experience for me in challenging but satisfying ways.

One issue I have is stiff hands/fingers. Meaning, sometimes the fingers feel like the Tin Man's, in need of a good oiling. I do have some arthritis in them, which surely does not help. But I think the most immediate issue is that I unintentionally tense the fingers as I am going through a passage that is difficult for me, or when I am just trying to make my way through a piece without screwing up.

A perfect example is the pinky/ring finger spread on the two E strings when reaching for a G chord. I can make the reach without difficulty if just doing it outside the context of a song - say just running through chords. But put it in the context of a song, and I just feel fingers tense up and casue me to miss the transition, or I end up switching to an alternate fingering as a crutch - which triggers more tension.

Before I play, I do stretches and warm up stuff. so physiologically it is not really an issue. What is an issue is trying to keep the left hand relaxed when I am not feeling particularly relaxed.

Thanks for any help.
David

rick-slo 01-04-2022 12:10 PM

You mean middle finger and pinky (or ring) fingers?

Jamolay 01-04-2022 12:25 PM

I find I have a similar issue. I am newer to this than you, but for me it is a purely psychological tension largely based in my inexperience and trying too hard. I try to calm and relax as I play. It is a meditation practice while also practicing repetition of a pattern.

Deliberate1 01-04-2022 12:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rick-slo (Post 6897150)
You mean middle finger and pinky (or ring) fingers?

The example I was giving was a G maj open chord with the ring finger on low E and pinky on high E strings. I have a hard time hitting that span when my fingers tense. Hope this answers your question.
David

Deliberate1 01-04-2022 12:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jamolay (Post 6897166)
I find I have a similar issue. I am newer to this than you, but for me it is a purely psychological tension largely based in my inexperience and trying too hard. I try to calm and relax as I play. It is a meditation practice while also practicing repetition of a pattern.

Yep. Ironic what "trying too hard" does to you.
Good luck with your music.
David

Brent Hahn 01-04-2022 12:40 PM

Speed may be an issue. As in (for example) you assume that when you switch over to that open G chord, all your fingers have to be smack-dab instantaneously in place. But... maybe they don't. It could be that your ring finger on the low E string needs to be there right on the downbeat of the bar, but maybe your pinky on the high E string can afford to be a bit of a laggard, and doesn't have to be in place until a little later. If you can prioritize this stuff, you can physically and mentally relax a bit.

rick-slo 01-04-2022 01:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Deliberate1 (Post 6897179)
The example I was giving was a G maj open chord with the ring finger on low E and pinky on high E strings. I have a hard time hitting that span when my fingers tense. Hope this answers your question.
David

That fingering does not compute.

rmp 01-04-2022 01:06 PM

Without watching you play, it's hard to really pin point any advice


but from years of teaching, I think I can offer one pc of advice.

Try to be very aware (without making it the only thing you can focus on) on your speed/tempo as you approach tricky/difficult parts.

Sometimes we can tense up unconsciously as we approach something hard, pushing up the tempo/speed we play at, which makes going in to complex measures even more difficult cuz it's all just getting too fast to be controlled well.

does that makes any sense?

Going into tuff measures with good tempo control will help you become more relax with everything.

Deliberate1 01-04-2022 01:28 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by rick-slo (Post 6897218)
That fingering does not compute.

Derek, this is what I was referring to.

Deliberate1 01-04-2022 01:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rmp (Post 6897228)
Without watching you play, it's hard to really pin point any advice


but from years of teaching, I think I can offer one pc of advice.

Try to be very aware (without making it the only thing you can focus on) on your speed/tempo as you approach tricky/difficult parts.

Sometimes we can tense up unconsciously as we approach something hard, pushing up the tempo/speed we play at, which makes going in to complex measures even more difficult cuz it's all just getting too fast to be controlled well.

does that makes any sense?

Going into tuff measures with good tempo control will help you become more relax with everything.

Ray, that is good mindfulness. Thanks.
I also try not to "hang" onto the previous chord as well, which inevitably means that I am rushing to the next chord. This is especially the case when I am transitioning to an F maj with the thumb overlay. That is always dicey move for me because there tends to be a lot going on, and I am not always so good about placing the thumb correctly.
Thanks again.
David

Deliberate1 01-04-2022 01:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brent Hahn (Post 6897195)
Speed may be an issue. As in (for example) you assume that when you switch over to that open G chord, all your fingers have to be smack-dab instantaneously in place. But... maybe they don't. It could be that your ring finger on the low E string needs to be there right on the downbeat of the bar, but maybe your pinky on the high E string can afford to be a bit of a laggard, and doesn't have to be in place until a little later. If you can prioritize this stuff, you can physically and mentally relax a bit.

Brent, that is something I find myself doing, and it can be helpful. Like placing the ring finger first then "leveraging" the pinky back.
Obliged for the suggestion.
Daid

rick-slo 01-04-2022 01:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Deliberate1 (Post 6897244)
Derek, this is what I was referring to.

Looks good.

Deliberate1 01-04-2022 01:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rick-slo (Post 6897266)
Looks good.

Cheers.
David

AndreF 01-04-2022 02:12 PM

https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/...1&d=1641324438
A couple of things for your consideration, based on that pic:
Your hand does appear overly tense in that position. Ideally you should try to place the fingers as close to the upper fret as you can, i.e. like where your middle finger is currently. Your ring finger looks like it's pinching on the middle finger.
A solution would be to work on finger separation and independence. That will loosen a lot of that tension. There are many drills for that. It will take time, but the payoff is big. A little bit every day.
Your knuckle position is otherwise good though.
The nail on your ring finger looks very long. Or is that a weird camera effect? Keeping those nails as short as you can will help you fret a lot more cleanly. Looking at the pic it would seem that the 5th string (B) note is being muffled by the ring finger. Having the nail too long makes proper fretting difficult. Apologies if it's just a camera effect.
You might want to try this drill as a starter:
Leave the pinky planted on the G note, but fret a C chord with the other fingers. Then move to the G as you show it, but leaving the pinky planted.
The idea is to leave one planted as you move the other. That is the basis of many finger independence drills. I think those would be very useful for you.

rick-slo 01-04-2022 02:35 PM

What Andre said. Move the fingers up closer behind the frets. If the index finger is planted on the B string it's a Gadd11 chord.


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