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Old 08-02-2021, 06:44 AM
Gdjjr Gdjjr is offline
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Default Callus/Callous - observation/question

First things first- spelling mustache vs moustache- the auto spell checker red lined moustache

When I went to school they were spelled one way, now, they're spelled differently

Anyway- observation: Most of y'all have been playing a lot longer than I have.
I've been at it, in earnest, only since April 2020. I have callouses. Pretty substantial ones, as in very visible.

A digression: they have rendered the index, middle and ring finger all but useless for using them for anything other than chording a guitar. I can't hardly button a shirt (I usually wear snaps anyway though ), but, even they have a top button which I try to button when I wash and dry them and put them on hangers.

Back on topic: I watch y'alls videos and it appears, to me, you barely touch the strings when you chord. I try to pinch its head off! I grip the neck tight!
A result?, I think is, I have a creased index finger- not so much a problem as a curiosity.

Question(s): How do you do that? When I don't use as much pressure it just deadens the sound of the string- what am I doing wrong?

It interests me me, particularly for faster chord changes, like when finger picking- (although I just thumb pick [no pick]) I think I'd do better with less pressure applied at the chord fingers.

So, again; how do you do that?

Thanks for any advice.
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  #2  
Old 08-02-2021, 06:55 AM
YamahaGuy YamahaGuy is offline
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Years of practice, playing a variety of guitars, having a well setup guitar. Inherently, some guitars are just easier to play than others, that is to say, less pressure needs to be applied to the strings when chording, for a clean sound.

Has your guitar been setup? If not, I strongly encourage you to get it set up.

Have you played many other guitars? If not, I encourage you to play as many different guitars are you can, including ones that people own and play regularly, if possible.

For the record, I'm a hard presser too.

Maybe one final trick is to get an electric with light strings -- try to play chords on it without playing them sharp.
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Old 08-02-2021, 06:57 AM
Coler Coler is offline
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Grasping these three things really changed my understanding of and approach to the left hand, and I wish I had understood them earlier:

1. To fret a note, you need to apply pressure enough to bring the string into contact with the fret immediately ahead of the fretting finger, not to pin the string to the fret board. You need much less pressure than most people appreciate and playing with the lightest possible pressure applied will help your music to flow as desired.

2. Pressing harder won't help to get the notes clean, if your left hand fingers are muting/buzzing other strings- you need to get your technique right at the finger tip to solve that.

3. Your guitar needs to be set up correctly for the way you are trying to play. Between set up and technique, you should be able to fret notes including in a barre without using your left hand thumb. I'm not saying you should play that way, but give it a go as an exercise - play through some scales, fret a few chords.
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Old 08-02-2021, 07:15 AM
Pnewsom Pnewsom is offline
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After years of playing, what used to be calluses on my finger tips have turned to very thick skin.

Pressing too hard when playing is bad for your thumb, fingers and tendons in your hand and wrist. As well it slows down the ability to change chords quickly and hurts the tone as well.

It might be worth it to have the set up of your guitar looked at by someone good, just to see if that might be causing you to grip so hard.

There's an exercise I learned studing upright bass that I also use on guitar that helps reduce tension. It involves practising chords and single notes without touching your thumb on the back of the neck. Its a bit difficult at first, but with practice you can find a way to do it. It's just meant to be an exercise, not for performing.
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Old 08-02-2021, 07:39 AM
Gdjjr Gdjjr is offline
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Hmmmm- I have 13 guitars, so yes, I play a lot of different ones, including a Gretsch electic-

The set-up? I do it myself. I get the low E to 7/64's by sanding the saddle and/or truss rod adjustment in combination with the saddle sanding. I check the *play* at the 2nd and 3rd fret with a feeler gauge to get .008-.010 - I'm not a "pro" at set-up, by any stretch of anyone's imagination. But, I'm competent and confident from a life time of similar skill use with my eyes, hands and feeler gauges. LOL- that's why it bothers me that my fingers have been rendered useless in feeling my way with something as simple as buttoning a shirt-

My technique, is, I think, the issue. But, when I try to not fret hard the sound is deadened. Finding the correct pressure it seems to me, should come natural after a year of playing daily for extended periods- but, it hasn't. So, I'm looking for tips and even tricks

Maybe I'm in too big of a hurry. At 73 time is of the essence. I consider learning a new song (plus the ones I know) and playing it as practice-

Oh- I have a moustache too - it goes with my callouses
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Current favorites in my guitarsenal. (subject to change )

LAG T118 ACE
LAG T70A
Martin 00017
Martin 0015M
Orangewood Ava (acoustic only with Torriefied spruce top)
Gretsch 5420 (Alpine Green)
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Old 08-02-2021, 07:47 AM
YamahaGuy YamahaGuy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gdjjr View Post
Hmmmm- I have 13 guitars, so yes, I play a lot of different ones, including a Gretsch electic-

The set-up? I do it myself. I get the low E to 7/64's by sanding the saddle and/or truss rod adjustment in combination with the saddle sanding. I check the *play* at the 2nd and 3rd fret with a feeler gauge to get .008-.010 - I'm not a "pro" at set-up, by any stretch of anyone's imagination. But, I'm competent and confident from a life time of similar skill use with my eyes, hands and feeler gauges. LOL- that's why it bothers me that my fingers have been rendered useless in feeling my way with something as simple as buttoning a shirt-

My technique, is, I think, the issue. But, when I try to not fret hard the sound is deadened. Finding the correct pressure it seems to me, should come natural after a year of playing daily for extended periods- but, it hasn't. So, I'm looking for tips and even tricks

Maybe I'm in too big of a hurry. At 73 time is of the essence. I consider learning a new song (plus the ones I know) and playing it as practice-

Oh- I have a moustache too - it goes with my callouses
Wow! 13 guitars in a little over a year of [serious] playing? And that you already know how to do setups? That's impressive. What about experimenting with different strings?
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Old 08-02-2021, 07:59 AM
Gdjjr Gdjjr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitar JlM View Post
Ahhhhh, you're a young 73. That may be the problem. It very well could be that your problem is biological. Maybe you're experiencing biological changes in your skin structure that leave your skin less well protected. Maybe you don't need playing technique changes, but a "skin" doctor instead?

me and Dr's don't see eye to eye on a lot of things- couple of things comes to mind here- like the Willie Nelson song with the line- there's more old drunks than there are old Dr's-

Not to mention, the Dr's practice medicine- I practice guitar too , but, I don't do golf or bill people for my practice
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K.I.S.S.

Current favorites in my guitarsenal. (subject to change )

LAG T118 ACE
LAG T70A
Martin 00017
Martin 0015M
Orangewood Ava (acoustic only with Torriefied spruce top)
Gretsch 5420 (Alpine Green)
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  #8  
Old 08-02-2021, 08:04 AM
Gdjjr Gdjjr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YamahaGuy View Post
Wow! 13 guitars in a little over a year of [serious] playing? And that you already know how to do setups? That's impressive. What about experimenting with different strings?

Oh yeah, I change strings like some people change under wear - that's to say, often

I have found some preferences- depending on the guitar(s) being discussed.

On some I like 11-50 PB's (different brands for experimenting) I started with 10-47's and graduated up to the 11-50's
On my Martin 00015M and my Orangewood Ava I've graduated to Martin Retro Monels in 11-52's. On the Gretsch I like Rotosound Purples 12-52's

My new Martin00017 came with Retro 12-53's- I did NOT like them. Too much tension, so, yesterday I put a set of DR Rare's 11-50's on it. Much better!
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SO MANY GUITARS/SONGS, SO LITTLE TIME

My Youtube channel

"I" will survive

K.I.S.S.

Current favorites in my guitarsenal. (subject to change )

LAG T118 ACE
LAG T70A
Martin 00017
Martin 0015M
Orangewood Ava (acoustic only with Torriefied spruce top)
Gretsch 5420 (Alpine Green)
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  #9  
Old 08-02-2021, 08:18 AM
Coler Coler is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gdjjr View Post

My technique, is, I think, the issue. But, when I try to not fret hard the sound is deadened. Finding the correct pressure it seems to me, should come natural after a year of playing daily for extended periods- but, it hasn't. So, I'm looking for tips and even tricks
It's really just down to practicee, practice, practice.

Sit down and play a few notes and chord changes watching your fretting finger carefully. Hopefully you can see that you don't need to push the string down to the fretboard to get a a clean note. This may be most easy to obseeve where the action is highest on the guitar. That's the pressure needed to fret a note.

You just have to keep playing and playing until that ability to play as lightly as possible when fretting (and allowing that some techniques will need you to bear down on single notes) becomes muscle memory.

As regards your description of finding it more difficult for you to carry out daily tasks since you started playing, which you associate with callouses forming, that really is a medical matter.
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Old 08-02-2021, 08:37 AM
Ceabeceabe Ceabeceabe is offline
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Presumably you are pressing down close to the fret bars rather than in the middle of the fret. If not, try that…should take less work pressing down.
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Old 08-02-2021, 09:15 AM
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Mark Stone Mark Stone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pnewsom View Post
After years of playing, what used to be calluses on my finger tips have turned to very thick skin.
I've never thought of it like this, but thinking about it . . . this is my experience too.

Hand & forearm strength (which develops over time), leather fingertips, and great action on the instrument are key.
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Old 08-02-2021, 09:26 AM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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Well, I'm a similar age, and have been playing a long time, and like the OP, I press too hard with my fretting hand. Always have, and perhaps will until I can't. No, it's not the right way to do it. And yes my old finger joints don't like it, but they haven't stopped me from doing it wrong no matter how much they remind me.

To the degree (small) that I've been able to mitigate this bad practice it's been by practice with attention to applying less pressure. One exercise to do with attention is to purposely lay your fretting fingers on the fretboard as lightly as possible, and then to try to apply just the tiniest more pressure than that. With many guitars you may be surprised at how little pressure it takes to get a clean set of notes. I do wonder though if some of us, even with surface callouses, have "fat" or more absorbent finger tip pads the require more compression to fret cleanly than others.

I avoid low or small "vintage frets" which make it harder to get it right for me, and on electrics I prefer at least medium jumbo style frets. With higher frets I try to get it so that I'm not feeling the fretboard with my fingertips, assuming you can feel that, and with higher frets a tight grip will pull the string sharp and out of tune, so if you have good pitch sense, one's ear may help guide your fretting pressure. I've sometimes idly wondered about a scalloped fretboard just to train myself.

After admitting that vice-grip fretting isn't ideal, I suspect many guitarists survive this bad habit.
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Old 08-02-2021, 09:31 AM
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My advice is differentiate playing from practice. I practice with a metronome very slowly ensuring that every note is played right on the fret wire and with the absolute least pressure. Simply touch the string and pluck it as you increase the pressure on the fretting finger. As soon as you get a clean, clear note, that’s the pressure you want every note, every time. I never touch the actual fretboard. I start playing a bar or phrase and then add a measure at a time until I get it to 50% tempo. I keep adding a bar or phrase until the song is complete. I have a pencil marked tempo and over the next days/week/month, I get it up to tempo by a few percent stopping immediately if I get sloppy or miss a phrase. I practice 2-4 hours a day but when I play, I just play.

This is right this second as I type. My callouses never get larger than this.
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Old 08-02-2021, 09:32 AM
Big Band Guitar Big Band Guitar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Stone View Post
I've never thought of it like this, but thinking about it . . . this is my experience too.

Hand & forearm strength (which develops over time), leather fingertips, and great action on the instrument are key.
Don't forget some nerve damage. (in a good way).
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Old 08-02-2021, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Gdjjr View Post
...A result?, I think is, I have a creased index finger- not so much a problem as a curiosity...
As others have mentioned, I too have found that my callouses have morphed into thick skin. That happened after a year or two of playing 1 to 1.5 hrs per day. I don't have a death grip on the neck and try to be aware of the minimum pressure needed. But there are times when I find one or more of my fingers, often the index, has a crease so deep that it becomes hard to cleanly fret a string because the tip of my finger is bottomed out on the fretboard, which then requires even more pressure, making the crease deeper.

My wife tells me I need to drink more water. I tell her beer is mostly water, and try that.
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