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Old 08-29-2013, 12:25 PM
Locobolo Locobolo is offline
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Question "Bad" playing habits/techniques you couldn't get rid of?

Been playing on and off for the past 20 years. I'm mainly a fingerstyle player and after all these years I've never learned how to utilize my ring and pinky fingers. I just use 3 fingers (thumb, index and middle) for plucking.

My ring and/or pinky fingers are mostly used as a "stand" on the top for support, which is another bad technique I would like to change.

What makes it hard to correct or change is that when I try to incorporate my ring finger for example, it feels awkward and of course I never get the same good sound as opposed to using only my "solid 3".

I guess it will get better with daily practice and determination, but the problem is when I perform publicly, I cannot get that level of confidence using the right technique, so I always revert back to the bad. Hence, I cannot totally get rid of it.

Anybody with similar experiences?
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Old 08-29-2013, 12:42 PM
cravenmonket cravenmonket is offline
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I am a fingerpicker too, and I have always used all four fingers and the thumb, but from the very start, when I was 14 or so, I tended to rest the meat of my hand on the bridge in order to support my hand position. Of course, this has an instant effect on the sound - it makes it duller and a bit quieter. Rather than adjust my playing style, I just learned to play harder! I really pound on the strings. I get a decent sound, and use .013s to get a bit of extra volume, but I wish I had made myself learn properly. Twenty years later, I can't be bothered to change!
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Old 08-29-2013, 01:13 PM
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dneal dneal is offline
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I'm still a pinky rester too, although I can play without doing it.

I started with thumb, first and second finger. I was able to finally add my ring finger by playing 4 string arpeggios (learn the opening chords to "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You).

What's really weird is I can travis pick something like "Landslide" using thumb and 3 fingers. "Dust in the Wind" I play with thumb and 2 fingers, alternating the bass with the thumb. Muscle memory, and the way I learned them...
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Old 08-29-2013, 01:18 PM
cary cary is offline
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I learned early on to wrap my fretting hand thumb over the top of the neck, and to this day I haven't been able to correct it.

It hasn't been a problem in the over 30 years I've been playing, but now that I'm playing longer sets I get painful shocks up my thumb from the nerve in my hand being compressed.

Uggh. Gotta get that under control before it does something permanent.
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Old 08-29-2013, 02:13 PM
Andromeda Andromeda is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cravenmonket View Post
I am a fingerpicker too, and I have always used all four fingers and the thumb, but from the very start, when I was 14 or so, I tended to rest the meat of my hand on the bridge in order to support my hand position. Of course, this has an instant effect on the sound - it makes it duller and a bit quieter. Rather than adjust my playing style, I just learned to play harder! I really pound on the strings. I get a decent sound, and use .013s to get a bit of extra volume, but I wish I had made myself learn properly. Twenty years later, I can't be bothered to change!
I have that exact same problem!!! I didn't even know I did it until a few years ago when an instructor pointed it out to me. I have been playing for 30 years so I don't if I can change this one...or if I want to.
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Old 08-29-2013, 02:14 PM
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Jim Owen Jim Owen is offline
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Hi Loco,
There's no rule that says you have to use the ring finger. Travis and Watson (and Gary Davis) used only their thumbs and index fingers.

I do plant my pinkie when I play certain songs and I've finally decided that I'm too old to change that habit.

And even though it makes my classically trained friends cringe every time they see me do it, I wrap my thumb over the fretboard when I play certain songs. I no longer vision that as a bad habit--it happens to be a way to add bass notes that one often needs.
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Old 08-29-2013, 02:19 PM
PorkPieGuy PorkPieGuy is offline
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I met and played with an old-timer fiddle player at a bluegrass festival that said he RARELY used the highest string on his fiddle. He was pretty amazing too.

I guess I play guitar rather "normally," but piano and hammered dulcimer are another thing entirely. One of my piano teachers had to concentrate on NOT looking at my hands when I played. While I usually hit all of the right notes, my "fingers were a mess" to put it in her words.

I also play the hammered dulcimer and I cross my hammers from time to time to reach notes. I didn't the get the memo until after a few years of playing that a person isn't really supposed to cross his/her hammers. Heck, I do it all of the time. Someone saw one of my videos and said that I played "pretzel-handed."
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Old 08-29-2013, 02:36 PM
Scotty12string Scotty12string is offline
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No such thing as a bad habit in my book-if it sounds good, keep doing it, that's human nature anyhow, we're all different, in our ways of doing things, I'd love to be able to do fancy picking techniques-I get by on my "bad habit" of using my thumb and index finger mainly, sometimes, I even manage to get my middle and ring finger going with them simultaneously, but I get much more 'guts' to my picking sound, just using my thumb and index finger-I can pick much faster then also, I'm quite happy with that.
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Old 08-29-2013, 02:45 PM
nwsht nwsht is offline
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I forget to tremolo pick in certain situations and end up using one finger when I should be using two, especially when I'm concentrating on learning a new song, which usually just re-enforces the bad habit.

It's very annoying when I catch it, and slows the whole process down.
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Old 08-29-2013, 03:08 PM
ChuckeyBee ChuckeyBee is offline
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Default Practice, practice, practice...

I used to plant pinky and use 3 fingers and thumb, but decided to lift hand to avoid hand cramping. Later, I started using pinky more. Yes it's awkward for a while and it is hard to get the same precision without planting, but it's just a matter of many hours of practice. Using nails to strum is good too, as you get different sound depending on how many nails you strum with. (including pinky for a bright sound emphasizing string 1)

I do about a ten minute warmup. To learn a new technique, build it into your warmup. That way you do it every day and it will improve. I do an arpeggio routine in warmup that uses all fingers of right hand in every conceivable combination of strings, and another that plucks every combination of strings (can only do up to 5 at a time so far; am hoping to grow another finger or better still, thumb...) with thumb on 5 & 6, fingernails on 1 - 4. Eventually any practiced exercise becomes a skill that you can work it into songs after a while.
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Old 08-29-2013, 03:18 PM
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I'm not a big believer in the idea that certain things are always bad habits. What I try to do is determine what I want to do musically and determine what might be getting in the way of my succeeding. If I determine that a different hand position would help me get to where I want to go, then I work on changing that hand position. For example, I've largely switched from playing a D chord with three fingers to barring with the index and using my middle finger on the B string. That leaves an extra finger free to do other things. I wouldn't say that the old way was a bad habit. But the new way has opened up some possibilities.

I think the reason we can sometimes have a hard time giving up old habits is that doing it the old way, at least initially, works better than doing it in some completely unfamiliar way. If the old way really interferes with what you want to do and some new way gets around that barrier, then you'll have some incentive to work on the new approach until it feels as natural and works as well as (and eventually better than) the old way. On the other hand, just deciding to change because something has been branded a "bad habit" when it isn't holding you back in any discernible way seems kind of pointless to me. But your mileage may vary.
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Old 08-29-2013, 03:21 PM
Roselynne Roselynne is offline
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My fretting and fingering are both inconsistent ... even when I know better. For example, within two bars I'll use different fingers for the same chord, even when it's no help with a change. In a picking pattern, I'll sort of gyrate between thumb and index when it makes no sense.

I'm a touch-typist, dargnarbit! It's not like finger consistency's a novel concept.

Also, for fingerstyle I tend to use thumb, index and middle only. I know I could do more of what I want to do if I invited ring and pinky to play more, too.
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  #13  
Old 08-29-2013, 03:42 PM
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OP I challenge your contention that your fingerpicking method is bad, or uses bad technique. We all have developed different styles, both with resting pinkys and not, using different fingers. I don't use my index finger, most others do. Each of us develops our own style. You have a unique signature picking style - why not develop it?
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Old 08-29-2013, 05:10 PM
Jersey tuning Jersey tuning is offline
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I've been criticized by professionals like Stefan Grossman and Pete Kennedy for fretting an open G chord with fingers 1 2 4 instead of 2 3 4. Old habit. However I love to fret the D on the second string with finger 3 for that Aaron Copland-esque ringing 5th sound so after 45+ years I'm not about to change.
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Old 08-29-2013, 05:24 PM
Cue Zephyr Cue Zephyr is offline
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I feel your pain. I tried to leave my fingers or wrist off the guitar to increase my mobility for both tone and consistent attack. With that I mean being able to pick further up or down the strings which gives me different tones. With consistent attack I mean not having to put your hand in odd positions in order to reach certain strings. It's more comfortable too, now.

Another habit I have a hard time with fixing, is putting my fingertips more perpendicular to the fretboard. This reduces the required pressure to fret the strings and also makes hammer-ons and pull-offs easier to execute.

A thing which isn't necessarily a bad habit, but sometimes rather annoying when trying to teach someone something - playing an F chord thumb-over style instead of the full barre. I should be able to use both equally well, but I tend to slack and use the one that gives me more flexibility.
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