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  #16  
Old 08-13-2020, 11:48 AM
cliff_the_stiff cliff_the_stiff is offline
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Originally Posted by Lamenramen View Post
...I've done the pressing the E string down at fret 14 and fret 1 and then seeing the height at fret 7. There's not much room, about a dime's width. I should add that the humidity is 75% outside year-round but inside it's around 50% with AC on.
If Im reading this right, capo on 1 and pressing 14th fret and measuring a dime width at 7 tells me you have too much relief in the neck. A Hundred dollar bill folded thrice should slide in there without sticking too much between the fret and string. (some people prefer different bill amounts, but a hundo makes me feel like I have money)
Then measure action at 12. Getting around 2.2mm of clearance at 12th fret is very close to my preferred somewhat low action.
Another person mentioned the nut groove height- This is measurement 1, if itís about the height of the frets, it should be OK.
Unfortunately, I donít have trust in myself to not jack up my nut grooves, so if they are high on my guitar, itís a hard stop and Iíll take it to a pro. If the nut appears about righ, I will proceed with the measurements as stated above.
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  #17  
Old 08-13-2020, 11:49 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Your experience looks fairly normal to me!

Barre shapes just get more and more comfortable and natural-feeling over time. For example, I'm sure you can remember when the barres you currently have no problem with were hugely difficult! You got over those - and you'll get over these too.

It really is a never-ending process of gradual improvement. The slope might ease off a little as you get more experienced, but it never stops going up.
Naturally, you reach a point (or several points on the way) where you feel totally comfortable with a certain set of tunes, where you're completely on top of the techniques required. That's a good place to be, because then you can continue polishing those tunes, improving the tone and expression. (Some people refer to that as a "plateau" - as if that's a bad thing! Personally I've always found plateaus very comfortable... Where's the rush to get up the next hill?)
But quite likely there will - eventually - be trickier pieces appearing on the horizon that you want to tackle, and new physical challenges appear. You just need to tell yourself: you got over the last challenges, so you can get over these...

BTW, pain should never be an issue - not once you're past that beginner stage of sensitive fingertips from normal fretting. Pain anywhere else is a sign you're doing something wrong. Certain stretches are definitely uncomfortable at first but shouldn't be painful.

IMO one of the advantages of fingerstyle pieces is you often don't need barre shapes - at least not full ones - because you're not picking every string. So when it looks like you need one, check which strings you actually need to pick, and don't worry about holding down the other strings. And experiment with different hand angles.
A good tip for stretchy shapes (pinky especially) is to place the pinky first, and then arrange the other fingers. I.e., favour the weakest finger, and let the others take care of themselves.
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  #18  
Old 08-13-2020, 07:50 PM
Lamenramen Lamenramen is offline
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Thank you everyone. I think you guys are right. My action seems more or less OK, perhaps not perfect, but it's likely not the main contributor here. I believe my Eastman that I played must have been similar to my Taylor in reality; I'm just mis-remembering it that way. The Eastman was played first when I was coming from a really badly set up guitar most likely, and then I went out and tried Taylors. It's not easy to find these types of guitars where I am, in that here the culture is, if you play it, they really want you to buy it. People walk into a store when they're serious about buying it. There are exceptions, but that's the general sentiment. But they always hover over you, will not leave your side when playing for fear of damage, etc.

I've realized that I do believe the issue is finger strength in the index finger for less commonly encountered barre shapes, because I can play them cleanly in the morning, say for the first ten minutes, then it gets worse from there as clearly my fingers are getting tired.

I've tried various barre index finger strengthening exercises that I found online; maybe I need to more patient. It seems to me, however, that there's really no substitute for playing the actual chord I want as your hand has so many different muscles, such that each new barre shape requires its own set, and one general "get your barre finger stronger" exercise won't help much. I'm thinking that playing the chord over and over again is probably the best exercise, and perhaps over time newer shapes will not take as long as I'll have exercised more of my hand muscles in the past.

self pep-talk: Also been philosophizing that much like a scouting report on athletes, or superheroes, there's always a weakness. Mine seems to be "doesn't put on finger muscle easily, takes longer to build up strength than most of his peers; short-ish reach for his height esp in pinky, but should not be an excuse as he has all 5 fingers and hand size at worst in the 50th% percentile; tends to spend time overanalyzing rather than executing what he knows he has to do, could benefit from getting out of his own head at times." Ear, rhythm, accuracy, grit, fast hands, are general strengths.
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  #19  
Old 08-13-2020, 11:54 PM
Pura Vida Pura Vida is offline
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Here is a suggested exercise to build index finger strength.

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  #20  
Old 08-23-2020, 04:27 PM
Andyrondack Andyrondack is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamenramen View Post
Hi, 2017 Taylor 314ce here in physically near mint condition to my eye.

I've been playing for about 5 years, but stopped playing for years. Recently resumed playing about 30 minutes per day on average over the last 9 months.

Over the past 4-6 weeks I've been diligently working on hand strengthening exercises (scales, slapping the index finger, pinky stretches, hammer ons, pull-offs) like every single day. I've been playing for 2 hours per day on average this past month to six weeks.



How long should I wait before I see if I need a new setup vs just practicing even longer in order to get stronger (it doesn't seem like I'm getting any stronger now)? I've done the pressing the E string down at fret 14 and fret 1 and then seeing the height at fret 7. There's not much room, about a dime's width. I should add that the humidity is 75% outside year-round but inside it's around 50% with AC on.
Hello Lamenramen, if you are still having trouble playing barre chords this might be useful.
First the measurement on the low E string that you describe is the method for determining correct bow of the neck as controlled by tension of the truss rod, I have no idea how thick a dime coin is but the gap should be much smaller than the width of any coin, the gap should be less than 1mm, just enough to see some daylight between the string and the top of the middle fret, on my guitars the action under the low E string at the 12th fret is 2.5 to 2.7 mm and that is low enough to play barre chords with no real difficulty. Get yourself a set of feeler guages to measure small distances accurately.
Secondly, as others above have tried to point out finger strength has nothing to do with playing barre chords cleanly, more advanced fingerstyle technique on steel string requires the left hand to move rapidly through chord inversions changing at two to four beat intervals to do that the left hand must at all times be relaxed and not stressed, the minimum pressure necessary to achieve a clean tone must be applied and that pressure is imposed by the thumb pressing on the back of the neck, not the fingers pressing hard on the strings. If pushing on the back of the neck does not produce a clean tone then try rolling the forefinger slightly or shifting back or forward a bit, sometimes a buzzing string finds a gap under the forefinger, as with your fingertips the skin on the barring surface of the first finger needs to harden somewhat which will happen in time with normal practice, and don't hold a barre for longer than four beats, make up a musical exercise around a chord progression which combines a problem chord with some easier ones then set the metronome going changing chords on each musical bar this will help prevent the left hand becoming fatigued from holding the same position for too long.
Someone above has already suggested tuning down a semi tone the lighter tension will make holding barre chords easier.
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  #21  
Old 08-23-2020, 08:05 PM
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rick-slo rick-slo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamenramen View Post
Thanks everyone. Another question: is it common to have trouble playing new barre chord shapes? For example, I've been playing a B minor or A shape or E shape for so long and that's really not a problem.

But say a B minor 7 barre or E7 Barre or putting the pinky 3 frets down from the barre index finger, it's as if my left index finger totally has never seen a barre chord before. Am I using totally different muscles and each of the myriad possible barre chord shapes requires its own strengthening all over again just for each shape? With a barre it does indeed seem this way but with other new cowboy chord shapes it does not seem hard.
The first paragraph: That sounds like finger strength is not the issue.

The second paragraph: That sounds like the tip of the index finger is extended too far (at least for the minor seventh barre) allowing a crease
under a finger joint to cause a buzz and/or the index finger is a bit arched instead of flat.
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  #22  
Old 08-30-2020, 11:41 AM
Lamenramen Lamenramen is offline
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Thanks guys. I bought a steel action ruler and my string height is 2.75mm at fret 12 and I lowered it with a truss rod twist.

I canít go to lower than 2.5 or so or else I get some minor buzz that I canít identify but it seems closer to the first five frets on the A string.

Already though my barre chords and scales are cleaner. Itís not in my imagination. But one good thing is that I was pressing needlessly hard I guess in the past and now everything feels noticeably easier.

Now itís just a matter of how low the action can go with other tweeks. I do not have a heavy attack and I am basically Fingerstyle.
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  #23  
Old 08-30-2020, 08:50 PM
LindaW LindaW is offline
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Originally Posted by lar View Post
Try tuning down a little and see if that helps. 1/2 step or even a quarter step (adjust your tuner to 428 hz and tune to that for 1/4 step).
I usually tune down a 1/2 step as a rule.
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  #24  
Old 08-31-2020, 07:15 AM
Andyrondack Andyrondack is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamenramen View Post
Thanks guys. I bought a steel action ruler and my string height is 2.75mm at fret 12 and I lowered it with a truss rod twist.

I canít go to lower than 2.5 or so or else I get some minor buzz that I canít identify but it seems closer to the first five frets on the A string.

Already though my barre chords and scales are cleaner. Itís not in my imagination. But one good thing is that I was pressing needlessly hard I guess in the past and now everything feels noticeably easier.

Now itís just a matter of how low the action can go with other tweeks. I do not have a heavy attack and I am basically Fingerstyle.
Well that's a good result, remember though that tweeking the truss rod is not usually the method for changing action at 12th fret, for that lowering saddle height is the usual method, changing truss rod tension changes the bow of the neck which affects string height at the middle of the fretboard, for most guitars it's a set and forget adjustment then if the action changes due to changes in humidity levels and temperature most guitarists use a shim under the saddle, adding it or removing as necesary, some players keep two saddles of slightly different height and swapping them over when necessary.
But you have solved a problem so thats great.
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