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  #31  
Old 05-31-2017, 04:22 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Regarding the weight of the arm. I think we are all just lost in translation and probably doing roughly the same thing.
Probably!
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I think for the most part you are wanting to relax the upper arm so that the elbow falls/moves backwards, thus pulling your fingers into the fretboard. You can pull back slightly, but in most cases just relaxing the upper arm provides enough force.
That's a good point. The weight of the forearm - when held up - will tend to make the upper arm rotate (from the shoulder) backwards. So weight does have an effect in that respect, assuming one stars with the upper arm vertical.
However, having experimented, I think that effect is minimal. It's difficult to be sure, of course, because to test the effect on a barre you need to keep your hand on the guitar neck, applying some kind of pinch pressure to stop the arm falling.
I find if I want to hold the barre without any pressure from the thumb at all, then it's a conscious pulling back action, perhaps subliminally assisted by the natural way the upper arm would move back due to the weight of the raised forearm.
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Secondly, while you obviously don't completely relax the forearm (it would fall off) you can relax it to the point that the forearm feels weighty/heavy. This feeling is a good indication that you are doing it right imo.
Not sure I agree here. I don't want my forearm to have any pulling down effect on the neck (any more than I want to feel I'm holding the neck up). So I don't want it to feel heavy at all.
(Mind you, I think I agree that a sensation of pulling down on the neck a little is better than the sensation of supporting it.)
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This is a good description of how one should play anything on guitar. The fingers just need to curl into the correct position. Then use the larger muscle groups to apply the force.
To be pedantic - we could remind ourselves that the fingers have no muscles, only tendons. It's the muscles in the hand and wrist/forearm that act. With practice, they all act together, using the minimum force required.

Practice is the word. You can't teach your fingers (and hands etc) to perform the right combination of actions consciously. You just have to repeat the actions over and over (testing for the minimal pressure required, as S0cks was saying), and the hands will "learn" automatically.
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  #32  
Old 05-31-2017, 06:41 AM
dkstott dkstott is offline
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THIS!!! The best thing I ever did was finally get the guitar neck elevated. It's freed my left hand. I'm no longer trying to play chords AND hold the neck.

Guitar straps always caused pain in my left shoulder.

There are quite a few guitar support out there. Most are designed for classical players.

I use a De Oro guitar support. It works on my right leg, The height is adjustable & keeps my guitar neck elevated.

http://www.deoromusic.com/guitar-sup...rest_trio.html

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1. Have the neck higher up. Not parallel to the floor. It needs to be above the elbow. You don't have to go full on classical position, but some height is very advantageous.
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  #33  
Old 05-31-2017, 06:43 AM
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I don't have time to read the entire thread today. A good setup can help immensely.
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  #34  
Old 05-31-2017, 07:53 AM
SunnyDee SunnyDee is offline
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Well it's pretty near horizontal .
The main point is the 90 degrees anyway. And you illustrate the fall perfectly - i.e., that the weight of the arm can't have any significant effect on the barre, because its tendency is to simply fall down off the fretboard.
To apply the pressure for a barre with the arm alone - assuming the guitar is facing forwards, not upwards - it has to be a pull back, and that applies wherever you are on the fretboard.
The weight of the arm would only come into play if one leaned backwards, as in relaxing on a sofa, so the guitar top faced upwards.
I think we are not communicating on the meaning of "horizontal." You said the forearm was horizontal, I assumed you mean parallel to the floor as many players do. My forearm is definitely not parallel to the floor, it is closer to vertical as you said to s0cks, and the weight of the arm is on the strings. In fact, it is usually more vertical than the video because I had to sit on the floor to get the camera in the right spot.

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Probably!
That's a good point. The weight of the forearm - when held up - will tend to make the upper arm rotate (from the shoulder) backwards. So weight does have an effect in that respect, assuming one stars with the upper arm vertical.

If I were pulling back, when I relaxed the hand the arm would move back slightly and the guitar would move forward when released. It doesn't, because the weight is hanging from the hand. The finger "tendons" are not used to press down and the bicep is not pulling back. The muscles that cup the hand are working but not really the muscles that push a finger down. Your fingers may be pressing down and your bicep may be pulling back, but this technique does not do that.

You say that you don't want the weight pulling down, that you don't want it to feel heavy. That makes sense, then, that you wouldn't be doing this, because my arm does feel heavy. It has its advantages and disadvantages, but it is happening that way.
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Last edited by SunnyDee; 05-31-2017 at 08:27 AM.
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  #35  
Old 05-31-2017, 04:40 PM
s0cks s0cks is offline
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Not sure I agree here. I don't want my forearm to have any pulling down effect on the neck (any more than I want to feel I'm holding the neck up). So I don't want it to feel heavy at all.
I have to disagree If the arm doesn't feel heavy, it is not relaxed. Whenever we talk about relaxing we talk about feeling heavy (let your eyelids feels heavy, etc...). That's why it's much more difficult to lift a dead weight (try picking up a child who purposefully goes all limp for example!).

Therefore, if the arm is not heavy, that means your using energy to keep it light or "floating". The idea here is to relax the arm to the point that it's relaxed enough to feel heavy. Therefore you are using less energy thus less muscle tension to play. The harder part, if you haven't done it before, is switching between that heavy feeling and a floating feeling when changing chords. It's quite an odd feeling if you're not used to it, and doing it quickly is another learned skill.

The "pulling down" effect is pretty minimal compared to the force of fretting the string, so it doesn't cause a problem. The "downward" force is never directly toward the floor, because the arm is attached to the elbow and then shoulder. If you let go with the fingers the arm falls in an arc shape until it's at your side (the shoulder is the fulcrum).

Jamie Andreas has written quite a popular book on the subject. Here is an example of what she is talking about:

Quote:
Do this to discover the sensation of the Heavy Arm and Firm Finger:

1. Put down the guitar, and place your left hand on your lap.

2. Grab hold of the tips of your left hand fingers with your right hand.

3. Let go completely of all the muscles of the left arm and shoulder. It should be like dead weight, a piece of meat lying there.

4. Using your right hand and arm, lift up your dead weight, completely relaxed left arm and hand. Then let go, so that your left arm falls with all it's weight back in to your lap. (Be careful you don't slam your hand into something. Very bad for playing also.)

5. Obviously, if your left arm did not fall, you did not completely let go with all it's muscles when holding it up with the right hand. Try again.

This is the heavy arm, the arm that is totally relaxed and not held up by it's own power. It is the opposite of the Floating Arm. Good players are aware of these sensations, and constantly shifting between them as the left hand functions on the neck.

The Firm Finger

Now do this to discover the Firm Finger, which is used to direct the weight of the arm to the strings.

1. Hold your right hand out in front of you, palm facing up toward the ceiling.

2. Place the index finger of your left hand into the center of your palm. Use the light finger, the totally relaxed finger, and tap it lightly in to your palm..

3. Now allow the finger to become firm, so that you can begin to relax your arm muscles a bit, and the firm index finger helps support the arms position by acting as a kind of "hook", that is, hooking your left arm onto your right palm.

This is how the Firm Finger functions with the Heavy Arm in playing. We will use these sensations in learning Bar Chords.

Last edited by s0cks; 05-31-2017 at 04:52 PM.
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  #36  
Old 05-31-2017, 05:37 PM
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The weight of a relaxed forearm will cause it to fall down and away from the fretboard. Even more so when the upper arm is also raised (as with the neck up approach) (I keep my elbow tucked into my side and nearly perpendicular to the floor).

I guess one could say that the amount pinch force of the hand (between the thumb and fingers) that is required to keep the weight of a relaxed arm from pulling the hand off the neck is about the force that is needed to fret a barre cleanly and thus that acts as some sort of fretting pressure guide. Even if that is plausible (not likely) you still have the neck being torqued downward. I avoid that.
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  #37  
Old 05-31-2017, 05:59 PM
SunnyDee SunnyDee is offline
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The weight of a relaxed forearm will cause it to fall down and away from the fretboard. Even more so when the upper arm is also raised (as with the neck up approach) (I keep my elbow tucked into my side and nearly perpendicular to the floor).

I guess one could say that the amount pinch force of the hand (between the thumb and fingers) that is required to keep the weight of a relaxed arm from pulling the hand off the neck is about the force that is needed to fret a barre cleanly and thus that acts as some sort of fretting pressure guide. Even if that is plausible (not likely) you still have the neck being torqued downward. I avoid that.

You are probably right that "the amount pinch force of the hand (between the thumb and fingers) that is required to keep the weight of a relaxed arm from pulling the hand off the neck is about the force that is needed to fret a barre cleanly." That would make sense. The issue is just that this technique requires much less effort to supply that same force. The larger muscles that let the hand cup (not the muscles that squeeze the neck between the thumb and fingers) supplies the pinch; gravity on the arm supplies the pressure on the strings. This isn't just for barres, though, all my chords are played relaxed.

It has its disadvantages, I'm sure, but the advantage is less effort and possibly for some people less chance of injury.
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Last edited by SunnyDee; 05-31-2017 at 06:07 PM.
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  #38  
Old 05-31-2017, 06:10 PM
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The force of gravity is working against fretting pressure. Anyway, keeping enough muscle contraction of the forearm and upper arm to keep them in position is not fatiguing.
Consider some other musicians:


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  #39  
Old 05-31-2017, 07:09 PM
s0cks s0cks is offline
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The force of gravity is working against fretting pressure.
That is true, but gravity is actually a very weak force. It is more than easily overpowered by the fretting force that comes from using the shoulder as the fulcrum. It's so weak that it doesn't even bend the string. I mean, it's not hard to lift your arm up, even though gravity is working against you.

Hell, try it. Form a chord and relax the entire arm, but keep the fingers firm. If I attached a large weight to my upper arm then it would undoubtedly fall off when I do this, because the force of the weight would overpower the fretting force. But our forearms are simply not that heavy.

Anyway. Each to their own. What works for you, so long as it feels effortless. Personally if I don't take this approach my RSI starts giving me grief. It's a great indicator to me that I'm holding in too much tension.
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  #40  
Old 06-02-2017, 04:55 PM
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All of this advice is most likely very good and contradictory with one another. Everyone is different. Their hand shapes are different. Different size guitar neck. Different physical issues.

The most important thing is to start right now and do it every day, forming the F (e shape) or Bm (A minor) and do it every day. Strum and them pick the strings to hea how they sound. And just practice. Even for a minute.

Once you can get it going find a chord progression with your chord in it. Like C, Am, F, G and start repeating that.

It takes a while. It's not easy for anybody;

But just like the beatnick said to the guy in the limo when asked how do you get to Carnegie Hall;

practice, man, practice!!
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  #41  
Old 06-03-2017, 02:35 AM
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The weight of a relaxed forearm will cause it to fall down and away from the fretboard. ...
How can it fall away, when it is connected to the upper arm and then shoulder?
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  #42  
Old 06-03-2017, 06:01 AM
paulp1960 paulp1960 is offline
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I don't have time to read the entire thread today. A good setup can help immensely.
Probably the most important point re: barre chords, especially the dreaded F.

After that it is just practice.
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  #43  
Old 06-03-2017, 08:11 AM
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How can it fall away, when it is connected to the upper arm and then shoulder?
Do you play guitar lying down on your back?
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  #44  
Old 06-03-2017, 09:54 AM
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Do you play guitar lying down on your back?
Nope.
My forearm is just connected to my elbow. My elbow is connected to my upper arm. My upper arm is connected to my shoulder. The shoulder is somewhat stationary in relation to my upper body. While playing, my thumb and fingers are in contact with the neck of the guitar which stabilizes things a bit at that end.

If my forearm is going down, it means that my elbow is going down. The elbow cannot go down and forward, on its own. It goes down and back, unless I disconnect my upper arm from my body, or push the elbow forward on purpose.

... well the elbow and arm could go forward, if I played holding the guitar above my head. The forearm could also pivot forward if I let go of the neck completely - but I'm not suggesting that people should do that for playing barre chords.
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  #45  
Old 06-03-2017, 11:12 AM
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Nope.
My forearm is just connected to my elbow. My elbow is connected to my upper arm. My upper arm is connected to my shoulder. The shoulder is somewhat stationary in relation to my upper body. While playing, my thumb and fingers are in contact with the neck of the guitar which stabilizes things a bit at that end.

If my forearm is going down, it means that my elbow is going down. The elbow cannot go down and forward, on its own. It goes down and back, unless I disconnect my upper arm from my body, or push the elbow forward on purpose.

... well the elbow and arm could go forward, if I played holding the guitar above my head. The forearm could also pivot forward if I let go of the neck completely - but I'm not suggesting that people should do that for playing barre chords.
Depends on how you hold the guitar. I keep my elbow tuck in and pointed down most of the time as in the first three pictures.

If you hold your elbow forward away from the torso (as in the last picture) you may get some fret pressure by relaxing the upper arm. Won't be much though.







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