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Old 03-13-2013, 10:45 AM   #1
Max Dread
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PRE fretting notes on descending runs (before you pluck them).... Do you?

Hi guys

I was watching a Pebber Brown video the other day. He was going through a one string chromatic scale exercise:

Ascent: 1-2-3-4 5-6-7-8 9-10-11-12

Descent: 13-12-11-10 9-8-7-6 5-4-3-2

(That might not be precisely what he did, but it works fine for the post here....)

Each set of four notes is played one finger per note (fingers 1-2--3-4 on ascent, 4-3-2-1 on descent).

Onto my question....

During the vid, Pebber stresses that on the descent, you should have your fingers in place on the fretboard as soon as you move hand position. So basically, you put all four fingers down and then take off the finger for the note you just played leaving the next note ready because it is already fretted.

It does make sense, but I don't think it's what I do. When I play the exercise fast on "auto pilot, it seems to me that I plant each finger down micro seconds before the note is played, and that everything syncs up that way. I do it the same as I do during the ascent (just in reverse).

I wondered what other players out there do?

Cheers

Max
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Old 03-13-2013, 10:59 AM   #2
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You should have your fingers in place, ideally resting on the strings, but I wouldn't press them down until you're just about to play them. Same with ascending, have your fingers hovering in place.

It sounds like you're on the right track. If you want to take it a step further, practice the technique with scales and arpeggios (you can just "hold" a chord shape in ready position and pluck the notes individually).

Last edited by cdgraves : 03-13-2013 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 03-13-2013, 11:01 AM   #3
Max Dread
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdgraves
You should have your fingers in place, ideally resting on the strings, but I wouldn't press them down until you're just about to play them. Same with ascending, have your fingers hovering in place.


I think Pebber's point is that the fingers should be fretting the notes/pressing down the string even before you pluck. So in the descent, the only action you will be doing in each phrase of four will be taking fingers off one by one; and that's it.

I watched so many of his vids recently that i cannot remember which one he says it in. When I get the chance later today I'll try to find it.
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Old 03-13-2013, 11:04 AM   #4
Max Dread
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdgraves
It sounds like you're on the right track. If you want to take it a step further, practice the technique with scales and arpeggios (you can just "hold" a chord shape in ready position and pluck the notes individually).


I don't think what I am trying to describe would work in that context (and that could be due to the way I've described it!). I'm referring just to scenarios where you are descending to frets below ON THE SAME STRING, and whether those notes/fret should be pre-fretted or not.
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Old 03-13-2013, 11:36 AM   #5
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You should have your fingers in the right position to play the note but until you actually play said note, don't place your finger on the string.

In general for single note lines you should only have one finger actually pressing down on the fretboard at once, with the exception of perhaps trills depending on your preference in playing them.
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Old 03-13-2013, 07:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Dread
I don't think what I am trying to describe would work in that context (and that could be due to the way I've described it!). I'm referring just to scenarios where you are descending to frets below ON THE SAME STRING, and whether those notes/fret should be pre-fretted or not.


No it's the same thing. The difference between "ready" and "fretting" is like 1/32nd of an inch. It's simply a matter of relaxation.
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Old 03-14-2013, 05:16 PM   #7
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What Pebber recommends in that video is to press the fingers down - this is a practice technique. When playing you don't usually press down any unused fingers.

On a pattern like 1343 I would probably keep the third finger down but I would release the first finger. Although, and I must stress this, I would NOT lift it.

Personally I prefer to always practice keeping unused fingers relaxed, but plenty of people use the exercise Pebber describes.
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Old 03-28-2013, 07:04 PM   #8
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Sorry to bump this but this topic really interests me and I can't find the video in question. If anyone have a link it'd be greatly appreciated
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Old 03-29-2013, 07:29 AM   #9
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I think it's this video. I haven't watched much of it but I searched for it before when I saw this thread. Personally, I wouldn't recommend laying down all your fingers like that for normal playing HOWEVER I did use it as a practise technique for a bit (the descending one) and it's actually a pretty good exercise. I found it was particularly good (provided you focus on it properly) at getting you to just relax to un-fret rather than lift your fingers.

Give it a go as a practise technique but really, in terms of normal playing, your unused fingers should be relaxed.
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Old 04-09-2013, 11:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freepower
What Pebber recommends in that video is to press the fingers down - this is a practice technique. When playing you don't usually press down any unused fingers.


I'm not so sure to be honest. Certainly he is describing a practice but I don't think he is saying that when you go ahead and play you should abandon the technique. Rather, you practice so that you always do it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by llBlackenedll
I think it's this video.


Yep, that's the one. I think he says similar in others videos too. Apologies -efx- for not having answered; I forgot to "stick" this thread and it therefore disappeared out of sight and mind! Cheers llBlackenedll for finding the link

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Originally Posted by llBlackenedll
Give it a go as a practise technique but really, in terms of normal playing, your unused fingers should be relaxed.


As above - I don't think that is what Pebber is actually saying. As for me, I cannot vouch yet whether I think it is a decent technique to employ in all playing. The jury is still out.

One thing of note though - he says that this is a classical guitar technique and that if learning classical that's how you would usually be taught to play such a passage. So if there are any experienced classical players reading, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on that.

Cheers
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Old 04-09-2013, 01:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Dread
I'm not so sure to be honest. Certainly he is describing a practice but I don't think he is saying that when you go ahead and play you should abandon the technique. Rather, you practice so that you always do it.


Whether that's what Pebber is saying isn't the point, the point is that ideal technique is as relaxed as possible at all times so therefore all unused fingers should be as relaxed as possible. That is, when you're not fretting, no matter what's coming next, the fingers that are not fretting a note being played shouldn't be doing anything.

Personally I dislike exercises that recommend you should fret notes that aren't being played, I firmly stand by the idea that you should practice exactly how you're going to actually play.
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Old 04-09-2013, 01:28 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Whether that's what Pebber is saying isn't the point, the point is that ideal technique is as relaxed as possible at all times so therefore all unused fingers should be as relaxed as possible.


Well, it is the point from where I'm sitting. Fair enough that you are expressing what you think is the best technique. But Pebber expresses what he thinks is the best technique, and I am opening his recommendation to the forum for feedback.....

I'm not saying that I think he is right and you wrong. As above, the jury is out on that for me at the moment and I'd need to work with is technique for some time before I could decide.
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Old 04-09-2013, 02:22 PM   #13
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One thing that annoyed me on the video was the way Pebber illustrated the way he thinks is "wrong", with very animated, over exaggerated movements. He seems to be the kind of person that actually hasn't properly considered any other way and therefore I do not trust his opinion on the matter. It's not that his point is invalid, but it's unfounded.

You're taking a good approach really, trying both and seeing what you believe works best, as while I don't agree with Pebber, I certainly see why you may also not trust random people on the internet. There is some logic behind both ideas, which one is better in practise is a different matter. Maybe this is something you need to figure out for yourself, but many of us have probably tried both ways and have come to the conclusion that pre-fretting notes unnecessarily promotes tension and is a waste of energy.
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Old 04-09-2013, 02:22 PM   #14
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Actually it's interesting how much Pebber Brown says one thing and does another. I've looked at both his picking and fretting hands a lot and frankly, he doesn't practice anything he preaches. I'll declare right now though: I don't like him. At all. I think he's too prescriptive when he teaches and looking at the comment sections on his video it's clear to see that he has absolutely no time for anything that even looks like criticism. I literally just read something that looked like a legit question and all he did was be a dick and not answer at all.

Anyway, about the actual technique issue, I'll put it this way:

Any finger fretting causes tension in the fretting hand, that's a fact and it's how muscles work. It is also true, and I doubt anyone would argue this, that any more tension than you absolutely need is bad, it sounds a little axiomatic when you say it but it is none the less the truth. From that it is a very small jump in logic to state the following: any fingers fretting that aren't sounding notes are causing more tension than you absolutely need to play. Following from that: more fingers fretting than you need is a bad thing.

If there is anything about that you would like to question then please do.
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Old 04-10-2013, 05:36 AM   #15
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I'm not so sure to be honest. Certainly he is describing a practice but I don't think he is saying that when you go ahead and play you should abandon the technique. Rather, you practice so that you always do it.


You can be sure. He has a nasty habit of clearing out comments that and banning anyone who disagrees with him.



He made this video series to answer this question "Do you keep fingers down or leave them relaxed?". If you scroll to the very bottom comment, Chainsaw was replying to Pebber agreeing that unused fingers should be relaxed when playing. He also replied to me saying the same thing and has since deleted my comments and his.

Quote:
One thing of note though - he says that this is a classical guitar technique and that if learning classical that's how you would usually be taught to play such a passage. So if there are any experienced classical players reading, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on that.


Sure, I asked my classical teacher after Pebber was so adamant fingers should remain pressed down and he said unused fingers should be relaxed. He has a masters degree and has been teaching professionally since 79.

Rather than seeking out infallible gurus, try and think for yourself -

What benefit is there to having the fingers already pressed down compared to relaxed? What disadvantages are there?

I don't see any benefits and I see clear disadvantages.

Actually I guess you build more finger strength pressing down... but I'd rather not teach my fingers inefficient technique to build strength. You don't train skills against resistance and all that.
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Old 04-10-2013, 05:48 AM   #16
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Actually I guess you build more finger strength pressing down... but I'd rather not teach my fingers inefficient technique to build strength. You don't train skills against resistance and all that.


You kiiind of do, the problem is that if you do it too much (lay all the fingers down) your individual fingers (especially the pinky and the ring) learn to become dependent on the fact that the string is already pressed down. I imagine if you did this all the time you'd eventually be incapable of using your pinky or ring fingers individually (or at least be very bad at using them).

I still stand by the fact it can be a good exercise though, in moderation, as it really does help you focus on one finger relaxing off the string rather than lifting off it when descending.
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Old 04-10-2013, 06:25 AM   #17
Max Dread
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Hi Freepower

Sorry, could you just clarify.... Are you saying Pebber agreed that the fingers should be relaxed and not pressing down? I watched the video and did not hear any mention of it. Is it in one of the other vids? Or was it just in the (now deleted) comments? I'm keen to know as I pretty sure he says the opposite int he other video. I'll re-watch it and see (and post timings).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Freepower
Rather than seeking out infallible gurus, try and think for yourself


I've no idea what you mean there. I'm a self taught guitarist but that does not mean I'm not open minded to what other guitarists do and have to say. Please note how I've emphasised above that Pebber's recommendation interests me but that the jury is out and probably will be for some time as to whether I think the technique he teaches is worthwhile.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Freepower
What benefit is there to having the fingers already pressed down compared to relaxed? What disadvantages are there?


Without trying it for an extended period I couldn't say for sure. I see the logic in what you and others are saying, but sometimes the practice of something can be a different experience to the a priori theoretical view.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Actually it's interesting how much Pebber Brown says one thing and does another.


That I would agree with. The same was true of what he has said about thumb position of the fretting hand. I remember watching a video about the topic, then watching a different vid about something else where he did all the things he spoke out against in the first lesson.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
I'll declare right now though: I don't like him. At all.


I think he's an odd one. I first encountered him on the "you suck" video and there was something refreshing, different and helpful about his approach. I found it quite useful to be honest. However, I'm not sure if I may have been crediting him with some deep psychological learning methods which in fact he wasn't utilising at all (it was more in my interpretation).

Anyhow, as I watched more and more I questioned him more. Then I saw some of the recorded lessons he posted and they helped me to make my mind up. I thought the lessons were awful! Not much material covered. Far too much talking/not enough listening. Not working closely with the student. An air of disinterest. The list could go on... And that was with the camera running! Who knows what the lessons are like when no-one's "watching"?

I didn't mean this to turn into a Pebber bashing (hmmm, that's got a nice ring to it; song title perhaps?).... but now that we're here I must also add that the more I've watched the more concerned I am by the level of his playing. No doubt he can fly and knows his way around the fretboard, but he can also be very sloppy at times. At other times he cannot do what he is trying to illustrate (playing in 5 or 7 to a click for example in the long video linked to above).

All that being said, I'm still not going to dismiss his recommendations for good technique and am willing to weigh them up against my own experience. Hence the thread....



Incidentally, I posted the same question here to get the views of classical players. So if anyone is interested in the topic, go take a look:

http://www.acousticguitarforum.com/...ad.php?t=291227

Cheers for all the input.
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Old 04-13-2013, 05:48 PM   #18
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Quote:
Sorry, could you just clarify.... Are you saying Pebber agreed that the fingers should be relaxed and not pressing down? I watched the video and did not hear any mention of it. Is it in one of the other vids? Or was it just in the (now deleted) comments? I'm keen to know as I pretty sure he says the opposite int he other video. I'll re-watch it and see (and post timings).


Yeah, it was in comments he's since deleted. Talk to Chainsaw guitar here or on youtube and see if he remembers.

Quote:
I've no idea what you mean there.


Sorry, reading too much into things. I've seen a lot of Pebber students wracked with self-doubt whenever the guru is unclear and that's just unhealthy musically and personally. Glad you're not falling into those bad habits.

Quote:
Without trying it for an extended period I couldn't say for sure. I see the logic in what you and others are saying, but sometimes the practice of something can be a different experience to the a priori theoretical view.


Absolutely true!



The real problem here is that many people are using the terms "keeping the fingers down", "fretting" and "keeping fingers on the string" as interchangable... when they're not really.

All of the best players and teachers I've personally met lean towards keeping unused fingers relaxed and it helps me a lot. Definitely try it both ways, for some runs you may as well leave fingers fretting notes.
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