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Old 02-14-2014, 11:17 PM   #1
hairmetalguy
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unable to play due to bad technique, help!

I am 15 years old and love guitar, and really want to turn it into a career when I grow up. I got a new guitar for Christmas and played pretty much nonstop a few weeks afterward- up to four hours a day every day.

One day I started having pain in my wrist/ hand/forearm area and went to the doctor who said I 'overused' my wrist. Well I stopped playing guitar for a few weeks yet have hardly gotten any better. I have lost a lot of hand mobility and now my wrist pops whenever I move it. I also can't play guitar for long without pain.

I'm pretty sure this was due to playing with too much tension, playing too much, and not having a light enough touch. Maybe even a result of bad posture or grip. I don't think it was the neck.

Anyway, what are some steps I can take to play better in the future? Guitar is extremely important to me and I do NOT want to deal with tendonitis for the rest of my life.


EDIT:

I am not a new player, I've been at it for about 5 years. Like my name suggests, I'm into 80s rock so my playing reflects that, I like to mix shred with melody. I'm don't like sweeping (although I can sweep), and the fastest stuff I get into is legato runs.

Last edited by hairmetalguy : 02-15-2014 at 01:38 AM.
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Old 02-14-2014, 11:28 PM   #2
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Well it's awesome that you are so excited about learning to play guitar.

That being said, it takes time for muscle memory to really settle in your brain. Because of this, playing 4 hours a day will probably give you the same results as playing 2 hours a day. I would recommend less play time with good practice habits (use a metronome). Within a few months you should be able to play some metal.
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Old 02-14-2014, 11:30 PM   #3
hairmetalguy
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Thank you for replying!

I got a new guitar but I have been playing for about five years already. I was getting to be pretty good but now my progress has come to a halt
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Old 02-14-2014, 11:44 PM   #4
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Wow. I thought you meant you were new.. I've never heard of someone who plays that much 5 years later! I would still be careful though so you don't risk injury, and never get to play again.
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Old 02-14-2014, 11:46 PM   #5
hairmetalguy
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That's the problem, I want to be careful but I don't know exactly what I was doing wrong in the first place.
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Old 02-14-2014, 11:53 PM   #6
nautikros
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Most likely it is just because you are playing 4 hours a day. Either that or you might be bending your wrist in an awkward way. Make sure you aren't tense in either your arms or shoulders.
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Old 02-15-2014, 12:51 AM   #7
hairmetalguy
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I have smallish hands so it can be difficult for me to reach the lower strings sometimes, and I have to sort of bend my wrist to get to them. Is this normal?
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Old 02-15-2014, 12:54 AM   #8
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I strongly recommend you go back to the doctor. It shouldn't still hurt.
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Old 02-15-2014, 01:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hairmetalguy
I am 15 years old and love guitar, and really want to turn it into a career when I grow up. I got a new guitar for Christmas and played pretty much nonstop a few weeks afterward- up to four hours a day every day.

One day I started having pain in my wrist/ hand/forearm area and went to the doctor who said I 'overused' my wrist. Well I stopped playing guitar for a few weeks yet have hardly gotten any better. I have lost a lot of hand mobility and now my wrist pops whenever I move it. I also can't play guitar for long without pain.

I'm pretty sure this was due to playing with too much tension, playing too much, and not having a light enough touch. Maybe even a result of bad posture or grip. I don't think it was the neck.

Anyway, what are some steps I can take to play better in the future? Guitar is extremely important to me and I do NOT want to deal with tendonitis for the rest of my life.


If you really see this as being a career then I'd suggest that you go for it you have plenty of time just use it wisely.. Can you figure songs out by ear? Do you know how to practice efficiently?

These are all things you need to know if you want to become a great musician. There's a thin line between playing, and practicing playing is strumming a long or picking songs you know by heart. Practicing is working on your technique, and ears learning new techniques and challenging yourself learn to differentiate the two of them.
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Old 02-15-2014, 01:29 AM   #10
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Relax your hands/wrist. I doubt you have any major sort of injury. I got the same in my hand when I started. I was tensing my hand so much because I wanted to be precise. Relax and it will come and your playing will improve and the strain will ease. That's what I'm thinking anyway, of course if the pain was to persist for any length of time then you would have to see your Dr.
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Old 02-15-2014, 01:34 AM   #11
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Protect your hands. Especailly your fretboard hand.
If you're right handed and play the conventional way. Try to use your right
or dominate hand for other task in your life.

Power tools, lawn mowers or anytype of industral tools that cause vibration.

I damaged my fretboard hand. Luckily it healed. It takes time.
Do alot of stretches.

Dont worry about speed. it'll come naturally.

There's still alot of stuff you can do on the guitar that dosnt require a lot of strain
on the fretboard hand. You can play songs with less flngering chords.

Get your strumming patterns, plucking patterns...down.
You need to remember these strumming and picking patterns as much as you would
remember scales or chords.
it'll help you alot more on lead than you think.

Last edited by smc818 : 02-15-2014 at 01:36 AM.
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Old 02-15-2014, 01:42 AM   #12
hairmetalguy
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@Black_devils Ear is all I have anymore, lol. I have pseudo perfect pitch so I can figure out what chords are playing in songs on the radio.

My hand doesn't hurt at rest, but when I play it starts to ache.
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Old 02-15-2014, 11:00 AM   #13
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Hey Dude,
Well, definitely go back to see the doc if you keep having pain. That said, here are a few things that have worked well for me.
First of all, stretch before you play. By "stretch", I don't mean - *stretch*, ok I'm done, lets go on with this thing! Those few minutes stretching are a way of getting your body and mind into the right state to play. They are really important. I'll start out with about a minute or two, touching my toes. Touching your toes is great - it relaxes your whole body. Don't force it, just let your back hang in a C-shape, and just let your arms hang. You can feel it relaxes your whole back, arms, etc. As your hamstrings loosen up, consciously relax your lower back.
Then move onto some more guitar specific stretches - stretch each arm in front of your body, behind your head, and massage your neck and shoulders. Then (gently) bend your hand back to stretch the forearms.
The thing about stretching your whole body is that it's all connected. If any part of your body is tense, it's going cause other parts of your body to be tense. For example, it's impossible to have totally relaxed shoulders if your back is super tense. And pretty soon the tension reaches the parts of your body which are actively involved in playing.
The other thing I find is that it settles your mind too. I'll come back from work, and my mind will still be kind of thinking about work, and by the time I've stretched, I'm a good ways towards letting it all go. Which you need in order to be focused while you're playing.

Ok, so that's stretching. When you pick up the guitar, it's really important to have some kind of warm up. I'll spend 10 or 15 mins on open chords when I first start playing. This is great because it doesn't tax my fingers, and in order to strum you have to have your right arm and shoulder relaxed. So it's building on the process of getting your body relaxed. Not to mention that my chords are getting better!
Before I work on any lead stuff, I'll do a little warm up for that too. I'll spend 5 mins doing chromatics in various combinations just to get the fingers moving. I never push the speed on this, just play it steadily from the 1st to 17th position and back down again, and focus on staying relaxed. Another good one is playing the "modes" of harmonic minor arranged 3 notes to a string, starting at the 12th position (if your basing it on A or E), and working downwards to the 1st position, so you get the more stretchy stuff after your already warmed up a bit. It's great practice as your using 5 different fingering patterns per position instead of the usual 3 you encounter w/ major/minor, and have more small position shifts going on.

The final thing is to always take breaks while you're playing. I will go for about 25-30 mins, and take 5 or 7 mins off. Not only does it give your hands a break, it helps you stay focused - I find it a lot easier to focus in lots of shorter stretches, rather than one long one, and I think most people are the same this way. Also, if you can find a way to split your playing up over the day - maybe get up early and hit it for an hour before school, then the rest after school, then this is ideal. You also learn faster this way.

Anyway, I didn't realize that this was going to get so long. I hope it helps some.
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Old 02-15-2014, 11:13 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hairmetalguy
@Black_devils Ear is all I have anymore, lol. I have pseudo perfect pitch so I can figure out what chords are playing in songs on the radio.

My hand doesn't hurt at rest, but when I play it starts to ache.



Listen to your body don't play let your hand heal you've probably over worked the muscles in your hands it happens when you practice intensely for a long period so just chill out, and stay away from your guitar for a while dude. I'm glad to know that you can figure things out by ear you're half way there just remember to keep challenging your self with transcribing because figuring out chords off the radio is pretty easy... Transcribe some of your favorite players, and most importantly don't rely on tabs.

Last edited by Black_devils : 02-15-2014 at 11:16 AM.
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Old 02-15-2014, 07:26 PM   #15
hairmetalguy
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Ok, so I finally got a few videos uploaded. Focus on my technique, not playing or tone or whatever. It sounds like shit because I haven't played in about a month.



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Old 02-15-2014, 10:26 PM   #16
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This is a direct copy of a facebook post by professional guitarist Chris Letchford, the mainman of prog-metal act Scale The Summit.

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Rant? I haven't had a good one in years...

I get asked all the time how I was able to "get good at guitar?", how I was able to "achieve success in the music industry?", how I was able to "build muscle and get abs" etc...

This guy really helps to answer all of those questions which I have never really been able to (I've tried) but also have it be with one word... "FOCUS". Thats a perfect answer and exactly what I did when I was growing up. I focused on guitar and only guitar. Like he mentions, you can't have a full time job, wife and kids, party on the weekends, etc... and be able to achieve the highest kind of success. I did poorly in class during high school, I ignored friends (it was tough and they bugged me to the point of annoyance, they truly didn't understand my reasoning for wanting to practice), I went to only ONE party during my entire 4 years during high school... and I gave up all those things to FOCUS on guitar.

What I like to tell everyone that comes to me for advice, whether its guitar related or not. They start by telling me their goals. My favorite thing to tell them first is "A goal without a plan is a wish". I can't remember where I first heard that, but it couldn't be more spot on and it always gets them thinking. I can tell right away they get it, and its like it immediately puts things into perspective for them. You have to have a plan if you want to reach your goal.

My fitness goal was to be shredded and healthy. So my plan was to eat correctly, count the amount of calories I need each day for building muscle and then loosing fat when I was cutting, and then go to the gym 5-6 days a week and lift heavy things off the floor. I did that, I reached my initial goal, now Im back to the goal of building back on even more size.

He rambles on about not being able to be whatever you want to be (like you are told as a child), which I agree to some extent. I think the key for most is they just struggle to find what they are good at so they can strive to be the best at whatever that may be.

1. I wanted to write music like Tom Morello when I was a teenager, but I soon realized that wasn't going to happen, (plus I had a awesome first guitar teacher that told me straight up "You aren't Tom Morello") its best to stick to what I was good at. So I sat down and just wrote whatever, and what came out, came out, now here I am today. I feel confident about my song writing skills, I'm able to do it quickly, and I enjoy what I write, if others enjoy it thats just added bonus!

2. I wanted to play professional basketball as well as a kid. Im 6'4" and have been since 17 years old, I definitely have the athletic ability and trust me when I tell you I dominant the guys at my gym when I play 5 on 5 now (I turn 30 this year) and can shoot 3's with a hand in my face all day, but there must have been something I was missing as a kid. Im not sure if it was being given a chance, the fact that I wasn't able to play on a team every year and grow the team skills I needed, maybe it was the kids I hung around that weren't interested in organized sports, I didn't eat a athletic diet back then to reach my full potential, etc... who knows, maybe its what this post if about... I lacked FOCUS for basketball because it was all put on guitar. Makes perfect sense now. I still love the sport and I have more time now to play than I ever did, plus Im probably in better shape now than in my teens.

I consider myself lucky on in the fact that I was able to find what I was good at early on, and was then able to put all of my time and energy into it, the FOCUS!

The original question was about genetic potential with bodybuilding and he answers it, but his "general" answer/rant is great as well, even for people that could careless about weight training.

I hope all you guys have or will soon find that one thing you are meant to do and are then able to develop that plan and get it done! You'll have to sacrifice things, we all do, I have and will continue to do so to make it happen!



DONE.


The key is to focus. In everything. Technique. Posture. Theory. Songwriting. Improvising.
etc.
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Old 02-15-2014, 11:46 PM   #17
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If I'm having trouble with techniques, I use videos to help me learn. It's the easiest way to follow the right technique. I also use a site that allows me to cut step by step procedure so I can follow better. You can try the site and explore how your technique can improve.

here's a link of one video I learned through that site:

http://www.stepup.io/videos/0aa510f2510158b1
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Old 02-16-2014, 08:17 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isabelcrest
If I'm having trouble with techniques, I use videos to help me learn. It's the easiest way to follow the right technique. I also use a site that allows me to cut step by step procedure so I can follow better. You can try the site and explore how your technique can improve.

here's a link of one video I learned through that site:

http://www.stepup.io/videos/0aa510f2510158b1


Honestly, I'd check out the Guide to all techniques sticky or use YouTube for that..
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Old 02-20-2014, 03:51 PM   #19
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I'm really sorry to hear about the issues you have been facing. I gave myself Carpel Tunnel Syndrome a few times, as well as a few rounds with tendinitis, when first learning so I know how frustrating this can be. I taught guitar fulltime for over 10 years, so I'm hoping my suggestions may help. Looking at your videos I would recommend a few changes to your technique. I've had to do this myself more than once: it's hard but worth the effort. Anyway, hence's what I would recommend.

1. It appears to me that the amount of finger pressure you apply to the string is perhaps a little more than necessary. We really want to apply only just enough pressure to the string to get a clean note - one devoid of string buzz - and no more. Any pressure beyond this prevents your fingers from moving freely as well as increasing the risk of injury due to fatigue. Experiment playing until you get to the point where if you play any lighter you start getting string rattle.

2. I suspect that your entire left hand is fairly tight and not relaxed. Part of practicing involves training ourselves to play with effortless ease. That is, absolutely minimal finger pressure, absolutely minimal tension in both hands. You can imagine that if we were going to go for a run and I told you to flex your leg muscles then hold them tight while we were running you would think I was an idiot: the tight leg muscles are going to make running difficult. However a lot of musicians play like this, with excessive tension, particularly when the music gets aggressive. The key here is to train yourself to monitor the tension in your hands (and arms and shoulders sometimes too!) and then progressively decrease this. I do this by rating the tension on a scale of one to 10. If it was a 5 I will attempt to play something again making it a '4', then a '3'. We are really just training ourselves to be aware of tension and then learn to decrease it.

3. I would make sure that your guitar isn't too low relative to your body when practicing. The lower the neck goes the more your wrist is forced to work at an awkward angle, greatly increasing the risk of injury. I practice with my guitar neck at a height that enables my left hand wrist to stay almost completely straight.

4. This will be difficult, but I would recommend playing with a consistent left hand position. That is, with the thumb behind the neck, with the entire hand moving up and down when moving to different strings (ie. not moving to other strings by changing your wrist angle, instead moving the entire arm), always playing consistently on your fingertips, always attempting to play with the fingers running parallel to the frets. The last item feels weird when you first start. However for a large number of guitarists the finger angle relative to the frets changes as they move from the bottom string to the top. Normally the fingers progressively 'align' themselves with the frets as the hand moves from bottom to top. The problem with this is the fingers are essentially working at a different angle on every string. If they are working at a different angle the muscles are working differently. If the muscles are working differently the brain needs to control them differently. The brain then essentially needs to learn one way to play on the bottom string, and then a variation of this for every other string. That is, the brain needs to learn 6 ways of playing, one for every string. If the fingers are always straight (parallel to the frets) then the brain simply needs to learn one way to play, and the arm simply moves the hand up or down, applying this consistent hand position to the next string.

Anyway, a bit of food for thought here. Hope this helps.
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Old 02-21-2014, 03:13 PM   #20
se012101
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^ Great advice.

The concept behing moving your hand slightly to keep your finger angle to the frets constant shows up in lots of different areas of technique. For example, in picking - moving the hand to keep the relationship to the string being picked the same. Left hand position shifts are another example, where you move your arm separately to keep the relationship of the hand to the neck the same (of course you have to move the arm, but the problem is that people do stuff with their hand/fingers on top of that which throws things off).
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