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Old 07-02-2014, 01:56 PM   #1
yamahaducky8910
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Working Hard to Improve- Technique Questions About the Basics

So I've been playing guitar on and off (more off than on, unfortunately) for about 5 years, and I've been doing so very informally, without a teacher. Most of what I know, I've learned through extensive trial and error hehe. If something didn't work, I'd research what I was doing wrong technique wise, but I've never had anyone teach me off the bat how to do things. So I definitely might have picked up bad habits along the way. I'm starting to get serious about improving because part of the reason why I keep going on and off is due to the fact that I feel like I had plateaued at a really low level. I want to get farther than just barre chords and simple rhythm guitar. I want to learn about theory, and soloing, and improv. So after that long rant, I've noticed some really simple technique things that I might be doing wrong.

When I fret the 6th string with my pinky, let's just say for example in the basic pentatonic scale, (which I've been practicing with a metronome all day), I can't keep my pinky from not touching the following string under the one I'm currently fretting. However, my pinky's not just laying flat over both strings, it's still curved. Curved enough that when I fret a note on the string below the one that my pinky finger's fretting, the pad of my pinky won't be touching the other fretted string. I think this has something to do with my hands being too small (as they are pretty tiny, even for a girl, and I'm playing on my acoustic guitar). Is this okay? I can't put my hand in a position where my pinky ONLY touches the low E string without bending my wrist in a really awkward position. On any other strings, my pinky can reach it just fine and it won't mute any other string, but only on the 6th string, will my pinky mute the 5th. Will this affect playing scales fast? Does anyone want pictures?

Also, I was reading UG's technique section regarding picking, and I think it was mentioned that when playing individual notes, like in a scale, all other strings should be silent. As in, after switching strings, the previously picked strings should be muted with the picking hand in order for no notes to bleed into each other. Is this correct? If so, why in some situations, do I clearly hear notes allowed to ring out after the guitarist moves on to pick a note on another string? I also think it sounds better and not as staccato. Does muting every previous string only apply to sweep picking? Is this exercise of muting every string that's not played applied in every song?

That was really long, but I'm picking up so many things that I might have been doing wrong for years, and I'd love advice. Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-02-2014, 03:04 PM   #2
Zaphod_Beeblebr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yamahaducky8910
When I fret the 6th string with my pinky, let's just say for example in the basic pentatonic scale, (which I've been practicing with a metronome all day), I can't keep my pinky from not touching the following string under the one I'm currently fretting. However, my pinky's not just laying flat over both strings, it's still curved. Curved enough that when I fret a note on the string below the one that my pinky finger's fretting, the pad of my pinky won't be touching the other fretted string. I think this has something to do with my hands being too small (as they are pretty tiny, even for a girl, and I'm playing on my acoustic guitar). Is this okay? I can't put my hand in a position where my pinky ONLY touches the low E string without bending my wrist in a really awkward position. On any other strings, my pinky can reach it just fine and it won't mute any other string, but only on the 6th string, will my pinky mute the 5th. Will this affect playing scales fast? Does anyone want pictures?


Your gender is irrelevant.

The important thing here is that you can get more than one string to sound when you want. If you wanted to play something like:

Code:
e|--- b|--- g|-4- d|-5- a|-6- e|-7-


Then each string should sound clearly. If your pinky touches the other strings when playing single note lines then it doesn't really matter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yamahaducky8910
Also, I was reading UG's technique section regarding picking, and I think it was mentioned that when playing individual notes, like in a scale, all other strings should be silent. As in, after switching strings, the previously picked strings should be muted with the picking hand in order for no notes to bleed into each other. Is this correct? If so, why in some situations, do I clearly hear notes allowed to ring out after the guitarist moves on to pick a note on another string? I also think it sounds better and not as staccato. Does muting every previous string only apply to sweep picking? Is this exercise of muting every string that's not played applied in every song?


Well the important thing is that you have the control to decide when notes do and don't bleed together. It should always be a choice and not a result of just not having practised enough.
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Old 07-02-2014, 09:48 PM   #3
yamahaducky8910
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Thanks so much
And sorry, I just stated my gender because normally females have smaller hands, and what's considered a small hand for a male would be considered normal for a female. I wanted to know if my reach was supposed to be big enough reach up there with my pinky. Good to know it won't matter
I'll devote some time to practicing sweep picking from now on. Thanks again.
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Old 07-03-2014, 09:18 AM   #4
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Having your pinky touch the 5th string a bit when playing the 6th string isn't the worst thing in the world, as there aren't a lot of chords where you've got your pinky on the 6th string. As you continue to play your flexibility and strength should improve and you'll find it easier to keep that pinky arched when you need to.

As far as other notes ringing out, it depends on how you want it to sound. Generally speaking, you play one note, then you play the next - you don't want them bleeding over into each other. However that's "generally" speaking - there may be situations where you want it to sound like that.
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Old 07-03-2014, 01:30 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yamahaducky8910
And sorry, I just stated my gender because normally females have smaller hands, and what's considered a small hand for a male would be considered normal for a female. I wanted to know if my reach was supposed to be big enough reach up there with my pinky. Good to know it won't matter


I imagine having really small hands wouldn't help.

that being said, my (guitar) reach is way bigger than it was when I started, a lot of it is practice and just getting used to guitar, as well.

I guess what I'm saying is, I wouldn't want to say the size of your hands absolutely definitely won't affect it, because someone might exist who had really small hands which did affect it or whatever, but assuming your hands are within the "normal" range, it probably won't affect you too much, and practising will have a bigger effect.
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Old 07-03-2014, 02:30 PM   #6
yamahaducky8910
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I understand. It's like the same concept for piano too right? I can reach 9 keys but only because I've been playing for years and years, while some people I know with bigger hands than me can barely reach 8. Same concept, practice more important than hand size. Yay

I also have another question about muting strings/letting them ring out. I usually only palm mute and occasionally use an extra finger to mute a specific string for a chord. Basically, I've never practiced muting individual notes after I play them with my picking hand. I've never really had a problem with notes in the background making me sound muddy, and I wonder if this because with an acoustic guitar, the strings aren't as sensitive? And generally the sound dies out faster than with an electric? So with an electric, muting becomes an essential skill that "cleans" up the sound overall. Is that right? am I even in the ballpark or.....
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Old 07-03-2014, 02:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yamahaducky8910
(a) I understand. It's like the same concept for piano too right? I can reach 9 keys but only because I've been playing for years and years, while some people I know with bigger hands than me can barely reach 8. Same concept, practice more important than hand size. Yay

(b) I also have another question about muting strings/letting them ring out. I usually only palm mute and occasionally use an extra finger to mute a specific string for a chord. Basically, I've never practiced muting individual notes after I play them with my picking hand. I've never really had a problem with notes in the background making me sound muddy, and I wonder if this because with an acoustic guitar, the strings aren't as sensitive? And generally the sound dies out faster than with an electric? So with an electric, muting becomes an essential skill that "cleans" up the sound overall. Is that right? am I even in the ballpark or.....


(a) Yeah, I imagine so (i used to play piano too). And it's maybe even more pronounced for guitar, because you have to contort your hand to play guitar whereas you don't for piano.

(b) Yep, exactly. Especially if you're playing with high gain (lots of distortion), which compresses things and raises the level of background noise.
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