#1
[For the majority of this post I'm going to refer mostly to economy of motion since that's a MAJOR problem to nip in the bud for most guitarists. If you've got something to add that isn't related to economy of motion but it's helped you get better, by all means, post it!]

A great majority of guitar players resort to boring chromatic drills and doing intense finger focus with their left hand but get so fed up with the venture that they never achieve their goal of economizing their playing. It's one thing to do this, but it's totally another if you already have bad habits - undoing bad muscle memory is, in every sense of the word, hell. You might be able to work at fixing your fingers but you'll find that the economization of playing doesn't carry over to faster speeds. That's understandable - you only know how to move fast carelessly, it's simply unheard of to just fix your habits at any tempo and have it carry on to all speeds of playing. It takes time.

But not all of us have time. And few of us have the patience. One relevant story I can share with you is this: When I studied a bit of Japanese, I couldn't do "rote learning" (rote = repetition) because I'm 18 and I don't simply have the time to spend 12 years on a language. Fair enough, not all of us do 'cept kids growing up in grade school. So I had to figure out another way of going about it. Using a book called 'Remembering the Kanji' and a spaced repetition system (you still have to study what you learn, kids), I somehow managed to learn 1600 kanji (symbology that represents blocks of meaning, by the way) in less than a month. Whoopee-freaking-do.

So by going against tradition, I went further than I could have ever gone otherwise. If I tried learning like all the japs did, I don't think I'd retain anything I learned. I don't know how to speak the language, but I can read very small bits of it now. I'm incredibly illiterate by all means, but I know I made verifiable progress because I recognize 75% of the symbols used in the language. I don't know about that now, though, considering I spend more time on guitar-playing nowadays..

What's the relevance?

Well, like I didn't have time to spend a good portion of my life learning Japanese the traditional and boring way, we don't have the time to spend a good portion of our practice schedule anxiously attempting to weed out our bad habits. That's where unorthodox methods come in. For those of us who just can't sit down and focus on economizing our playing, we need something else to take care of the little components and make it easier for us to reach our goal.

Let me just say that I'm the kind of guy who's willing to practice for four to five hours a day. However, I don't find it fun to spend the entirety of it in some mix between zen and anxiety - focusing on how I play, yet attempt to relax at the same time. I try to "man up and deal with it". I really do. And I have done so for the past couple of weeks. But that takes a toll on my enjoyment of the guitar, so there has to be other ways to achieve my goals.

So, my contributions to this thread..

The Wall
I recently just read that a great way to keep your fingers closer to the fretboard is gettin' real close to a wall and playing so close that your fingers will hit the wall if they pull out too much. I heard Frank Gambale does this with his students and often practices for one hour right by a wall, too. Yes, it's training wheels, but these are training wheels that are easily dumped. If this works correctly, you should have fixed your muscle memory simply because of the fact that you could never extend your fingers out more than a couple of millimeters from the fretboard.

Two-finger stretching exercises
These aren't too unorthodox or weird, but they're almost never used - I never see or hear anyone using these to build finger strength. Basically, you put your index finger and ring finger one string apart and one fret apart (basically, you've got an octave fingering except for the D/B strings). Now what you do is stretch your middle finger and pinky finger way out until they're hovering above all the strings, but not touching. You play the octave. Now you actually switch the position of the index and ring finger and do the same stretch with the middle/pinky fingers. You can also decide to use the middle finger/pinky finger instead and stretch the index + ring finger. Some classical guitarist (who shall remain unnamed due to the fact I don't remember his name) recommends these in order to gain finger strength and independence.

So, yeah. Contribute whatever unorthodox/different methods you had for bettering your technique as a guitarist in hopes that people in a similar position can fix their own technique. It doesn't have to be something constructive. It can be a tab with attention paid to bettering a certain technique but using really uncomfortable notes to maximize the effectiveness of mastering it. Or even devices (besides Metronomes!) or household objects you've used that played a pivotal role in bettering your playing.

Happy posting.
#2
tl;dr
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#3
Quote by MasterExploder0
tl;dr


Dick.

The first method is genius man, I'm gonna have to try that. Thanks.
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#6
Yeah, sometimes you reach a point where you've practiced a lick so much that you've reached the point of diminishing returns, and that sucker still isn't there. So, you've got to attack it a bit differently.

1) Isolate on the part that is giving you the most trouble, after improving it, go back to the whole lick. Pretty common approach.
2) Insert a one beat pause before the most troubling part. After you've improved it, remove the pause again.
3) Improvise the timing of a lick. For example, get a lick in straight 16th notes and play it with a triplet feel instead. Or double pick every other note. Or alternate various groups of notes between 8ths and 16ths. There are endless possibilities. When you go back to the regular timing, the lick feels easier.
4) Tremolo pick the first note for a bar before going into the lick. But you must start the actual lick at perfectly the right moment.
5) Take the central idea of a lick, or a problematic fingering, and improvise using only that pattern or idea all over the fretboard.
6) Play an all picked lick all legato instead. Or vice versa.
7) Say f*ck it, and play the damn thing as fast as you possible w/o regard to sloppiness for a few minutes before going back to a more sensible speed. Use sparingly, but it does make it feel easier afterwards.
8) Instead of playing as fast as you can, play as SLOW as you can with perfectly even timing (harder than it sounds at extreme slow tempos).
9) Play something else. Skills are interconnected in often unexpected ways, and playing something else can improve the first thing. For example, if you are stuck on an all picked lick, surprisingly practicing a mostly legato lick can help - probably because of the effect heavy legato has on your finger strength.

Hope some of these ideas help - they have definately helped me, in addition to making practice more interesting.
#7
Yeah i like the wall method. I'm gonna do that cause my fingers are short and i stick them out too far.

I've only been playing for over a year, but for better finger movements i found a way to help my muscles. On the left hand, or right, Start cascading your fingers (I'll explain).
What I do is:
Act like you are going to start counting to 4.
Index first, the middle, then ring, then pinky.
But as soon as the ring goes up, start putting down the index.
Then Reverse the previous. It also helps to put some muscle into it.
This Helped me a bit with muscle building and finger movment.

Hope you understood that xD
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#8
I liked "the wall" idea.

I've done something totally different when I started out playing, but I thought I'd share it anyway.

It's not so much orthodox, rather it's a more scientific way to approach and increase playing ability.

This is also to help your hand in a similar way like your wall technique, but it is more directed to getting rid of the unnecessary extra muscle power you use to fret a note, and I feelt hat your "wall technique" and the following one, will tackle the main problems of the left hand, which are;

Excessive use of force when going from 1 fret to another (more distance = using more muscle), and excessive use of force when fretting a note (something which I see oh so often in my own students)


What you do is this;


-Fret a note with ur left hand (any fret will do, and the strength doesn't matter)

-Then start picking the note with ur right hand evenly in volume/speed, and don't stop.

-Now slowly release the push on ur fretting finger until the note starts buzzing on the frets.

-When you hear this buzz, go slowly back until you hear the note cleanly again.

It's really simple, but do this every day, and your fingers will get accustomed to using less muscle power whilst still getting a 100% clear note.

Not only does this mean that you will get the most economic fatigue to playing time ratio, but you will also be able to play faster, because you need less counter force each time to lift ur finger to fret another note, so your fingers become light as a feather.

Within as short as a month you will most likely experience the results (though this depends on how much you play a day, ow well you focus etc.)

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Aug 22, 2009,
#9
Wow! Lots of great posts, everyone. Except MasterExploder0. Shame on you.

If you guys don't mind, I could take some of your suggestions and organize my first post so that there are hotlinks to some of your methods.
#10
one thing i do which is quite general but works well, is if i am playing a straight rhythm like like for example i was playing tornado of souls solo, and even tho i was hammering it with the metronome for hours it wasnt happening, what i do is go into a jazzy or sometime reggee style rhythm. I dont know why but the notes fit well into place after that.
#11
Quote by Serg1
one thing i do which is quite general but works well, is if i am playing a straight rhythm like like for example i was playing tornado of souls solo, and even tho i was hammering it with the metronome for hours it wasnt happening, what i do is go into a jazzy or sometime reggee style rhythm. I dont know why but the notes fit well into place after that.


Hmmm, this one has a potential pitfall.

This can be a psychological effect based on relativity.

If you play swing, then playing straight 8ths (because of the contrast) they will come out more straight, because of the swing or reggae/jazz feel before that.


An Analogy;

Think of it as if you are extremely thirsty. Water will taste so much better, but it's really because ur thirsty, and not because of the water tasting better.

This does not necessarily mean it's tight on itself.

It should sound tight from the first note you play when you pick up ur guitar, and not by reference.

Now, I'm not saying that this happens with you, but from experience with own students, I know that this approach can have this effect on others.

The "Re-incarnation of Plato" Award 2009
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The "Good Samaritan" Award 2009 (most helpful)

[font="Palatino Linotype
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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Aug 22, 2009,
#12
Quote by xxdarrenxx
Hmmm, this one has a potential pitfall.

This can be a psychological effect based on relativity.

If you play swing, then playing straight 8ths (because of the contrast) they will come out more straight, because of the swing or reggae/jazz feel before that.


An Analogy;

Think of it as if you are extremely thirsty. Water will taste so much better, but it's really because ur thirsty, and not because of the water tasting better.

This does not necessarily mean it's tight on itself.

It should sound tight from the first note you play when you pick up ur guitar, and not by reference.

Now, I'm not saying that this happens with you, but from experience with own students, I know that this approach can have this effect on others.


Yeah i understand what you are saying it works for me so each to their own. Just one of those things you have to try.
#13
Quote by xxdarrenxx
I liked "the wall" idea.

I've done something totally different when I started out playing, but I thought I'd share it anyway.

It's not so much orthodox, rather it's a more scientific way to approach and increase playing ability.

This is also to help your hand in a similar way like your wall technique, but it is more directed to getting rid of the unnecessary extra muscle power you use to fret a note, and I feelt hat your "wall technique" and the following one, will tackle the main problems of the left hand, which are;

Excessive use of force when going from 1 fret to another (more distance = using more muscle), and excessive use of force when fretting a note (something which I see oh so often in my own students)


What you do is this;


-Fret a note with ur left hand (any fret will do, and the strength doesn't matter)

-Then start picking the note with ur right hand evenly in volume/speed, and don't stop.

-Now slowly release the push on ur fretting finger until the note starts buzzing on the frets.

-When you hear this buzz, go slowly back until you hear the note cleanly again.

It's really simple, but do this every day, and your fingers will get accustomed to using less muscle power whilst still getting a 100% clear note.

Not only does this mean that you will get the most economic fatigue to playing time ratio, but you will also be able to play faster, because you need less counter force each time to lift ur finger to fret another note, so your fingers become light as a feather.

Within as short as a month you will most likely experience the results (though this depends on how much you play a day, ow well you focus etc.)


Definitely gonna have to try out this method. I've been trying to figure out ways to use less muscle and I don't know why I thought of this.

I guess combined with the wall method, it could show some significant results to your fretting hand.

Anyone got some unorthodox methods for types of picking or your picking hand?
#15
Sorry to break the bad news, guys, but the Wall method results in a resounding failure for me. I can't seem to play right up against it. If I play too close, I can't play at all. And my pinky is still being given too much room to flap around against it. The problem with the Wall idea is that the wall you're playing against must be perfectly proportioned for hand comfortability. :/
#16
Thread necroed because I found a new cool method.

Do you ever think you curl your fingers enough when playing? Let's test that, shall we? Play the 5th fret/7th fret/12th fret harmonics across the entire strings and let them ring. Play something in the key of the m7 just played. So for example, if you hit the harmonics at the 5th fret, play in Am. If you truly think you curl your fingers enough and don't interfere with the vibrations of the other strings, you should basically be able to play anything across without disturbing the m7 harmonic chord. You have to make sure to hit the harmonics again when you take out one of the intervals, though.

I thought it was cool, so I thought I'd share.