#1
I need some help.
When I play, I normally play strumming songs... or maybe songs that have are picked but I strum them anyway. I would really like to be able to play more songs, and play them they way they are written with note picking included. I just can't figure out how anybody does this though. I have to be able to completely memorize a song in order to even try to play a song that includes string picking because I find it impossible to do without looking at the guitar and I can't read the music when I'm looking at the guitar. Whenever I've asked people this before all I hear is just "practice". Now I know it will take practice and I'm more than willing to put in the practice time but I don't know HOW to practice this. If I'm not looking at the guitar, I have no clue where my fingers are at and I just can't see anyway to learn how to know where my fingers are.

I can understand my fretting hand, because I can feel the strings there.. but with the pick hand if i'm feeling something I'm playing something so that doesnt' work.. I need to be able to put the pick down on the right string every time. I try to keep my fingertips on the guitar body beneath the strings to give me a point of reference with the pick but it doesn't really help that much, other than maybe the first string or two.

So are there any practice drills or exercises that can teach me how to play individual strings or multiple strings in the case of partial chords so that I can practice to move beyond simply strumming everything?

Thanks in advance!
Last edited by jdport at Oct 16, 2009,
#2
Hmmm try doing it without a pick until you get a general feel of where the strings are then when you dont have to even think about it go with the pick. If at all possible, i would take lessons but UG has some lessons on intros to strumming and intros to guitar i think that should get you started feel free to message me with any questions.
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#3
i dont understand your problem, can you not pick notes? what are you playing, electric or acoustic?
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#4
I actually am taking lessons, and some stuff my instructor has me playing has picking in the songs but ... after a bit I end up having the song memorized and that's when I finally start to be able to play it a bit. I can't even begin to learn the songs until I actually have the song in my head well enough to play without looking much at the music.
#5
well don't put your fingertips under the strings...thats just bad technique. It takes a while to realize that the pick is just an extension of your fingers. Try "choking" down on the pick I guess? Or you could just try finger picking until you get more comfortable with string positions.

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#6
Quote by jack hate crew
i dont understand your problem, can you not pick notes? what are you playing, electric or acoustic?



Acoustic... problem is trying to pick notes without looking at the guitar. If I'm not looking.. .it's just a guess where the pick is going to strike.


well don't put your fingertips under the strings...thats just bad technique. It takes a while to realize that the pick is just an extension of your fingers. Try "choking" down on the pick I guess? Or you could just try finger picking until you get more comfortable with string positions.


Why is that bad technique? That is something my instructor got me in the habit of doing, and my daughter is taking guitar lessons now and her instructor makes her do it as well....

As for choking up on the pick or using my fingers ... i still dont' know where the strings are with relation to my fingers unless I look. With no ability to feel anything, I don't know how you can tell what string you are about to play... unless you are looking at what you are picking.
#7
Quote by jdport
Acoustic... problem is trying to pick notes without looking at the guitar. If I'm not looking.. .it's just a guess where the pick is going to strike.


Why is that bad technique? That is something my instructor got me in the habit of doing, and my daughter is taking guitar lessons now and her instructor makes her do it as well....

As for choking up on the pick or using my fingers ... i still dont' know where the strings are with relation to my fingers unless I look. With no ability to feel anything, I don't know how you can tell what string you are about to play... unless you are looking at what you are picking.



Question : do you look at the keyboard all the time whilst typing? I'm guessing not. It's because you used to the thing.
Same for guitar. It is just practice. keep learning songs and going through scales and what not. I think you problem isn't practice, its having expectations too large.


I know this isn't the sort of thing you want to hear mate, but that the way it is. Keep playing and you'll get better.

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#8
The solution to your problem comes from experience more so than practice. You can practice all day and night, but you won't necessarily develop every skill right away because your mind can only take in so much at a time. A lot of the development is just from playing a lot, and often. Not necessarily practice, but just messing around on the guitar will move you ahead.

With lots of experience, you'll just start to be able to navigate around the fretboard(with your fretting hand) and the strings(with your picking hand) naturally. It doesn't come from lots of hardcore/intense practicing. It comes from being well experienced.
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#9
Play things with the lights turned off. Not necessarily the pieces you're going to play but just little scales or runs or phrases.

Practising in the dark helps you get a feel for where things are and really makes you listen. Listening is very important.
#10
Hey Jd, don't discourage yourself. The reason why practice is important is because you will build what we called : Muscle memory. This is how, after a while, you won't need to look at the strings. Don't worry if you miss a note, it's ok. I know one of my major trouble is I am trying to go too fast when I learn. I don't practice enough a slow speed and build my muscle memory.

My playing hasn't progress in 5 years but this year, I got a new guitar and that got me motivated again and I've been playing new song that I would have classified has impossible a short time ago.

My advice is : Slow down and don't give up.
#11
Quote by Jiggzy.UK
Question : do you look at the keyboard all the time whilst typing? I'm guessing not. It's because you used to the thing.
Same for guitar. It is just practice. keep learning songs and going through scales and what not. I think you problem isn't practice, its having expectations too large.


I know this isn't the sort of thing you want to hear mate, but that the way it is. Keep playing and you'll get better.


I'm a fast typer and don't look... but that came from a regimented set of drills that taught me a few keys at a time until I was typing on the whole keyboard. I thought maybe there were drills I could do to take the same approach to picking strings without looking... It's so frustrating not being able to read the music, or losing my place every 2 seconds because i'm looking down at the guitar. Also, with a keyboard I can feel the keys and know if i'm in the wrong spot. With the guitar if you are touching the strings you are making noises or muting noises that you don't want to be.

But from the last couple of posts what I hear people saying is that there isn't anything I can do except keep playing and waiting. I had hoped there was something I could do to develop this.
#12
We all learn at different speed JD. I have been playing for 20 years and I have seen kids that only been playing for 1 year that blow me away. I am a very slow learner. I only played chord for the longest time. There's thing you cannot rush. Some got it, some less. It doesn't mean you can't achieve your goal.

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#13
How about learning Under the Bridge by Chili Peppers? - It has crispy chords with these melody fills, which sound very cool if played right.

Try to check that one out. I hope I understood your question correct...
#14
Quote by jdport
I'm a fast typer and don't look... but that came from a regimented set of drills that taught me a few keys at a time until I was typing on the whole keyboard. I thought maybe there were drills I could do to take the same approach to picking strings without looking... It's so frustrating not being able to read the music, or losing my place every 2 seconds because i'm looking down at the guitar. Also, with a keyboard I can feel the keys and know if i'm in the wrong spot. With the guitar if you are touching the strings you are making noises or muting noises that you don't want to be.

But from the last couple of posts what I hear people saying is that there isn't anything I can do except keep playing and waiting. I had hoped there was something I could do to develop this.



I feel your pain, mate.

I had the opposite problem, i couldn't strum with my fingers. I allways made threads asking how the hell people do it and all ways got the same answer. Just experiment and practice. It'll come to you.
Sounds stupid but it's the only way.
There isn't a quick fix.

Also, there are all sorts of picking drills you can do. Just check the lesson section.

Quote by Karl Pilkington
Jellyfish are 97% water or something, so how much are they doing? Just give them another 3% and make them water. It's more useful."
#15
Well, there really isn't anything to do but practice. Come up with your own exercises. Like go strings 6, 5, 6, 4, 6, 3, . . . idk. Just skip around and get the feel for it. It's like when strumming and you need to not hit the E or A string. It's hard at the beginning but then your hand "learns" where those strings are and how to avoid them. You don't have to look or feel, you just know.
#16
I'm in the same boat as you, so sorry, but i can't help until I've learnt this myself..
#18
practice makes perfect you will eventually learn where the strings are as the time comes and i understand what your problem is but dont beat yourself up if you dont always hit the right notes it will take time and patience but eventually you will get it i assure you =D
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#19
dont worry about it just keep at it.. try playing without looking and if you hit the wrong string look at the guitar and correct it..then go back to playing w/o looking