#1
I started learning how to play guitar some 6 months ago and gave up after a whole month of practicing 2~3hours daily.

Now I'm back to try this again and, although not playing as much as before, I have encountered the SAME problem as before and can't seem to get over it.

The problem is that when I have to do chord (just hold it down), my fingers seem to no spread-out enough. I end up with my pinkie arched and on top of the other strings and the tip of my other fingers hitting the upper/lower chords and the sound just comes out terrible.

In this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XL-MrZKU3Js&feature=channel, you can see how the guy's fingers reach out to 4 frets. When I tried this exercise I had trouble getting just 3 of those and the 4th was impossible.

Is this normal, at all? My brother seems to do this fairly easy, although he's played guitar for many years now, and my other brother who never played guitar seems to be almost able to do it.

Also, another problem I have is that whenever I try to play any major/minor chords the sounds don't come out clearly because I don't hold the string very close to the fret. Due to this stretching problem, I hold it usually one or two fingers in the right place and the rest in the middle/back of the fret producing a horrible sound.

I've read many "how to hold you guitar" guides and they all say to put your thumb BEHIND the neck of the guitar, but I just can't do that unless I push my elbow very high or into my stomach and hold the guitar in a very weird position.

Any thoughts on this situation?
#2
The stretchy thing is practice - same as you wouldn't expect to instantly be able to do the splits if you started gymnastics, your fingers won't stretch very far when you start playing. The more you play stuff that makes you stretch a bit the easier it will get. My fretting hand has a reach about 2 inches more than my picking hand now lol

Same with chords not coming out cleanly - its just practice. Don't worry about playing fast, just take your time placing your fingers. It might be worth playing each string individually to see which notes are clean and which fingers you need to tweak.

As far as holding the guitar goes - watch Freepower's vid on posture and see if that helps: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyvGD9edWcg&feature=PlayList&p=FA239CA8EF73CEC9&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=1
#3
its fine if you've just started, try some chromatic runs and some stretching exercises that might help.
#4
Finger strength and independence. Maybe try putting the guitar on your left knee. This seems to emphasize the fretting hand and might help with stretches. It also helps (to some degree at least) to encourage a strong picking technique.

An idea to improve finger independence is to place your left hand's fingers in a row on a flat surface (this works great at school). Then lift your first finger only. Then relax it and put it back down. Then lift your second finger. Same deal for the third and fourth fingers. I do this whenever I get bored in class and my fingers seem to appreciate it (I know my playing has improved thanks to that).

Stretches are a little harder to improve (your hand can only stretch so far, after all). If it's that big an issue, try using a smaller scale guitar (check the electric or acoustic guitar forum for more info; I'm not an expert on this) or using a guitar with a thinner neck. That might help a little. However, I think that your real problem is in finger independence. Persevere and you will soon have no trouble playing that exercise or chords.
#5
Thanks for the tips. The video was great, but the leg-crossing thing isn't an option on my case because of knee problems.

And thanks for the finger independence technique. I'm not sure if it matters, but I seem to have a lot of difficulty lifting my pinkie and the finger next to that one. I will be sure to practice whenever possible.

And buying new guitar (if that's what you meant) is not a very optional because I can't really afford one right now. I got this one from my brother who just bought a new one and I think this will have to do until I actually learn how to play and make sure I'm not just going to quit again.
#6
the first couple months of playing guitar is just getting used to the feeling of the neck of the guitar. everything feels awkward at first, but as you keep playing you'll get used to it and you'll find your own style that comes naturally to you. to help with your problem though... it comes with practice. Everyone who starts playing has the same problem you have now. you'll figure it out with practice, its a combination of the angle that your fingers attack the string, the angle of your palm to the fretboard, where you put your thumb, changing the angle of your elbow to the neck depending on where you are on the fretboard, there's no set way of doing it correctly, except what feels best for you and that only comes through practice.

Also, its physics... when you start playing your fingers are soft, and to push the string down enough to play a note, you have to push a lot harder, indenting your finger tip farther than normal, and thus the extra skin that bends around the string when youre playing tends to hit the strings nearby and deaden them when you play. As you keep playing you'll build up callouses and you'll hardly even have to try to play anything. Just keep with it, you'll figure it out.
- 1997 PRS CE24 - Raspberry -
- Peavey 6505+ 1x12 Combo -
- Dunlop 535Q Wah Pedal -
- Digitech Digital Delay -
- Digitech Multi Chorus -
#7
Quote by SalokinX
I've read many "how to hold you guitar" guides and they all say to put your thumb BEHIND the neck of the guitar, but I just can't do that unless I push my elbow very high or into my stomach and hold the guitar in a very weird position.


the only genre this is really pertinent to is classical. idk what type of music your playin but unless its classical, holding your thumb on the back of the neck the WHOLE time isnt really that important
your a wreck, an accident, forget the freak your just nature, keep the gun oiled and the temple clean, shit snort and blaspheme, let the heads cool and the engine run, because in the end everything we do is just everything we've done.
-corey taylor
#8
I also forgot to ask: if I learn how to play on a guitar, is the transaction to an electric guitar easy at all?

I've heard that it changes a lot but you get used to it very quickly, and some other people said that it's like playing a completely different instrument and takes months getting used to.

I'm sure there is some difference in playing them, but is it really THAT much?
#9
it depends, a classical neck is much wider, an acoustic is sometimes harder to hold the strings down on, and there are all different types of necks for an electric.

but most people find that electrics are easier to play cuz of how much smaller the body is(depending on the type) and its easier to press the strings down most of the time depending on the action, but the transition shouldnt be that hard you will get used to it, everything comes with practice.
your a wreck, an accident, forget the freak your just nature, keep the gun oiled and the temple clean, shit snort and blaspheme, let the heads cool and the engine run, because in the end everything we do is just everything we've done.
-corey taylor
Last edited by Jman09 at Dec 9, 2009,
#10
no matter what you play it takes time, practice, and dedication. you're not going to learn how to play guitar by investigating what is the easiest way to start learning. go look up tabs to iron man, start up the song on your ipod, and come back in 2 hours and let me know much progress you've made cuz i guarantee you'll be better.
- 1997 PRS CE24 - Raspberry -
- Peavey 6505+ 1x12 Combo -
- Dunlop 535Q Wah Pedal -
- Digitech Digital Delay -
- Digitech Multi Chorus -
#11
Jrod4928, I was actually playing Fear of the Dark, by Iron Maiden, and after some two hours I could slowly do half of the intro. I know it takes time to learn, but I've tried it for a month and I still couldn't get the F Major or any Power Chord. My fingers just wouldn't reach the necessary strings.

Thanks for all the help though, I will keep trying. I've been playing today for about 4 hours and my fingers are VERY sore.

By the way, you guys are great. I got two answers in less than 5 minutes and all the other people in less than 20. It's nice to see some people don't mind helping beginners.
#12
If you have your thumb wrapped around the neck and are struggling to reach power chords its probably your posture thats causing you problems - if your thumb is wrapped around the neck it limits how much you can move your wrist and fingers. If you can find a position where you can comfortably have your thumb on the back of the neck and your wrist reasonably straight you should find power chords a lot easier.

Don't stress too much about that F - its not the easiest chord in the world. It'll come.
#13
that song is pretty sweet
- 1997 PRS CE24 - Raspberry -
- Peavey 6505+ 1x12 Combo -
- Dunlop 535Q Wah Pedal -
- Digitech Digital Delay -
- Digitech Multi Chorus -
#14
Don't worry - most beginners have trouble with the F major/minor chords. That's a barre chord if I remember correctly. Those are a bitch to get right the first hundred thousand times, but they just click after a while and you'll find yourself having no problem with them. I remember back when I first started, I couldn't play the intro to "One" at half tempo without hitting the wrong string. Now, it's no problem at all. With practice, everything will come.
#15
I finally found out why I was having such a hard time getting the G chord: I was turning the guitar to face me a bit so that I could actually see where my fingers were placed.

I noticed that if I remove the slant of the guitar so that the hole front part of it is facing the same direction as my body (forward) instead of having it facing me (even a little bit), the notes are much easier to get without my finger accidentally touching the upper/lower string.

I'm impressed I didn't notice this during a whole month of guitar addiction. Nice to know I'm progressing.

Thanks to you all and, again, nice job helping people out. Even though I feel like my finger will split open if I touche more string I think today was a very big step in my guitar lessons.

By the way, my guitar has lots of extra string hanging out of it, about a foot and a half. Is it okay if i cut them down to an inch or something around that? I don't want to end up not having enough string if something happens. For now they are all tied up in a very loose knot.
#16
Just continue to play and practice. I've been playing for about 30 years.....and I'm still learning and improving. It never really stops................seriously.
#17
Quote by SalokinX
Thanks to you all and, again, nice job helping people out. Even though I feel like my finger will split open if I touche more string I think today was a very big step in my guitar lessons.

By the way, my guitar has lots of extra string hanging out of it, about a foot and a half. Is it okay if i cut them down to an inch or something around that? I don't want to end up not having enough string if something happens. For now they are all tied up in a very loose knot.
Don't worry - if you're playing that much your fingers will soon toughen up

Yes, chop the extra string off. You only need to leave about a quarter of an inch at the tuner. That way you won't inadvertently take your eye out
#18
Quote by SalokinX


By the way, my guitar has lots of extra string hanging out of it, about a foot and a half. Is it okay if i cut them down to an inch or something around that? I don't want to end up not having enough string if something happens. For now they are all tied up in a very loose knot.


What is going to happen? If a string breaks you just buy another set. Strings normally start to sound old waaaaaaay before they're at the breaking stage though...

...I mean, they are designed to take the stresses of daily guitar playing, so don't worry.