#1
Hi everyone,
I have been playing guitar for a week now, and I have been reading posts saying you should have no tension when you play.
When I have absolutely no tension when I play, it becomes sloppy, and I have taken the "practice slow" advice. I am playing quarter notes at 85 BPM.
I have recently found that if I put an eensy bit of tension on my fretting hand (my left arm DOES NOT hurt at all)my wrist is a bit discomforted but not like serious pain. I think this is because my wrist isn't straight. When I make it straight, my fingers tilt to the side and my pinky cant reach the 4th fret. It's even more of a problem on the lower strings (Low E and A)
Please help me D:
#2
Tension isn't necessarily a bad thing. Playing without any tension might actually be counterintuitive- your notes won't ring out as much. Not saying cramp up and press your fingers down as hard as possible, but just enough for the notes to ring out clearly.

As far as the wrist hurting, that's most likely just learning pains. I was taught to lay the thumb on the back of the neck, tip pointing towards the head of the guitar (if your neck has a skunk stripe, lay it flat on that). It does help you get more of a stretch in, but like with anything else, find whatever's comfortable for you.
First couple weeks/months suck, but after that, your hands get used to it. I wouldn't worry too much.
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#3
you should have AS LITTLE TENSION in both hands/arms as possible. a good practice to remember is to play ergonomically:

- have your fretting wrist as straight as possible (ie, dont wrench it in ~90 angles)
- dont hang the guitar too high/low (should be around the same position as when sitting
- the nut of the guitar should be around shoulder level (helps with wrist.

you can lower tension by making your action lower as well, but i wouldnt worry about that as much right now since youre just beginning.
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#4
If you're doing basic things and something is hurting you need to A) Stop playing B) Stretch C) Find a way to do [insert task] without it hurting. You shouldn't be in pain when playing guitar (unless it's the obvious like your fingers aren't calloused yet), it's not healthy.

As has been said, you should have minimal tension. That doesn't mean you're not using the muscles in your hand/arm/wrist/etc. It just means you're not stressing those muscles.
#5
Quote by Mynabull
Tension isn't necessarily a bad thing. Playing without any tension might actually be counterintuitive- your notes won't ring out as much. Not saying cramp up and press your fingers down as hard as possible, but just enough for the notes to ring out clearly.

As far as the wrist hurting, that's most likely just learning pains. I was taught to lay the thumb on the back of the neck, tip pointing towards the head of the guitar (if your neck has a skunk stripe, lay it flat on that). It does help you get more of a stretch in, but like with anything else, find whatever's comfortable for you.
First couple weeks/months suck, but after that, your hands get used to it. I wouldn't worry too much.


Ah thank you so much
You have described my type of tension- enough for the notes to ring out, but not like pressing hard as possible. I also lowered my arm some and my wrist doesn't hurt anymore
#6
Try relaxing your fingers (shaking your hand and letting it hang), then slowly bring it up to the fretboard. Pick a fret, and a finger (probably your index), and slowly press down on the string, very, very slowly, while picking at the same time, until you heard the note ring out. As soon as you hear the note ring out, stop pressing down any further. That's how much pressure you should be putting on the strings.
#7
Quote by zincabopataurio
Try relaxing your fingers (shaking your hand and letting it hang), then slowly bring it up to the fretboard. Pick a fret, and a finger (probably your index), and slowly press down on the string, very, very slowly, while picking at the same time, until you heard the note ring out. As soon as you hear the note ring out, stop pressing down any further. That's how much pressure you should be putting on the strings.


thank you I will try that tomorrow when I practice again (kinda tired right now)
#8
Don't listen to the guy up there ^

Your thumb should be in the center of the neck, pointing up to the ceiling. Fretting hand should be spread out hovering over the frets you're going to press, as close as you can possibly get them.

Check out some of the 'finger independence' and 'minimum movement' vids on youtube - if you get this right NOW you won't have to go back and clean your technique up later - and you'll be playing extremely well in no time if you follow this and the 'play slow' advice.
#9
Quote by GilbertsPinky
Don't listen to the guy up there ^

Your thumb should be in the center of the neck, pointing up to the ceiling. Fretting hand should be spread out hovering over the frets you're going to press, as close as you can possibly get them.

Check out some of the 'finger independence' and 'minimum movement' vids on youtube - if you get this right NOW you won't have to go back and clean your technique up later - and you'll be playing extremely well in no time if you follow this and the 'play slow' advice.

Any reason for not listening to me?
#11
Quote by GilbertsPinky
Don't listen to the guy up there ^

Your thumb should be in the center of the neck, pointing up to the ceiling. Fretting hand should be spread out hovering over the frets you're going to press, as close as you can possibly get them.

Check out some of the 'finger independence' and 'minimum movement' vids on youtube - if you get this right NOW you won't have to go back and clean your technique up later - and you'll be playing extremely well in no time if you follow this and the 'play slow' advice.


thank you
This advice very much helped (I cant play as fast as I could when my wrist was moving all over the place and my thumb was pointing sideways, due to not having much finger strength) and my wrists dont hurt anymore when I have my thumb in the center, but the notes are ringing out clearer from my fingers stretching out to the frets so this is major progress x3
Last edited by callofdoodie at Jul 27, 2010,
#12
^ Sweet, really glad i could help. Do the finger independence and minimum movement exercises every day for maybe 15 minutes to warm up at the start of practice and you'll find you'll get more fluidity and speed quicker than someone who doesn't!