#1
Hi all

I'm finding that my picking hand and wrist are nice and relaxed as I work my way up the metronome trying to get faster.

But, while my picking action is fairly relaxed, I still can't seem to work the tension out of my upper arm. This is mainly when I'm practicing alt picking by doing the spider exercise (I think that's what it's called...when you run up the neck to the 12th fret and pick all the notes up and down on each string 1-2-3-4 till you get there). By the time I reach the 12th fret, I feel a tension in my upper arm/ bicep.

Now, I think the reason my wrist and hand are relaxed and my arm isn't, is that I may not be resting my right arm properly, but I can't seem to get it to a place where it's on the body and completely relaxed and not being slightly suspended off (if you know what I mean?)

Can anyone offer any advice on right arm position and how they keep the tension out and keep the arm relaxed?

Thanks!
#2
well i find that in my bad days i need to play like 1-2hrs before i can get rid of that tension, so i think its just matter of warming up
#3
Quote by Ace_1973
Hi all

I'm finding that my picking hand and wrist are nice and relaxed as I work my way up the metronome trying to get faster.

But, while my picking action is fairly relaxed, I still can't seem to work the tension out of my upper arm. This is mainly when I'm practicing alt picking by doing the spider exercise (I think that's what it's called...when you run up the neck to the 12th fret and pick all the notes up and down on each string 1-2-3-4 till you get there). By the time I reach the 12th fret, I feel a tension in my upper arm/ bicep.

Now, I think the reason my wrist and hand are relaxed and my arm isn't, is that I may not be resting my right arm properly, but I can't seem to get it to a place where it's on the body and completely relaxed and not being slightly suspended off (if you know what I mean?)

Can anyone offer any advice on right arm position and how they keep the tension out and keep the arm relaxed?

Thanks!

Your speeding up way too quickly...you shouldn't really be "working your way up the metronome" during a single practice session, the idea is you practice for a period of time at a set tempo until you're playing consistently accurately at that tempo, cleanly and without mistakes, then you bump the speed up a little and repeat. Remember , you're not "trying to get faster", you're "tring to get better" ie more accurate and more efficient in your movements.

I wouldn't concern yourself with that spider exercise though, it's okay as part of your warmup but it's got little value beyond that - there's other things that you could be practicing that are going to be far more effective.
Actually called Mark!

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#4
Hey Mark, sorry I wasn't really clear...I didn't mean I actually work my way up the metronome in one session. I mean, I'm gradually working my way up the metronome as I progress. I'm currently sticking on a fairly low beat. 80bpm with triplet notes. So, by no means speedy. It's a very attainable speed, which is why I'm kind of like...my wrist and hand feel fine, but my arm still gets tense by the time I reach the 12th fret.

But now that you mention it, what are far more effective practice routines you speak of? I was under the impression the spider was the way to go?
#5
Practice is a physical exercise and it involves the entire body. Before I even pick up my guitar, I stretch out. Shoulders, fingers, wrists, neck...then I do about 5 minutes of just finger exercises and stretches. Sit up straight too! We all have horrible posture. Most importantly, relax!

Now, that is what works for me. Might not be the same for you or anyone else.
Hope that helps a little.
#6
Thanks, Ancientson...I do try to stretch before I start...Usually a couple minutes at least. I think I might be holding my right arm on the guitar in an awkward way, perhaps...might need to investigate that.
#7
Quote by Ace_1973
Hey Mark, sorry I wasn't really clear...I didn't mean I actually work my way up the metronome in one session. I mean, I'm gradually working my way up the metronome as I progress. I'm currently sticking on a fairly low beat. 80bpm with triplet notes. So, by no means speedy. It's a very attainable speed, which is why I'm kind of like...my wrist and hand feel fine, but my arm still gets tense by the time I reach the 12th fret.

But now that you mention it, what are far more effective practice routines you speak of? I was under the impression the spider was the way to go?

Everyone get's a hard on for that spider exercise and I have no idea why. A big part of guitar is muscle memory, training your hands repeatedly on the motions you require them to do to play something, and the simple fact is runing up and down chromatics isn't relevant, it hardly ever happens in a song. That means drilling your hand on that set of actions isn't teaching you anything practical. Like I said, it's a handy warm up and if you mix up the patterns it helps you with finger independence but it's not really much use past that. For example, it's not going to make you "faster" because you're training your hands to do something thats pretty irrelevant.

What makes you "faster" is pratcising the thing you're trying to play, there's some good exercises in the sticky at the top of the page and lots of those are things that would either appear in a solo or are easily modified and can be incorporated into your playing. Likewise taking snippets of songs and using them as exercises is a great way to improve.

Take the run at the start of the Love Gun solo for example, that's actually a pretty generic lick which would fit in most solos, either in it's entirety or in part. So a run like that is a good thing to adapt into an exercise. Practice playing it in different keys, from different root notes, maybe mix up the notes a bit or phrase it differently with slides or hammer-ons. You're still drilling technique, you're still working on that accuracy and economy of motionand keeping things in sync, but at the same time you're practicing something that has some practical application.
Actually called Mark!

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...it's a seagull

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#8
See, Mark...that's why you're the man. I completely agree. I sit there drilling through the spider thinking, "Is this really helping me? I want to play Love Gun, not the same strings over and over again. Shouldn't I just practice Love Gun?"

Nice advice. I think you're right...Spider's good for a warm up, but when practicing...just play what it is you wanna play. Ironically enough, I actually am working on Love Gun, as you suggested. I still find the solo a bit out of reach at the moment...I can play it about 80% speed, but find it waaay too quick at full speed. Matter of practice, I guess.

I just need to find a way to keep my right arm a little more relaxed.
#9
Part of that relaxation comes with familiarity, if you're trying to play something that's too fast for you then you are going to tense up, because you're panicking, you don't know it well enough and you ultimately know that you can't really play it, so it's a crap shoot as to whether or not something good comes out the other end.

The better you know the part, the easier it gets and the less you're going to worry about it - it's no different to a race driver walking round an unfamiliar circuit to get a real feel for it, then going round the track dozens of times at a safe speed until they instinctively know all the corners and braking points before gradually shaving bits off the time as they get more comfortable with it and know where they can push the envelope a bit.
Actually called Mark!

Quote by TNfootballfan62
People with a duck for their avatar always give good advice.

...it's a seagull

Quote by Dave_Mc
i wanna see a clip of a recto buying some groceries.


stuffmycatswatchontv.tumblr.com
#10
Quote by steven seagull
Part of that relaxation comes with familiarity, if you're trying to play something that's too fast for you then you are going to tense up, because you're panicking, you don't know it well enough and you ultimately know that you can't really play it, so it's a crap shoot as to whether or not something good comes out the other end.

The better you know the part, the easier it gets and the less you're going to worry about it - it's no different to a race driver walking round an unfamiliar circuit to get a real feel for it, then going round the track dozens of times at a safe speed until they instinctively know all the corners and braking points before gradually shaving bits off the time as they get more comfortable with it and know where they can push the envelope a bit.


Steven Seagull FTW. I'm gonna print this out and put it on my wall.
#11
Quote by steven seagull
Everyone get's a hard on for that spider exercise and I have no idea why. A big part of guitar is muscle memory, training your hands repeatedly on the motions you require them to do to play something, and the simple fact is runing up and down chromatics isn't relevant, it hardly ever happens in a song. That means drilling your hand on that set of actions isn't teaching you anything practical. Like I said, it's a handy warm up and if you mix up the patterns it helps you with finger independence but it's not really much use past that. For example, it's not going to make you "faster" because you're training your hands to do something thats pretty irrelevant.

What makes you "faster" is pratcising the thing you're trying to play, there's some good exercises in the sticky at the top of the page and lots of those are things that would either appear in a solo or are easily modified and can be incorporated into your playing. Likewise taking snippets of songs and using them as exercises is a great way to improve.

Take the run at the start of the Love Gun solo for example, that's actually a pretty generic lick which would fit in most solos, either in it's entirety or in part. So a run like that is a good thing to adapt into an exercise. Practice playing it in different keys, from different root notes, maybe mix up the notes a bit or phrase it differently with slides or hammer-ons. You're still drilling technique, you're still working on that accuracy and economy of motionand keeping things in sync, but at the same time you're practicing something that has some practical application.

Excellent advice from the Seagull.

The lick that introduces the Love Gun solo might be generic, but it is found in a lot of other solos as well. For instance, Hammett uses it in the first solo in the "Four Horsemen," albeit he plays it a bit more quickly.

As many others have said, the 1-2-3-4 exercise is fine for a brief warm-up, but if you're going to be doing heavy practice then it is better to find something that has musical applications. Its very rare for a player to actually descend four frets on the same string, plus the alternate picking is fairly easy since every string begins with a downstroke. In my opinion, a better exercise is to go 1-2-4 or 1-3-4 in a manner similar with the 1-2-3-4 exercise, but I think it has more musical application because those fingerings are very common in scales and solo licks.

Also, check out the books by Troy Stetina. He deals extensively with technique, and I think you would find the book Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar very useful.
Axes:
2010 Carvin ST300C
1994 Jackson Soloist XL Professional
2008 "Jacksbanez"
2007 Gibson Flying V
2003 Epiphone Les Paul Plus

Amps:
Peavey 6505+ Combo
Peavey Classic 30
Peavey Vypyr 15
#12
haha, i was learning back burner today by august burns red and there are 1-2-3-4 riffs and i thought wow thats pretty hard. i never practised that stuff because i also thought it doesn't really have musical applications, but here you go
#13
See, Mark...that's why you're the man. I completely agree. I sit there drilling through the spider thinking, "Is this really helping me? I want to play Love Gun, not the same strings over and over again. Shouldn't I just practice Love Gun?"


Basically, only practise exercises when there's a specific thing you want to improve, and you have a good exercise for that specific thing! - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcEHxH4S9_c

The other thing I would say is that there can be a number of causes of tension - and paying attention and noticing it is the most important step in getting rid of it. The next thing you want to do is check your posture - just sit with the guitar as normal without playing it, and see how it feels.

Now fret the first note. Still relaxed?

Now pick the first note. Still relaxed?

Now, try and find what makes you tense up - is it the tempo? A particular section of the run? A tricky picking pattern?

Then take it back to the tempo and position where you are relaxed and try to play into the problem area maintaining that relaxation. This may be incredibly slow and your brain should hurt from concentrating, but this will work.
#14
This is excellent advice. Thanks so much everyone. Freepower...I'm gonna do what you suggested also to check my tension. I'm pretty sure tempo is what causes me (and probably 99% of others, too!) to tense up. I find that as I go faster, my pick gets stuck and I end up falling over myself. It's just going to take time to build it up, I guess.