#1
Hello everybody; i'm playing acoustic guitar for about two years now, and i still have problems with my fingers (ring and pinky fingers)
my problem is when i play with my ring and pinky fingers together (at the same time) they cramp up, for example if i play barre chords or power chords or even fingerpicking (melody lines)...

so what is the problem?? are my fingers so weak?? should i practice more until the pain goes away?? any help will be appreciated.
Thank you

PS: sorry for my english if i made mistakes
Last edited by sam2289 at Jan 26, 2014,
#2
I hardly think your fingers are too weak. In fact, most of the problems i've encountered with my own playing and my students playing when it comes to cramping up is that we use TOO MUCH pressure.

When we start of learning guitar we have to add more pressure cause we are not used to the guitar, but when we get better we sometimes forget we use too much pressure.

I would suggest you try using less pressure first and see if that helps. More often then not you don't have to press that hard on the guitar to get notes out of it. I would recommend you try putting your fingers on a fret without adding any pressure and then gradually add pressure until the note comes out, then you will realize how little pressure you really need. Then you have to get used to that with barre chords.

Most of the time you don't need strength, you need control.
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#3
Quote by Sickz

Most of the time you don't need strength, you need control.


Ok, i will try your advice, and i know i use too much pressure but i couldn't control it... guess i have to start all over again.

thank you so much for the reply, I really appreciate it
#4
Hey bud. I need more information.

Do those fingers cramp up during barre chords in particular, or just regular playing?

Either way, what's happening is called sympathetic tension -- it's when one muscle tightens in response to another muscle's tightening. Finger independence exercises can help you with this. Here is a basic one you should do for no more than 5 minutes every day.

Before you say anything like, "Oh I do that already," make sure you read my explanation for exactly how to do the exercise.

----------------------------------------------5-6-7-8--
-------------------------------------5-6-7-8-----------
----------------------------5-6-7-8--------------------
-------------------5-6-7-8-----------------------------
----------5-6-7-8--------------------------------------
-5-6-7-8-----------------------------------------------

... and then come back down, still ascending 5-6-7-8

HOW TO DO THE EXERCISE CORRECTLY:
If you want to actually get something out of this, you must not move any fingers until it is time for them to fret their next note. I repeat; you leave your finger touching the string but not pushing it down to the fingerboard after it has played a note and you don't move it until it's time to play the next note. THAT is how you actually develop finger independence from this exercise and doing it in that manner will make the exercise much more difficult.

If it is tough for you to play it like that, adopt a two-click strategy with your metronome -- on your first click, you touch your fretting hand finger and the pick to the string you're going to play, then on the second click, you push the string down and pluck it, then rinse and repeat as you work through the exercise. This is a great way for teaching yourself to relax while playing.
#5
Quote by onelightminute
HOW TO DO THE EXERCISE CORRECTLY:
If you want to actually get something out of this, you must not move any fingers until it is time for them to fret their next note. I repeat; you leave your finger touching the string but not pushing it down to the fingerboard after it has played a note and you don't move it until it's time to play the next note. THAT is how you actually develop finger independence from this exercise and doing it in that manner will make the exercise much more difficult.


Forcing your fingers to stay anywhere is a complete recipe for tension, you need to be aiming for maximum relaxation. If you're going to do an exercise like that, which I wouldn't recommend anyway when there's real music to be played, then you need to just relax a finger when you're done using it rather than lifting it or forcing it to stay anywhere.
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#6
Quote by onelightminute
I need more information.


Well i already did, i said that my ring finger cramps up when i play it with the pinky "at the same time" like power chords or barre chords (Em shape) or chords like x44200 / x66400 where i have to use the ring and pinky at the same time.

And it's cramp up when i practice my barre chords changing (between two chords) or when i have to stay for a long period of time in a particular chord (for example when i play fingerstyle), but when i play songs and i change multiple chords i don't have this problem.
(i know it's confusing and i hope i made myself clear)

Ok, i will add this exercice to my practice schedule.
Thank you so much!
#7
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
you need to just relax a finger when you're done using it rather than lifting it or forcing it to stay anywhere.


I will keep this in my mind too
Thank you!
Last edited by sam2289 at Dec 18, 2013,
#8
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Forcing your fingers to stay anywhere is a complete recipe for tension, you need to be aiming for maximum relaxation. If you're going to do an exercise like that, which I wouldn't recommend anyway when there's real music to be played, then you need to just relax a finger when you're done using it rather than lifting it or forcing it to stay anywhere.


I completely disagree. You aren't really "forcing" them to do anything, that was a poor word choice. You just aren't moving them. If you notice one start to move when it's not that finger's turn to play a note, you back up and repeat that part of the exercise until they relax.

I will agree with you that focus of practice should be making music, not playing exercises, thus if you notice I specified, "no more than 5 minutes per day."

Quote by sam2289
Well i already did, i said that my ring finger cramps up when i play it with the pinky "at the same time" like power chords or barre chords (Em shape) or chords like x44200 / x66400 where i have to use the ring and pinky at the same time.

And it's cramp up when i practice my barre chords changing (between two chords) or when i have to stay for a long period of time in a particular chord (for example when i play fingerstyle), but when i play songs and i change multiple chords i don't have this problem.
(i know it's confusing and i hope i made myself clear)

Ok, i will add this exercice to my practice schedule.
Thank you so much!


OK, so it's a specific hand position that's bothering you. Another technique you can use is to simply hold the position that is creating pain or tension. By hold it, I don't mean tense all your muscles and strain against yourself. I mean fret the chord (or just touch the strings at first, if need be) and then concentrate your awareness on what parts of your hand feel tight after you hold it for a few seconds. Once you've identified where the tension is, try to think about relaxing those muscles while you continue to hold the chord. If they won't relax after a few seconds of feeling tension, release the chord and shake it out, then try again, or try just gently pushing the strings down to fret the chord a few times.

You can change that two click protocol from before to a three click for chord changes. Instead of FRET - PLAY it's going to be FRET - PLAY - MUTE. First click; fret the chord but don't push the strings down yet. Second click; press the strings down and strum the chord. Third click; release the chord shape and mute the strings. On the next click, you can fret a new chord and repeat the process. I'd recommend only practicing 2 or 3 chords at a time with this method -- best to isolate the toughest changers.
Last edited by onelightminute at Dec 18, 2013,
#9
Yes, only when i fret with my ring finger and pinky at the same time...

I will definitely try those steps, and hopefully the tension goes away.

Thank you again very much!!!