#1
Hi all,

New to guitar, and I'm trying to practice the e harmonic minor scale in first position.

The first notes are F & G# on the 6th string using fingers 1 & 4. I'm having a good bit of trouble getting a comfortable wrist position that allows both fingers 1 & 4 to stay in place.

If I keep my wrist as relaxed as possible, and play the F with my 1st finger, the pinky is not in the right position at all to play the next note. I feel like I have to tense and contort more than I should to ready these 2 notes. My pinky seems a bit short while 2 & 3 seem almost too long, they reach above the fretboard when "relaxed" and straight, when 1&4 are in place.

Any advice for getting scales in the 1st position happening in as proper a way as possible? I've found online that the wrist should be turned outward a bit, not cocked inward to bring the pinky up... as that brings fingers 1-3 out of their "lanes"? How then to get both 1 & 4 where they need to be at the same time?

Thanks for any advice, haven't found much info on this online, everyone seems to play further up the neck.
#2
My advice is if you're still an absolute beginner to stop learning scales. Start learning the basic CAGED chords and other fundamental beginner techniques
#3
Am learning those as well.
I have my basic C, A, G, E, and D chords fairly well. Bar chords and scales/spider exercises not so much.
#4
Spider exercises are pretty useless. Bar chords will take you years to get down.
#5
Finger stretching is something that just gradually got better for me through years of playing. You should make sure your thumb is flat against the back of the guitar neck, pointing towards the ceiling. I used to use a stress ball every day for finger strength and it seemed to help a little bit. Unfortunately there is not much else I can advise besides just practicing stretching your pinky. Maybe try starting at the 5th fret and work your way towards the first.

Also, not a huge deal but it looks like you're in E phrygian dominant, or the 5th mode of A harmonic minor.
#6
Yeah there's really no point in getting bogged down with random bits of theory so early on - there is no practical benefit to learning how to play through part of the harmonic minor scale in a single key at this stage, it's just wasted time that you could be using much more productively.
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#7
first of all, there is no F or G# in an E harmonic minor scale.
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#8
Yeah those notes are in A harmonic minor, not E.

Start with the basic major scales. They won't take long.

Because the major scale contains all the same notes as the natural minor scale, as well, you'll find that variations like the harmonic and melodic minor are much easier to grasp after starting with the basics.
#9
Quote by vayne92
Spider exercises are pretty useless. Bar chords will take you years to get down.


I disagree about barre chords, some people can have those nailed in a matter of weeks, even days for some. It all depends on the strength of an individual's fingers before they attempt to play them.
#10
I usually tell my students to situate themselves by placing all 4 fingers down on 4 consecutive frets at the same time. Start by doing it on the high E string, and on upper frets (say, 9-12) where the frets are a bit closer together. Then work your way through the lower strings, and onto lower frets. Really, in order to get all 4 fingers down the same time, you're practically forced to get your hand into the right position (or something close to it). Then, when you try to play through a scale, focus on trying to keep your hand in that same position (roughly).

Another tip: look at the angle of the fingers on your left hand while you play (I'm assuming you're a righty). Typically it feels a little more natural to have your fingers basically pointing at your head, but really they should be pointing back up over your left shoulder. You want to rotate your arm slightly counter-clockwise so that the inner edge of your hand (the pinky side) is pretty close to bottom edge of the neck. Your palm should NOT touch the neck when you're doing single-note stuff. This allows your pinky to more or less hover near its place on the neck, instead of pulling back away from the fretboard when not in use.
#11
Quote by arv1971
I disagree about barre chords, some people can have those nailed in a matter of weeks, even days for some. It all depends on the strength of an individual's fingers before they attempt to play them.


Nailing barre chords? Weeks? Days? I highly highly disagree with you there but alright. You and i must have a very different idea of what "nailing" barre chords means.
#12
Quote by vayne92
Nailing barre chords? Weeks? Days? I highly highly disagree with you there but alright. You and i must have a very different idea of what "nailing" barre chords means.


I agree with Vayne here. Maybe very simple chord changes such as going from the standard 6 string major shape to the 6 string minor shape. You only have to lift one finger. Also, it's not strength that is the factor here, it's co-ordination. For the more difficult chord changes you have to move three fingers independently and yet at the same time, all while often needing to move the whole thing to a different position on the neck. Nothing that you're likely to have done in your pre-guitar life (other than playing some other instruments) prepares your fingers to make movements like that. Barre chords are hard.
#13
Quote by Lephty
I usually tell my students to situate themselves by placing all 4 fingers down on 4 consecutive frets at the same time. Start by doing it on the high E string, and on upper frets (say, 9-12) where the frets are a bit closer together. Then work your way through the lower strings, and onto lower frets. Really, in order to get all 4 fingers down the same time, you're practically forced to get your hand into the right position (or something close to it). Then, when you try to play through a scale, focus on trying to keep your hand in that same position (roughly).

Another tip: look at the angle of the fingers on your left hand while you play (I'm assuming you're a righty). Typically it feels a little more natural to have your fingers basically pointing at your head, but really they should be pointing back up over your left shoulder. You want to rotate your arm slightly counter-clockwise so that the inner edge of your hand (the pinky side) is pretty close to bottom edge of the neck. Your palm should NOT touch the neck when you're doing single-note stuff. This allows your pinky to more or less hover near its place on the neck, instead of pulling back away from the fretboard when not in use.


Thanks - I'm a lefty actually but this makes sense. Only question is, is this torquing of the pinky side of the palm up toward the neck (If I'm gathering right, it's like if you just "grabbed the neck" as if you were going to carry the guitar by it,) bad for tension?
(i.e. If I drop the wrist and keep it as relaxed as possible, the fingers want to slip off the strings and don't feel grounded... if I bring the wrist up, it locks the fingers in, but increases wrist tension.) Is this a bad thing?


I think I'm making pretty good progress. I took about a year and half of piano lessons, so I have at least some idea of how to watch out for unneccessary strain and stay as relaxed as possible. I'm about 2-3 weeks in and I've got a bunch of cowboy chords and a couple barre chords developing nicely. I've also got 3 of the pentatonic shapes pretty well memorized.

Definitely am gaining more finger strength it feels like, than in all my piano playing. As a lefty it feels good to beef up the right hand's strength.
Last edited by Jerry Bears at Mar 31, 2014,