#1
I have friends who have split opinions on this, and I'm guessing I'll get that here, too.

I am very new to the guitar. I have an acoustic guitar (with magnetic pick up) and have only been practicing for a few day. I know the dexterity on my left hand will come with practice, but I saw a video in which a woman was advocating something I had never heard of before and I am wondering what other players think about it.

Her plan was to have the beginner learn the basic chords by moving down the neck of the guitar and using the 7th or 8th fret as you would normally use the 1st fret when learning these chords. Her thinking (which makes sense to me at this time) was that you will have less tension in your hand because you are not extending your elbow as much. You teach your hand to form the chords in that position and then slowly begin moving your position down a fret or two at a time until you are comfortably playing the chords in the proper position.

A good practice technique or something that will lead to bad habits?
#2
From experience I would say ignore the woman's advice as we all know they are wired up wrongly and often have strange ideas.

Depending on the quality of the instrument you are using the action gets higher the further you travel up the fret board, this is especially true of beginner grade acoustic instruments.

My advice would be to learn the open position chords that live around the first three frets initially as avoiding first base would be a bit of a weedy copout but like all these sorts of things this is just my opinion, I've been playing for over 30 years and remember that the initial steps hurt like hell but like a moth to a flame I just kept on doing it and eventually the pain in my finger tips went away never had any issues with elbows because as a rule you use your hands to play a guitar with

PS never do anything that would take longer than is necessary when learning guitar, guitar playing is about doing things the easiest way possible.

Just an opinion.
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Last edited by extinctguitar at Feb 6, 2015,
#3
Thanks for the input. As for not playing with the elbow, you do see what she is saying, right? My problem isn't with finger pain. My problem is with finger dexterity and getting my fingers to do what I want them to do.

I think maybe I'll hedge things. If I am planning to practice for 30 minutes, I will set aside 40 for the practice. I will spend 10 minutes warming up my fingers by doing what this woman suggests and then do my normal practice, with fingers up in the 1st through 4th frets. I can't see the extra 10 minutes of hands on the fret board hurting, right?
#5
Been playing for a while and have never heard of that method, was not taught that method and have never taught that method. I guess that covers all the bases.

While I can see what she's trying to accomplish, at some point, you still have to make the transition to the other end of the neck. Why not learn the chords the right way from the beginning? This will also have you playing songs much sooner. Fact is, the open chords really aren't that difficult anyway. Where you'll run into difficulty is with the barre chords - the dreaded F chord. Even then, I'd still recommend learning the chords the correct way. Once you have them in your muscle memory, they are there for good - unless you stop playing.
#6
but most of the basic chords use the open strings...

it's been a while since i first started playing, but that advice seems weird and unnecessary. having your hand closer to the headstock should not add tension in the hand at all. think about it - it's upper arm muscles that move the hand, and forearm muscles that do the fretting. learn to isolate them.
Quote by archerygenious
Jesus Christ since when is the Pit a ****ing courtroom...

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#7
Quote by KG6_Steven
Been playing for a while and have never heard of that method, was not taught that method and have never taught that method. I guess that covers all the bases.

While I can see what she's trying to accomplish, at some point, you still have to make the transition to the other end of the neck. Why not learn the chords the right way from the beginning? This will also have you playing songs much sooner. Fact is, the open chords really aren't that difficult anyway. Where you'll run into difficulty is with the barre chords - the dreaded F chord. Even then, I'd still recommend learning the chords the correct way. Once you have them in your muscle memory, they are there for good - unless you stop playing.


What is the longest you've ever seen someone take to get the basic chords down (assuming from context that you teach)? I have been at it less than a week, so I don't really know what to expect, but when I tried the D chord, it was near impossible for my hand to do it. I got Am fairly easily and C was not horrible (but still have to work for a bit to get out the clunkers). Holding any chord feels extremely unnatural and involves a lot of tension right now.
#8
Quote by vIsIbleNoIsE
but most of the basic chords use the open strings...

it's been a while since i first started playing, but that advice seems weird and unnecessary. having your hand closer to the headstock should not add tension in the hand at all. think about it - it's upper arm muscles that move the hand, and forearm muscles that do the fretting. learn to isolate them.


It is the angle that creates the tension. I'm 100% certain she is right about that. If I bring my hand closer to my body, it is much easier for me to hold the finger positions for the chords than if I have my hand out at the 1st fret.
#9
Yep, learn it right to begin with. Once you gave the basic open chords down, you never forget it, just like falling off a bicycle. Bet you can still do that just fine too...
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
#10
Well, you guys certainly know a hell of a lot more about this than I do. I will keep on trucking as I am. I am probably overly self-conscious about this right now, but I just keep thinking that I am having a more difficult time holding the basic chords than I should. I feel like my hand is especially rigid and lacking dexterity. Just looking for any little trick to retrain this hand faster.
#11
Quote by ridire
It is the angle that creates the tension. I'm 100% certain she is right about that. If I bring my hand closer to my body, it is much easier for me to hold the finger positions for the chords than if I have my hand out at the 1st fret.


i don't have a guitar with me at the moment, but...move your elbow with the hand?

maybe i was exaggerating a bit, but it shouldn't make much of a difference in tension at all. in fact, i find the 1st fret position one of the more comfortable positions. more relaxing than shoving my hand up against the neck joint for soloing.
Quote by archerygenious
Jesus Christ since when is the Pit a ****ing courtroom...

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#12
This was about 17 years ago for me but I think it took me about 2 months of decent practice to comfortably change chords while strumming.
I remember I thought I'd never get it. Give it time, it will come. Ignore the crazy cat lady advice
#13
The most important thing, IMO, for a beginner is a good set up. These days there is no reason to a expect that the great majority of inexpensive guitars can't be set up just a well as an expensive ones. - The CNC routers that make them work just as well in China as they do in the US. Whatever difference there is is due almost entirely to the fact that more time might have been spent setting up an expensive one in the first place. So invest in a set up.

I can't see how learning on the high frets will help, provided the guitar is properly set up. The stretches aren't great on the open chords, and the perception of tension is greater if the strings are shortened with a capo.
#14
Update after an hour practice session tonight. I'm glad I came here and talked this through. I played it straight and worked on the D chord in the 2nd and 3rd frets. But, I paid a lot of attention to why there was so much tension in my fingers and adjusted things that had nothing to do with my hand. I stuck a small box under my right foot to raise my knee a bit. I pulled the guitar in closer, making it more square to the ground. I realized it did't matter if my index finger was touching the first and second strings because they are fretted at higher frets (should have been obvious, but I've been too focused on other things). That chord was impossible for me three days ago. Now I've got it nailed.
#15
Quote by ridire
What is the longest you've ever seen someone take to get the basic chords down (assuming from context that you teach)? I have been at it less than a week, so I don't really know what to expect, but when I tried the D chord, it was near impossible for my hand to do it. I got Am fairly easily and C was not horrible (but still have to work for a bit to get out the clunkers). Holding any chord feels extremely unnatural and involves a lot of tension right now.


Don't get discouraged. Every guitar player is different. Some new players pick up chords right away, while others can take awhile. When I was taking jazz lessons, it took me several months to learn two particular chord shapes. Now I can play them in my sleep. When I start off with a new student, I give them a handout with several guitar chords and their fingerings. The sheet has 18 common chords on it. I usually assign three new chords each week - it just depends on the student and how fast they are able to progress. Now, I don't expect them to be able to play the chord as proficiently as I can. I'm simply looking for them to recall the chord name from memory, finger it and play it as best as possible. I look for the correct strings to be played, too. For example, a C major chord should only have strings 1 through 5 plucked. As long as they can recall the chord shape and play it, we can work on any issues they're having with it, such as buzzing strings.

The other thing that's really important is practicing each and every day. Guitar isn't a hobby where you can take the weekend off. At a bare minimum, 30 minutes each day is essential.

If you're finding the D chord difficult, then I would suggest taking it slow. Finger the chord and then play each note one at a time. With that D chord, you should only be playing strings 1 through 4. Play each note and listen for strings that buzz. Analyze why the string is buzzing and repeat. Try holding down one string at a time, too, of a particular chord. Your hands need to build stamina, which is going to take time.

I don't want to discourage you, but the open chords are relatively easy - it's the barre chords that can be real bears. Use the same technique I mentioned above and you'll be fine.
#16
Quote by ridire
I have friends who have split opinions on this, and I'm guessing I'll get that here, too.

I am very new to the guitar. I have an acoustic guitar (with magnetic pick up) and have only been practicing for a few day. I know the dexterity on my left hand will come with practice, but I saw a video in which a woman was advocating something I had never heard of before and I am wondering what other players think about it.

Her plan was to have the beginner learn the basic chords by moving down the neck of the guitar and using the 7th or 8th fret as you would normally use the 1st fret when learning these chords. Her thinking (which makes sense to me at this time) was that you will have less tension in your hand because you are not extending your elbow as much. You teach your hand to form the chords in that position and then slowly begin moving your position down a fret or two at a time until you are comfortably playing the chords in the proper position.

A good practice technique or something that will lead to bad habits?


I would think that this is not a good technique, since frets are narrower (if only slightly) higher up the neck than they are lower on the neck, where open chords are most conventionally played. Even though the shapes might be similar, I would guess that you would essentially have to retrain yourself because of the difference in spacing- this might not be the best comparison, but imagine throwing a basketball with one hand versus a tennis ball with one hand (or more accurately, the difference between the two). As many would agree, playing a G shape near the twelfth fret is physically very different from playing it at fret three.

However, the advice that helped me the most is this: keep your strumming hand strumming. This will force your fretting hand to keep up with your strumming hand, therefore changing chords more efficiently/effectively.
#17
Go to Justin guitar he will teach u all chords and get a chord book
#18
Quote by Tazz3
Go to Justin guitar he will teach u all chords and get a chord book


Justinguitar.com is what I'm using in lieu of an instructor right now.