#1
Hi all,

I feel like I've hit a brick wall. I started learning acoustic guitar, especially fingerstyle, around 9 months ago. I've made great progress and I've made decent headway. Consider that before 9 months ago I could only play the basic chords with some rather lackluster rhythm.

To give you an idea of my level I can now play this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QfZ9bLClGI

That being said I still f**k up a lot. I struggle to make my playing fluid and I can often end up getting the finger placement slightly off (or completely off) and ruining the flow. I find it hard to get fluidity in my songs - and that is what I need to make a song pleasing to the ear.

Maybe I'm just watching too many pros, but they seem to be able to move their fingers around the fretboard with a fluidity and grace that I cannot emulate. It tends to look like a very gentle and soft touch too, which I'm trying to do myself but I tend to add way too much pressure especially on more difficult pieces (which is the opposite of what I want!).

I guess it's a case of I know what to play, and how to play, but my fingers just don't agree.

Please tell me this is all just a matter of years of practice. Is there any practice techniques that would help? Maybe I need to increase the span of my fingers through stretches?
#2
Some lessons could definitely help, sounds like you have everything down, just your right or left hand (or both, you didn't specify) are tense. Learning to relax your hands and have good technique should solve your accuracy and fluidity issues. You may also be rushing things, if your hands are tensing up, or you're stuffing up a lot, you're probably going faster than you should, and you'll develop bad habits that way. Try doing some simple warm up exercises for both hands, making sure you're completely relaxed, record it on your phone or something and analyse your hand movements in the recording (I did this once and knew what areas to work on). If you notice your technique to be unrelaxed or tense, consider taking a couple lessons to sort it out.
#4
want to play smoothly? practice each song as slowly as you need to to play it through perfectly. and try playing simpler songs for fun.
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
#5
Quote by gweddle.nz
Hi all,

I feel like I've hit a brick wall. I started learning acoustic guitar, especially fingerstyle, around 9 months ago. I've made great progress and I've made decent headway. Consider that before 9 months ago I could only play the basic chords with some rather lackluster rhythm.

To give you an idea of my level I can now play this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QfZ9bLClGI

That being said I still f**k up a lot. I struggle to make my playing fluid and I can often end up getting the finger placement slightly off (or completely off) and ruining the flow. I find it hard to get fluidity in my songs - and that is what I need to make a song pleasing to the ear.

Maybe I'm just watching too many pros, but they seem to be able to move their fingers around the fretboard with a fluidity and grace that I cannot emulate. It tends to look like a very gentle and soft touch too, which I'm trying to do myself but I tend to add way too much pressure especially on more difficult pieces (which is the opposite of what I want!).

I guess it's a case of I know what to play, and how to play, but my fingers just don't agree.

Please tell me this is all just a matter of years of practice. Is there any practice techniques that would help? Maybe I need to increase the span of my fingers through stretches?


There is a portion of music which is greatly facilitated by sense of rhythm. Without that, getting to a high level is difficult.

But the reason that it looks so easy when the pros do it, is they have so much power in their hands. You need a soft touch to play real well, but in order to be able to have a soft touch, you need to have developed great dexterity and power from years of practice.

It needs to become easy to do. Imagine you had to dance around gracefully carrying a 60 pound weight. At first you would be very clumsy and it would be very difficult and you would see others move so gracefully. You could eventually get there, but you can't just go straight into those difficult moves with equivalent grace very quickly.

Guitar is 3 parts, essentially. One is to come up with beautiful musical ideas. The second is to learn where the sounds you want are, on the guitar. The third part is to get your hands to be able to do very intricate and difficult things effortlessly.

It looks easy because it is easy for them. It is a light tough they have. That's part of what is so boss about them. It's a very difficult thing they are doing as though it was as easy as walking, because it is as easy as walking. That's how much work they put into it.
#6
i can play fingerstyle very smoothly and i have weak hands and wrists. for me, it was all about playing and playing and playing. you can to know the fingerboard so you don't need to think to play, get to know the songs and the fingering. get to know some patterns so you play them without a thought. without looking. i can noodle on the guitar while carrying on a conversation, and people will ask me what song i was playing.
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
#8
Thanks all. I think I just hit a bit of a plateau and got annoyed. I've moved on somewhat. I've stopped anchoring (as per another thread) and while this has affected my accuracy somewhat it has also improved my rhythm so that's good news. Accuracy will follow with practice.

I've also tried my best to play with as little pressure/tension as possible and that's starting to pay off too. I play, usually, for a good 2hrs a day so I think I've made a lot of progress because of this. Just love playing fingerstyle!
#9
Quote by gweddle.nz
Hi all,

I feel like I've hit a brick wall. I started learning acoustic guitar, especially fingerstyle, around 9 months ago. I've made great progress and I've made decent headway. Consider that before 9 months ago I could only play the basic chords with some rather lackluster rhythm.
I haven't heard all that many rhythm gitarists of today, that either were worth their salt, or were allowed their head. Today's guitar rhythm tracks are oftentimes given lousy spots in the mix, pretty much dull EQ, and an in the background.

I always suggest learning rhythm guitar from seminal acts, most notably the Who, and the Rolling Stones.

When you can mimic Pete Townshend's highly diversified, but also traditional rhythms in "Tommy", (in particular), you'll have the basics down. (And "Quadrophenia" as well, but that's a bit more adventurous).

So, goof around with "Tommy", and the Stones, "Beggars Banquet", (the whole album). When you can put down a convincing tribute to these guitarists, you'll be well on the way to developing a style of your own.

One notable player, who has one of the best senses of melody in the business, is Mark Knopfler. He still relies oftentimes, on a heavy, pick style rhythm player, to get his melodic message across.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Mar 12, 2015,
#10
I still practice rhythm with songs that have fingerstyle & rhythm - plus the occasional song I want to learn that's all just strumming. I've also learnt to sing over some fairly complicated strumming patterns. I feel my rhythm is progressing and that's how I know I was not very good beforehand.

It still has some way to go, but sometimes you've got to play whatever keeps you playing. It has to be fun.
#11
Quote by Tony Done
I think that is great for nine months. IMO, you're being way to hard on yourself, you just need to keep practicing. Listen to something like early John Renbourn (or me!), its full of bad timing and clams.


I agree, if you can do this after only 9 months you're doing really well. The reason you can see pros do it with grace and fluidity is that they've been practicing for hours every day for years.

I found that my fingerstyle really took off when I learned to anchor the pinky and mute the bass strings with my palm - it depends on what style of music you want to play, but this really helped me. I also forced myself to play with a thumbpick which was very unnatural at first but now my thumb feels naked without it. Practice, practice, practice. The rhythm will come once you can play the tune without thinking about it, then you can start to mess around with other notes/rhythms.

"10% inspiration, 90% perspiration" - Tommy Emmanuel
#12
Quote by gweddle.nz

I've also tried my best to play with as little pressure/tension as possible and that's starting to pay off too. I play, usually, for a good 2hrs a day so I think I've made a lot of progress because of this. Just love playing fingerstyle!


Yes! Fingerstyle for me is the most rewarding style to play. Keep up the 2 hours a day, or more - it will toughen your fingers, develop your rhythm and dexterity.
#13
Odd, I've found anchoring to be a hindrance to my ring finger. I do have a thumb pick, but for most of the pieces I play I prefer the softer tone from the skin. I don't find it too difficult getting used to the thumb pick - finger picks on the other hand....
#14
Quote by gweddle.nz
Odd, I've found anchoring to be a hindrance to my ring finger. I do have a thumb pick, but for most of the pieces I play I prefer the softer tone from the skin. I don't find it too difficult getting used to the thumb pick - finger picks on the other hand....


I also don't think I anchor. Although maybe I do with wrist, probably forearm. I find that since my fingernails are not that long, I often have to mute strings with my hand especially on quick runs, so I anchor on the actual strings at times. I also tend to pick over the neck though, which is unusual. Never tried a thumb pick. I never liked the idea. I like the feedback of feeling the strings with my fingers, maybe I'll try one one day.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Mar 17, 2015,
#15
If you feel that you are on a plateau, perhaps your progress has not stopped: perhaps your ability to criticize your own playing and your playing goals are improving faster than your technique. Keep at it with SLOW practice and a metronome, and you'll get there =^)