#1
i was told the other day from somebody that the best way to build stamina and accuracy in your playing is to have a guitar to practice on with high action. It seems to make sense but i have never been told this before by anyone else. Does anyone really know if it truly benefits your play or will it cause unnecessary tension ?
#2
Practice with your action set where you want it to be. Sure, maybe playing with higher action works your fingers more, but it also changes the way you have to play, so if you do that for practice with the intention of going back to lower action for performance or whatever, it's kind of counter-intuitive. Practice the way you play. That way your practice actually makes your play better. And even if you have ultra low action and super light strings, you're still going to develop finger strength.
Guitars
Schecter Hellraiser C-1FR, C-1 Classic, Hellraiser Hybrid Solo-II, Special Edition E-1FR-S
Orange Rockerverb 50 212
Basses
Yamaha RBX374 and Washburn MB-6
#3
Quote by superthatdude
i was told the other day from somebody that the best way to build stamina and accuracy in your playing is to have a guitar to practice on with high action. It seems to make sense but i have never been told this before by anyone else. Does anyone really know if it truly benefits your play or will it cause unnecessary tension ?


Personally, I don't think it's all that great of a benefit.
#4
Best way to build stamina is to play for longer periods frequently. If you want to be able to play for an hour straight, just play for an hour (or longer) every day. The problem with changing you action just for practicing is that it also messes with your muscle memory.
#5
I agree with the above - practicing with high action has no benefit - in fact I would argue it hinders progress. Playing in tune is one of the most important aspects of playing guitar, especially electric guitar, and if you spend all your time playing on a guitar with high action you will play out of tune on a normally setup guitar because you will apply too much pressure.

This is the same reason acoustic players tend to suck when they play electric - because they use too much force.
#6
You could get a good workout for strength for barre chords that way. But, I wouldn't recommend it either. It is better to practice on what you want to be good at, imo.

Although, you might want to practice on an acoustic, which will give you some of that benefit, and also let you actually be good at acoustic, which might be cool also.
#7
Playing the guitar is not like weight lifting. If the instrument is too hard to play, you will play incorrectly.

And, you will hurt a lot. Playing a well-set-up instrument should be essentially effortless.
#8
Quote by Bikewer
Playing the guitar is not like weight lifting. If the instrument is too hard to play, you will play incorrectly.

And, you will hurt a lot. Playing a well-set-up instrument should be essentially effortless.


This is very true.

For your fretting hand, you should feel like the weight of your arm being pulled by gravity, is going through your shoulder-arm-hand-fingers into the fretboard, in order to fret the strings. Too many people squeeze with their hands. If you let gravity work for you, fretting becomes easy. You only have to direct where the pressure is going with your fingers. When you do that, your fingers are free to move around very quickly.

Strumming downwards is also letting gravity do the work. Feel the pick going into the guitar, rather than out and away. You will be able to produce loud, projected notes effortlessly this way. Out and away, makes for weaker notes that you have to work harder for. Up picking is a bit harder for most people, but picking into the guitar is the same principal.
#9
Quote by Bikewer
Playing the guitar is not like weight lifting. If the instrument is too hard to play, you will play incorrectly.

And, you will hurt a lot. Playing a well-set-up instrument should be essentially effortless.


I beg to differ. It kind of is. You need to workout your dexterity to have the power and swiftness you need to play at a very high skill level.

However, even slightly changing the oriewntation of what you are doing will workkout the wrong muscles, so there is no point really in doing that.

What you need to do then is many reps of the same thing, rather than fewer with more heavy weight, which is really what you want in any sport where you prioritize agility and swiftness over brute strength.

A runner is not built like a strongman competition guy, but they both use weights.

Guitar, especially acoustic, I find, is actually very physically demanding, and does require a sort of approach like going to the gym.

Just like you could run for fun, and only practice running by running, but you won't be going to the olympics that way. You'll be able to run just fine, but only at a low skill level.

If you go and look at something that Tommy Emmanuel plays, for instance, it won't take you long before you encounter something that's way beyond your ability, and that seems impossible. That's very difficult even just to grip if you take your time with it, but he does it quickly and gracefully because he has tremendous power. So much that it has become simple for him, and he doesn't even realize it anymore probably. But he knows all the work he put into it, and how tough it was to get there.

I would imagine that electric guitar is a hell of a lot easier though. I haven't picked one up in a while, and at first it would be all flippy floppy for me for sure, but ultimately a hell of a lot easier. You would still need to "hit the gym" though for playing with speed mostly.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Sep 22, 2015,
#10
Quote by fingrpikingood


Guitar, especially acoustic, I find, is actually very physically demanding, and does require a sort of approach like going to the gym.



It is a bit more demanding playing an acoustic than an electric. That is because you physically must do more work projecting the notes to your audience. Whereas, with an electric, you are using the electrons to do the work for you. Science! That being said, even on an acoustic you can leverage physical principles so that the work you do is still very little. You can project notes quite loudly with very little physical effort if you're doing it right.
#11
Quote by edg
It is a bit more demanding playing an acoustic than an electric. That is because you physically must do more work projecting the notes to your audience. Whereas, with an electric, you are using the electrons to do the work for you. Science! That being said, even on an acoustic you can leverage physical principles so that the work you do is still very little. You can project notes quite loudly with very little physical effort if you're doing it right.



The right hand requires a very light touch most of the time, I find, for nice tone and agility, and a good guitar will project loudly enough. If it is for an audience you will need electrons anyway.

The power you require comes from the left hand. You can get by at low skill levels with ever developing too much power. There are workarounds and stuff like that. You don't have to play quickly either.

But for a lot of things, you really need a lot of power. If you don't find that to be the case, that is because you are not doing the sorts of things that require a lot of power.

Learn one Tommy Emmanuel song, not necessarily one like classical gass with that sort of alternating bass, because that will require practice which is not really of a physical nature, but more of a sort of confusing, sort of timing multi-tasking sort of hurdle, but one of his other songs, and you'll see what I mean.

Some acoustics are more difficult for some things than others also. String gauges and nut widths make a difference for sure.

But trust me, some stuff requires really a lot of power. Especially if you want to play swiftly with good subtle control. You can't just barely pull it off, you need to pull it off easily, fully clean. I'm not inventing things, I've been through a number of stages and levels of difficulty in a number of grips. I know exactly how hard a lot of it is.

It's like running. Running is easy. You and I can run. But we cannot run professionally. We would need to dedicate our lives to it, and go to the gym.

Similarly, one can play guitar well enough just learning easier things, just playing songs and sort of just having fun with it, without ever "hitting the gym". But you can only get so far doing that.

Some people that's all they want to do. And people can make a great living doing that also. But if someone asks "is there a benefit to doing 'x'?", then that would include every skill level destination.

So, you could say "guitar is not like hitting the gym." just like you could say "running is not like hitting the gym." But it all depends on how good you want to be. Or in the case of guitar, how skilled you want to be on the instrument.

I hit some guitar gym every day, and I've gone through periods where that's all I practiced for most of a number of days in a row. I've accomplished many difficult things, but there are always more.

If there was a literal guitar gym workout I could do without a guitar, I would do that. But I have found that you really need to do it on the guitar. Pressing down with a lot of action really works out those correct muscles for good barre chord power, which is useful, imo. It would be useful to me, and I've benefited like that from playing difficult guitars before.

But ultimately, you really want to be comfortable on your guitar. If you had a second guitar with high action you could try every once in a while, that's not bad, but you really want to spend all your time on the sort of setup you want to really play, and be good at. There are lots of other things a high action will affect.

Electric guitar strings are nice and soft, and barre chords are very easy right up the neck. I find it is a lot easier. I also play with medium strings, which makes a difference as well.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Sep 22, 2015,
#12
The electric guitar is literally the most easiest instrument to play.. People use pedals to make up for the lack of dynamics, and articulation they have in their playing. Practicing on an acoustic is a great way of developing solid technique, and articulation within your playing. Playing an acoustic guitar the sound is literally coming out of you. Sure if you have an electric acoustic you can still use effects, but if you get a plain traditional acoustic, and practice on it, it's just going to make you a better guitarist.


I practice on an acoustic with high action, and my electric has really low action there's really no difference when I pick up the two. All I know is that my fingers are far more agile, and strong from all those years of practicing on acoustic. It's the cleanest sound you can get out of a guitar honestly. You'll hear mistakes more easily, and it will refine your technique, and ear. It's not a bad thing to do especially if you're trying to gain some serious dexterity. Going from acoustic to electric is like slicing butter or running your hand through silk; it's smooth in other words. If you want to build really clean flawless accurate technique. I don't really think there's any better way.

Last edited by Black_devils at Sep 22, 2015,
#13
Quote by Black_devils
The electric guitar is literally the most easiest instrument to play.. People use pedals to make up for the lack of dynamics, and articulation they have in their playing. Practicing on an acoustic is a great way of developing solid technique, and articulation within your playing. Playing an acoustic guitar the sound is literally coming out of you. Sure if you have an electric acoustic you can still use effects, but if you get a plain traditional acoustic, and practice on it, it's just going to make you a better guitarist.


I practice on an acoustic with high action, and my electric has really low action there's really no difference when I pick up the two. All I know is that my fingers are far more agile, and strong from all those years of practicing on acoustic. It's the cleanest sound you can get out of a guitar honestly. You'll hear mistakes more easily, and it will refine your technique, and ear. It's not a bad thing to do especially if you're trying to gain some serious dexterity. Going from acoustic to electric is like slicing butter or running your hand through silk; it's smooth in other words.



This is so wrong on so many levels. Electric guitar is not easy. In fact, I would argue it's much more difficult than acoustic because playing in tune is more difficult and controlling the sound of an electric through an amp and various fx is actually very difficult to do well. To get a good tone on electric practically requires being an audio engineer whereas on acoustic any moron can plug into a PA and strum. You have to master pickup selections, pedals, different drive settings and how to play with reverb, amps, delays, etc. Muting and dampening is also much more involved on electric.

Going from acoustic to electric appears easier because of the string tension, but it doesn't make you a better player and it's an illusion- you will not be able to play in tune on electric unless you practice playing in tune on electric - it's that simple.

I play acoustic, classical and electric and I have no hesitation in stating electric is the less forgiving of the three.
#14
Quote by reverb66
This is so wrong on so many levels. Electric guitar is not easy. In fact, I would argue it's much more difficult than acoustic because playing in tune is more difficult and controlling the sound of an electric through an amp and various fx is actually very difficult to do well. To get a good tone on electric practically requires being an audio engineer whereas on acoustic any moron can plug into a PA and strum. You have to master pickup selections, pedals, different drive settings and how to play with reverb, amps, delays, etc. Muting and dampening is also much more involved on electric.

Going from acoustic to electric appears easier because of the string tension, but it doesn't make you a better player and it's an illusion- you will not be able to play in tune on electric unless you practice playing in tune on electric - it's that simple.

I play acoustic, classical and electric and I have no hesitation in stating electric is the less forgiving of the three.


He was talking about physically difficult. Tone and stuff like that is something separate.

Every instrument has been taken to its very limits by the best of the best, and are therefore all extremely difficult at that those levels.

But an acoustic is more physically difficult to play than an electric, in general.

I've never had any problem playing in tune on electric. What would be difficult for me, would be the picking, since I never use a pick. It would be easy for most sort of basic stuff, but for going fast, it would be tough.

But we are talking more about left hand, not right hand.
#15
Quote by reverb66
This is so wrong on so many levels. Electric guitar is not easy. In fact, I would argue it's much more difficult than acoustic because playing in tune is more difficult and controlling the sound of an electric through an amp and various fx is actually very difficult to do well. To get a good tone on electric practically requires being an audio engineer whereas on acoustic any moron can plug into a PA and strum. You have to master pickup selections, pedals, different drive settings and how to play with reverb, amps, delays, etc. Muting and dampening is also much more involved on electric.

Going from acoustic to electric appears easier because of the string tension, but it doesn't make you a better player and it's an illusion- you will not be able to play in tune on electric unless you practice playing in tune on electric - it's that simple.

I play acoustic, classical and electric and I have no hesitation in stating electric is the less forgiving of the three.



No it's actually not wrong I don't know why people make a big deal out of muting technique on electric guitar. It's not even that difficult if you're at least decent enough to use the palm of your hands to mute the strings. Using different effects isn't even all that difficult either; so it's really not that big of a deal. On the contrary I believe any moron can pick up an electric guitar, and just play it with the use of effects, and sound half way decent. Do you understand the concept behind how many guitarist are out there playing with their gain all the way up?


Covering thousands of mistakes on the behalf of how much gain they have on? Make those same electric guitarist put on a nice clean tone, and they're going to sound like complete utter shit. Where's the phrasing? Oh yeah there is none they're being covered up by a load of effects. Any dumb ass can play an electric, and sound decent enough because of the use of compensation with all the different effects there are out there. Put someone on an acoustic, and all the dynamics, and articulations are coming out of that persons pick or fingers.


There's no way anyone's going to sound good being sloppy on an acoustic. The acoustic guitar is an unforgivable instrument within these terms. The electric guitar on the other hand is very forgivable when it comes to playing it. There's tons of sloppy electric guitarist out there covering up their mistakes with the use of "pedals".


I've encountered this many times in my life. I've tested this way too many times to even believe that you're half way correct. I've had people that sounded decent on electric go on, an acoustic guitar, and they weren't even having it. They were actually frustrated because like I've stated playing clean, and with articulation is much harder when you're not hiding behind effects.


You need really good fretting technique in order to play an acoustic right. I play both the acoustic, and electric, and I'll tell you when i'm recording sessions the electric is a breeze especially when you're playing with different pedals. The instrument basically plays it self. Acoustic on the other hand requires much more effort; and i'm not just talking about strumming "open chords".


Oh yeah can't forget about compression pedals it just makes it even more easy.. The point i'm trying to make is that tone comes out of your damn fingers, and playing or practicing on an acoustic is a great way to develop that skill.
Last edited by Black_devils at Sep 22, 2015,
#16
Quote by fingrpikingood

But for a lot of things, you really need a lot of power. If you don't find that to be the case, that is because you are not doing the sorts of things that require a lot of power.


It is still a fairly relative thing. Probably fingerpicking on a classical guitar is the most physically demanding of all, in terms of the physics -- like the guitar itself, gut strings, fingers vs using the pick etc... -- projecting the notes could be quite a workout. Especially if you were playing before a large audience in a large hall without any amplification.

I used to have grip and fret exercising contraptions that I'd keep in my car to workout my fingers (I may still have them I haven't looked in a while ). It was of some help, but for normal playing or electric playing really not very necessary when I look at how I play now and how little effort it actually requires to fret a note or project a note I really want to emphasize.

The metaphor of "leverage" (there's physical, financial and all sorts of other systems that one may apply it to) is very appropriate and should be considered for guitar playing in general. More bang for the buck and that sort of thing. A good rule of thumb to go by is, if you are putting in a small amount of effort and getting a big response, or getting a lot of "work" done, then you're probably doing something right in terms of your practice.
#17
I thought the general consensus was that nylon string guitars were "easier" because they aren't as hard on the fingertips as steel string? I find playing on classical guitars more difficult because of the wide fingerboard/high action.
#18
Quote by TobusRex
I thought the general consensus was that nylon string guitars were "easier" because they aren't as hard on the fingertips as steel string? I find playing on classical guitars more difficult because of the wide fingerboard/high action.


I played jazz on a a wide neck(but fairly low action) classical for years..played some of those wide stretch chords-took a lot of effort but was worth it..

now have been playing a les paul for years..action is very low and perfect intonation at every fret..(thanks to great set up techs) the difficult chords are easier to play and legato technique creates the illusion of playing fast..

the object in learning the illogical configuration of the guitar is to find the best outcome with the least effort..this takes some time and effort even on a "perfect set up" guitar..putting obstacles in the way of achieving your goals seems self defeating..and even if and when they are overcome..the amount of energy to do so does not seem to be worth the result..if you live in New York..why go to California to get to New Jersey..
play well

wolf
Last edited by wolflen at Sep 22, 2015,
#19
Quote by TobusRex
I thought the general consensus was that nylon string guitars were "easier" because they aren't as hard on the fingertips as steel string? I find playing on classical guitars more difficult because of the wide fingerboard/high action.


Yes, they are softer and easier to play in that sense than light or medium steel strings. However, because of their springiness they need a lot of vibrating space, which means a wide neck and relatively high action. From from I have read, 1 3/4" is too narrow for nylon strings. "Fusion" type nylon strings with a slightly radiused fretboard and about a 1 7/8"neck seem to be a reasonable compromise for steel string players but you can't escape from the high action if you want to exploit their full potential. Like most things, it is all a matter of getting used to it.
#20
Quote by edg
It is still a fairly relative thing. Probably fingerpicking on a classical guitar is the most physically demanding of all, in terms of the physics -- like the guitar itself, gut strings, fingers vs using the pick etc... -- projecting the notes could be quite a workout. Especially if you were playing before a large audience in a large hall without any amplification.

I used to have grip and fret exercising contraptions that I'd keep in my car to workout my fingers (I may still have them I haven't looked in a while ). It was of some help, but for normal playing or electric playing really not very necessary when I look at how I play now and how little effort it actually requires to fret a note or project a note I really want to emphasize.

The metaphor of "leverage" (there's physical, financial and all sorts of other systems that one may apply it to) is very appropriate and should be considered for guitar playing in general. More bang for the buck and that sort of thing. A good rule of thumb to go by is, if you are putting in a small amount of effort and getting a big response, or getting a lot of "work" done, then you're probably doing something right in terms of your practice.


I find the softer and more slack strings on the classical, a lot easier on the left hand. Although I can't do some things with the wider neck. Obviously it is different and I am not a classical player, far from it, but power-wise I don't find it so bad. Just dexterity-wise with more intricate fingerings the style is very demanding. Volume is not an issue for me. Buti find everthing is better if don't play loud, unless you want to accentuate something in particular.

Bang for your buck in practice does need to go down thoug, as you go from the general whole to working he finer details. More work for less progress. It's like that in a lot of things, and where subtleties in differences of equipment can make a difference also. Just like pro athletes will put a lot of work into just gaining an extra step. But a young hockey player made a giant leap when they learned to skate.

Obviously you want to maximize what you get out of practice but there comes a point where it makes sense to put in some time on that detail you want under your belt.

A powerful barre though, is very versatile. It's maybe not such a fundamenta or necessary thing, but it is very powerful.
#21
slightly different opinion here. since "high action" isn't really clearly defined it makes it a little tougher to judge. personally i think that playing with super low action can make for lazy playing which can bite you in the ass down the road. now i certainly wouldn't advocate using really high action for anything (except slide of course). having said that i think having a little space under the strings does force you to play cleaner and you have to put a llittle more effort into hammer-ons and pull-offs. i also find it works better for finger vibrato. but of course that's just me others may not find value in that at all. it's always about what works fo you.

as for acoustic vs electric they are diffeent beasts when you come down to it and requier somewhat diffeent skill sets to be played well.