#1
Hi Guys

As some of you know i have just started up again after 25 years and at the moment i am struggling. I am having problems reaching chords and the top strings, i can't remember having this problem before. Also i can't get my thumb to behave it's self, it wants to be all over the place. Been doing some finger stretch exercises and hope to train my hand to do as it's told lol. I mean with something as simple as a power chord i can't get my ring finger on the A string 2 frets away and no chance of getting my pinky on the D string under the ring finger, also getting a bit of wrist aching due to overstretching. I know i have the guitar sat right and my posture is ok (watched Hours Of Video's) so its not down to that. My pinky is really small for an adult, never noticed it before but my 12 year old son's is just as long. Just looking on idea's to makle my progression a bit easier.
Thanks in advance for any advice
Wiz
#2
Your thumb should be on the back of the neck (not wrapped around). It's even okay to have it down right next to the treble strings if required to reach. I'd suggest that you use a guitar with a shorter (rather than longer) scale -- 24.75" rather than 25.5", for example. And you want to have very low action on the guitar so that you don't hit strings on either side of the one you intend. An eight-year-old can learn to play guitar, so unless your hands are *really* small, you shouldn't have an issue.

Do you have a teacher? Are you learning on an acoustic?
#3
Quote by dspellman
Your thumb should be on the back of the neck (not wrapped around). It's even okay to have it down right next to the treble strings if required to reach. I'd suggest that you use a guitar with a shorter (rather than longer) scale -- 24.75" rather than 25.5", for example. And you want to have very low action on the guitar so that you don't hit strings on either side of the one you intend. An eight-year-old can learn to play guitar, so unless your hands are *really* small, you shouldn't have an issue.

Do you have a teacher? Are you learning on an acoustic?


I have 2 guitars and both are electric and both have a nice low playing action, i don't think the guitars are the problem, it seems like i am having to stretch for everything. Like i said its like i can't control my thumb on different chords, if i try having my thumb mid to high on the back of the neck i am having to crane my wrist which makes it ache, i know the wrist is supposed to be straight as well, if i straighten my wrist it pulls my fingers out of place.
Hope this makes sense and thanks for the reply dspellman.
Wiz
#4
Quote by dspellman
Your thumb should be on the back of the neck (not wrapped around).


No. It depends on what you're playing. For a lot of electric guitar stuff (lead especially) you actually want it wrapped around. Granted- for a lot of stuff you want the thumb behind. But you need to use the method which suits best. EDIT: to be fair, for power chords as he mentioned, thumb should probably be behind, as you said.
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#5
To me it sounds like you need to take it slow.

Do finger, wrist, and forarm stretching and exercises on both arms - and not just when you are in front of a guitar - it sounds more like a general dexterity issue versus a guitar specific issue.

You can also practice basic fingering and positions higher up on the neck so the frets are closer together and then gradually move your hand and position down the neck towards the nut. It may not be very musical sounding but ease into things a bit.

Also get a LIGHT tension finger strengthener - something like this - http://www.prohands.net
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#7
Hi Guys
Really appreciate the help you are giving, i have been doing finger, thumb and wrist exercises (not on the guitar) plus the finger stretching ones on the guitar. I wouldn't say i am rushing to learn guitar but i am quite keen :P, although these technique problems keep popping up. i do an exercise on guitar wher you start on the 8th fret pick the string then 9,10,11th fret then drop down a string till you get to the bottom E string then work your way back up. thing is on the top 2 strings i can't reach the 11th fret with my pinky, thats when i have to really stretch which puts strain on my wrist,

Thanks for the help and advice
Wiz
#8
Classical guitarists do a lot of stretching exercises, it might pay to look some some those up. My classical teacher had very small hands, and he just used to find alternate fingerings and arrangements for the stuff he couldn't do, none of it is written in stone.
#9
Quote by Dave_Mc
No. It depends on what you're playing. For a lot of electric guitar stuff (lead especially) you actually want it wrapped around.


Honestly, the only time I wrap a thumb intentionally is to play a chord that works well by fretting the bottom of the chord with the thumb, or to mute strings I can't mute any other way. I've never ever wrapped it for lead. I don't need the extra support for bending or vibrato (that's probably due to years of piano playing), so if my thumb is around the neck it's usually because I'm lazy or it's wandered there of its own volition.

Anyone switching to wider fretboards (say, to cover 7, 8, 9, 10-strings) is going to be hard-pressed to maintain a thumb-wrap technique and still play accurately.
#10
Thanks for that Tony Done, i am hoping that practice and a few exercises will loosen the old muscles up and everything will be ok. Doing about 30-45 minutes a day at the moment, plus i am still working on my calluses and hope they hurry up and grow, then i will look into your idea of alternate fingerings.

Wiz

P.S I am trying to get into good habits of playing dspellman but like isay i am struggling atm.
Last edited by Wizhunter at Dec 3, 2016,
#11
Quote by Wizhunter
Like i said its like i can't control my thumb on different chords, if i try having my thumb mid to high on the back of the neck i am having to crane my wrist which makes it ache, i know the wrist is supposed to be straight as well, if i straighten my wrist it pulls my fingers out of place.


That's a different issue. I can't (well, don't) play a guitar with the neck horizontal across my lap. I know, I know, there are the slingers who wear their guitars across their gonads, horizontal, and do fine. I usually have the neck of my guitar at about a 45 degree angle -- that helps keep my wrist straight. Truth is, I've recently realized that a "fan fret" (multiscale) guitar does a far better job of keeping my wrist straight and/or comfortable than a standard guitar; the frets follow the angle of my forearm and are *easier* to play on.
#12
Thanks dspellman, i will have to give that a try. I am trying to imitate the way average or normal guitar players position their guitars, i will have to try your way and see if it helps with my wrist. I was practicing about 2 hours ago and my wrist still feels tender after practicing for about 25 minutes or so.

Wiz
#13
Quote by dspellman
(a) Honestly, the only time I wrap a thumb intentionally is to play a chord that works well by fretting the bottom of the chord with the thumb, or to mute strings I can't mute any other way. I've never ever wrapped it for lead. I don't need the extra support for bending or vibrato (that's probably due to years of piano playing), so if my thumb is around the neck it's usually because I'm lazy or it's wandered there of its own volition.

(b) Anyone switching to wider fretboards (say, to cover 7, 8, 9, 10-strings) is going to be hard-pressed to maintain a thumb-wrap technique and still play accurately.


(a) I have my thumb wrapped round most of the time. Maybe it's the style I mostly play (mainly leadish type stuff with a lot of bends and vibrato, and the rhythm stuff is normally pretty simple (80s rock and metal mainly)), but yeah. I played piano for years before I played guitar too, it didn't help my finger strength at all for guitar.

(b) Well, sure, but what percentage of players are actually going to move onto guitars with more strings? Precious few, I imagine- kind of a "cross that bridge when you come to it" type of thing, at least in my opinion.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#14
I just want to be able to play with out my wrist aching, with the strain on it i can only manage 20-25 minutes top. I think most of it is down to flexibility as i really did nothing with my left hand/arm at all being right handed. I remember years ago when i played i never had these problems so thinking about it maybe my hands are not small. Its annoying i can tell you that much, how am i gonna build callus's being only able to play 20 minutes at a time ?. I know its probably going to take time for my left hand to adjust but it is frustrating, also i read that using other things to improve finger strength etc won't help with guitar playing only playing the guitar will help that develop.

Wiz
#15
I didn't even read this thread because I already know your fingers are fine.

Any discomfort you have is due to technique, not anything inherent to your hands. If you have a picture or video of your playing, we can probably give you some pointers. Wrist pain in particular indicates a technique problems. Calluses are normal, wrist pain is not.

It is correct that only guitar will make you better at guitar. Raw strength is close to 0% important, and you risk injury if you overwork your forearm muscles. If it feels like your hand/arm are too weak to play, you are likely gripping and fretting way too hard.
Last edited by cdgraves at Dec 4, 2016,
#16
MY Technique is from what i see on youtube etc, like i said myself it must be technique thats hindering me. i don't put the guitar in a death grip either infact i am holding the neck pretty loose thinking about it, Is's like i am having to stretch for the top strings even when my thumb is in the middle of the neck, everything seems alien to me if that makes sense. I had an injury to the top of my left arm a while back but that shouldn't have an affect on my lower arm/hand, i keep plugging away but its very frustrating. Maybe the wrist ache i have is down to the exercises i have been doing, i don't know, i just wanna play without hindrance.

Wiz