#1
I originally registered here for one specific reason, to seek assistance in some errors I made modding my valve jr. Since then, I have asked a couple other things, and have found the community her to be a very helpful one. So I decided to com back and one again seek the wisdom of the UG community on some things I am not so much having problems with, so much as I don't understand.

For a little background to give people the idea of where I am at, I would consider myself a competent beginner. I have been seriously playing for a few months, I have a very basic grasp of theory, but beyond being able to apply it without any real understanding (I can hear a rhythm riff or something and build a very basic solo around a scale in the proper key, but couldn't name the key or scale I used to do it) it's not my strongest point. As much as I would love to take at least a few real lessons, it's beyond my means right now (having two kids really eats at the old budget). I don't have a lot of difficulty with most tabs I look at, and understand basic notation and key progression in a song from when I was a singer.

But I am having trouble with some of the more advanced techniques (well for me anyways, I imagine most of it is old hat to most of you), and am hoping that even if nobody her can/will supply direct answers, maybe someone can point me in the direction of something that can help. The biggest ones are as follows.

First, fret bends. I don't know if it's improper setup/stringing on my part, but often to get a whole note's worth of bend in a song I literally have to bend said string under the strings below/above it, which leads to some sloppy sounds. Bending on the B string is by far the worst in this case, with the high E closely following. This is on an RG-120 with 9's on it and a peavey strat clone with 10's on it. Action on both is set just a little on the high side to remove some fret buzz and because on the Ibanez I have the cheap trem blocked. I just can't get the bends right no matter what I try, with few exceptions (For example, while I know it's really an acoustical song the intro lead section of "Wish you were here" by Floyd works with no problems whatsoever.

Second, and a really stupid one, pick holding and pinch harmonics. I have done everything from reading lessons here to watching on youtube, and I can't figure out just who I am holding the pick wrong to pull these off. I can usually get the harmonic I want by making the thumb touch the string as a slightly separate action, so I know I am hitting the sweet spots along the pickups, I just can't figure out how to make it all one motion so I can get full value from the harmonic.

Finally, scales and fingering of them. I generally am a 4 finger player (I use my thumb on the low E regularly as I have fairly large hands, but my pinky is weaker than it needs to be, which I am doing exercises to work on). When going up or down a scale, it's almost always my pointer, middle and ring fingers doing all the work on the fret board. I see on youtube vids, etc. people basically barring the root of a scale in a solo with their pointer, and using the other 3 to build around it resulting in pretty good speed. Is this a better method than the more open, free-hand approach I am using right now? Or am I not seeing what it seems to be, and they aren't really barring along that fret and doing all the dancing around with their other fingers? Like I said, my real applied knowledge of theory is highly limited.

Any help with these things would be greatly appreciated.
#2
for the bends try bending up instead of down on the top 3 strings, i find that betters my tone.

for the scales i do the free hand approach, i find it feels much too limiting barring the whole fret.

as for pinch harmonics im still working on it myself but try holding ur pick in like a 90 degree angle to the strings
#3
As long as you practice your bends, it'll get better. I usually bend with my middle finger, and mute the others with my index. I don't have my guitar right now, and I don't notice little things like that. It just kind of natrually went away. Just keep practicing. You probrably already know that with lighter strings, like .9's, you need less effort to bend, but need to bend further to get the right pitch, as thicker ones like .11's require more effort but less bending to get the dsired pitch.

Pinch harmonics are another thing that I don't notice. I kinda hold my pick the "wrong" way, and I guess I have bad form. But it works. I don't pay attention, I just do it.

And I think everybody could use more pinky. However, I'm not one of those crazy-fast players, and I think I play much the same you do. One good riff that get's you to really use your pinky is Every Breath You Take. I usually practice that song to get used to pinky playing, but I too have a problem with that.

Hope it helps...
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#4
Quote by newbmodder
First, fret bends. I don't know if it's improper setup/stringing on my part, but often to get a whole note's worth of bend in a song I literally have to bend said string under the strings below/above it, which leads to some sloppy sounds. Bending on the B string is by far the worst in this case, with the high E closely following. This is on an RG-120 with 9's on it and a peavey strat clone with 10's on it. Action on both is set just a little on the high side to remove some fret buzz and because on the Ibanez I have the cheap trem blocked. I just can't get the bends right no matter what I try, with few exceptions (For example, while I know it's really an acoustical song the intro lead section of "Wish you were here" by Floyd works with no problems whatsoever.
Practice bends both ways on all strings. Obviously, the E and e can only go one way. If you want to do a harmony on adjacent strings, and bend only one, you must bend it away from the one that remains stationary.
Quote by newbmodder
Second, and a really stupid one, pick holding and pinch harmonics. I have done everything from reading lessons here to watching on youtube, and I can't figure out just who I am holding the pick wrong to pull these off. I can usually get the harmonic I want by making the thumb touch the string as a slightly separate action, so I know I am hitting the sweet spots along the pickups, I just can't figure out how to make it all one motion so I can get full value from the harmonic.
Everyone has their own way of doing pinches. The right way is the way that works best for you. I take my index finger and form a "J" the pick is between index and thumb with the tip at a right angle to the length of the thumb. If I look at the pick from the view where my thumbnail is facing me, I only see the slightest exposure of the pick. If I roll my wrist, I can see about 1/4" of pick. This allows the side of my thumb to make good contact with the string, without picking too deep. I usually start with the heel of my hand on the bridge, and place fingers 2, 3, and 4 on the pickguard. Then I raise my palm slightly. This puts my hand in a good starting position. Then I rock my hand toward the neck or bridge to find the optimum point for the harmonic, depending on where the string is fretted. I find keeping my other fingers on the pickguard helpful in feeling where my pick is, but some don't like to do it that way. Experiment with a few different techniques, and find which feels most natural, and gives you the most consistent results.
Quote by newbmodder
Finally, scales and fingering of them. I generally am a 4 finger player (I use my thumb on the low E regularly as I have fairly large hands, but my pinky is weaker than it needs to be, which I am doing exercises to work on). When going up or down a scale, it's almost always my pointer, middle and ring fingers doing all the work on the fret board. I see on youtube vids, etc. people basically barring the root of a scale in a solo with their pointer, and using the other 3 to build around it resulting in pretty good speed. Is this a better method than the more open, free-hand approach I am using right now? Or am I not seeing what it seems to be, and they aren't really barring along that fret and doing all the dancing around with their other fingers? Like I said, my real applied knowledge of theory is highly limited.
I can't really answer that one, because I don't play anything with speed. me =/= shredder. I will tell you that your pinky is one of your most important, and least developed tools. I avoid using my index entirely when doing drills. This forces me to use 2, 3 and 4. Pinky gets a good workout, and becomes stronger and more agile.

I'm sure others will have equally good advice. Try different approaches, and use the ones that produce the best results for you.
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#5
Thanks for the replies, and I didn't mean to imply my pinky is totally worthless . I can use it fine for general plying, and even have little difficulty using it ins slower guitar solos (first November rain solo, Momma I'm coming home, stuff like that). I just have hell getting it going when there is a lot of fast movement, ad I get pretty much no volume trying to hammer/pull with it while working other strings at the same time.

As for the bending and pinch harmonics, I guess those are thing I am just going to have to keep grinding away at, I managed a couple of nice pinches last night so I think there might be hope there with time.

One last question, if anyone is up to it. I think I have given a decent account of where I am at skill wise, is this a good time to really work theory until I know it in my sleep? Or are the basics I have now enough to get by on long enough to work through my current shortcomings?
#7
About the bending, make sure you use more then one finger. If you're bending something with your ring finger there's no reason not to use Pointer Middle and Ring, same using all four if doing a pinky bend. That cleans it up.
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#8
Just concentrate on the basics for the time being, it takes a surprising amount of time to become relatively fluid with your picking. I don't mean fast runs either, just to be able to play fairly sedate lead parts smoothly. Pinch harmonics are great fun, but they're a non-essential technique. If you attempt them too early you'll struggle because your picking style is still developing and settling down, also you might be able to play a pinch harmonic but you won't be able to use them . However, if your already comfortable playing simple solos then chances are if you then learn pinch harmonics you'll have a much easier time incorporating them into your playing. I played for 5 years without ever attempting a pinch harmonic.

For bends, it's just a case of practicing them - and one of the best things you can do is sing them. It takes a while to get the hang of bending notes to the correct pitch, singing them to yourself helps you to familiarize yourself with the tones....you can't bend a note properly unless you know the note you're aiming for. Play the original note, then play the note you want to bend to, sing that note to yourself, play the original note and bend up to the pitch your singing at.
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