OK, so I've been playing for a little over 3 years now and haven't had a teacher. I can play most things fine, but I have problems when it comes to doing anything somewhat fast. I've noticed it's mostly when there's a solo that switches strings a lot and is pretty quick. I get extremely sloppy and in some cases I just can't keep up. While I was pondering why I can't play as fast, I noticed that when I play, the fingers I'm not immediately using (current or next note) tend to be pretty far off the strings. I have the tendancy to curl my pinky when it's not being used and my other fingers come a good 3/4-1" off the strings. That just seems extremely unnecessary and if I could get it down to keeping all my fingers barely off the strings when they're not being used I think I could play much faster and up to the correct speed.

So, I tried just slowing it all the way down and consciously keeping them close to the strings but it's hard even then. I guess 3+ years of bad habits and muscle memory have come back to haunt me. Is there a way to help break this habit or am I just going to have to suck it up and completely retrain my fingers?

Also, I was wondering about muscle memory in general when learning a new song. Generally how I learn a new song (or solo) I break it down into parts and play each part separately until I get it fairly smooth, then I move to the next section. Once I can do them all, I put it together and play it a couple times through. I slow it down and use a little home made click track in Guitar Pro. My problem is that sometimes right after one of these transitions, my mind just blanks out and I just for the life of me can't remember what's supposed to come next. This happens a lot until I've pretty much drilled the song down to the point where I can't stand to hear the song anymore. Most recently it happened to me with You Really Got Me by Van Halen. Sometimes during one of the first 2 harmonic sections or right after the tapped part of the solo I just freeze.

Is this just because my muscle memory is slacking or what? It seems to happen most when I'm trying to concentrate on it.
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Last edited by hokiecmo at May 14, 2008,
I also do these exact same things, it's fairly frustrating sometimes, although as of late I've mostly fixed the pinky thing, just by concentrating more.
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