#1
i asked this in the electric guitar forum but didnt get much answers, so now i am asking UG's technique elite.

a couple of months ago i switched from 9 gauge to 13 gauge hoping it would build my finger muscles. only recently i switched back to 9 again.

right after i switched back i felt great. i could handle strings without feeling as much opposition as i used before. but heaven was short lived, and now my fingers have re adapted to the lighter strings, and i am back where i started, slightly struggling with bends and vibrato.

i wonder how people i see in videos handle strings (like with bending and all) so easily. i find it very hard to bend like a step and a half.

how do you guys build the muscles on your fingers? do you play bass at the same time? do you use guitars with shorter scale lengths (like les paul) and that makes it easier? do you just down tune half a step on songs that require alot of bending? how much easier does down tuning make it?

i have been playing for almost a year now if that makes a difference. and i actually have good control over my bends and vibrato when i use my ring finger to bend (because i use all three fingers), but not any of the other fingers. thats my problem.

thanks in advance.
#2
Well, when I bend, I don't just use my fingers, I try to use my arm to push up the strings. Obviously this isn't always possible, but it depends. More or less, I'm rotating my wrist so that the rotational motion of my wrist does most of the bending, and the stress on the fingers is minimal. Other than that, I just practice, and that's about all I can offer.
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Last edited by lyingfromyou118 at Oct 17, 2008,
#3
I use multiple fingers to bend, and I have never had a problem, not even when I was at an intermediate level. I usually bend with three fingers.
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#4
You just have to play for longer and practise consistently in that time to build up finger strength. It's something that does take a long time; you've only been playing ALMOST a year, I wouldn't expect you to have much finger strength at all yet, so just keep practising and you'll get there eventually.

One thing that helped me to get good finger strength is I have always had slightly higher action, and it's been that way for almost 3 years now so my fingers have adapted and gotten quite a bit stronger, I really notice it in guitar stores when I go in and try out stuff that has stock settings. I don't play with the action quite as high as I used to so I can play faster stuff properly, but I still have an element of it there.

Quote by lyingfromyou118
Well, when I bend, I don't just use my fingers, I try to use my arm to push up the strings. Obviously this isn't always possible, but it depends. More or less, I'm rotating my wrist so that the rotational motion of my wrist does most of the bending, and the stress on the fingers is minimal.


+1

This is the way you're supposed to bend strings if I remember correctly, you're not supposed to just use your fretting fingers (though I use only my fingers whenever I do it, but I play bass). Then again, I bend downwards; when I bend upwards I find I need to use my hand as a fulcrum.
Last edited by AVA_Plus44_182 at Oct 17, 2008,
#5
Quote by metaldog_USMC
I use multiple fingers to bend, and I have never had a problem, not even when I was at an intermediate level. I usually bend with three fingers.


Ah, yes, I forgot to mention that, and that can help an awful lot.
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#6
Occasionally, I practice my scales and modes with an Acoustic Guitar. The action on an acoustic is much higher than an electric and it gives me a workout, both fretting and picking hands. The other way I practice develop my fretting hand is doing new chord inversions. Holding new chord positions gives my fingers a workout, especially if the chord positions are spread apart.
#7
practice on an acoustic then when you go back to electric it will be seemless

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#8
I kinda anchor my palm against the neck for leverage and then bend with my finger muscles.
Something that helped me in my formative years was a grip master. The a hand strengthener that has individual spring loaded pads for each finger. You hold it just like a guitar neck.
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#10
practice is the only answer, ive said these about a year "its practically the answer to every question" thats asked in here

ive been playing for about 4 years, and its taken me this long to get relatively decent technique in bending as well as vibrato

bending is like making cheese, it takes time
#11
i personally like the idea of using the highest guage string your fingers can handle, and i'm impressed that you could hack 13's, I know I found 11-52's challenging enough. But yeah, if you can stick on 11-52's and get used to em you'll have a good thick tone that isn't too rattly when you give it hard picking. I'd never go down to 9's personally because of thinness, rattling and the sin of overbending, but for me, 10-48 is where it's at right now on a 25.5 scale, and 11-52's are where i plan to be.
#12
Quote by yenners
i personally like the idea of using the highest guage string your fingers can handle, and i'm impressed that you could hack 13's, I know I found 11-52's challenging enough. But yeah, if you can stick on 11-52's and get used to em you'll have a good thick tone that isn't too rattly when you give it hard picking. I'd never go down to 9's personally because of thinness, rattling and the sin of overbending, but for me, 10-48 is where it's at right now on a 25.5 scale, and 11-52's are where i plan to be.


I have a question regarding playing with really high gauges. When you play with gauges like that, is your action insanely high, or are you able to lower it to a reasonable action?

Eg, I played with 9s for a while, and then moved to 10s. When I first put the 10s on, it was much harder to play- not necessarily because of the added tension, but because the action was higher. I was able to adjust so that I had nearly the same action as with 9s. I got used to the added tension very quickly.

I'd like to go as high as I can, but I have a pretty cheap guitar (Squier Affinity Strat), and I don't know if it could go up to 11s- I doubt I could adjust the action much more.

I think SRV played with 13s or something. Was his action insanely high, or was it pretty normal? Can you have 13s, in standard tuning, but also have really low action?
#13
yeah even with higher guage (thicker) strings the action should be able to be just as low, as the extra tension will hold the string more taught, and so its string level doesn't have to actually be any higher, as the thinner guage string (eg 9) would be oscillating a greater travel anyway...argh...getting hard to explain, but no, the action shouldn't need to be higher. But if you're jumping more than one guage at a time (ie, if you're going from 9's to 11 for example), i'd get it setup by a professional, simply because the nut may need filing and saddles may have to be flipped/reset to be intonated correctly in that tuning/guage.
#14
I just baught an acoustic last week, and I've been running all of my excersizes with that. Once I play on that for a while, and then pick up one of my electrics, it's a huge difference. It makes playing electric alot easier.

You could always try it.