Comfortable Playing

This article will hopefully give ideas on how to become comfortable with your playing and how it can help you.

Ultimate Guitar
We're here to talk about one of the most looked over aspect in guitar learning and playing process: playing comfortably. Every advanced player knows how playing comfortably is what changed his ability from playing sloppily to playing consistent music which makes all the differences to the listener. This article will hopefully give ideas on how to become comfortable with your playing and how it can help you. Let's begin!

Losing the tension:

I'm sure everyone of you have already experienced tensed hands while playing, and that is hands not just left hand, and after just a short moment your playing get crippled and you start making tons of mistakes until you can't even continue playing anymore, so you take some break and redo the exact same thing! From now on, don't. This is not a healthy practice, and it is holding you back. Notice how the famous players can play fast ad complex music while being so relaxed that they make it look easy for non-guitarists! To become like these great players you need to lose the tension: 1) Starting with the fretting hand, you should make sure that you're using a correct position where your hand should continue the natural curvature at the wrist, don't make you hand and arm like a continuous bar, a curvature or bending at the wrist is needed, but don't over-bend it, keep it on a comfortable level. Next thing to tackle with your fretting hand is the thumb position, which it seems varying a lot from one player to another because of different hand sizes and different necks used; Find a position you feel suitable for you but always remember not to fix or stagnate your thumb to the neck, your thumb should be loose and should slide along the neck when you change positions. 2) Moving on to the picking hand, it seems like not much is going on there right? Wrong, a lot of deserved focus should be given to the picking hand. Let's take the act of picking, a lot use their whole arms to pick and forget about moving their wrists. Wrist is the key to a correct picking, only use your wrist when picking, and use you arm to move from string to another; so if you are picking the same string, your arm should not move at all, and if your sweep picking from the lowest string to the highest string, this sweep motion will depend mostly on your arm, until you want to sweep back to lower string the wrist should change in direction and again the arm take it from here, finally if you're picking many notes per string through various strings you'll have to use a combination of wrist and arm movement.

Strap length:

Taking the length of the strap, too long and it feels to hard to reach and play, too short and it feels too close and awkward to play with. You need to find your sweet point, but as a hint most advanced guitarist have their guitar held at their waste level, so start from there and see if that suits you well.

Facial expression:

Facial expressions, this one I have never read about it anywhere and I'm not sure if anybody talked about it, so bare with me. Now you'll be like what the hell, how come face expressions have anything to do with my playing! Well take your guitar, stand in front of your mirror and play an exercise or song that you find difficult to play and see yourself playing, that's right, you look like you're going to sh-t yourself XD don't worry most of us do, but If you work on it, you will feel the difference in your playing. How? Well there's no easy way to explain this so try to put some thinking from your part, you need to try to keep practicing in front of the mirror and try to control your face expressions, try to have a relaxed face, try to smile, be in charge of your face, visualize a crowd cheering for you and interact with them and enjoy the interaction and enjoy your playing! This, after a while will pay off by making you feel the music more, make you more comfortable with your playing and will ease up the difficult exercises. These are the points that I could think off, I'm pretty sure there are more ideas that might contribute to a relaxed playing, so for those of you have more ideas please share with us. Any comments are welcomed. Rock on!

19 comments sorted by best / new / date

    The guitar used can also have an impact - I've had a few cheap, and more expensive guitars since I began playing, and I've found out that I tend to make more mistakes, and get more frustrated and tense when I play on Fenix, Shelter (cheap brand) guitars, or Stratocasters, and certain other specific guitars/guitarbrands. Just playing an instrument that feels comfortable to hold, where the hand moves easily across the fretboard can make a difference. Also the tone of the guitar can make a difference, since some guitarists will become tense, and self-concious about a bad guitar-sound, even though it might not be noticable for other guitarists, and non-guitarists themselves. I know this from personal experience, where after some more or less shitty gigs, I ended up selling my cheap guitars, and bought an Epiphone SG and a telecaster, which has greatly decreased some of the stress that sometimes occurs when I play in front of an audience. Oh, btw great advice you have dude! I could'nt look into the mirror though when playing (eyes are on the fretboard), so I filmed myself playing a difficult piece, and... Well... Let's just say it wasn't pretty...
    I would like to see this video XD Even some pros do theses faces, check Andy james sweep picking lessons on LIck library XD
    Focusing on the things that you mentioned have really improved my playing over the last year or two. I found my technique and my control improve faster than it ever has before. Sound advice my friend
    An article that was posted yesterday has really helped your playing over the last year or two? Hmm...
    This article isn't the only, much less the first, source of the information here.
    You forgot about the pick! It's essential to have the right kind of pick. It's just a matter of preference, but you can't play nearly as good with a pick that feels awkward to play with.
    Glad you didn't just say "Keep your strap short and your guitar high to reduce risk of wrist damage".. Appearance is important for putting on good shows imo so having it too high and it looks.. weird. Have it too low though and you're on the verge of crab people.
    I was one of those once, until I saw a pic of me holding it too close, it is just a little awkward, and when I dropped to my waist level it actually easier to play.
    Ray Man X
    Great point about facial expressions,Metalloy!That's something that still needs some work in my instance.From giving this particular subject some more of a fairly precise focus,i began to realize that it actually DOES affect playing in many different ways.And that is,not to mention the fact that we're upon the stage exposed to the audience and them guys notice many things about us at that moment probably without even realizing it.But sure enough they know it whether they feel comfortable or not.After all,they came to see the SHOW,and not to see someone who looks like they're struggling their way through the piece of music.
    thanks a lot Ray Man and the show part you added makes perfect sense !
    I think this guy is trying to tell us that facial expressions affect our current mood while we are playing. If you are playing a hard part and making grimaces, you will be uncomfortable playing it, but if you are relaxed and smiling while torturing the crap out of your fingers, then it should be less difficult to exercise those f*cked-up licks. This might even work. Gotta try it.
    pretty much! but you'll have to start with simple exercises just like any other aspect you try to incorporate in you guitar playing.
    The facial expressions part was interesting. That was something I never ever thought about but it is indeed important.