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A few beginner questions

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(@stealth)
Active Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 2
Topic starter  

I've only been "practicing" at 6 string electric for a few weeks. Before this I had never even owned a guitar in my life.

When I first started out, I used the thick E string only and did a lot of "sliding around" along the fret board. While I could managed to play somewhat, a few Black Sabbath songs, a Bush song and maybe a Greenday song, I learned that this probably isn't the best way to play.

Last night I decided to try my hand at playing "Just got lucky" by the 80's hair metal band, Dokken. I watched how one guy on youtube did it. Due to inexperience, I'm just doing the backing riffs for the chorus. I'm using the 3rd and 5th frets, and using the E and A strings. I'm a right handed player. I'm using my index finger and pinkie to control the A string for the first 2 notes in the chorus, then use my pinkie on the E string for the latter half of the chorus.

One of the problems I have found, and maybe it's me, is it seems either the way the frets are layed out are too wide for my hands, or maybe my hands are too small. It seems I have to keep my index finger right on the 3rd fret bar and really stretch my left pinkie over to the 5th fret. Is this typical?

Also I've noticed, especially on my finger tips, the indention from holding down the strings, come out at a 45 degree angle. Just wondering if this is normal? (the angle of the indention, not the indention itself) Or am I possibly holding/fretting the neck wrong?

Thanks in advance.


   
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(@noteboat)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

It's possible you have small hands. But it's far more likely that you're holding the guitar in a bad position.

Most beginners "tip" the guitar so they can see where their fingers are going. That bends the wrist, severely limiting your reach. You also want to make sure the peghead is higher than the base of the neck - if you're tipping the neck down, you're changing the wrist angle - again limiting your reach.

And no, a 45 degree angle isn't normal. It's evidence that you're turning your wrist.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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(@alangreen)
Member
Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 5342
 

One of the problems I have found, and maybe it's me, is it seems either the way the frets are layed out are too wide for my hands, or maybe my hands are too small. It seems I have to keep my index finger right on the 3rd fret bar and really stretch my left pinkie over to the 5th fret. Is this typical?

Might as well fix this early on.

Do not put your finger on the fret wire, it mutes your sound. Your finger should press down just behind the fret to get the cleanest sound, so when you're required to fret a note at the 3rd fret your finger goes in the space between the 2nd and 3rd fret close to the 3rd fret.

Stretching your left hand pinkie over to the 5th fret is clear evidence that your left hand is approaching wrong, and it's also going to screw you up for when you want to play blues shuffle at higher positions on the neck. Your index finger should come across the neck parallel to the frets, not at an angle. Once you've got the index finger right, then use your ring finger for the 5th fret note leaving your pinkie free to reach up to the 6th or 7th fret to play shuffle patterns as needed.

To be perfectly honest, I think you're starting from the wrong place. Rather than starting with "What songs do I like" and trying to play them, start with four basic chords - Em, Am, C and G - and spend time learning to get the hands in place in time and changing between the shapes in time. That's where my students begin, and it's the also the four chords you need for the Registry of Guitar Tutors Initial Grade Exam. You should also check out the lessons on this site.

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


   
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(@askaguitarpro)
Eminent Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 38
 

Seeing that you are first starting out, your fingers, hands, etc. have a ways to go in terms of stretching and getting comfortable in fretting and positioning. As you can visually observe, the frets are farther apart as you get closer to the nut or towards your tuning pegs. In addition to what's already been said, I've always instructed my students to work to arch their fingers so their finger fretting the string will be coming down vertically and offer the best chance of ringing out and not being muted. Along with that, your hand can be aligned with the fretboard by keeping your fingers parallel to the frets. If you can get up to speed on this alignment, you can start to incorporate your other fingers. If your hand is at an angle and your fingers aren't parallel to the frets, it will be difficult to play with more than one finger on the same string. And, by the way, keep practicing.....the more you play, the easier it will get, trust me.

Jake

AKA "AskAGuitarPro"
http://www.askaguitarpro.com
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(@forestofillusions)
Active Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 5
 

It also sounds to me like you might just need to get used to playing more in general. I remember when I first started I couldn't stretch my fingers very far at all (and that's normal since it's not exactly natural for people to be able to do that). You'll learn that over time your fingers get used to stretching in weird ways. It has to do with the size your hands, of course, but i think the main problem is that you're not used to it. It takes time to be able to move your fingers in peculiar ways. Just keep it up and you'll get there.


   
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(@erich-andreas)
New Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 2
 

That is common when you are just starting out. Developing this very basic technique will give you a great foundation for all of your playing. I have made some specific videos that cover this exact technique at: www.unstoppableguitarsystem.com


   
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