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left hand strength

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Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 62
Topic starter  

Hey everyone,
I just started taking lessons (been playing 2 months) and I'm having some trouble with my left hand strength. My teacher gave me a simple exercise for finger strength, progressively placing each finger on fret 1 ,2 ,3 then 4 on the low E string, and then the same for each string. You guys probably know this exercise. However, I get pain in my hand after only one run through, and this is after two weeks of doing this pretty much everyday. Is this normal? Are my fingers very weak, or is it bad form thats causing me no progress and pain? Any other finger exercises you guys know of? I haven't yet learned scales.

Reputable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 452

Welcome to GN bdkauff. You might be pressing down a little too hard. Just put enough pressure to make the note ring out clearly. It may surprise you how little pressure is needed. That should help ease the discomfort you're feeling.

Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3709

It's the old "death grip hand". I've been at it 30 years and sometimes when I'm learning something new I'll find myself squeezing the neck a bit hard and it cramps my hand. Denny's advice is good. Try it.

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --

Honorable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 525

Like everyone else said, make sure you aren't pushing as hard as you can this will give you cramps quickly. Remember you only have to press lightly right behind the actual fret. You hand should feel loose and relaxed, not strained.

What is your thumb doing? It should be in the middle of the back of the neck going parallel to the frets (tip pointed up).

"That’s what takes place when a song is written: You see something that isn’t there. Then you use your instrument to find it."
- John Frusciante

Trusted Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 47

I'm finding this a bit at the moment. I've been trying really hard to play with correct thumb placement, after being a bit lazy to begin with. It's taking a while to feel comfortable with my wrist in that position but it's coming. I would say the most important thing is to relax as much as you can, if you feel your hand/wrist/shoulder getting tight, stop shake it out, make sure you're not all tensed up, take a deep breath and start again. It's amazing how your whole left hand side can gradualy tense up without you even realising it.

Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 177

I find my hand cramping up at times when I'm practicing the same thing over and over. Most of the time it's because I'm tensing up at which point I stop, take deep breath, relax and try again, or I move on to something else.

Psa. 42:8
By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

Honorable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 539

One thing that sprung to my mind:
I get pain in my hand after only one run through, and this is after two weeks of doing this pretty much everyday.

How much are you practicing each day?

If you are only doing 5 minutes then stopping due to the pain, then you are not going to develop the strength and dexterity to make playing not hurt. Practice times differ from person to person, but I would suggest trying to play for at least 30 minutes a day, an hour if possible. Doing the same thing over and over for an hour might seem monotonous, but it will lay down the foundations that you just have to have to play.

Personally I suscribe to the "Play through the Pain" school of learning, and sometimes find that the pain subsides if I keep playing (though I'm not sure why!).

It does hurt a bit when you start out playing, as you are asking your fingers to do something very out of the ordinary.

Keep practicing and you'll pull through < after all, there are many greater challenges ahead!


ETD - Formerly "10141748 - Reincarnate"