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Question about playing chords

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Moose_Man9
(@moose_man9)
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Joined: 16 years ago
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Topic starter  

i am brand new to playing guitar, just got one about a week ago. Ive been learning a few chords and i feel it is going fairly well. My question is about chords that dont involve strumming all the strings, such as a D major. i have trouble strumming the correct strings, is this something you get better at as you muscle memory increases? also, am i supposed to strum these chords in an upward motion as well? this seems even harder to strum only the desired chords. Any advice?

thanks


   
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falcon1
(@falcon1)
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Joined: 17 years ago
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It comes with practice - but make sure you are practicing it correctly. I found that really actually visualizing which strings I am trying to hit helped me get it down. As for strumming upwards, yes, you can strum up and down, just like anything else, but again, you only want to hit the strings that are part of the chord. Good luck :D


   
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Anonymous
 Anonymous
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Also strum from your elbow. Try to imagine your wrist is in a cast. It will seem un-natural but no need starting bad habits


   
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Jay1
 Jay1
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Also strum from your elbow. Try to imagine your wrist is in a cast. It will seem un-natural but no need starting bad habits

This is a good tip. I've been playing for about a year, although my progress has been slow I've always felt my strumming was pretty good. That is until the last couple of weeks, where things have started to sound a bit sloppy. Last night I had a good analytical look at myself to try and work out what I was doing wrong, and I think what it was is that I'd started getting into a habit of strumming with my wrist. This was causing me to put uneven pressure on the strings and resulting in some quite nasty chord sounds.


   
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Moose_Man9
(@moose_man9)
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Topic starter  

thanks everyone. I have definatly been strummin gwith my wrist more, thanks for the "cast" tip. I really wanna get started playing with a good base so i dont have to correct many bad habbits down the road. thanks for everyone help.


   
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Jay1
 Jay1
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Try and play as much as you can with you thumb on the back of the neck aswell as this will help massively when it comes to barre chords. This is another habbit I'm working hard to get into that I didn't do at first. I played with my thumb over the neck as it was more comfortable. Ideally you need to be able to do both, but thumb behind is definately a better habit to get into to start with. It also promotes a good wrist position.

And practice playing standing and seated, it's suprising how difficult it can be going from one to the other if you only ever practice one way.


   
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Anonymous
(@anonymous)
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all this "play from the elbow" stuff is counterintuitive to me. the point of contact is a little quarter inch of skin or pick. why limit yourself to a muscle designed to make large sweeping movements? unless you're just trying to bang out chords at maximum volume, there's a whole lot of wasted motion there. i do what feels right, and it generally works. even just doing what looks right seems to work out ok a lot of the time.


   
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Denny
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Relax! Anytime we stiffen up it will affect the sound. You will start hitting the notes you want in time. A lot of strumming depends on what the song calls for. Strumming is rhythym. On a typical "boom-chicka" beat, (D chord) all you need to do is hit the D string(boom), then strum downward on the top 3 strings(chic), then strum upward on the first 2 strings(ka).


   
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jimh
 jimh
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all this "play from the elbow" stuff is counterintuitive to me. the point of contact is a little quarter inch of skin or pick. why limit yourself to a muscle designed to make large sweeping movements? unless you're just trying to bang out chords at maximum volume, there's a whole lot of wasted motion there. i do what feels right, and it generally works. even just doing what looks right seems to work out ok a lot of the time.

I think this is a good point... :D

Music is the universal language.


   
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causnorign
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I can remember wonderinf the same thing about how do you only hit the 3,4,or five strings that you want to and not any others. In time it'll just happen, like magic. Sometime in the future you'll even be able to mute strings that you don't want to ring. I'd suggest that when you're learning chords (especially that pesky F) that you hit each string individually to see if it is ringing clearly, if its not your fretting fingers are probably touching an adjacent string. As for strumming up and down, sure you can do it both ways and in various patterns, but as a brand newbie just worry about strumming downstrokes and getting the chords to ring clearly.
Eric


   
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greybeard
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One of the deciding factors is going to be the guitar and where you hold it. Having it swinging somewhere near your knees is going to make any wrist action pretty difficult to do effectively, it's all going to be in the arm. The "geek" position, on the other hand, is going to be the best one for wrist/arm combination.

Go to YouTube and look up some videos of experienced rhythm guitarists, like Andy Fairweather-Low or Bruce Welch.

Personally, I think the purely "from the arm" causes more muscle tension than a combination of wrist and arm.

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jwishart77
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I can't think of a reason to lock your wrist - at first the only reason I could possibly think of was to strum fast power chords played with only downstrokes, like a lot of metallica type stuff. But even that's wrong - if you watch vidoes of them playing they have their palm resting on the guitar and it's coming from the wrist, their elbows hardly move at all.

Locking your wrist will make it a lot harder to alter the feel of your strumming and be harder to control.

It's just not right!!

Equally, you don't have to lock your elbow, a bit of movement to the point of what feels comfortable is fine, but most of the strumming action should be wrist driven.


   
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ButchP
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Moose
One other solution is to use your thumb over the top.It's considered bad technique but..IT ISN"T ..it's very common and helpful for more than this(you'll find out later)..
You have 3 choices
1.wrap it over the neck and "fret " the 6th string 2nd fret.Now you can play all of the strings.
2.same as above but kill the 5th string..mostly by happenstance
3.Wrap it around but don't press down.killing at least the 6th string possibly the 5th

To me the extra "thud" of the low strings adds to the characther of the strum..try every combination use at your musical discretion

BTW ....

Hendrix frequently played Bar chords and other shapes like this...his thumb was LOOOONG!Have fun

ButchP


   
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Steve-0
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Yeah, I agree with the whole "don't lock your wrist and don't strum from your elbow", I can remember that was one of the first things I was told not to do at guitar lessons, and I've been playing for a little while now.

I agree with keeping the left hand thumb behind the neck, this is good technique for forming barre chords, but i think most players will agree that the thumb over the neck method is useful when bending a string. But don't worry Moose man, after a while you won't even think about these sorts of things 8)

Steve-0


   
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Kevin72790
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^^^Problem with that is that we don't all have fingers as long as him.


   
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