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staccato notes while playing scales - want longer notes


 pab
(@pab)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 103
Topic starter  

hi everyone - i've been playing now for about 5-6 months and see some real improvement. however, one of the things that keeps my playing down is the fact that i play my individual notes staccato (when i don't mean to). for example, when i am playing a c scale in the 1st position, the notes are short.

now, i've been told this and so i've tried working on it. i realize that i need to lift off one finger a split instant before the other finger goes down and i pick that note (i do fingerstyle on an acoustic). if i release the one finger and then fret the 2nd finger and then pick it, there is a gap there. that is what i'm trying to avoid (i want smooth playing).

i've slowed it down and tried to get the synchronization down between my left and right hands. it's just hard for me to tell if i'm doing it correctly, and practicing this is tedious and at times seems pointless b/c no matter how slow i do it, it's hard for me to tell if there's a gap there or not, although my teacher notices it right away. i am trying to practice fixing this with chromatic scales so i can get good at this with all fingers.

i find it hard to believe that this is an uncommon problem, yet i fail to see this mentioned in instruction books so that i can get somethings (lessons) to practice to help out. does anyone have any recommendations? my teacher points out that it happens with my playing, has showed me why it happens, but i haven't got to the point of being able to fix it with him. any suggestions on this are appreciated. btw, i also notice it while doing chord changes with fingerstyle. that will be my next question!

Thanks!


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(@richw)
Active Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 6
 

Been a while since I've visited these forums. Whew.

As for your problem;

I personally use a pick (no fingerstyle), but I have a guess as to why your notes don't follow each other up fluently (besides synchronization issues). Back when I was trying to synch my fretting and picking hand, I used quite a slow picking motion that caused my pick to have contact with the string for a longer period--this muted the last note before I actually plucked the string again for the new note. Now, I use a quicker picking motion even when playing slow passages, as to minimize contact time between pick and string.

I think this principle is applicable to fingerstyle playing as well. If you want to play a fluent phrase of notes, minimize the contact time between your 'plucking fingers' and the strings.


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(@santog3)
New Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 3
 

A simpler solution:

This seems to be a beginners problem, nothing to worry that much, and it happens not only to guitar players but to piano players also. Have you ever seen or listened to them just trying to hit the right key, not interested on playing half notes or 8ths notes at all?. Same thing with guitar, now the good news is that you REALIZE that fact, and believe me, almost nobody does, so whenever you have a real problem you would be able to recognize it and solve it, what a lot of people just ignore.

So, making some kind of specific exercises to correct it?, may be, but it can be boring as you notice. I think that due to the fact that is a lack of experience problem it will correct itself with time. I´ve seen tons of beginning players playing staccato everything they do, but I just let them do it, because it is the kind of thing that corrects itself when you have more coordination and control over the instrument.


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(@jerboa)
Trusted Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 79
 

Hey pab,
I've been playing about as long as you have.

Something I brought over from learning fiddle. You don't need to pick up your first finger! It's ok to have them both down.

Basically, if you are trying for a legato sound, do it in this order:

If changing strings, or going up a scale:
1. Place finger for next note
2. Pick that note
3. Lift first finger.

If going down the scale on the same string,
1. Place finger for next note
2. Lift first finger
3. Pluck

This should let the first note ring as long as possible.

Hope this helps you.

There are two kinds of people in this world:
Those who think there are two kinds of people in this world, and those who don't


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(@jerboa)
Trusted Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 79
 

Also for fingerstyle...

We are normally taught that when strumming chords that it is best to pick up and place your left hand as a group. This work great for strumming, and minimizes the time it takes getting out of / into chords. In fact it is often beaten into us!

But...with fingerstyle, you are normally arpeggiating the chord. So for a really fluid sound, place the bass finger first (assuming that is the first string you are plucking). This gives you a smidgen extra time to place the other fingers, and keep the flow going at the same time.

If the next note isn't the bass note, then just substitute whichever string you are plucking first for that chord change. :)

I don't know if this is right or wrong, but it is how I tend to do it. Especially on chord changes that are difficult for me. (G -> D -> G)

There are two kinds of people in this world:
Those who think there are two kinds of people in this world, and those who don't


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(@denny)
Reputable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 452
 

The note will sound until you take your finger off it on a fretted note, and until you mute it on an open note. It seems you're lifting your finger off as soon as you strike the note. It's up to you to decide how long to let the note ring.

Denny


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 pab
(@pab)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 103
Topic starter  

thanks everyone for your replies. i know that there can be a number of reasons for this and i'll discuss more with my instructor tomorrow evening. i think that santos is right - the good thing is that i do notice it now (which i didn't before). it helps to have someone critical listening to it and then telling me about it, which my teacher did do.

jerboa, thanks for the tips. when doing my chromatic scales before, my instructor would have me do it (while going up the scale) by keeping each finger on the string until i go to the next one. for example, all 4 fingers would be on the fretboard when i would hit the note fretted by the pinky. i'm sure he was trying to work on dexterity and stretching, but i thought by going individually it would help more working on the synching between my left and right hands. if i do it the way you're suggesting (going up the scale), then my major concern is to ensure that my right hand plucks at the same time the next finger goes down (still important to synch the two or else the next finger on the left hand will deaden the ringing of the string). i'm also concerned with trying not to get any "hammer-ons" with the next finger. going down i still need to work on the synchronization between both hands.

in practicing this the past week i believe i can notice a difference. although this isn't good for synching my left and right hands, i found the 2nd finger independence exercises in pumping nylon a good workout and helps me concentrate on keeping one finger down until i strike another string. this is the exercise with two fingers moving while 2 fingers are stationary. very challenging - could hardly do any of it the first couple of days - but now i can do it a lot better. i think this will help in this matter.

thanks again!

pab


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(@frosk)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 42
 

I've got exactly the same problem, and i've been playing pretty much exactly as long as you have.

I bet time will solve it. Most of my practice experience is with juggling, where the same problems are present. At first it feels like everything is going really fast. Therefore beginner jugglers often catch the ball before they are supposed to. It looks strained, just like the staccato guitar playing sounds a bit stressed. After a while you have learnt the moves and you have aquired the right muscle memory, suddenly you can take your time because you don't have to focus on the moves anymore, and catch the ball when you are supposed to.

I've been focusing on playing longer notes with a metronome, like "i won't move my fretting finger until right before it beeps" it works.


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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5599
 

One thing that will help is to practice vibrato which is shaking, vibrating, wiggling the string. It is actually one of the most difficult techniques to do well on guitar. When you practice your scales, slow down, play each note cleanly, and give the string an up and down wiggle. This is how to sustain notes. All really great players have great vibrato.

Here's a good lesson on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KMrR_LqrOE

Practice vibrato with each finger and practice all the time. One of the best techniques you can develop, and one of the most difficult.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


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