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Very Newbish guitarist With Questions seeks answers


(@johcamp)
New Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 2
Topic starter  

hi guys, before i get to the questions i just wanted to let everyone know how great this site/forum is. I've learned more about music in three days than i ever thought i could!
now, as a very green acoustic guitarist (no callouses yet just VERY sore fingers) i was wondering if you guys could help me out with this. you see i have very thick and moderately short fingers and it seems very difficult for me to fret notes without screwing up the chord by a) touching another string or b) not fully fretting the string i.e. clunk. (nevermind changing chords). I understand that i need ALOT more practice but are there any pointers you guys could give me on this? Could string clearance be an issue? Do i need a shorter scale possibly? i'm sorry if i'm not making any sense but i'm afraid i have been bitten by the bug. There is nothing more that i would rather do than play guitar. Any and all advide you guys could offer a newb like me would be very welcome. thanks


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(@aroundtheclaxon)
Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 127
 

ya dude my fingers or the same way theres not really much to say than just practice ur fingers will eventually be infinatly more dexterious than they are now and u wont even believe u could have this problem so just do finger exercises like scales and 1-2-3-4 and not just chords cuz chords dont really develope ur fingers liek those do but doing that will improve ur chords emenssly. so good luck

Head Arcitech at Vandelay Instudries


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(@noteboat)
Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4933
 

Thick fingers can make things difficult, especially before calluses have developed. The key is to keep the first joint of the finger as perpendicular to the fretboard as possible - if you angle the finger, you spread the surface, and you're more apt to hit adjacent strings by mistake.

Keep your fingertip as close as possible to the fret. That takes less effort to get a good tone. As your calluses develop, you'll be able to use less pressure, which means your fingertip will flatten out less - that gives you more clearance for the other strings. I haven't yet seen anyone who had hands too big to play, and I knew one guy who wore a size 22 ring!

Position has a lot to do with reach. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say "I could never play like you - you have such long fingers". It's not true; I have small hands. I hold mine up to theirs, and I think only once have my fingers been longer - I've just been playing so long I have better control over the position of the guitar, so it looks like I have a lot of reach.

You and your guitar are three dimensional objects, so you relate in three planes. You can move the neck up and down, you can move your fretting hand closer to or farther from your body (angling the guitar 'out' more), and you can turn the neck so you see more or less of the face of the guitar.

Most beginners have the last plane wrong - they want to see where their hands are placed, and when the neck is twisted so you can see the fretboard, it makes it tough to place your fretting hand properly. So get the face of the guitar straight up and down to begin with, and get used to playing without looking. Beginners are also apt to have the peghead too low, because that balances the feel of the guitar - lift it up more and it'll feel like it wants to slide off your leg. But higher pegheads mean better reach.

Beginners also tend to keep their elbow glued to their side. Move it away from your body by a few inches... that changes the whole angle of attack for your hand.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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(@mattguitar_1567859575)
Prominent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 884
 

as usual great advice from Noteboat. Try and get your fingers at 90 degrees to the frets.

this was my single biggest problem when i started, but it will get easier over time.

good luck and look after those callouses once they have formed!!!

Matt


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(@margaret)
Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1689
 

NoteBoat wrote: Beginners are also apt to have the peghead too low, because that balances the feel of the guitar - lift it up more and it'll feel like it wants to slide off your leg. But higher pegheads mean better reach.

johcamp,

Lots of good advice from the experts here. Still a newbie myself, but I have one thing to add to NoteBoat's comment above. One of my books stresses using a strap even when sitting down, and this has made a real difference for me. I am able to raise the neck higher and not feel like I'm losing the guitar. Using a well-adjusted strap, my hands (and mind) are much freer and I am more comfortable.

Margaret

When my mind is free, you know a melody can move me
And when I'm feelin' blue, the guitar's comin' through to soothe me ~


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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4933
 

Great point, Margaret. I never play without a strap, unless it's a classical guitar.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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(@mattguitar_1567859575)
Prominent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 884
 

Another point worth noting here. Not all guitars have string spacing that is the same. For example, my Yamaha electric's strings are quite close together compared to many other models.

It might pay you to just hunt around and see if there's a guitar out there that suits your fingers better - but don't do this until you have exhausted the other methods.

all the best

Matt


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(@margaret)
Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1689
 

NoteBoat wrote: Beginners also tend to keep their elbow glued to their side

This made me think of something else. NoteBoat is referring to the elbow on the strumming side (right side for most of us), but my comment has to do with the other (fretting) arm being "glued."

As beginners, I think most of us are pretty wooden in our position. It takes us a while to loosen up and relax and become mobile.

I'm recently finding that some chords are easier for me to hit consistently (esp barre chords) if I move the neck slightly up, for that chord only, and then return to my previous position. I guess I can straighten the barre-ing finger more and get a better "press" across all the strings by moving. Since we all have unique hands and fingers, what works for me might not work for you.

Being a newbie, I can't say if it is technically desirable to shift position for particular chords, but I do see lots of guitarists moving their (guitar's) necks while playing. I used to think it was just getting into the music, but now I think it might be to better position for a particular chord, as well.

Margaret

When my mind is free, you know a melody can move me
And when I'm feelin' blue, the guitar's comin' through to soothe me ~


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(@johcamp)
New Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 2
Topic starter  

wow guys thanks for the great advice especially the part about guitar up and down and fingers perpendicular. just by thinking about it, i can see now (even tho i couldn't when i was doing it) how much of a difference those things can make. i will definitely concentrate on keeping these things in mind. Boy am i glad i spoke up on here, now i can avoid forming bad habits.

now one more question, anymore newb bad habits i should look out for? And how about a larger neck on a guitar? does it have any drawbacks? Does it sound different. Once again thanks for all the advice and keep those comments coming!


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(@mattguitar_1567859575)
Prominent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 884
 

as for other bad habits -

try and get your fretting fingers right up to the fret wire. You will find that surprisingly little pressure is required to get a good clean ringing tone if you do this.

try and play to a metronome if you can, it will help your sense of timing

try and play with other people - even if you think they are better than you are!

change your strings regularly and tune every time you play

and most of all........ENJOY!

Matt


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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4933
 

NoteBoat wrote: Beginners also tend to keep their elbow glued to their side

NoteBoat is referring to the elbow on the strumming side (right side for most of us), but my comment has to do with the other (fretting) arm being "glued."

No, actually I meant the fretting elbow. Doing that turns your wrist - for a right-handed player, your wrist is turned counter-clockwise. Since your fingers will reach in a clockwise direction to fret notes, keeping your elbow in tight limits your reach.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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(@pilot7)
Trusted Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 64
 

Your fretting will become better once your fingers callous. If it still hurts to play you are naturally going to try to use the ball of your fingers instead of the fingertips, since it will hurt less. Once your finger tips harden it will be easier to fret properly.


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(@aroundtheclaxon)
Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 127
 

wow screw my advice huh well thats how i learned i never did any of this other stuff and i turned out ok...but i guess if this guy wrote a book u should probably listen to him ahaha

Head Arcitech at Vandelay Instudries


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