How do I quit squeezing the hell out of the strings?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by pgj, Apr 3, 2020.

  1. pgj

    pgj New Member

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    Been playing for about a total of 6 months or so and still find myself strangling the neck and strings so hard that it often makes the chords go out of tune. Is there a drill, exercise, secret trick to stop doing that? I've built up some decent callouses on my fingertips, but they are no match for my ham-fisted fingerstyle. Suggestions?
     
  2. GADonis

    GADonis New Member

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    If you find a good way let me know. I've been playing for many, many years (afraid to count them up) and I tend to play with a death grip. I'm trying to lighten up but it's gonna take some time to break the many, many years of an ingrained bad habit.
     
  3. RallyFanatic

    RallyFanatic Perpetual musical mid-life crisis

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    Took me years of consciously thinking about it to somewhat alleviate it. I’m much better about it now but sometimes I really get into it and it comes back.
     
  4. Wakester

    Wakester Re Member

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    Glue thumbtacks to the back of the neck?:eek::rolleyes::D
     
  5. Em7

    Em7 deus ex machina

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    You should try shifting to a classical grip (thumb in the middle of the back of the neck) from the baseball bat grip that many guitarists use. You will not be able to clench your fist as tight with a classical grip. Other than that, it is just a matter of time and practice.
     
  6. 93studiolite

    93studiolite New Member

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    I’ve been playing for just shy of four years. I still grip the neck to hard, but I can tell that I don’t grip it as hard as I used to. I didn’t really notice it until a couple of nights ago.
     
  7. Axis39

    Axis39 New Member

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    I spent a while drilling myself every time I picked up a guitar. I'd start by gripping the neck, and then fretting and picking a single string. Then, I would lighten my finger pressure until the notes died. Then, I'd try to remember that feeling and sensation. I'd do it over and over again for a little bit, before moving on to funner stuff.

    These days, I spend a lot fo time playing, but my grip is so light, that I don't have callouses any more. And, I play electric, acoustic, whatever... I was gigging decently in 2018 (before a cross country move and knee surgery), and playing a lot... and still, no callouses.

    Now, if I could just my right hand to move faster (and stay in time)...
     
  8. jak3af3r

    jak3af3r Slightly Older Than New Member

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    This is how to do it. Single notes or chords. And also remember to completely relax your left hand in between chord changes as a "reset." This will help shorten dead space between chords and reduce fatigue over long periods of time.
     
  9. Huggy B

    Huggy B Whiizzz

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    It was a problem for me for many years, oddly enough breath control from TaeKwonDo helped me solve it a long time ago. I simply spent a little time focusing on a more relaxed left hand technique and whenever I found myself falling into the same rut, I would stop, slow breathe, in thru the nose, out thru the mouth, and refocus.

    Also, learning intricate jazz lines softens your grip and was a helping factor, but just stopping to breath and reset was what made a lighter grip a habit.

    We're creatures of habit, anything you do 20 times or more will become one.

    Good luck in facing this challenge.
     
  10. ]-[@n$0Ma☩!©

    ]-[@n$0Ma☩!© Fungi Monkey

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    When I was regularly playing bass and 12-string I had the same problem. These days I feel like I've developed a greater sense of 'feel' for each instrument and haven't had the issue. The again, I don't play much bass or 12-string these days.

    I couldn't play short-scale guitars for quite a while due to this problem (not enough string tension). It also gave me a string dislike for jumbo frets - which has persisted.
     
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  11. 11top

    11top Cousin Eddie's cousin

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    What guitar are you playing? String gauge? Is your neck straight and how close is your action? Do you need a truss rod adjustment?
     
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  12. pgj

    pgj New Member

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    Not sure gauge. It's whatever PRS ships SE Standards with. I assume 9's. Was actually thinking about taking it to the local PRS dealer and having them check the set up. Got it from Sweetwater and they claim to to their 52 point check or whatever that includes a good setup. The strings seems a little high, but this is my first PRS so I don't know what it's supposed to be.
     
  13. Em7

    Em7 deus ex machina

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    Feel is one of those things that takes time to develop. It helps to start playing electric guitar in one’s teens. At that point, one’s hands are not fully mature. However, there are several stages in a guitarist’s development. I started to play electric guitar at age 15. I started to play lead guitar a year later (the beauty of being an obsessed teenager with no responsibilities :) ). I turned 59 this year. A prime milestone is when a guitarist’s influences meld together and he/she develops his/her own thing. That usually takes around a decade of continuous playing. Up until that point, most guitarists are focused sounding like their heroes.
     
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  14. AP515

    AP515 Mostly Normal

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    I am reminded of something I learned to improve long distance shooting. The typical trigger hand position is to have your thumb around the stock and your trigger finger squeezes against the hand muscles and thumb. This often leads to a shot that is down and to the left as it naturally moves the wrist in that direction. To train shooters to stop this movement, some train to take their thumb off the gun and place it on the side next to the stock, on the same side as the palm muscles. This eliminates the possibility of squeezing and forces the hand to pull straight back with the finger muscles.

    Try the same thing. Remove thumb and palm muscles from the neck. push with your fingers as the only thing touching the guitar. You will have to stabilize the guitar with your knees and body, but it will force you to push only with the fingers. As has been said, you can train your fingers to learn just how much pressure is required to get a clean tone from each note. Then move your hand back to a natural position but strive to use the same finger tension as you learned in the previous study.
     
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  15. RickP

    RickP Established 1960, Still Not Dead

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    This. It works for me when I am having that issue. Probably the reason it's the "proper" method. I might add this doesn't work at all with the Jimmy Page low slung method. I don't play like that, but with the guitar low, all the mechanics go out the window.
     
  16. Prs Mods too

    Prs Mods too New Member

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    Hey, lighten up dood. ;):D
     
  17. shinksma

    shinksma What? I get a title?

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    Put some 10s on that SE - I find I grip 9s too tightly, and they bend for me. But I play acoustic guitar (and other things), so my hand strength is higher than it would be if I just played electrics (especially with 9s).

    Plus, work on slightly lightening your grip using the techniques recommended here - it will make your playing more nuanced and you will probably be able to play faster.
     
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  18. Alnus Rubra

    Alnus Rubra Loving nature’s wonders

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    Like you I’ve tried not to over play.

    When you’re gigging and caught up in the moment, it’s difficult for to revert to learnt behaviour.

    Solid advice from @jak3af3r and @Huggy B

    I find the lighter I play, the more accurate I am.
     
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  19. kipkohl

    kipkohl New Member

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    An exercise that has helped me is to pick a scale or some run of notes, and when playing, fret the notes so lightly that you're just muting the strings. So no tonality, just the sound of the pick hitting the muted string. Vary your pick attack; sometimes light, sometimes really digging in, but always with just enough fretting pressure to mute the strings. I found it hard not to get a ringing, clear note and it really emphasizes how little force you actually need when fretting. Also it gets you used to keeping your fretting hand relaxed regardless of what your picking hand is doing.
     
  20. Bill SAS 513

    Bill SAS 513 Just another old guy in a T-shirt

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    Critical for good hand health. Billy Sheehan used to do something in Bass Player (Ask Dr Billy) about this...Carpel Tunnel, etc...
    When fretting (assuming with your left hand), your fingertips shouldn't get/turn white (from Putting too much pressure on strings)...but Touch Practice is the best cure.
     
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