tension...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by DHW, May 18, 2015.

  1. DHW

    DHW New Member

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    How do you guys Get rid of tension? My picking hand/arm is not too horrible but could be better. My fretting hand/arm all the way up to the shoulder makes me want to just cut the damn thing off... The tension slowly creeps in and causes my fingers so slow down or my accuracy to suffer, I make mistakes and that just makes it worse!

    It's frustrating. I'm putting in significant time practicing to try and make up for lost time... ~20 hours a week. I feel I'm at a point where I am progressing very very well. My teacher says "holy crap you did that in a week?" On a regular basis but I still feel I should be doing better and I know the tension is my block right now. If I stop and very consciously relax I can play so much better but as soon as I stop actively thinking about it I'm right back to tightness again.

    I can play fast power chord progressions pretty easy without much tension. Something like American idiot which is 189bpm is fine right up to the single note run in the middle of the solo and its like I have alien arm syndrome and it won't do anything I want it to and its like a board it's so tense. Frustrating!
     
  2. CVS

    CVS Not so new member

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    I played electric guitar for many years using a pic (classic rock - blues). Then, about 3 years ago, I saw a local professional play many songs using finger picking (including blues based songs) on his electric and acoustic songs. I decided I just had to learn how to finger pick. When I was 1st learning how to finger pick, I had the same issue as you, lots of tension in my right hand and fingers, which was slowing me down and causing me to make mistakes. I was / still am practicing finger picking everyday for at least 1-2 hours. I have been doing this for over 2+ years now. I have noticed that the tension is slowly going away over time as my mind becomes more comfortable with the technique and I become more confident that I can execute the techniques. I am to the point now where on a "good day", I can play Fleetwood Mac's Landslide and James Taylor's Mexico error free. (we wont talk about the bad days:biggrin:)

    I am also in a band, and I have challenged myself to play without a pick on a number of songs, so that I can accelerate the learning process

    So, if your tension issue is like mine, continue to practice and the problem will slowly go away.

    On the other hand, if you have not already talked to your teacher about this, I would do so, as perhaps the issue is related to your posture in some way.

    Just my thoughts - & hope things work out for you.
     
  3. vchizzle

    vchizzle Birdman.

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    Could be a couple things. Did you make a massive jump in the amount you're playing/day? That can make a big difference if you're fatiguing muscles that aren't used to working that long. How tight are you gripping the neck? Are you tightening you grasp when you get to parts you are less comfortable or familiar with playing? I found myself doing that several years ago. Make a conscious effort to relax on those parts. If you think to relax enough times, eventually you'll just play that way.

    General good practice- drink as much water a day as possible. Bananas can reduce muscle cramps if you're getting any cramping.
     
  4. DHW

    DHW New Member

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    I've mentioned it in passing but will be having a real conversation about it tonight.
     
  5. DHW

    DHW New Member

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    I am nto getting any cramping. I am definitely gripping the neck too tightly but it seems to be coming from the tension in the shoulder rather than the hand causing the tension. I didn't make a sudden jump in practice time. It has been ramping up over the course of months. If my hands fatigue to the point that I have to really work for a whole step bend I stop. That is usually at the 3-ish hour mark when I just can't make the bends any more and my finger tips are starting to feel a bit tender. I don't know that I am necessarily tensing when I get to those difficult parts of songs but the first missed note and it's like a switch is flipped. Several of the pieces I am working on now have pinch harmonics in the middle of 16th note runs and I am still not super good at hitting those so they really scream and that really makes my brain go nuts.

    My posture probably could be better. I generally do a lot of practicing sitting on the edge of the bed with one leg up and one hanging over. I might need to rearrange my space so I can get use a stool or chair or something... Maybe play standing up...
     
  6. drdoom8793

    drdoom8793 THAT guy at Chick-fil-A

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    I definitely recommend trying to get either a nice high stool or playing standing. It will definitely help with performing at the very least (I prefer to practice how you plan to perform. I.E. standing for electric, sitting for acoustic usually), but I've found that changing the way you're sitting (or not sitting at all) can make playing in general a lot more comfortable.
     
  7. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Maybe you're overdoing the practicing.
     
  8. vchizzle

    vchizzle Birdman.

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    Sometimes rapid progression in playing and skills will make you want to push harder than what you should because you see, hear and feel big gains in your ability. You have to listen to your body. I'm not saying to stop TOO early, but when you get to that point of feeling fatigue, don't push for as long after it begins. So if you're playing 3 hours, try 2.5 or 2.75.

    Sounds like a little bit mental tensing as well, when you "miss the mark" and then become tense? One of the biggest things for performance is to "forget" everything IMMEDIATELY after you've played it. Whether it's a wrong note or missed harmonic, you have to ignore that it happened and move on. Sounds like when you miss something, you're dwelling on the mistake and tensing up on things afterward. Guitarists miss things all the time, it's forgetting about it and moving past it quickly that's the key. The more you thing about it, the more obvious it is, especially if it affects the rest of your performance.

    Might be helpful to dissect the pinch harmonic passage down into smaller pieces. Or play the piece with no pinch harmonic first. Make sure the passage is solid without it there. There's probably short exercises you can do to work on transition with the pinch to get it down.
     
  9. Huggy B

    Huggy B Mmmm... nitrates.

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    Ah yes, the mind & the body.
    DHW, I don't know if you're an OG like me, and 20 hours a week isn't too much (unless you juggle a job and other things also), pushing yourself too hard will create tension, some not good but a pinch is good sometimes, it's still a physical thing playing an instrument.

    You said, "as soon as I stop actively thinking about it", and I understand you completely on that but the only way to balance that & tension is to make it a habit. Same with breathing, which is connected to your tension issues. The consolation is that *ANYTHING* can become a habit, you do anything for about 20-30 times and it will become one a lot easier that you think at this point. Funny you mention this because I just watched one of the Santana & Paul vids on youtube and Carlos (a true hippie at heart) was kicking out his musical/spiritual philosophy as usual and he was saying "U know when you feel tight it's like musical constipation man, you got to let it flow baby".........................precious.

    I used to do TaeKwonDo in Korea when I was in the service and the breath training (oddly enough) helps in my playing, so breath my friend, in through your nose & out through your mouth and try not to hang your head staring down at your hands & fretboard, that also strains your spine and probably adds too it. Yea, I do it too but I'm in the process of training myself to play by feel as much as possible, again *ANYTHING* can become a habit.

    ......and don't forget to stretch. Good luck with it!!!
     
    #9 Huggy B, May 18, 2015
    Last edited: May 18, 2015
  10. DHW

    DHW New Member

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    I know 90% of it is mental but I am struggling to push it out. I can relax, I can play lightly and quickly but my brain doesn't want to allow it.

    I've played the passage without the pinch harmonics more time than I have played it with them ;) lol... yes, I am that bad at them still!

    I have been forcing myself to stop practicing when I feel the fatigue start. I usually find myself picking the guitar back up at some point in the evening and just doing scales and trying to run them faster and faster without anything really demanding on the muscles which has helped.

    I definitely wouldn't qualify as an OG lol. I grew up in grunge and was weaned on whiny late 90's music. Things have changed considerably in the 18 years since high school though. And I certainly don't miss the ever present ballads of Jamiriqua that could be heard any hour of the day in the dorms...

    I definitely am juggling a job, 2 kids, and a hobby farm along with the guitar but my practicing takes place of mindless TV watching most evenings so it's not much of an issue. My job is purely mental and very high stress, the farm is at risk due to avian influenzia basically knocking on the door which stresses me out, the kids are always high stress lol... The guitar is my release so I need to beat this so I can just let it go.... Musical constipation... 100% accurate description!

    I have been getting much better at playing without watching my hands. I have a couple runs that watching my picking hand is vital to get through it still and real long shifts up or down the fret board may take a glance but I can play most other stuff without looking and actually find I play it better when I don't look. I do need to get my music up so I am not looking down at it, that's actually something that might be contributing to it. I am gonna try standing up when I practice for a while and see if that helps after I get used to it. breathing is another thing that I probably could be better at. I think I do hold my breath for those particularly challenging passages.
     
  11. Huggy B

    Huggy B Mmmm... nitrates.

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    :laugh:

    I thought I was alone in hating Green Day's vocals.
     
  12. DHW

    DHW New Member

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    Actually they are one I can tolerate and even enjoy. They are nothing compared to some of those 1 hit wonders...
     
  13. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    I love Green Day!

    Of course, I've only been out of high school for...hmm...anyone got a calculator?

    Oh, yeah, that would be...about uh, let's see...47 years....

    Longer than anyone reading this thread has been alive, no doubt.
     
    #13 LSchefman, May 18, 2015
    Last edited: May 18, 2015
  14. Bluesboy998

    Bluesboy998 New Member

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    Iam right up there with you Les two old bastards.
     
  15. RedGuitars

    RedGuitars New Member

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    three of us...
     
  16. AP515

    AP515 Mostly Normal

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    Four
     
  17. Huggy B

    Huggy B Mmmm... nitrates.

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    Five ...... ........ I remember when all rock bands had a lead guitarist.:tongue:
     
  18. DHW

    DHW New Member

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    Yup Les... You are older than my dad by a solid 10 years ;)
     
  19. Huggy B

    Huggy B Mmmm... nitrates.

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    True that.
     
  20. ozboy

    ozboy New Member

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    There is a big difference playing in a band to practicing on your own. The sports analogy is "match fit". You need to spend a lot of time playing in front of audience or playing with band so that you get to the point of being comfortable and not feeling like the newbie who has to prove something and therefore trys too hard. Some people never achieve that.

    Alternatively take drugs. :star:
     

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