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Les Paul Nut
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
anybody got some exercises that can help me get my left hand to move more fluid-like and have more control on my fingers? I've noticed I have alot of problems with my pinky, ring finger and middle finger when used together. like I can do fine with index and a combination of the other 3 but if I do a combination of the other 3 only my fingers get retarded and move around a bit choppy.
 

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Is Actually Recording
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32,765 Posts
Oh jeez.

First, practice unplugged. If you can get your legato technique such that notes ring out clearly even without an amp, then you're in good shape.

Second, if your problem is fluidness with those fingers, start practicing trills. Trill between every finger combination you can think of, just focusing on keeping it smooth and even and getting your speed as even as you can - i.e - so that if you trill between your pinkie and ring, it's just as fast as between your pointer and rint.

Another thing I like to do is to take a 1h2h3h4p3p2p1 pattern and slide around the neck like so:

|-1h2h3h4p3p2p1/2h3h4h5p4p3p2/3h4h5h6p5p4p3\2h3etc...-|

Just moving around at random, again focusing on keeping it smooth and even.
 

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Super Moderator
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^^^ this.


also, start SLOW. slow slow slow. if you are practicing too fast, you'll develop bad habits that can be hard to break. if, while practicing you are making mistakes, it's not time to speed up.
 

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Oh jeez.

First, practice unplugged. If you can get your legato technique such that notes ring out clearly even without an amp, then you're in good shape.
People always say this, but does anyone actually practice plugged in? I've played guitar for 10 years now and I can't recall ever once practicing plugged in. I always play plugged in when I'm playing with other musicians, but "practice" has always been something done unplugged.

Maybe it's just me, but this always baffles me every time it comes up.

Another thing I like to do is to take a 1h2h3h4p3p2p1 pattern and slide around the neck like so:

|-1h2h3h4p3p2p1/2h3h4h5p4p3p2/3h4h5h6p5p4p3\2h3etc...-|

Just moving around at random, again focusing on keeping it smooth and even.
I have an exercise similar to that, but

A----------1-3-2-4------------
E-------------------1-3-2-4---
B-1-3-2-4---------------------

and so on until the top, move up 1 fret, and then backwards as:

E-----------5-3-4-2-----------
B-5-3-4-2---------------------
G-------------------5-3-4-2---

And then you move up one fret again and do the top:

A----------3-5-4-6------------
E-------------------3-5-4-6---
B-3-5-4-6---------------------

And this can be done with hammer-ons and pull-offs as well. I think this is good because playing in those patterns trains your finger more than something chromatic would.

Edit: And also because it trains with string-skipping. I had originally entered the tabs wrong, so I fixed them. On the way down, you play the first, third, second, and fourth frets on the B string, then the same on the A string, then the same on the E string, then the same on the D string, then the same on the A string, then the same on the G string, then the same on the D string, then the same on the high B string, then the same on the G string, then the same on the high E string. Then you move everything up a fret and do it backwards... Probably should've checked the tab before I wrote that.
 

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Les Paul Nut
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've never really had a practice session, I just noodle on the guitar, play band's songs and try to write my own stuff. I only took lesson's for a very very short time when I started and the instructor wasn't teaching stuff that I could really use.
 

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Is Actually Recording
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I practice plugged in a lot, actually, Naren. For one, it's important to practice with gain just to keep on top of your muting technique, but two, it's fun. :D

I do something like that a lot too - the string skipping thing is cool, for sure. However, for a real rush, try this:

Code:
|------------------|
|----------------4-|
|-------4----2-----|
|---2----------3---|
|-----3---1--------|
|-1----------------|
...ascending up the neck, then flip the pattern (so you start with the 1 on the D string), etc. It's a drill I came up with ages and ages ago to work on my picking hand (mostly), and I feel like if I'd practiced it more religiously I'd be a way better guitarist today. :lol:

The thing with doing chromatics on a single string, though, is that it's a GREAT way to focus purely on legato technique. Done right, there's no reason ever to pick a single note while doing that, if your hit ons and pull offs are clean.
 

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Don't get me wrong. I play plugged in by myself all the time, but I don't consider what I play plugged in to be "practice." It's mainly just jamming, noodling, and so on.

And I do a thing with legato which is kind of chromatics, I guess, where I'll just trill with the first and second finger for a while, then trill with just the second and third finger for a while, then trill with just the third and fourth finger for a while, then trill from the first to fourth finger over and over again (that last part of the exercise is kind of like yours). I also do trills with the first and third and with the second and fourth as well.

I have never tried that specific exercise you have, but I do have one where you do a certain exercise, skipping one string, then skipping two strings, then skipping three strings, then skipping four strings, and then skipping five strings.

I'll have to try out your exercise though, since it looks pretty useful. :yesway:
 

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CA Manager / RHLC
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People always say this, but does anyone actually practice plugged in? I've played guitar for 10 years now and I can't recall ever once practicing plugged in. I always play plugged in when I'm playing with other musicians, but "practice" has always been something done unplugged.
Really? I've just started to practice plugged in (clean) and I like it a lot more than playing acoustically. I find it easier to hear mistakes and whatnot :shrug:
 

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Really? I've just started to practice plugged in (clean) and I like it a lot more than playing acoustically. I find it easier to hear mistakes and whatnot :shrug:
:scratch: That doesn't really make sense. An amplified guitar can eliminate buzzing that you would hear unplugged and you will still hear notes sustaining that you wouldn't hear unplugged. A plugged in guitar can cover up a lot of your small mistakes.

If you don't hear any buzzing unplugged, then you know you won't hear any plugged in. If you can hear the note sustaining and resonating unplugged, then you know you will hear it even clearer plugged in. If you can play a lick through perfectly clean unplugged, you know it will sound even better plugged in. However, a lick can sound somewhat clean plugged in, but if you listened to it unplugged, it can actually be kind of sloppy.
 

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I once went in for a lesson after 16 years of no lessons, the teacher really straightened out my technique, incorporating the correct technique it took me months to get back to the same speed I was at before. I had been doing all this without realizing it,

- Fingers flying away too far from the fret-board

- Gripping the neck involuntarily, palm pressing hard into it

- First knuckle sometimes bending when I fret a note

- Pinky sometimes going underneath the neck

He recommended doing a sort of chromatic scale excercise while keeping a watch on my left hand, and going real slow with my practice till my left-hand got better - it slowed me way down for awhile but now it's light-years ahead.
 

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Bro of Bros, Bro.
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like I can do fine with index and a combination of the other 3 but if I do a combination of the other 3 only my fingers get retarded and move around a bit choppy.
This is why I used to do a little trick where I would practice scales and modes without using my index finger, only my middle, ring, and pinky.

It feels funny, but give it a try.
 

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Also, pressing too hard on the frets is a mistake, all pressure in excess of that which is required is a waste. Also, pressing hard against the back of the neck with your thumb is a mistake.
 

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The only thing I can really say to this is to practice SLOWLY and ACCURATELY. I had the great privilege of meeting Troy Stetina and that's the one thing he beat into my skull. He told me no matter how much you practice or what your practice if you're practicing it wrong, you'll learn it wrong. If you practice fast and sloppy you're gonna be a sloppy player. With slow practice comes fast, clean playing. Just my two cents.
 

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If you really want to build strength, coordination, and finesse in your left hand, try a few nights of giving yourself "the stranger" every once in awhile. Mike Portnoy said it worked for his technique, and if irregular masturbation habits make you into an ambidextrous drum god like him, it's got to be good for something. :yesway:
 
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