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Help needed from guitarists

The Maverick 02 Dec 11 - 03:57 PM
GUEST,Wesley S 02 Dec 11 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,999 02 Dec 11 - 04:01 PM
foggers 02 Dec 11 - 04:06 PM
BobKnight 02 Dec 11 - 04:24 PM
The Maverick 02 Dec 11 - 04:30 PM
Big Al Whittle 02 Dec 11 - 04:58 PM
Raedwulf 02 Dec 11 - 05:02 PM
Raedwulf 02 Dec 11 - 05:04 PM
The Maverick 02 Dec 11 - 05:07 PM
Midchuck 02 Dec 11 - 05:37 PM
Dan Schatz 02 Dec 11 - 05:41 PM
Lonesome EJ 02 Dec 11 - 06:04 PM
GUEST 02 Dec 11 - 06:34 PM
Leadfingers 02 Dec 11 - 07:27 PM
GUEST 02 Dec 11 - 07:47 PM
GUEST,songbob 02 Dec 11 - 08:02 PM
Don Firth 02 Dec 11 - 08:08 PM
Richard Bridge 02 Dec 11 - 08:22 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 02 Dec 11 - 09:12 PM
Stower 03 Dec 11 - 06:01 AM
Will Fly 03 Dec 11 - 06:56 AM
Backwoodsman 03 Dec 11 - 07:38 AM
Tunesmith 03 Dec 11 - 08:34 AM
Big Al Whittle 03 Dec 11 - 09:48 AM
The Maverick 03 Dec 11 - 10:25 AM
Don Firth 03 Dec 11 - 02:24 PM
Bert 03 Dec 11 - 04:39 PM
Bill D 03 Dec 11 - 04:53 PM
JohnInKansas 03 Dec 11 - 11:52 PM
GUEST,banjopicker 04 Dec 11 - 12:06 AM
JHW 04 Dec 11 - 08:46 AM
Stringsinger 04 Dec 11 - 12:52 PM
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Subject: Help needed from guitarists
From: The Maverick
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 03:57 PM

I would dearly like to be able to play the guitar standing up but find it 10 x more difficult. All the threads I read on this don't seem to cover my reason - simply that I feel as though I am playing with a blindfold on as I can't see the fretboard.

Where am I going wrong?


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: GUEST,Wesley S
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 04:01 PM

How long have you been playing? And is there a good reason why you need to play standing up? I'm guessing that as time goes by that your muscle memory will take over and you'll start hitting the right notes. But you could also practice looking away from the fretboard while you're sitting down. Just be patient. It will come eventually.


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: GUEST,999
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 04:01 PM

Practise in front of a mirror. It'll help you 'recognize' where frets and strings are in relation to where your chord hand is. Soon, you won't need the mirror. imo


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: foggers
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 04:06 PM

Hi - There are good reasons why it feels more difficult to play standing up if you always practice sitting down. Simply, the whole instrument sits differently when you stand to play, so it all feels different and goes against the muscle memories you have built up in your hands and arms whilst practising seated.

I also notice you say you can't see the fretboard; this suggests that you are relying on sight rather than touch to remember your way around.

There is little else to do to overcome this other than to practice standing up so you get used to the difference in position, and practice looking away from the fretboard so that you are engaging your senses of touch and hearing as well as sight.

I play in a band and we realised early on that if we planned to perform standing up then we needed to rehearse that way too.


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: BobKnight
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 04:24 PM

Make sure your strap is set at a comfortable level - many younger players play with the guitar very low - not so much in the folk world though.


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: The Maverick
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 04:30 PM

I've been playing 6 years and I'm 58 - also can't strum but fairly good at learning from tab now:

Thought maybe I should be holding the guitar someway to see the fretboard, but will practise more standing up - theresd no reason why I need to learn to play standing other than I feel it aught to help project the voice more (always solo)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f6kgiXrnCY


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 04:58 PM

when you're 58, you get to choose to do it as it feels comfortable.

I always sit down to play -if theres an option. Never mind projecting - let the buggers make an effort to listen.


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: Raedwulf
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 05:02 PM

A couple of other little technical tricks.

Warm up by playing chromatic scales up to the 12th fret & back down i.e. first finger on 1st fret, one finger per fret, 1st finger on 5th / 9th fret ditto. Do it a couple of times on each string. It'll loosen your whole hand up AND teach you where all the strings are across all the fretboard.

Finger a chord. Lift your hand. Wiggle your fingers to break the shape. Finger the same chord again. Rinse & repeat as many times as you feel like. Do it with different chord shapes. Gets your fingers into the habit of falling into the right places.

With both exercises, the more you practice doing it without looking at the neck, the quicker you'll get the instinctive feel. Looking at the fretboard is like a kid sucking their thumb - instinctive, a hard habit to break. It's harder still when you make mistakes; comforting when you can look back down & get it right instead.

Got something on the opposite wall you can focus on? A picture, or something? Focus on that, give yourself permission to make mistakes, rather than get hung up on them, then go for it & have a giggle when you screw up. You'll probably be astonished by how quickly you improve!

Regarding the voice, looking at your vid, I don't think you'll find much difference between sitting & standing. You're sitting pretty upright. It's only if you're huddling over the guitar that you might run into a problem, because you're closing up both rib-cage & abdomen i.e. lung capacity & breath.

Last piece of technical advice. Which might get shouted down by all the marvellous musicians round here, but what the hell! ;-) Classical music is not the be-all & end-all of anything. But! Classical techniques are usually best-practice for any given instrument, because they've evolved more-or-less systematically over very many years.

I think you're holding the neck very flat. Try playing with a position that has the neck angled through, or just below, your shoulder. It'll take a little bit of getting used to. The point of it is that it will help to maintain your hand in exactly the same relation to the neck wherever you are. With a horizontal neck, you're stretching out, coming back in, constantly changing the angle of your forearm & wrist, and that will play hob with the accuracy of your fingering.

You can play great with lousy technique, but you'll find it easier to play better with better technique. Technique isn't music, but it helps to make it! ;-)


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: Raedwulf
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 05:04 PM

Bugger! Forgot to close the bold. *sigh*


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: The Maverick
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 05:07 PM

Great - thanks for all the tips - much appreciated


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: Midchuck
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 05:37 PM

Doc Watson is quoted somewhere as saying he thought it would be very confusing for a sighted person to try to play the guitar. He must be right, as I am a sighted person and it was very confusing for me to try to play the guitar when I started.

Peter


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 05:41 PM

I played sitting down for years, and finally just took some time and practiced standing up. You get used to it. Some of the best guitarists I know never learned to play standing up.

Dan


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 06:04 PM

Open chords are pretty easy for me standing up, but I still need to look down for the barre chords. Concentrate on the dots on the upside of the neck, even when you are sitting down, rather than the fretboard dots.


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 06:34 PM

Use your normal practice position and practice with your eyes closed. It'll take some time before you get as good eyes closed as you are when looking, but it will happen.

If you've got to the stage where your playing is good enough to perform then a lot of what you do is automatic and looking or not looking should make little difference. But part of the automatic actions you do is looking at your hands. It's more a confidence issue than a competence thing. Practice will do it.


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: Leadfingers
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 07:27 PM

In a single word - Practice ! It WILL come in time !


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 07:47 PM

"Concentrate on the dots on the upside of the neck, even when you are sitting down . . ."

Truer words . . .


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: GUEST,songbob
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 08:02 PM

If you have to look at the fingerboard, you're holding it wrong, even while seated. You should be holding it so that you see the board "edge on," with a slight slant in your line of sight so you can see the 1st string through the 6th string, but not like chord charts show it. When you stand, most straps hold the guitar more perfectly vertical, instead of "leaned back" like when sitting. If you have a tummy, you'll end up with even more of an "angle problem," (think of someone like Burl Ives, or Mac Wiseman).

Anyway, practice changing chords as a whole, not finger-by-finger, and without looking any more than you need to. Practice looking edge-on, even while seated. And practice playing, even seated, with the strap on, so that the standing posture isn't significantly different from the seated posture. I always used to tell students to set their strap to the same position as when seated, rather than really low or high.

I hope this helps.

Bob Clayton


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: Don Firth
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 08:08 PM

Playing without looking at the fingerboard is a bit like shooting from the hip. Early on, you miss a lot. But the more you do it, the more accurate you get.

Also, whether sitting or standing, the guitar neck should be angle up, not horizontal or near horizontal.

After playing (chords and strums) for a couple of years, I started taking classic guitar lessons. When practicing early, basic exercises and studies, one has to keep one's eyes on the music. You do look at your hand from time to time, but the fingers learn to find their own way. Now, no problem. Chords, runs, some fancy stuff, I rarely have to look.

This has the advantage of my being able to keep eye contact with the audience and note their reactions to what I'm doing.

And duck when necessary......

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 08:22 PM

What EJ said. Then when the lights go out you really have a problem! I'm not a fingerstylist but I do use a lot of partly open chords up the neck.


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 09:12 PM

Our band doesn't gig much these days, and we never practice together
for geographical distance reasons.

If we have time prior to gig soundcheck, just a quick set reminder and run through of new songs learnt apart in isolation.

So I easily get random fits of forgetfulness and panic
and have to lift the fingerboard up close to my face
to get my orientation back as fast as possible under variable stage lighting.

But all the time I need to keep my eyes firmly on our singer and lead guitarists hands
to follow his constant unpredictable variations from song patterns and structures..

good job we've been playing in bands together
for over 35 years..


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: Stower
Date: 03 Dec 11 - 06:01 AM

I used to play everything sitting down, but now I have had to learn to play standing up due to aches and pains all over my body due to years of bad posture, which hadn't affected me until now in my beyond-middle years. Obviously I'm not as lithe and pliable as I used to be!

2 things help me play standing up. Firstly, for some years now I have played largely with my eyes shut. That helps me shut out the audience and anything distracting and focus completely on the song. It also means that, as long the guitar, lute, or whatever, is in the right playing position for me, then it shouldn't make a difference whether I stand or sit. So, secondly, I discovered that the right playing position for me is pretty high up, higher than most guitarists. When I sat down to play, I did so in order to be up close to the guitar, with my head usually at the point where the guitar neck meets the body. So when I stand, I have a strap button on the body of the guitar, rather than the strap tied to the headstock, and the instrument is resting more on my chest than on my stomach. Some guitarists have taken to holding the guitar at what seems like an alarming angle, on the way to being vertical. If that helps them play comfortably, fair enough. Alternatively, you may find you're one of those guitarists (like Martin Carthy) who has the guitar in a position where he's usually upright, but can lean over and look when he wants to.

Hope some of this helps.


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: Will Fly
Date: 03 Dec 11 - 06:56 AM

Lots of good advice here. I'll just add a couple of hints.

You could start by putting on a strap and then playing on a high stool, sitting down - which is a halfway house. Here's me doing just that:

Spread A Little Happiness

I'm actually seated on a piano stool with a cushion - which lifts me up so that the guitar can be seen comfortably by the video. Note the guitar height and angle. It's far more vertical than when I play with it resting on my knee. I also prefer a high position - can't play with a low-slung guitar because it makes fretting some notes awkward.

You'll notice, by the way, that my guitar - like others I use - has no dots on the fretboard. If I need a reference position, there are little dots on the side binding - that you can't see! It took me a while to get used to fretboards with no dots, but classical players do it all the time.

So, if moving from sitting to standing poses a problem, try the halfway house of using a strap while sitting on a higher chair. Then, when you're used to that, stand up fully and see how you get on.


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 03 Dec 11 - 07:38 AM

Use the side markers if you need a reference.
Don't try to look at the face of the F/B.
Resist the urge to sit down, play standing up all the time, until it becomes second nature.
Try to play 'looking at the audience'.
The most important one - PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!

You will fail intitally, but success will follow.

IMHO, YMMV etc.


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: Tunesmith
Date: 03 Dec 11 - 08:34 AM

Well, I haven't read all of the above, but when sitting down hold the guitar in the same position as when stood up i.e. wear the strap and duplicate standing position.


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Dec 11 - 09:48 AM

Another strategy is the Josh White position, putting one foot on a chair and putting the guitar on your knee.

Care must be taken to avoid the common industrial injury - sometimes alluded to, as farting in the drummers earhole.


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: The Maverick
Date: 03 Dec 11 - 10:25 AM

Thanks again for all the great advice - I'll go away and practice I think!


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Dec 11 - 02:24 PM

I found a really good combination in a coffeehouse where I sang every Friday and Saturday night for several years. It was fairly small place (seated maybe 50 people at most) and there was no stage. So I sat on a fairly tall wooden kitchen stool (CLICKY #1). That is, my right foot was on the floor, my left buttock was on the stool, and my left foot was on one of the rungs of the stool. I held the guitar on my left leg, much like the classic position (CLICKY #2). This put the guitar in a very good position for both hands.

I rarely looked at my left hand (lots of practice, muscle memory) and made it a point to maintain audience contact as I sang.

This latter, in my opinion, is very important for a performer, especially a singer. I've seen singers who spend their whole time on stage with their eyes glued to their left hands, and this seemed to put them in a sort of "isolation booth." They were closed off, not interacting with the audience. Not good.

When I refer to "interacting with the audience," I don't mean maintaining eye-contact with any individual member of the audience for more than a second or two. That can make the person very edgy, which is also not good. Glance around. Smoothly. Make eye contact for a second, then move on. And let your face reflect what is going on in the song.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: Bert
Date: 03 Dec 11 - 04:39 PM

When I started I found that the biggest improvement came when I switched from practicing chords and started practicing chord changes.

Started with Jambalaya, switching from A to E7 and back.


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: Bill D
Date: 03 Dec 11 - 04:53 PM

Folk like Doc Watson manage even though they can't see the guitar at all. One thing I noticed when watching Doc play onstage with others, was how little his fretting hand moved. He raised his fingers just high enough to allow the note to sound, which allowed them to come back down easily in the right place. (I've no doubt that the persona above who plays mostly with eyes closed does something like that.)

I play whistle & recorder and it is a good practice there also.


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 03 Dec 11 - 11:52 PM

I liked the comment:

Use your normal practice position and practice with your eyes closed

which I interpret as "try playing like Doc Watson does."

If you practice really hard, for a long time, trying to play like Doc Watson does, you probably still won't play like Doc Watson; but you'll eventually (or fairly soon) play a lot better.

(He's been sort of our family guitar hero for decades, so don't take our slightly biased opinion too seriously.)

When you get comfortable with your guitar, you shouldn't need to look at the frets. Realizing that you don't really have to look as often as you're used to really should be the only key information you need to process to progress where you don't feel like you need to peek.

John


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: GUEST,banjopicker
Date: 04 Dec 11 - 12:06 AM

I don't intend for this to sound rude or anything but one way I got used to not looking at my left hand was about 4 years ago I was playing at a old folks home and half of them don't pay attention if you do mess up a bit. but that's how I got a lot of practice also using a mirror to before playing audience. I still sing at the old folk homes once in a while , sometimes their the best audience.


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: JHW
Date: 04 Dec 11 - 08:46 AM

I sit down to play guitar. I feel when sitting down I am singing TO people rather than AT them.
I only look at the frets for something new or a less used tuning. Occasionally I'll put the one foot up as a half way house.
Standing does help breathing and I do stand for most unaccompanied songs.
I've bought recently (after much seeking) a high teacher style chair in light steel tubing fron B&Q which is utterly stable and brings me to about standing height. Of course this is only practicable to take on bookings.
Martyn Wyndham Read always sits down to play the guitar, so does Peggy Seeger.


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Subject: RE: Help needed from guitarists
From: Stringsinger
Date: 04 Dec 11 - 12:52 PM

Playing the guitar or any musical instrument applies tactile sensations and this is the way the player memorizes where the fingers go. The solution is simple. Practice standing and playing until the physical responses become automatic as they are when you are seated.

Memorizing music has an order.

1. Tactile memory
2. Auditory cues
3. Visual cues.

If you are a singer, you are always singing to people because you want to communicate
the song, having nothing to do with being seated or standing.


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