Finger Strength and Accuracy

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by 7soundz, Oct 22, 2014.

  1. 7soundz

    7soundz SS.org Regular

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    Well I have come a long way as a self taught guitarist but I have quite a long way to go. I was wondering if some of you can share how you were able to build finger strength and develop greater accuracy in playing.

    I bought a planet waves finger exercise device and while it worked well in strengthening my fingers, I am sure there is much more needed.
     
  2. Maniacal

    Maniacal SS.org Regular

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    Trill until you can trill no more
     
  3. vansinn

    vansinn SS.org Regular

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    I've slept with women for 40+ years.
    My dilk is hard as seasoned oiled wood.
    I've researched and expanded on technique.
    And yet, I feel a constant need for more..

    Keep fingering, buddy..
     
  4. Solodini

    Solodini MORE RESTS!

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    Slow down to develop accuracy, make your movements as small as possible. Train your brain to do everything perfectly and efficiently and only increase speed when that is consistent.

    For finger strength, just play more! And make motions like playing when you're not near an instrument, tapping your fingers on a table or your leg, for instance.
     
  5. Gothic Headhunter

    Gothic Headhunter Born on a Monday

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    this is gonna seem obvious, but actually pay attention while you play. I've come further by playing for less time but actually focusing on my technique than by playing for hours but being absent minded for most of it. If you're not paying attention, you're going to take shortcuts, and that will lead to bad technique. If you actually focus on the stuff that other guys have said and block out everything else while you play, you'll make gains in no time.

    Also, legato. go through scales ascending, descending, sequences, every possible combination, that way your fingers are used to all the types of motion, not just one or two
     
  6. StrongEverything

    StrongEverything Banned

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    Do manual labour.
     
  7. Adam Of Angels

    Adam Of Angels The GAS Man

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    Muscle strength is one thing - you can improve your strength significantly by playing mindlessly with sloppy technique so long as you are persistent and keep at it. However, to use that strength correctly, you have to slow down and pay attention to the finer details of your playing and build efficiency. In addition to making you a better player, this is actually extremely healthy for your brain, as it's a form of meditation. Actually there's evidence proving that full involvement with a musical instrument results in more brain activity than virtually any other activity. So do what everybody has said in this thread so far and you'll be smarter in the long run!
     
  8. Overtone

    Overtone SS.org Regular

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    Strength has nothing to do with it...there's nothing you do on a guitar that requires you to be "strong". It's all about technique.
     
  9. ghost_of_karelia

    ghost_of_karelia Utrydd dei Svake

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    Captain T. Remolo Picking would disagree with you, son. :shred:
     
  10. straightshreddd

    straightshreddd Dat Dood

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    Playing guitar proficiently doesn't require you to be crazy strong, but it definitely helps. Grip strength, wrist strength, back strength, etc. You don't have to be benching 300 lbs to be a shredder, but improving the strength, flexibility(arms, hands, wrists, etc), and endurance of your body definitely has benefits in guitar playing.
     
  11. Overtone

    Overtone SS.org Regular

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    I'm not sure I agree. Sure, some amount of strength is used in all of the above, but how often are you even coming close to using the full extent of your strength? With the exception of very wide bending I can't think of anything. Endurance and agility are where it's at, and both can be more effectively developed by playing guitar than by squeezing a grip master or by lifting. Using heavy string gauges and switching back down to your regular gauge is more effective... I think it's all about tweaking how you use your strength while you play, not having more strength to draw on.

    I will say that if you are exceptionally "unstrong" then you will need to get in shape to have good vibrato and bends, but for a normal person it's more about technique.

    Think about this... if strength mattered, wouldn't all the good guitar players be ripped, and wouldn't it be pretty much impossible for adolescents or tweens to be any good?

    Edit: Getting used to playing with more "gusto" is what makes the bigger difference. If you start putting more effort into being in control of bends, vibrato, fretting complex chords hard enough to ring out, etc., at first it'll feel like it takes a lot more out of you to play. But over time you adjust and it doesn't feel like it takes as much effort to achieve that. At least that was my experience... a few months of really watching my vibrato and making it a more important part of my playing and suddenly I had a lot more control and yet it was taking a lot less effort than before I started working on it.
     
  12. Overtone

    Overtone SS.org Regular

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    Well, I should clear up one thing. In the context of the OP, which is about finger strength I definitely disagree. But having good grip and wrist strength to begin with are an advantage vs. not having that.
     
  13. ghost_of_karelia

    ghost_of_karelia Utrydd dei Svake

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    In that context, I agree with you! As a guitarist you should be able to accomplish all the things you need to with a completely relaxed set of digits. You definitely don't need to be switching to leftie after the house has gone to bed for the sake of building finger strength (though feel free to do that if you feel the call). :yesway:
     
  14. beyondcosmos

    beyondcosmos SS.org Regular

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    Expand on multiple techniques and shapes with multiple speeds. Go slow, medium, fast, really f***ing fast, then move back down. Do this with a bunch of techniques/shapes and then start moving from one technique/shape to another at different speeds.

    Everyone has their own ways of developing accuracy, but I've found that working on several different techniques AND transferring between them 'in real time' at multiple velocities is an excellent way to develop accuracy, finger strength, stability, endurance, and, really the most important thing, your own voice as a player.

    The other replies so far have been quite helpful to me as well. These types of threads are always a pleasure to come across.
     
  15. redstone

    redstone SS.org Regular

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    ^Overtone
     
  16. Gregory Frus

    Gregory Frus Active Member

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    Could not agree more!!! Isolate. Keep the mind focused. Do not go on autopilot.
     
  17. 80H

    80H Banned

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    Congratulations! You've triggered a demi-god post.

    I don't keep secrets often. I keep them, but not often.


    I have the type of mind that listens closely and respectfully to what my peers are saying and asks, "What are they missing? What does nobody know yet? What is not receiving enough attention? What's behind door number 3?"


    This has led me to a few revelations about the instrument and musicianship that I believe are paramount to common knowledge. I understand that this is a big claim, but I intend to elaborate quickly and effectively in just a moment.

    For me to give my mental tools away will leave you with more questions than you came here with, but that is the blissful state that I have chosen to live my life in anyways: I enter with one question, and I leave with two. I believe that if you can find comfort in that place, you can learn anything.

    Forward

    It is first crucial to understand that finger strength and accuracy are merely two elements of success. These two elements are important, but they do not stand alone.

    Strength is an aspect of physics. It is not something you are simply born with, though it can be to a degree, much like intelligence, height, uglyness, handsomeness, etc. It is in your control of the physics that underlie all human locomotion that strength is created.

    Accuracy is an aspect of intention. It is your human ability to want something in a certain way. If you do not do something intentionally, did you really even do it, or did it just happen? That's one of my favorite questions, and I hope to die with it unanswered.



    Strength

    Strength is hard to isolate on the instrument. What others in this thread have already alluded to is that is is not necessarily necessary for the majority of situations you will encounter in your musicianship.

    However, it's still great to have. Some of the biggest reasons to strive for a higher degree of strength include volume control, reduced difficulty in play that requires moderate strain, greater ability to control chordal shapes, a wider range of ways to articulate notes and an overall greater degree of control through force.

    Strength can be increased without any tools or workouts for what I would say is probably 95%+ of all guitarists. I make this generalized estimate knowing that most guitarists do not know martial arts well, nor do they understand the field of ergonomics, nor have they learned any applied physics for their instrument and body.

    A great example that anyone can try with a guitar in hand is what I lovingly dubbed the "Tapzilla Epiphany" a few years back in one of my notebooks.

    Grab the guitar, and tap with the index finger of your picking hand.

    Tap anything, where doesn't matter. However, keep the wrist steady over the fretboard. Don't let it move a muscle and just tap from the finger alone. Now lift the wrist and tap from the dropping of the hand. More strength? Yes. Now lift the elbow away from the body and tap from the dropping of the forearm. More strength? Yes. Now lift the entire arm from the shoulder and drop the tap with all of the arm weight coming down into the tip of the finger. More strength? Yes. There's more that can be done beyond this point, but hey, sometimes I keep secrets :D Small hint: left shoulder forward, right shoulder forward. Left shoulder forward. Right shoulder forward. And then move down the anatomy and explore your physiology!

    That should do for now. And don't get too repetitive, look up repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) if you don't know what they are yet.


    Accuracy

    Accuracy is simple. You have overall accuracy and you have targeted accuracy.

    Overall accuracy is developed over years, so you're not looking for that if you want a quick fix (the junkie kind of fix, not the timing belt kind of fix). Overall accuracy is way more badass though, cuz:

    • You can't fake it
    • It makes your life easier
    • You're less likely to interrupt the jammin, and I hope you like jammin too


    Overall accuracy is fortunately developed through constant targeted accuracy. Targeted accuracy is learning how Satch vocalizes his slides, Vai vocalizes his taps, Becker vocalizes his sweeps, Loomis vocalizes his bends, etc. I could keep going for a few paragraphs here, but hopefully you get the idea.

    Targeted accuracy comes from two simple root questions: "How do I WANT to play it? How is that achieved perfectly?" You cannot settle if you wish to achieve accuracy. You also can't be a little quittin' ass bitch, cuz this stuff takes time. If it takes you 30 hours of practice to learn a song, motherf*cker you're doing better than Beethoven. If you can't practice for 30 hours to create your own work of art, you need to work on your mental endurance and pushing past dips in motivation (hint: just keep going and tomorrow will be easier). As I said, strength and accuracy are mere elements my friends :) And if you're saying "wow, maybe I don't want to do this..." Yes you do, you wouldn't have read this far if you didn't. Don't be scared. It just takes time. I used to suck too :wavey:

    Simple example: grab the same fretboard you were just using for the tap example. Well, you can grab another one if you make it rain I guess. Anyways. What you want to do is just pick something simple. For example, pick any 4 notes you want. Don't worry about scales, chords, whatever. If you are too theory minded to accept random factors, put note names in a hat and choose 4 at random. Use dice. Whatever, I don't care. You don't even have to, but you read this far and I wrote this much dammit, so you may as well.

    What you want to notice with these 4 notes you've chosen is that your mind will immediately start to zero in on combinations and ways to play these notes that pleases your ears. Your mind already knows the path. It is not YOU that does the work, it is your brain. Credit where credit is due, as they say.

    Your goal at this point is merely to emulate the music that your mind has so graciously allowed you to formulate. This part WILL require critical thinking at times: get used to it now. It helps. You will get better over time, but there will always be music that is out of your reach in one way or another. Try not to be so attached to all of it, but you do need to sink your teeth in on the ones you really want to play. There's trillions of melodies that none of us have heard yet that we would love to hear, so don't go thinking there's no room for you around these parts.


    By seeking to consciously emulate the music that comes through your own mind, you are forming a link between your stream of consciousness and your motor skills. You need that gap to be so small that you can play exactly as you want to play. You need the silent, instant thought of music to be so potent that it compels your hands to do what it takes to produce the sounds you want. This is quite the expansive realm of practice, but that's how you do it. That mechanism is what we is generally know as "accuracy." That's a lot better than just one word, isn't it?

    But there is more than that. How do you get better at unconsciously formulating music? How do you solve the problems that are bigger than what you know? How do you find new territory when you get bored, and how do you make it back to simplicity when you've grown homesick?

    I bring you gifts of questions (` - `)/



    If have read this far, please know that all or most of the guitar wisdom that lives within me will eventually be made available freely, as I believe I can never achieve what I wish with this instrument without passing it on eventually. We do live in a society where musicianship is at odds with market demand, so my financial situation is somewhere above ok and somewhere below success. Any suggestions as to how I can raise further funds without much investment capital are gladly welcomed via PM. Any companies or private interests that choose to endorse me in my fetal stages will be rewarded in a timely fashion :D I already have like 4 billion years of professional writing experience to boot!
     
  18. CudBucket

    CudBucket SS.org Regular

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    Get an acoustic and make sure you play it everyday. Not just scales but chords. Legato exercises as well.
     
  19. meteor685

    meteor685 SS.org Regular

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    i had problems with left hand strength for a while, doing legato drills on a high action guitar helped a lot.
     
  20. haffner1

    haffner1 SS.org Regular

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    As Solodini mentioned, smallest movements possible! This deserves as much attention as everything else on here. You will have more endurance if you are not expending unnecessary effort. It applies to both the right and left hand too. If your fingers popping up high off of the fretboard as you play though a scale, you are not going to be able to play as quickly or accurately. Also your using your eyes can be a big help if you are trying to build speed. Not that you want to be reliant on looking at your hands all the time while performing, but if you are just doing speed drills, it can be a big help to increase your coordination, alternately looking at either your right or left hand as you play through a run.
     

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