FDP Home Page / FDP Forum / FAQ's

The FDP is made possible by the following companies and individual members like you.
Please use the links below to show them we value their sponsorship.

Jensen Loudspeakers

Yellowjackets Tube Converters

Antique Electronics Supply

WD Music

Amplified Parts

Apex Tube Matching



* God bless America and our men and women in uniform *

* Illegitimi non carborundum! *

If you benefit and learn from the FDP and enjoy our site, please help support us and become a Contributing Member or make a Donation today! The FDP counts on YOU to help keep the site going with an annual contribution. It's quick and easy with PayPal. Please do it TODAY!

Chris Greene, Host & Founder



Find musicians
in your area!
  Search the Forums  

FDP Forum / The Chop Shop / Helping a player with his technique...


San Antonio, Texas

Apr 20th, 2018 09:48 AM   Edit   Profile  

I have a friend who is seriously working on his playing. I have noticed that he tends to draw his second finger WAY back when he plays. (He says it is a result of focusing on power chords, ala Metalica. He does this too when he plays a solo.

I explained that (IMHO) that this actually restricts his one and three fingers and takes some fluidity and smoothness out of his playing.

I gave him some examples of exercises that feature the second finger more, and I told him that he'd be hindering his development if he doesn't keep his fingers lined up together.

It must be difficult for him to break this habit because he does it unconsciously. I don't want to discourage him by pointing out a problem, but I think it would help a lot.

Any ideas to help this guy with his technique and economy of movement?

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Apr 20th, 2018 10:23 AM   Edit   Profile  

SLOW practice with laser focus on the offending behavior. Once correct form is achieved at a very slow tempo, VERY gradual increases in speed.

Contributing Member

Get ready for the

Buena Buena
Apr 20th, 2018 10:44 AM   Edit   Profile  


And ask him to concentrate on 'hovering' his fingers just above the strings when they'e not pressing a string to a fret.

A good exercise is to play scales, in all modes, very slowly with all four fingers while just barely lifting the fingers from the strings. Short 30-minute sessions are about right. That gives the fingers and brain some R&R while they assimilate the new way into the tool bag.

Slow practice is critical because "un-learning" something that is burned into muscle memory takes time. He is reprogramming his fingers and his brain to achieve economy of motion in the fretting hand.

There's no fast way to fix this, but it is totally achievable with some dedicated practice (no noodling). FOCUS! :o) If the player noodles, all that valuable practice goes out with the trash.


San Antonio, Texas

Apr 20th, 2018 11:30 AM   Edit   Profile  

Great points guys! Thanks!

You know, lots of players lift their fingers way off of the fretboard (high), but he's curling the #2 finger back.

My guitar teacher 40 years ago stressed to me to keep my fingers as close to the string as possible without touching. He'd say you DO plan on using that finger sometime soon don't you???

Contributing Member

Get ready for the

Buena Buena
Apr 20th, 2018 11:53 AM   Edit   Profile  

This finger-hover thing applies to all players--not just shredders.

It reduces hand fatigue so you can play longer at a stretch, and saves wear and tear on the finger and wrist joints over time.

The other thing to concentrate on is to apply just enough fingertip pressure to get a good clean note. Overgripping the neck and strings greatly contributes to excessive finger movement


LA-la-land, CA

Insert clever comment here
Apr 20th, 2018 11:59 AM   Edit   Profile  

+1 everything Peegoo said.


U.S. - Virginia

Apr 20th, 2018 01:14 PM   Edit   Profile  

Slow practice is hard to make yourself do because you want to learn and move on to expand your skills, but really slow and steady wins the race. The things that I have made sure that I do every single day for even just 10 minutes, slowly and increasing in speed over a certain number of weeks, are the things that really stick. You want permanent results, not superficial "ok I finally nailed it once and move on" kind of thing.

(This message was last edited by Achase4u at 03:23 PM, Apr 20th, 2018)

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Apr 20th, 2018 02:31 PM   Edit   Profile  

Chet Atkins is a good one to watch to see minimal left hand finger movement. Sometimes it's hard to figure out what he's doing on a video because his fingers barely come off the fretboard.

Contributing Member

South Florida

Apr 20th, 2018 04:43 PM   Edit   Profile  

I have noticed about this that applies to the right hand (strumming) as well.

There are people who have been playing for 20 or 30 years and still have really bad at the very basic skill of strumming the guitar. They typically get away with it in the theory they are really just the singer.

I tried to correct this with somebody by explaining you want to anchor your palm or pinky and keep the movements as efficient as possible.

It didn't go over well. I got a lot of pushback and gave up.

Guitar playing is like learning how to swim competitively. The trick is to make every movement as minimal and efficient as possible.

Mick Reid
Contributing Member


American-made in Oz!!
Apr 20th, 2018 05:49 PM   Edit   Profile  

I would wager that most of you here have been playing *way* longer than me. I didn't start playing "seriously" until 2007 when I was 45 y/o.

I have been mostly self taught and had a similar problem with not "hovering" or putting unfretted fingers too far off the fretboard.
A couple of years ago I finally took some lessons and this was one of the things we worked on correcting.
It definitely paid off, and occasionally still catch myself, but it helped immensely.

The exercise(s) I did were pretty much what everyone above has said but I'll offer a more detailed explanation.
These are not scales but chromatically successive notes. They can be done anywhere on the neck but I'll example by starting at the 5th fret.

E6 - 5/6/7
A - 5/6/7
D - 5/6/7
...and so on down to E1.

The the focus is using one finger per fret (1-2-3) but most importantly, not allowing more than one finger at a time to touch a string and *just* lifting the finger off of the previously fretted string before fretting the next etc.

This can be expanded or modified to include or isolate fingers 1-2-3-4 or 2-3-4 or combinations of any of the four (1 & 3; 1&4 etc).

Like everyone else, the key was doing it slowly at first, then building up speed. This can also develop into a picking exercise for the right hand, but that's another topic.
Hopefully this makes sense and helps. Any comments from "real" guitar teachers is welcome :^)

(This message was last edited by Mick Reid at 07:55 PM, Apr 20th, 2018)

Contributing Member

So. Cal. USA

May 3rd, 2018 05:51 PM   Edit   Profile  

Yes Mick, the 1234 exercise is a great tool for this. Prior to any other practice this should be done up and down each string at the first fret then move up one fret and do it again then up one then up one all the way to the 12th fret. From the 12th work you way back down.

Another really bad habit I see is bent wrists not bent fingers at the knuckle. Oh the pain of it all! My step daughter did this and it was a hard habit for her to break.

Contributing Member

East Tennessee

May 5th, 2018 09:37 PM   Edit   Profile  

A guitarist must learn to go slow before going fast.

A few days doing the hover technique described above in ascending/descending LH 1-2-3-4 scales across the 6 strings for like 2-3 minutes a day will have significant results.

I used to hate scales before I realized how much time I was wasting by not having that muscle memory.


U.S. - Virginia

May 6th, 2018 04:19 PM   Edit   Profile  

I think the floating exercise, or just touching the strings, is a good one. For one, the important part of playing is that you arrange your fingers in the right places over the strings and frets. This accomplishes this. The rest is simply pushing down.

The more important part is this arrangement. Pushing down is easy. Actually, the pushing down part is far easier *if* you arrange your fingers correctly first.

The second thing that is good about this is that you aren't wasting lots of energy here. Folks like to think playing guitar is like weight lifting and the more you do it the stronger you get, which is to a degree true, but honestly you've got so much you can do in a day and you have to pace yourself if you want to practice long hours. So this saves some of that wear and tear on you while allowing you to still practice.

Then move on to pressing and sounding the notes as well.

Just my two cents.

Slow takes control and allows you to focus on technique. Then you can really fly.

Contributing Member

Murrells Inlet, SC

So, so you think you can tell?
May 7th, 2018 05:13 AM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks for bringing up the 1234 exercise Mick. I looked it up on youtube and it's something i really need to work on daily.

Contributing Member

North Florida

A Friend of Bill W.
Jun 10th, 2018 09:47 AM   Edit   Profile  

At bass camp Anthony Wellington recommended working on all the permutations of four finger four fret exercise, Out of the 24 patterns there are a couple like the 4213 and 4231 that my mind and muscles just ain't hooking up. After about two weeks I'm getting where I can run up to the 12 a half step at a time, still slower than other permutations but I see progress.

Contributing Member

Ooo that sandwich

is gonna get et
Jun 10th, 2018 09:55 AM   Edit   Profile  

PROOF that it works!

These players you see flying up and down the fretboard didn't squirt out of the womb with this ability.

They practiced slowly, many hours per day to nail the speed.


U.S. - Virginia

Jun 10th, 2018 01:26 PM   Edit   Profile  

"These players you see flying up and down the fretboard didn't squirt out of the womb with this ability.

They practiced slowly, many hours per day to nail the speed."

Exactly. However many of them did start at silly young ages in the single digits which has several advantages:

1) if you start playing at age 8, by the time you graduate high school, you've got 10 years of practice already under your belt to take into the world.

2) The body heals more quickly when you are young from any long hour practice related injury so down time is less. Tendons contain more healthy tissue and collagen to withstand the rigors of a practice schedule that borders on child abuse.

3) Neuroplasticity is great in younger years. A child/younger person needs to play a passage fewer times than an adult/older person in order to "cement" the learning.

4) Often times there is an older family member or teacher(I.E. John Williams and his father) who oversee the youth and make sure practice is carried out as close to perfectly as possible with no wasted time and effort.

Points against -

1) Kids attention spans and desire to go out and play

2) You may not have a childhood

3) Certain concepts are beyond the scope of the young mind and many things are simply learned "because" without true depth of understanding.

Then on the possible outside chance, theoretically speaking the early evidence would suggest that there are genetics involved that allow some people more neuroplasticity, muscular brain connection pathways etc that give them a possible "leg up"

When you see some of these guys who are in their 20s ripping it up, just remember, he maybe have already been practicing hard for 15 years or more. Sometimes it just comes down to good practice time on the instrument. Larry Carlton is one of these people.

None of this negates the fact that if you want to play something with minimal tension and fast, you must understand it on a silly slow level first. Then repeat it over and over. Maybe 3 times perfectly, then up one click on the metronome. 3 times perfect, one click. Again and again.

(This message was last edited by Achase4u at 03:27 PM, Jun 10th, 2018)

FDP Forum / The Chop Shop / Helping a player with his technique...

Reply to this Topic
Display my email address             Lost your password?
Your Message:
Link Address (URL):
Link Title:

Moderators: Chris Greene  Iron Man  reverendrob  

FDP, LLC Privacy Policy: Your real name, username, and email
are held in confidence and not disclosed to any third parties, sold, or
used for anything other than FDP Forum registration unless you specifically authorize disclosure.

Internet Application Development

Copyright © 1999-2019 Fender Discussion Page, LLC   All Rights Reserved