Pulling down on strings & other bad habits

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Nubs, Sep 5, 2019.

  1. Nubs

    Nubs Friend of Leo's

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    In my quest to unlearn bad habits, I have been realizing one of the reasons for my atrocious tone is because I am pulling down on the strings with my fretting hand (right). It mostly happens when I try to play barre cords but I find I do it almost all of the time.

    Any suggestions on how to stop pulling down on the strings when playing? I mostly play standing up, but there are times when I'm sitting and I do it too.

    Blimey!!!

    Also my ring finger on my right hand...I think I'm going to shoot it. I really hate this finger as it just does not want to fret properly. Notes sound like a wounded duck when I try using it.

    Thanks all!
     
  2. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Doctor of Teleocity

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    Haha, yes I understand. I tend to be pretty ham-fisted with my chording hand, trying to strangle the neck.
    Probably due to the guitar I learned (?) on having really high action.
    Anyway, usually a good warmup routine helps me overcome it somewhat.
     
  3. Fretting out

    Fretting out Friend of Leo's

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    Do you mean your bending the strings of the chord down out of tune?
    Is it an audible problem?
    Would heavier strings help, do you need to reposition your wrist maybe more like a classical player parallel with the strings?
    Do you wrap your thumb over the top?

    I know I just asked a bunch of questions, I’m just trying to understand your situation
     
  4. DSharp

    DSharp Tele-Holic

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    Something that helped me out was practicing scales (or just doodling) while consciously trying to use as little finger pressure as possible to fret the notes without buzzing. Put another way, spending a little time every day working on playing with the lightest touch possible helped me stop choking the neck to death and I would think it would help with pulling strings, too. I still tend to be heavy handed with my fretting hand in the heat of battle, but I'm better than I used to be.

    Also, a note of encouragement: I've found that becoming aware of a habit is half the battle toward eliminating it. If you're aware that you're pulling notes out of tune and you're hearing it, you'll soon figure out a way of stopping. Good luck!
     
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  5. johnny k

    johnny k Friend of Leo's

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    MAybe you need a bigger gauge ?
     
  6. basher

    basher Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I think you just have to develop your instinct for what playing in tune sounds like and have that inform the amount of pressure you're putting on the string. Fretted instruments in general (and teles with three-saddle bridges in particular) are inherently out of tune anyway. To play them in tune we have to unconsciously adjust our fretting technique. What you need to do is just a more extreme version of that.

    You should definitely check that your guitar is set up properly, especially the height of your nut.

    You could also try switching to .011s. I really like them, myself.

    As for the pinky on the fretting hand, it just takes practice. I think it helps to adopt a classical-style hand position: thumb in the center of the back of the neck, fingers arched up over the fretboard. And think of putting your pinky where it needs to be and reaching with your stronger fingers instead of planting your index finger and trying to reach with your tiny little pinky.
     
  7. Nubs

    Nubs Friend of Leo's

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    When my hand is on the neck fretting, the fingers are pulling the strings downward making them out of tune, undesirable tones. It's definitely audible, especially when I go to change chords.

    Not sure if heavier strings would help, but I really do prefer the lighter gauge 9s I have on most of my guitars. I really think it's a matter of technique. When I started learning to play, I was very lazy and picked up some very bad habits.

    Fretting, strumming, picking...it's all wrong! So now I'm going back and trying to unlearn the bad technique. I don't recommend it to anyone.
     
  8. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    I agree that trying a more classical fretting hand position and working on as light a touch as possible should help correct issues....but it will take time.

    Imagine a pro golfer or baseball pitcher having to change their mechanics....happens all the time....and yet it requires extremely diligent practice to re-program
    your body and brain to do things differently. I was told a long time ago by a music teacher that the phrase "practice makes perfect" is wrong. The correct
    statement should be "Perfect practice makes perfect".
     
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  9. codamedia

    codamedia Poster Extraordinaire

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    IMO - I think your grip might be too tight. Don't squeeze the guitar.... press just hard enough to fret the notes.
     
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  10. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    Either pulling down (bending) or squeezing too hard and going out of tune should be audible.. you should be using your ears to recognize you're doing something bad and force yourself to adjust.

    Maybe I'm lucky, I can hear this stuff really easily, it drives me nuts so I adjust pretty quick.

    Tuesday night I was playing with some other folks and one guy was slightly out of tune or doing something with his fretting hand to pull his guitar out of tune and it was driving me up the wall.
     
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  11. Milspec

    Milspec Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I use a death grip myself and found that opting for very heavy strings resolved the problem. Let the string tension off-set the force applied. I have no ability to play 9's and 10's are just passable. I play 11's on electrics and if I could get away with it without ruining the neck, I would even go larger. Probably why I enjoy my electric archtops so much.
     
  12. ASATKat

    ASATKat Friend of Leo's

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    My suggestion is get away from bar chords. In my opinion bar chords are used way to much. 3 and 4 note chords are way much easier to play and imo sound better.

    If you're playing an E shape bar chord and you're pulling the strings downwards, your pulling strings out of tune. That means a full E shape bar will have possibly 6 notes not in tune with itself.

    Get past 6 string chords you can't tune.
    Playing 2 string power chords would be prefered over a 6 string, or five string chord played out of tune.
     
  13. Slap Axe

    Slap Axe Tele-Meister

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    I agree with those that have said to let your ears be your guide. It sounds like you’re not having any difficulty hearing it when you’re pulling a chord sharp.

    I’m stating the obvious here, but you’ll have to adjust your technique in order to barre properly. You likely need to bend your wrist more and drop your hand/wrist joint down closer to the bottom edge of the neck in order to bring your hand out flatly across the top of the fretboard. Hope this helps, you can do it, good luck!
     
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