As a guitarist, a lot of what you play and the techniques that you use depend on your ability to make precise movements along the neck. If you are stiff and clunky with your movements, your playing with suffer. So will your techniques.
So how can you move fluidly between neck positions to make your playing more consistent and precise? In this article, we’ll talk all about it.
First off, you need to relax. Guitarists are only as good as their relaxation techniques. This may sound more like yoga, but it isn’t; being tense and tight makes it hard to be a fluid player.
Practice playing with both arms relaxed. All picking motions should be done with the wrist. All fret board changes, including changes in angle, should be done with the wrist as well. Your biceps, forearms, and shoulders should never flex while you are playing. This is because it will tighten your hand, causing you to put excess strain upon your wrist and small tendons.
If you find yourself tensing up when you play faster, it means that you aren’t ready to play at the given speed yet. Get out your metronome, or turn on your computer and look up a free virtual metronome, and build your way up to speed starting at a lower tempo. This will allow you to relax when playing faster. Click here for a specialized look on speed building exercises on guitar.
An athletically trained person takes less energy to move than an average person. Why? Because they train themselves every day, working their way up and allowing their bodies to adapt to the intensity of the movements. Your guitar playing is the same; the more you put in, the less effort you will need to put out.
When you move up and down on the neck, be sure to pay attention to your palm. You want to cup the neck, not grab it. Grabbing the neck will put your wrist at odd angles and cause you to strain and use more force than is required. It will make it harder to move up to the next position. Cupping the neck will allow you to glide up and down the neck because you aren’t actually holding it with any amount of force.
While it is obviously important to pay attention to your fretting hand when moving up and down the neck, it is also important to pay attention to your picking hand. If one hand is too tense, it affects your overall playing.
This means that if your picking hand is stiff and you are flexing your muscles, you will wind up hindering your fretting hand’s ability to move fluidly. Your limbs work together, so treat them the same; give them even attention and work on keeping both relaxed.
In the end, the only way you will be able to make fluid movements on the neck is by practicing. Try playing simple patterns and scales, and instead of focusing on speed, focus on using as little effort as possible. Have fun, and stay aware of your form!
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