Guitar is just nothing but frustration 24/7

Dan Shipway

Garage band Groupie
  • Nov 11, 2019
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    Over the years I have been playing guitar I have become very aware of the problems I have when playing guitar but no matter how hard I try or how many hours I put into watching YouTube videos on the issues nothing seems to get better. It's getting to the point where I dont want to play because its just a constant loop of "wake up, try to play something, fumble around because my technique is horse sh*t and then go to sleep feeling like im making no progress and wasting my time"

    I do have a personal guitar teacher which has helped a lot but outside of lessons it can be difficult to maintain progress

    The issues I find are:

    When I get to the E and A strings when trying to pick lead lines my wrist is practically at a 90 degree angle to my arm and there is a lot of tension in my shoulder as there is no support for my arm as the strings are so close to my body. I have had some success with moving my arm instead of relying on my wrist for all the movement as the natural curvature of the wrist motion is what creates the awkward angles on higher strings.

    When I am picking, the strings seem to be immovable, with every stroke it feels as though the pick is having to work unnecessarily hard to push through as apposed to a gliding motion that I see people like syn possess.

    Following on from the gliding motion, I find with my picking that the motion of picking in general (because of the reason above) is very jerky. Going across strings foes not feel like a smooth movement, instead every string feels like its disconnected from each other and there are large jumps required to get to each string.

    I constantly change picking positions and styles based on what strings I am playing due to discomfort and its difficult to find one that works across all strings

    Lastly, I find that my fingers tend to uncurl themselves or move about when playing which is less than Ideal

    Does anyone have any tips because it feels as though Im wasting my time trying to learn as I have made as I haven't made any more progress in the 10 years I have been playing than the first 3.
     
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    Ed Seith

    Supreme Galactic Overlord
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  • Nov 11, 2019
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    Over the years I have been playing guitar I have become very aware of the problems I have when playing guitar but no matter how hard I try or how many hours I put into watching YouTube videos on the issues nothing seems to get better. It's getting to the point where I dont want to play because its just a constant loop of "wake up, try to play something, fumble around because my technique is horse sh*t and then go to sleep feeling like im making no progress and wasting my time"
    I understand, and you're not alone. Sometimes when you can't overcome an obstacle, you have to look for new or different solutions/approaches. A different teacher may help, or looking into some courses about pick mechanics. Troy Grady gets into so much detail that is can be overwhelming, but I find Ben Higgins to be excellent in this area. He also says a lot of things to try to inspire you.


    If you pay for some of the gym courses, you get the real exercises and detailed explanations and gotchas. Look into him.

    I do have a personal guitar teacher but I haven't been able to resolve my issues through going to the lessons so here I am asking for advice.

    The issues I find are:

    When I get to the E and A strings when trying to pick lead lines my wrist is practically at a 90 degree angle to my arm and there is a lot of tension in my shoulder as there is no support for my arm as the strings are so close to my body. I have had some success with moving my arm instead of relying on my wrist for all the movement as the natural curvature of the wrist motion is what creates the awkward angles on higher strings.

    My first thought here is that you may need to lower your strap? Not Hetfield low, but a little lower might help you with location and pivot. Worth an experiment.

    When I am picking, the strings seem to be immovable, with every stroke it feels as though the pick is having to work unnecessarily hard to push through as apposed to a gliding motion that I see people like syn possess.

    There used to be a pick that was made for this. It was called the stylus, and it forced you to ONLY used the very tip of the pick, or it would completely fuck everything up. If you can't "move through the string," then you're either putting too much pick below the string, or gripping the pick a little to hard.

    Following on from the gliding motion, I find with my picking that the motion of picking in general (because of the reason above) is very jerky. Going across strings foes not feel like a smooth movement, instead every string feels like its disconnected from each other and there are large jumps required to get to each string.

    I constantly change picking positions and styles based on what strings I am playing due to discomfort and its difficult to find one that works across all strings

    Lastly, I find that my fingers tend to uncurl themselves or move about when playing which is less than Ideal

    Meh. I can't play with my fingers curled AT ALL. They are always fanned out and usually muting the higher strings. "Less than ideal" is from some peoples' point of view. In the holding the pick lesson, PG shows us how Syn holds the pick, and then goes on to say he can't even pretend that feels right for him (IIRC). Me too. If I try to hold the pick like Syn, I can't even find the damn strings with my pick. It's a total non-starter. There are as many workable ways to hold the pick as there are players. Being comfortable and not hurting yourself are #1.

    Does anyone have any tips because it feels as though Im wasting my time trying to learn as I have made as I haven't made any more progress in the 10 years I have been playing than the first 3.

    Progress is not a linear thing, especially with ANYTHING related to learning. I'm 51 years old. I learned more in my first 10 years on this earth than in the 41 that followed, and it just keeps slowing down. Partly because I'm old and falling apart, but mostly because in the beginning, EVERYTHING is new and learning. The more you learn, the harder it is to learn more.

    Hang in there, bud. We like having you here, and even if you never get any better than you are now, you're still a guitar player, which is a fuck of a lot better than most people can claim in their pathetic useless lives. :cool:
     
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    Dan Shipway

    Garage band Groupie
  • Nov 11, 2019
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    Thanks for everything Ed, there is so much useful advice here! I will admit I am harsh on myself and probably more than I need to be. Guitar for me has always been more about getting good than having fun because it was something that always gave me a sense of achievement and that kept me going so it can be very stressful at times when it feels like nothing is being achieved but all these tips are sure to help!
     
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    Arsia Rose

    New Student
    Jul 17, 2021
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    I'd like to say it would be best if you uploaded a video so we can truly hear you describe your frustrations with a guitar in your hand and demonstrate it. Ultimately, it sounds like changing what type of pick you use and your technique will be really great for you. Also you need a new teacher if your current teacher can't help you figure out your problems. If you upload a video I'd love to take a look at it.
     
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    Dan Shipway

    Garage band Groupie
  • Nov 11, 2019
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    Sure thing! I will be able to share one tomorrow as I have a pretty busy evening. On the topic of teachers I guess I didn't word it as well as I could've as I get lots of valuable information from being taught by them but it can be tough not having something to go to day in and day out for reference as I am taught weekly. Perhaps I will try to see about doing 2 a week to see if it helps with more consistent progress as I feel I make progress in lessons but struggle out of them
     
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    devil'slittlesister

    Stairway to Heaven Tab Studier
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  • Dec 13, 2020
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    Hi Dan! I'm sorry you're so frustrated. Although Ed covered pretty much everything (hail Ed), just gonna share my thoughts too. I definitely agree with it sounding like your strap being lower and changing how you hold your pick hopefully will help a lot. Also, I like to start off practicing by playing some scales and riffs etc. that I have already mastered- so I don't go into playing and immediately be like "oh shit I suckkk". Lastly and kind of a weird tip but I used to have a hard time with steel strings and it frustrated me a lot- so I started practicing on a nylon string guitar i had for a while- so I could learn without being focused on my problem with the strings. Then I would switch back over and practice the new things I learned while being able to put the majority of my attention on tackling my string related hindrances. I'm glad you're here, and im glad you said something. 🖤🤟🏻
     
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    Calvin Phillips

    Music Theory Bragger
    Nov 11, 2019
    2,408
    1,665
    Over the years I have been playing guitar I have become very aware of the problems I have when playing guitar but no matter how hard I try or how many hours I put into watching YouTube videos on the issues nothing seems to get better. It's getting to the point where I dont want to play because its just a constant loop of "wake up, try to play something, fumble around because my technique is horse sh*t and then go to sleep feeling like im making no progress and wasting my time"

    I do have a personal guitar teacher which has helped a lot but outside of lessons it can be difficult to maintain progress

    The issues I find are:

    When I get to the E and A strings when trying to pick lead lines my wrist is practically at a 90 degree angle to my arm and there is a lot of tension in my shoulder as there is no support for my arm as the strings are so close to my body. I have had some success with moving my arm instead of relying on my wrist for all the movement as the natural curvature of the wrist motion is what creates the awkward angles on higher strings.

    When I am picking, the strings seem to be immovable, with every stroke it feels as though the pick is having to work unnecessarily hard to push through as apposed to a gliding motion that I see people like syn possess.

    Following on from the gliding motion, I find with my picking that the motion of picking in general (because of the reason above) is very jerky. Going across strings foes not feel like a smooth movement, instead every string feels like its disconnected from each other and there are large jumps required to get to each string.

    I constantly change picking positions and styles based on what strings I am playing due to discomfort and its difficult to find one that works across all strings

    Lastly, I find that my fingers tend to uncurl themselves or move about when playing which is less than Ideal

    Does anyone have any tips because it feels as though Im wasting my time trying to learn as I have made as I haven't made any more progress in the 10 years I have been playing than the first 3.
    This may be easier to understand with a video.
     
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    Arsia Rose

    New Student
    Jul 17, 2021
    10
    30
    Los Angeles
    10
    Sure thing! I will be able to share one tomorrow as I have a pretty busy evening. On the topic of teachers I guess I didn't word it as well as I could've as I get lots of valuable information from being taught by them but it can be tough not having something to go to day in and day out for reference as I am taught weekly. Perhaps I will try to see about doing 2 a week to see if it helps with more consistent progress as I feel I make progress in lessons but struggle out of them
    Have you brought these exact complaints to your teacher? If so what did they recommend? I look forward to your video
     
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    Chris Johnston

    Music Theory Bragger
  • Nov 11, 2019
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    Hey man! I'm sorry to hear you're feeling this way, but I can empathise for sure.

    In times like this you have to remember that there's no deadline to have 'perfect' technique.

    If it's any consolation, I feel like I've only figured out an alternate picking style that really works for me this year, and I've been trying to find it for 16 years. It's been a process of continual trial and error.

    Reading what's happening without seeing a video of you playing, It sounds like you could be gripping the pick slightly tighter than you need to, and also possibly using too much pick, while pushing from your elbow. All of these things will result in the strings essentially feeling like a brick wall, which in turn will tire out whichever part of your arm or wrist you rely on to pick. The forearm is a big heavy limb, and the strings are very thin. So mostly the wrist is the ticket to what you want 😊

    Keeping your fingers tucked or not is personal preference, but as long as you're playing without loads of pick sticking out you'll be fine.

    One tip I'd reccomend is to make sure your right hand is relaxed - Like really relaxed! One thing I've been doing is letting my shoulder relax and totally decompress, then just moving my wrist as if my forearm doesn't even exist, then listening to the results and adjusting based on what sounds and feels like I could do it for an extended period of time. The minute I feel any burn or tension, I stop, relax and retry. Doing this will stop the temptation to get the whole forearm involved and start building the quick, controlled muscle groups within the wrist.

    Probably the most important tip I'd give is a mental one: the perception of what you feel like you should be able to do right now is what's frustrating you. If you can't do it yet, it's completely normal. If you see it in a negative light it will always be something you're competing against rather than working with. So whenever you start to feel that frustration, just remember that the more relaxed your mindset is, the more you're going to take in and learn regarding your technique, the more relaxed your whole body will be and the further you'll progress towards what you want to do.

    Hope this helps! 😊
     
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    Arsia Rose

    New Student
    Jul 17, 2021
    10
    30
    Los Angeles
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    apologies in advanced for all the random blank moments, im not the most confident when it comes to talking
    I don't know how often you hold your guitar on your leg the way you do, but that thing is leaning so badly. What I mean, is that it looks like it's starting to slide forward on your thigh like it's trying to eventually lay flat. This slight slant in your guitar could possibly be making your wrist naturally do the "rolling" motion as mentioned in the beginning in order to accommodate to the slant of the guitar, especially with how you demonstrated what your wrist actually does. I would also blame the slanting and angle of the guitar's face to the second problem. You said that your arm tends to "lock up" when you get to the low E string on a descending scale, and with the angle of the face of the guitar, I tried to replicate what you did and it does seem to get a little locked up for me too because your wrist gets closer to your body therefor it has less room. Your whole right shoulder looks lifted, tense, and locked. If you look at your wrist at 1:10 you can see the tension. And with your last situation, where you feel like you're not just flowing on through the next phrase, that to me seems like a tension issue again.

    You shouldn't have much tension in your arm when you play sitting down. Of course there's going to be a little. But to me it sounds like you're really needing to focus on your right hand and breathing and relaxing and just trying to get your technique down better. And I mean your technique as to not tense up. Everything you're mentioning sounds like a really bad tension problem. It also sounds like to me what you should do, if you haven't done it yet, is to really sit down with your guitar and slowly work on these problems. It may take hours and weeks but if they're your problem spots they should be taking the spotlight in your practice routine.

    Spend time with yourself feeling out your muscles and body when you play. Practice in front of a mirror to watch your arm and wrist. The more time you spend slowly feeling every road bump and trying to smooth it out, it'll help.

    But then again, I'm not a teacher it's just what I noticed. Hopefully you can get a hold of your teacher and get some professional feedback on this. Thank you for sharing your video and I hope you progress on this.
     
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    Calvin Phillips

    Music Theory Bragger
    Nov 11, 2019
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    The things i mentioned could be forced due to your guitar positioning as arsia said. So id maybe look into that too. Maybe loook for a wider guitar that doesn't force your body so forward to practice with. I think my avenger/revenger shape really helped my arm positioning. But ill be the first to also tell you my technique isnt even close to 100% its definitely gotten better over the past two years here. Youll find your answers here and youll soon get it figured out. 👍
     
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    Kyle Roberts

    Music Theory Bragger
    Nov 11, 2019
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    I understand, and you're not alone. Sometimes when you can't overcome an obstacle, you have to look for new or different solutions/approaches. A different teacher may help, or looking into some courses about pick mechanics. Troy Grady gets into so much detail that is can be overwhelming, but I find Ben Higgins to be excellent in this area. He also says a lot of things to try to inspire you.


    If you pay for some of the gym courses, you get the real exercises and detailed explanations and gotchas. Look into him.



    My first thought here is that you may need to lower your strap? Not Hetfield low, but a little lower might help you with location and pivot. Worth an experiment.



    There used to be a pick that was made for this. It was called the stylus, and it forced you to ONLY used the very tip of the pick, or it would completely fuck everything up. If you can't "move through the string," then you're either putting too much pick below the string, or gripping the pick a little to hard.



    Meh. I can't play with my fingers curled AT ALL. They are always fanned out and usually muting the higher strings. "Less than ideal" is from some peoples' point of view. In the holding the pick lesson, PG shows us how Syn holds the pick, and then goes on to say he can't even pretend that feels right for him (IIRC). Me too. If I try to hold the pick like Syn, I can't even find the damn strings with my pick. It's a total non-starter. There are as many workable ways to hold the pick as there are players. Being comfortable and not hurting yourself are #1.



    Progress is not a linear thing, especially with ANYTHING related to learning. I'm 51 years old. I learned more in my first 10 years on this earth than in the 41 that followed, and it just keeps slowing down. Partly because I'm old and falling apart, but mostly because in the beginning, EVERYTHING is new and learning. The more you learn, the harder it is to learn more.

    Hang in there, bud. We like having you here, and even if you never get any better than you are now, you're still a guitar player, which is a fuck of a lot better than most people can claim in their pathetic useless lives. :cool:
    This may be one of the most detailed responses ive ever seen. Awesome to see someone provide so much useful feedback and provide other examples to help people out thanks for all the info and kind words for everyone to share.
     
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    Dan Shipway

    Garage band Groupie
  • Nov 11, 2019
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    I think I may have sorted the issue with tensing up when playing the low E and A strings. I watched a few videos on the matter but the breakthrough came when I was playing chords and I noticed that when playing lead I anchor with the fleshy area beneath my thumb which is why I was rolling when i got to the bottom two strings as the body was supporting my picking hand. I never realised it until i went back to lead playing but i have changed the way I pick and now rest and pivot solely on the side of my hand which is placed around the bridge PU and the bridge itself. It is definitely a lot easier and allows for more precision and is way less awkward than before!
     
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    Dan Shipway

    Garage band Groupie
  • Nov 11, 2019
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    As I am slowly analysing where the tension lies in my body when playing guitar, I noticed that my shoulder is a large source of tension and pain. The main problem with this is that whilst my wrist has quite a lot of movement, my elbow and shoulder feel locked up.

    This is mainly due to the way my arm comes over the guitar, I am really struggling to find position that feels comfortable. Its not so much of an issue when Im standing but when I’m sitting it feels like Im having to a lot of muscles to hold my arm in place which is leading to shoulder pain and elbow tension which is amplified when Im on the low strings and have to move my arm/elbow further towards me to hit the E,A and D strings but is present when playing all strings. I find its less of an issue when playing chords as its more loose and weaker pick strokes but where the picking needs to be tighter and across 1 or two strings it begins to tighten as I have to be more precise

    If anyone has tips on how to reduce or resolve the tension it would be much appreciated. I had considered getting help with trying to reduce tension in my body from professionals as I do struggle with posture and relaxing muscles outside just playing guitar so it may be worth doing that

    A minor issue i found is that my guitar can sometimes move around on my leg a bit as I play so if anyone has additional tips on how to keep it in position that would be a huge help too
     
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