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Thread: building dexterity and hand strength

  1. #1
    Registered User bluecollarman's Avatar
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    building dexterity and hand strength

    What are some good methods to use to build finger dexterity and hand strength?

    I found a book called "Finger Fitnessô: The Art of Finger Control " by Greg Irwin. Have any of seen it, used it, recommend it?

  2. #2
    Central Scrutinizer
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    a few simple thngs

    Ok, a very important (an often overlooked) first step before we even physically play is to stretch out the hands. Itíll serve to warm, limber them and help prevent injury.
    First hold your left arm out locking it at the elbow, palm up as if you were a crossing guard brandishing the halt sign. Now reach over with the fingers of your right hand and GENTLY grab and pull back towards you the fingers of your left hand. (just enough to feel the muscles/tendons and all that other junk in there resist a bit. Hold for 20-30 secs then repeat with the other hand.
    Do this procedure 3 times in each hand. Next grab the thumb of one hand with the other and carefully pull it away and hold. Do same for other hand.
    Ok now one thing I find to be a quick fix is doing a 4-3-2-1 repeating finger pattern on any string/anyplace. Simply pick a spot (preferably someplace u donít need to stretch a lot for like higher up the neck) and put all 4 fingers down (one finger per fret) and slowly (picking down/up) play the 4 th finger note then lift him play 3 rd finger then lift him play 2 nd finger lift him plat first finger Keep Him Down and put all fingers back on strings and repeat over and over non stop till u feel your arm heat up/or wear down. Now your reasonably warmed up. I really prefer warming up by doing stretch chords If I have a lot of time. But since your just starting well keep it simple. This certainly isnít the only way to warm up but for myself that little exercise works best for me as a qiuck fix.
    Next get a metronome, (best advice I could ever give) if u wanna get better u really need one. I outta get royalties for all em Iíve sold.
    Second get your alternate picking together (picking Down/up) Eric did a great job with that so thereís plently of info there so Iím gonna focus on a few exercises for ole fingers.
    Also read all the articals on playing with light fingers as you need to use that concept with the exercises.
    Ok lets start with fingers 1 and 2. Plop em down at say 7 th fret on 6 th string. So your first finger will be at fret 7 put em there pick em then put finger 2 down on 8th fret. Do this 4 times.
    When dropping the 2 nd finger donít lift the 1 st up keep him put (however let go of the pressure in the 1 st finger when 2 nd comes down. This is the tough part but youíll get it if u pay attention to what your hands look at feel like. Also important is watch what happens to the fingers that arenít playing they shouldnít be waving around in sympathetic reaction to the others, they should just hang out nice and relaxed waiting for there turn to fire. Likewise watch what happens to the 2 nd finger when you lift him (donít let him fly away) just lift him enough to clear the string (heíll most likely go further than that but keep him as close as possible. If you find your pinky flying out stiff when you bring the 2 nd finger down your probably not letting go the pressure in the first finger after he plays.
    Ok enough rambling. The next step is to repeat what we just did on all 6 strings (picking down/up) with a slow setting on the metronome say half note = 60 thatís 2 clicks per note ďreally slowĒ once you can do it smoothly speed it up say 4 beats to 64 and try again repeat this until you canít do it correctly any longer or hit 120. Eventually youíll hit 120 and when you do set the metronome back to 60 and play quarter notes. And work those up when you hit 120 move back to 60 and do eighth notes till u hit 120 and then do sixteenth notes at 60. (Donít try that all at once thatís just a overview do what ever u can as well as u can. Youíll sound as you practice. You wanna sound good you gotta produce good sounds when you practice. Thereís no shortcut for this.
    Now the first step would be to do the above using as we stated fingers 1 and 2.
    Do those then do same with fingers 1 and 3 (finger 1 on fret 7 and finger 3 on fret 9)
    Then do it one last time with fingers 1 and 4 (finger 1 on on fret 7 finger 4 on fret 10)
    Once you feel good about this try doing it just 2 times on each string instead of four then only once instead of four. Then try moving down a fret or 2 or 3 till you can do the whole fretboard.
    But Iíd just keep it simple and get the basics first thereís always more to learn later.
    Later you can do same using fingers (2,4)(2,3)(3,4)
    Later still you can do same with 3 finger combinations/then 4 etc.
    But thatís a good start. I know we all wanna come out rippin but first we gotta make sure the cars in proper working order.


    NP-Johnny Winter-"Live/And"
    "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is usually the correct one." William of Occam

  3. #3
    IbreatheMusic Author
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    Realize that dexterity and strength are two different things. Too much muscle can actually limit dexterity. Playing guitar requires very little strenght.

    Here are some comments by jazz bassist Ron Carter:
    Carter, Ron. Interview in Notes and Tones.

    What about your fingers? Do you do any special exercis-es?

    I'm really opposed to specific exercises. You see piano players who sit and tap their fingertips indi-vidually on tabletops all day. You see bass players who take a rubber ball or a hand grip. It may give you strength, but it does not give you control; I may not have the strongest physical hand, but I have the ul-timate control of all my fingers independent of each other. For me the key word is finger control rather that strength. Today bass players have been caught up in raising their strings a little higher than normal to get a bigger sound and make their hands stronger. All it does is make their sound less attractive. It makes the sound much harder, but it tires them quickly.
    Besides, when a string is that taut, it cannot vibrate to its normal length, because the note is physically shorter. The decay period for this note is shorter than if they were to lower the bridge, say, an eighth of an inch. When the string is not so tight, it vibrates much more freely and is much longer. This makes the body of the bass, which is nothing but a big sound chamber, vibrate at much more frequent vibra-tions, so you get a much warmer sound. This is my thing. I try to get as warm a sound as I can and use as little physical effort as possible to produce it.

    It must take some strength.
    Not necessarily. I think it boils down to knowing how much energy it takes to hold the string to the fingerboard without rattling. I call it energy. Energy means a force. If you just drop your arms down and let them relax, you'll feel the gravity pulling your hands down. That's force. That doesn't mean you're strong; it's a natural energy. When you say strength, everybody does this: They clench a fist and get real tense. All you do is get tired.
    I think in terms of the natural energy which is already there, and applying this natural energy to the bass to get the most natural sound I can. Bass players are into the thing of pressing down as hard as they can. Let me give you a little scientific example. Take a twenty-ton TNT explosion: You get X-Y-Z decibels in sound. Now if you take a forty-ton TNT explosion, you only get ten. The bigger the explosion, the more the atoms cancel one another out, so you get a smaller sound effect. Bass players who play so hard with both right and left hands are generally feeding more vibra-tions into the bass than the bass can tolerate. So they just cancel one another out: the sound comes out small-er. The trick is to find at what level of physical energy you can expand to get the maximum sound without overfeeding the bass with these physical vibrations.
    Pound for pound, I'm probably not the strongest physical player, but I'll go out on the limb and say that I doubt there is another player who has more independence and coordination than I have. I dare say that if you could measure my sound vibration against the strongest player, his sound would not match mine in color, in length or in strength. A strong, penetrating sound. Miles is not a very strong player--not like some trumpet players we could think of--but his sound is so intense that it seems stronger than it is. It's incred-ible, man! That's my approach to the instrument, get-ting the most out of it by exerting the minimum physi-cal effort.
    Bass players are required to play all night. You are back there chomping. The piano player lays out and the horn player goes to the bar and has a drink, so the bass player and the drummer got it. There must be some way of performing to your maximum level without having to fall out between sets. I've seen cats do it, and you have, too. They are physically exhausted. I may not work a gig for a month, but because I think in relaxed terms, I can play as long as a bass player who has worked every night for the same period. What I hear I try to match not by overplaying, but by finding how much underplaying I can do and still get the big sound I have been identified with. That's gotten to be my trademark--a big, fat sound. When they start paying bass players by the pound, I start getting worried. Right now it's by the sound, so I have a little while to go.
    pp. 58f.


    Steve
    ________
    Toyrider live
    Last edited by S.Carter; 09-17-2011 at 11:07 AM.

  4. #4
    i Breathe ... Admin Guni's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting that Steve. This is really very nice - I think he says it all.

    Guni
    Please don't email or send me private messages with music related questions as they will be ignored. Rather use the forums for this and I will try my best to take part as much as I can.

  5. #5
    Registered User bluecollarman's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Thanks. Very informative.

    More "not dumb" questions to follow!

  6. #6
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    Not as informative as the previous posts, but I like to use those Chinese balls with the chimes inside them. When I was younger I used golf balls to the same effect. Though the chime-balls are a bit larger and harder to rotate smoothly. It's worked for me for about 15 years.
    Hey, Man, is that Freedom Rock?
    Well, turn it up!

  7. #7
    i Breathe ... Admin Guni's Avatar
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    Could ya pls describe what those Chinese balls did for you? I am just curious .....

    Guni
    Please don't email or send me private messages with music related questions as they will be ignored. Rather use the forums for this and I will try my best to take part as much as I can.

  8. #8
    Registered User bluecollarman's Avatar
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    Yeah, I've often wondered about the usefulness of the Chinese exercise balls.

  9. #9
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    The balls work well for developing controlled hammer-ons ( left hand, clockwise ), and pull-offs ( left hand, counter-clockwise ).
    The majority of the control comes from not letting the balls bang against each other.
    Economy of motion is achieved by learning to rotate them quickly.
    Finger strength can be enhanced by using larger balls that are harder to work with.
    Personally, I like the medium balls.
    Oh, yeah, I'm hyper-active, and the balls giveme something to do with my hands when my guitar is on the other side of the house.
    Hope that helps.
    Hey, Man, is that Freedom Rock?
    Well, turn it up!

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