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Thread: technique slowdown due to long absences of guitar playing?

  1. #1
    Registered User satch_master's Avatar
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    technique slowdown due to long absences of guitar playing?

    ok , i was just wondering if you guys dont play guitar for an extended period of time(i.e a week or so) do your fingers slow down because they havent been practised and exercised daily on sweeps, legato, economy and most shred type exercises. i always have this weird spooky idea in my mind that if i dont play regulary( i.e at least an hour or 2 hours a day) im gonna loose all my skill(which aint much anyway) that i have worked hard 4. sometimes ill spend hours till late at night nailing licks , solos, general shred stuff and wont want to go to bed just incase when i wake up my fingers wont be able to play it anymore.scary stuff.this is a good thing in that it motivates me to play and practise more but it also drives me crazy. after being busy with uni and stuff i hadent played much guitar lately , yesterday i picked up guitar after about 4-5 days break no playing and i wasent slower , infact i was faster and more pationate since i had not made love to my instrument for several days. so that relieved me of my insecurities a bit. i have come to the conclusion, what you gain is yours to keep but maintaining it and improving it is a must to get better. .. thoughts? comments?

    ps: im trying to tone down my swearing, arrogance and using better english language.

  2. #2
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    Well, I have gone through several periods where I wasnīt able to play for a couple of days. A week and a half in the hospital, a vacation, a period where I didnīt feel like playing etc. It happens.
    And when that happened the first time, in my teens, I was probably just as concerned about it as you are. Itīs actually not unusual to be afraid of that.
    However, when it did happen, I figured out that after such an abscence, I hadnīt lost anything really. My playing was sloppier, my hands maybe were kind of outta synch, but after an extended practicing session, it felt as if I was back at the point I was at before the break.
    Of course, it depends on the person, and on how much of a break you take ( or how long you are forced to take a break ), but I have talked to several other players who all said the same thing. To quote my friend Tommy: "You might start to be sloppy and outta synch, but if you sit down and practice hard for a few hours, youīll be back to where you were".
    So you shouldnīt be too concerned. Itīs very cool that youīre that motivated, but if there is a time where you canīt or donīt want to play ( believe me, that ainīt unusual, and itīs not a bad thing either to get away from it once in a while ), you will be able to get back to your previous level with some practicing.
    There even is some kind of "phenomenon" where, if you donīt play for a few days and then pick up the guitar again, everything seems to be easier. This lasts for about an hour or two. I have had that several times... for an hour or two, I was able to surpass my top speed and play faster than before while being more relaxed. And I am not the only one who has that, I heard several people talk about it, mentioning it.
    Anyway, in a nutshell: it might mess up your precision a bit, but that can be easily fixed with some focussed practicing.
    Eric

    NP: Kiko Loureiro - No Gravity

  3. #3
    Jazz Apprentice Factor's Avatar
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    Well, if you have a strict practice schedule of up to two hours a day, I bet you'll see some improvement if you leave the guitar for a couple of days. This will give your muscles in your fingers the time to rest and recouperate (sp?). I've heard of many artists who don't practice the day before a gig. They play through the stuff, but they don't practice.

    Of course, you won't get any better if you never play! But muscles need rest once in a while, because you are actually destroying them when you are practicing (this is the aching after a practice session), so that they may rebuild stronger.

  4. #4
    Aspiring Virtuoso
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    yes i agree with you to a certain extent. i remember when i was learning a song by vai. i pretty much nailed it but i went on holiday for about 1 week. after that holiday i returned back to by guitar to play that piece that i learned. but wait........I COULD NOT DO IT!when it came to the intricate hard bit with distorion my RH sort of 'forgot' the distance between the strings when switching between them (inside-outside) and i could not perform the solo!!.


    its ok tho, i remember after 2 hours practice my RH got adjusted to the distance between the strings and all was back to normal.

    its all about muscle memory IMO. there are literally milimeters between those strings and you RH has not got to waste ANY motion than it needs to when goingat those blazing speeds .

  5. #5
    IbreatheMusic Author Bizarro's Avatar
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    In the short term you shouldn't have a problem. Over a period of several years you will see a degradation in technique if you don't maintain a rigorous practice schedule.

    That's a huge problem for me. At different points in my life I've had great technique in classical, fingerstyle, jazz (comping), blues (SRV-style), rock, 80's shred, and so on. Now that I have kids/wife/house/career/etc, I only have time to maintain decent technique in one or two styles. And I mean decent, not great, technique. It is very frustrating at times, because occasionally some magic happens and my chops are back to where they used to be for a gig and I really burn , but then it goes away.
    -Bizarro
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by satch_master
    ok , i was just wondering if you guys dont play guitar for an extended period of time(i.e a week or so) do your fingers slow down because they havent been practised and exercised daily on sweeps, legato, economy and most shred type exercises.
    Just to make it short...thatīs exactly what happens!

    If youīre playing guitar on a high technical level you have to practice every day to keep the level.

    Itīs not like you loose your chops when you havenīt played for a week or two (once you know how to ride a bike you donīt forget that either) but you definitely slow down and (speaking for myself) loose the coordination between your left and right hand a bit.

    Compare it to sports: You canīt run a 100m world championship if you havenīt trained and warmed up properly...

    Thatīs the shredders tragedy: Weīre doomed to play forever! (or join a new metal band...)

    Cheers
    TK

  7. #7
    fan of the G string curiousgeorge's Avatar
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    If you absolutely cannot play, then be a virtual player! Visualize your chords, arpeggios, scales and finger exercises and you will be well prepared when you next pick up the instrument. Also, don't forget to virtual noodle!

  8. #8
    Registered User satch_master's Avatar
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    n

    Quote Originally Posted by curiousgeorge
    If you absolutely cannot play, then be a virtual player! Visualize your chords, arpeggios, scales and finger exercises and you will be well prepared when you next pick up the instrument. Also, don't forget to virtual noodle!
    no, it's got nothing to do with memorising scales, chords etc. or improving my thoery its simply a matter of physical technique im taLking about.

  9. #9
    Aspiring Virtuoso
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    yes it is the physical technique.


    you do degrade slightly as i mentioned in the above post. but your hands will remember really quikly how to sweep etc. it will take a few hours to 'get back into it' if you have been away from your guitar for 1-2 weeks.

    and for more than 1-2 weeks.....well......i have never done that before . lucky me!

  10. #10
    Registered User satch_master's Avatar
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    yeah thats why people like satch, playing gigs every night or so, even if they dont have time to practise and stuff they still get the fingers rolling when they gig. like me i just play in my room, no band or stuff like that, so i must make time to play. yeah i agree, if you wanna play instensive guitar you gotta maintain it. sometimes i wish i just became an acoustic chord player, like the ones busking in the city, lol, cause then you can not play for ages and still be as good as you were before. also , mentaly some days, im pissed off i wont play good but on other days im really energetic and happy and in a good mood, thus my playing is better.

    Bizarro- i feel so sorrrrry 4 u man. im very sympathetic to your loss. now i know in advance not to have kids, not get married and stay unemployed if you wanna be a good guitarist . lol thats the life. sit at home all day and shred away.

  11. #11
    fan of the G string curiousgeorge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by satch_master
    no, it's got nothing to do with memorising scales, chords etc. or improving my thoery its simply a matter of physical technique im taLking about.
    I was referring to the physical aspect as well. If you are away from your guitar, and you visualize yourself playing a difficult piece of music (finger positions, effortless execution etc...), you will be better prepared to tackle the piece when you return to the guitar. Just look at pro slalom ski racers for example. Ever notice how they have their eyes closed just before the gates open, visualizing skiing the run below perfectly and effortlessly? It really does help!

  12. #12
    IbreatheMusic Author Bizarro's Avatar
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    satch, I made the decision knowing full well what I was getting in to! Don't worry about me! LOL I'm going to train my little girls to be shredders!
    -Bizarro
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  13. #13
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    Well, as I've just come back of a weeks hol with no playing... I can safely say yes I am slower and have lost some co-ordination between left and right.

    Like Bizarro though I have to strike a balance between keeping the family happy and being the best guitar player I can be. last night I wanted to play all night really, but the Mrs wanted to watch a film so I did that instead and don't worry LOL, I do enjoy spending time with her too!

    I fully intend to play as much as I can to day to make it back up again. but the reality is there is a limit now which i know i probably can't get past because I do need to keep my kids and wife happy too!

    But again like Bizarro I fully intend to ensure the kids play guitar too!!!

    ...Although my lil girl really looks as though she's gonna be more of a drummer

  14. #14
    Registered User satch_master's Avatar
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    yeah take out sleeping(cant play to your best ability if your tired mentaly and physicall), working(you cant buy more guitars if you dont work) and all other **** in life like friends and stuff there really aint a lot of time to play guitar. but i simply just play whenever i feel like it rather then forcing it on myself and saying i have to play X amounts of hours per day. no, infact i play better when i actually feel like playing. like yesterday i was in a big shred mood and spent hours learnign some malmsteen songs. some days i might not feel like playing or im tired so ill come back to it. but getting into the mood of regular practise is still essential. As soon as guitar starts becoming a chore to practise and maintain then its time to seriously question your dedication. Thats why i play the music i enjoy playing most and not overloading myself with too much thoery at one time cause ill probably just burn out.

  15. #15
    Kiwi Soundie mantermite's Avatar
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    Well I haven't been playing as much as I used to for the past year or so and I am getting back into more of a steady regime of playing every day. I have a major loss in coordination but after a good stretching and mental focus I can see some of my old playing poke through. My improvisation is at a major loss though, but I am thinking things through differently and playing a slightly different. Damn those alien abductions!
    Weeeooor widdle widdle pingggiiioooooo fnar.

    Now I will play it without my teeth

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