Left hand fatigue

Guitar Tricks Forum > Technique and Style > Left hand fatigue

jdw5cy

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Joined: 02/06/19

Posts: 1

My left hand middle finger tends to bend down (almost tucking itself under the bottom edge of the neck) as I play, especially when I am playing power chords and moving quickly across the fretboard. I feel that it is due to the increased pressure that I am applying with my other fingers to keep a clean tone while playing the chords across the fretboard. I know I should keep my left hand as relaxed as possible while playing and it seems like every other guitarist does it so naturally, but no matter how hard I try, my middle finger keeps bending down. I have noticed that this creates a lot of tension in my left hand, especially at the joints of my other fingers. It also causes my forearm to get fatigued after a couple of minutes of playing which prevents me from fingering the chords cleanly. I have no problem keeping my hand/fingers relaxed while playing open chords or individual notes.

I have tried playing songs slower so I can focus on my left hand positioning, but my finger starts bending down as soon as I speed back up. I have also tried to concentrate on keeping my middle finger straight as I am playing fast, but that makes my technique even worse because I am focusing relaxing my finger rather than applying appropriate pressure to the other strings; it also makes my forearm fatigue even faster since the struggle between flexing and extending my finger is using opposing muscle groups.

Does anyone know of any exercises that I can practice to help train my middle finger to remain straight while playing at faster speeds? Should I just go back to playing everything slow until my fingers get used to applying pressure to the strings without my middle finger bending?

Thanks!

#1

My left hand middle finger tends to bend down (almost tucking itself under the bottom edge of the neck) as I play, especially when I am playing power chords and moving quickly across the fretboard. I feel that it is due to the increased pressure that I am applying with my other fingers to keep a clean tone while playing the chords across the fretboard. I know I should keep my left hand as relaxed as possible while playing and it seems like every other guitarist does it so naturally, but no matter how hard I try, my middle finger keeps bending down. I have noticed that this creates a lot of tension in my left hand, especially at the joints of my other fingers. It also causes my forearm to get fatigued after a couple of minutes of playing which prevents me from fingering the chords cleanly. I have no problem keeping my hand/fingers relaxed while playing open chords or individual notes.

I have tried playing songs slower so I can focus on my left hand positioning, but my finger starts bending down as soon as I speed back up. I have also tried to concentrate on keeping my middle finger straight as I am playing fast, but that makes my technique even worse because I am focusing relaxing my finger rather than applying appropriate pressure to the other strings; it also makes my forearm fatigue even faster since the struggle between flexing and extending my finger is using opposing muscle groups.

Does anyone know of any exercises that I can practice to help train my middle finger to remain straight while playing at faster speeds? Should I just go back to playing everything slow until my fingers get used to applying pressure to the strings without my middle finger bending?

Thanks!

Guitar Tricks Admin

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Joined: 09/28/05

Posts: 2324

Hi jdw5cy,

Learning guitar is going to be different for everyone and it seems like you have a common problem. A lot of the times our fingers just don't work the way we want them to, especially when we're trying to learn a new skill or song riff, etc.

My advice is to simply practice slowly, and make sure your fingers are sticking straight up off the fretboard, as much as possible, without straining your wrist.

In order to do this, you'll have to just go slow unti you build that muscle memory and those good habbits. Start slow, and then increase the speed at which you're playing these chords gradually.

Also, if you feel like you have to press down on the strings really hard, you may have your string tension too high. You can always try adjusting the strings so that the action is lower. The action is the distance between the strings and the frets. The lower the action, the less pressure you'll have to use to play something and have it come out clean. Here's a great lesson on pressing too hard from Caren, check it out: https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=20481&s_id=1624

And of course, always reference the Guitar Fundamentals course from Lisa here: https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=22138&s_id=1777

I hope this helps!

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact us.

#2

Hi jdw5cy,

Learning guitar is going to be different for everyone and it seems like you have a common problem. A lot of the times our fingers just don't work the way we want them to, especially when we're trying to learn a new skill or song riff, etc.

My advice is to simply practice slowly, and make sure your fingers are sticking straight up off the fretboard, as much as possible, without straining your wrist.

In order to do this, you'll have to just go slow unti you build that muscle memory and those good habbits. Start slow, and then increase the speed at which you're playing these chords gradually.

Also, if you feel like you have to press down on the strings really hard, you may have your string tension too high. You can always try adjusting the strings so that the action is lower. The action is the distance between the strings and the frets. The lower the action, the less pressure you'll have to use to play something and have it come out clean. Here's a great lesson on pressing too hard from Caren, check it out: https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=20481&s_id=1624

And of course, always reference the Guitar Fundamentals course from Lisa here: https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=22138&s_id=1777

I hope this helps!

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact us.