Trouble fretting while standing

Guitar Tricks Forum > Guitar Basics > Trouble fretting while standing

martiniconqueso

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Joined: 05/25/21

Posts: 16

I am utterly new to guitar so it's likely I'm just not "getting" something, but anyway - I have some difficulty fretting - specifically changing chords - while standing.

If the guitar is a lever in this scenario, my belly is the fulcrum. It feels as if my strumming/picking arm (my right) presses the body of the guitar back towards me, and levers the neck away from me, while I play.

Hence when I change chords, the neck moves as soon as I release the pressure with my fingers to I move into the next chord. I end up often messing up the change, or going through some seemingly unnecessary contortions with my fretting hand. For example, going from simple Am to simple E I tend to keep my middle finger on the G string until I have my index finger in place. Makes the changes less smooth than it seems like they should be.

I'm not sure what I should do differently with either arm. Hook my thumb over the top of the neck? Lenthen or shorten the strap? Lose some weight?

=Keith

#1

I am utterly new to guitar so it's likely I'm just not "getting" something, but anyway - I have some difficulty fretting - specifically changing chords - while standing.

If the guitar is a lever in this scenario, my belly is the fulcrum. It feels as if my strumming/picking arm (my right) presses the body of the guitar back towards me, and levers the neck away from me, while I play.

Hence when I change chords, the neck moves as soon as I release the pressure with my fingers to I move into the next chord. I end up often messing up the change, or going through some seemingly unnecessary contortions with my fretting hand. For example, going from simple Am to simple E I tend to keep my middle finger on the G string until I have my index finger in place. Makes the changes less smooth than it seems like they should be.

I'm not sure what I should do differently with either arm. Hook my thumb over the top of the neck? Lenthen or shorten the strap? Lose some weight?

=Keith

jimmypagewaanabe

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Joined: 06/14/21

Posts: 4

The good news Keith that is has not a lot to do with weight ...unless you stomach effects you guitar beyond the capability of the strap. If you are new to guitar finger tiredness, cramp especially with barre chords is very common. Having issues playing clearly over a long period of time is very common. You are still building up a very specific type of muscle memory and you body needs to get "game fit".

To master you Rock God stance while standing up you probably need to have a look at the mechanics of you fretting hand (Im assuming left ...but either way the issues are just the same). When you sit down, with the guitar on your knee, your wrist ( the angle of your forearm compared to the back of you hand will be minimal and you fingers wrap around to the frett board. When you play individual notes (especially on the G,Band E strings) your wrist will probablly flatten slightly more.

If you sling your guitar like Slash (all low hung) you may find that you have to bend you wrist to be able to fret notes correctly (Because you have to reach down, to the neck, then curve you wrist around)..

The possible solution to this is, at least for now, bring your guitar up higher. This may mean shortening the strap or moving the head of the guitar up towards your head rather than parallell with the ground. A combination of both can be good. Depending on how new you are, playing clear notes while comfortable, however, is much more important. So don't be frustrated it's very common. It all takes time but you will get there :)

PS Im no expert but thats my 2 cents worth.

#2

The good news Keith that is has not a lot to do with weight ...unless you stomach effects you guitar beyond the capability of the strap. If you are new to guitar finger tiredness, cramp especially with barre chords is very common. Having issues playing clearly over a long period of time is very common. You are still building up a very specific type of muscle memory and you body needs to get "game fit".

To master you Rock God stance while standing up you probably need to have a look at the mechanics of you fretting hand (Im assuming left ...but either way the issues are just the same). When you sit down, with the guitar on your knee, your wrist ( the angle of your forearm compared to the back of you hand will be minimal and you fingers wrap around to the frett board. When you play individual notes (especially on the G,Band E strings) your wrist will probablly flatten slightly more.

If you sling your guitar like Slash (all low hung) you may find that you have to bend you wrist to be able to fret notes correctly (Because you have to reach down, to the neck, then curve you wrist around)..

The possible solution to this is, at least for now, bring your guitar up higher. This may mean shortening the strap or moving the head of the guitar up towards your head rather than parallell with the ground. A combination of both can be good. Depending on how new you are, playing clear notes while comfortable, however, is much more important. So don't be frustrated it's very common. It all takes time but you will get there :)

PS Im no expert but thats my 2 cents worth.

ChristopherSchlegel

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 08/09/05

Posts: 7137

Originally Posted by: martiniconqueso

I am utterly new to guitar so it's likely I'm just not "getting" something, but anyway - I have some difficulty fretting - specifically changing chords - while standing.

What kind of guitar? Have you tried adusting the strap?

Originally Posted by: martiniconqueso
[/p]

If the guitar is a lever in this scenario, my belly is the fulcrum. It feels as if my strumming/picking arm (my right) presses the body of the guitar back towards me, and levers the neck away from me, while I play.

I think some or all of this is simply too much tension in your technique.

Your posture, arms & hands & all your motions should be as relaxed & minimal as possible. Rest your arm lightly on the the guitar body. So lightly that it won't move the guitar around very much or at all. This is where proper strap adjustment can help. You are aiming for the guitar to remain almost if not completely stationary.

I describe & demonstrate good posture & mechanics in this video. I'm sitting, but it's the exact same principle.

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=13958

Originally Posted by: martiniconqueso
For example, going from simple Am to simple E I tend to keep my middle finger on the G string until I have my index finger in place. Makes the changes less smooth than it seems like they should be.

The motions required to play guitar are very minimal. Finger placement during chord changes need to be as simulataneous as possible. In order to do them quickly and efficiently you need to repeat them slowly & correctly as many times as necessary to get them into muscle memory.

Form A minor chord. Strum once.

Change completely to E chord. Strum once.

Repeat slowly until you get it all done smoothly & with minimal motion.

Gradually speed up once you've got the right motions down!

Hope that helps!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

#3

Originally Posted by: martiniconqueso

I am utterly new to guitar so it's likely I'm just not "getting" something, but anyway - I have some difficulty fretting - specifically changing chords - while standing.

What kind of guitar? Have you tried adusting the strap?

Originally Posted by: martiniconqueso
[/p]

If the guitar is a lever in this scenario, my belly is the fulcrum. It feels as if my strumming/picking arm (my right) presses the body of the guitar back towards me, and levers the neck away from me, while I play.

I think some or all of this is simply too much tension in your technique.

Your posture, arms & hands & all your motions should be as relaxed & minimal as possible. Rest your arm lightly on the the guitar body. So lightly that it won't move the guitar around very much or at all. This is where proper strap adjustment can help. You are aiming for the guitar to remain almost if not completely stationary.

I describe & demonstrate good posture & mechanics in this video. I'm sitting, but it's the exact same principle.

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=13958

Originally Posted by: martiniconqueso
For example, going from simple Am to simple E I tend to keep my middle finger on the G string until I have my index finger in place. Makes the changes less smooth than it seems like they should be.

The motions required to play guitar are very minimal. Finger placement during chord changes need to be as simulataneous as possible. In order to do them quickly and efficiently you need to repeat them slowly & correctly as many times as necessary to get them into muscle memory.

Form A minor chord. Strum once.

Change completely to E chord. Strum once.

Repeat slowly until you get it all done smoothly & with minimal motion.

Gradually speed up once you've got the right motions down!

Hope that helps!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

martiniconqueso

Full Access

Joined: 05/25/21

Posts: 16

Originally Posted by: ChristopherSchlegel
Originally Posted by: martiniconqueso

I am utterly new to guitar so it's likely I'm just not "getting" something, but anyway - I have some difficulty fretting - specifically changing chords - while standing.

What kind of guitar? Have you tried adusting the strap?

It's a hollow body electric. I have tried both lengthening and shortening the strap some.

I think you're right, I seem naturally to want to let my right elbow rest a bit more heavily on the guitar body than I should. Sitting it's no issue, it's only when standing that I lax into the habit.

The video was helpful, thanks. I think I'm also holding it with the neck too parallel to the ground. I'll play around with the posture you describe and see how that works for me. I've also tried to shorten the strap so that I have it at the same length either sitting or standing.

=Keith

#4

Originally Posted by: ChristopherSchlegel
Originally Posted by: martiniconqueso

I am utterly new to guitar so it's likely I'm just not "getting" something, but anyway - I have some difficulty fretting - specifically changing chords - while standing.

What kind of guitar? Have you tried adusting the strap?

It's a hollow body electric. I have tried both lengthening and shortening the strap some.

I think you're right, I seem naturally to want to let my right elbow rest a bit more heavily on the guitar body than I should. Sitting it's no issue, it's only when standing that I lax into the habit.

The video was helpful, thanks. I think I'm also holding it with the neck too parallel to the ground. I'll play around with the posture you describe and see how that works for me. I've also tried to shorten the strap so that I have it at the same length either sitting or standing.

=Keith

ChristopherSchlegel

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 08/09/05

Posts: 7137

Originally Posted by: martiniconqueso
It's a hollow body electric. I have tried both lengthening and shortening the strap some.

Got it. Bigger guitars are sometimes a little unwieldy & difficult to handle. Another problem is that some hollow body electrics are very light, but top heavy (mine is!). And that has the unfortunate result of the headstock with all that metal naturally gets pulled down. And if it's a Gibson style guitar with the strap button really close to the body it makes that naturally top heaviness even more pronounced.

Originally Posted by: martiniconqueso
I think you're right, I seem naturally to want to let my right elbow rest a bit more heavily on the guitar body than I should. Sitting it's no issue, it's only when standing that I lax into the habit.

Good to know you've identified possible problem areas to correct.

Originally Posted by: martiniconqueso
The video was helpful, thanks. I think I'm also holding it with the neck too parallel to the ground.

Glad the video helped! Yes, the neck needs to be angled up. In fact I find with my classical guitar & jazz hollow body guitar I need to angle the neck even higher than usual in order to play it comfortably.

Originally Posted by: martiniconqueso
I'll play around with the posture you describe and see how that works for me. I've also tried to shorten the strap so that I have it at the same length either sitting or standing.

Good plan! Please ask more & let me know how it goes as necessary!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

#5

Originally Posted by: martiniconqueso
It's a hollow body electric. I have tried both lengthening and shortening the strap some.

Got it. Bigger guitars are sometimes a little unwieldy & difficult to handle. Another problem is that some hollow body electrics are very light, but top heavy (mine is!). And that has the unfortunate result of the headstock with all that metal naturally gets pulled down. And if it's a Gibson style guitar with the strap button really close to the body it makes that naturally top heaviness even more pronounced.

Originally Posted by: martiniconqueso
I think you're right, I seem naturally to want to let my right elbow rest a bit more heavily on the guitar body than I should. Sitting it's no issue, it's only when standing that I lax into the habit.

Good to know you've identified possible problem areas to correct.

Originally Posted by: martiniconqueso
The video was helpful, thanks. I think I'm also holding it with the neck too parallel to the ground.

Glad the video helped! Yes, the neck needs to be angled up. In fact I find with my classical guitar & jazz hollow body guitar I need to angle the neck even higher than usual in order to play it comfortably.

Originally Posted by: martiniconqueso
I'll play around with the posture you describe and see how that works for me. I've also tried to shorten the strap so that I have it at the same length either sitting or standing.

Good plan! Please ask more & let me know how it goes as necessary!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

Herman10

Registered User

Joined: 12/03/19

Posts: 310

Look at some videos of BB King, he had a big belly and a hollow body guitar and almost always, exept on his later years, played standing up.

#6

Look at some videos of BB King, he had a big belly and a hollow body guitar and almost always, exept on his later years, played standing up.

mjgodin

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Joined: 11/23/19

Posts: 290

Roy Clark did as well. In fact look up a video he did playing "malenguela " (sp) and he even joked that he plays Ovation acoustics because the round belly is similar to his. lol. Then he busts out an unbelievable rendition of the song.

#7

Roy Clark did as well. In fact look up a video he did playing "malenguela " (sp) and he even joked that he plays Ovation acoustics because the round belly is similar to his. lol. Then he busts out an unbelievable rendition of the song.

martiniconqueso

Full Access

Joined: 05/25/21

Posts: 16

I tried to pay closer attention to all of these suggestions since I posted this trhead, and came ot the conclusion that there are two things going on. One was my resting my elbow too heavily on the body of the guitar - somewhat tough to avoid since it's so large. I have to just adjust that posture myself though. The other was the headstock wanting to drop towards the floor the moment I release pressure with my fretting hand. I fixed that by replacing my cheapo nylon strap with a wider leather one.

Thanks for all the advice and suggestions!

=k

=Keith

#8

I tried to pay closer attention to all of these suggestions since I posted this trhead, and came ot the conclusion that there are two things going on. One was my resting my elbow too heavily on the body of the guitar - somewhat tough to avoid since it's so large. I have to just adjust that posture myself though. The other was the headstock wanting to drop towards the floor the moment I release pressure with my fretting hand. I fixed that by replacing my cheapo nylon strap with a wider leather one.

Thanks for all the advice and suggestions!

=k

=Keith

ChristopherSchlegel

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 08/09/05

Posts: 7137

Originally Posted by: martiniconqueso

I tried to pay closer attention to all of these suggestions since I posted this trhead, and came ot the conclusion that there are two things going on. One was my resting my elbow too heavily on the body of the guitar - somewhat tough to avoid since it's so large. I have to just adjust that posture myself though. The other was the headstock wanting to drop towards the floor the moment I release pressure with my fretting hand. I fixed that by replacing my cheapo nylon strap with a wider leather one.

Thanks for the update! Glad you've got it figured out.

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

#9

Originally Posted by: martiniconqueso

I tried to pay closer attention to all of these suggestions since I posted this trhead, and came ot the conclusion that there are two things going on. One was my resting my elbow too heavily on the body of the guitar - somewhat tough to avoid since it's so large. I have to just adjust that posture myself though. The other was the headstock wanting to drop towards the floor the moment I release pressure with my fretting hand. I fixed that by replacing my cheapo nylon strap with a wider leather one.

Thanks for the update! Glad you've got it figured out.

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory