Feedback request: Fretting and picking hand technique

Hi,
First of all thanks to everyone for this awesome community, specially Troy and his team.

By means of this post I wanted to ask other users for their feedback about my technique, both right and left hand. I’m linking the following videos:

Normal speed - Playing two harmonic minor licks at around 120 bpm

Super Slow-mo

I like rock and pop, and I’ve been playing guitar for 1 year, after a 10 year hiatus, which came after 2 other years playing when I was a teenager. I really want to have a nice technique to play songs from my favorite artistis (Kiko Loureiro and Angra, Dream Theater, John Petrucci) and for versatility.

I’m currently struggling to increase the speed of my picking because of fatigue on my left hand, particularly the pinky. I don’t feel any pain, but my stamina is not higher than 1 minute playing 16th notes at 120-135 bpm. Any advice is warmly welcome.

Thank you in advance.

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Welcome @YoshuaNava! It would be great if you could include the normal speed video as well - slomo is good for looking at fine details, but normal speed is crucial to assess the overall smoothness and sound of your playing.

Regarding the fretting hand you may find these excellent lesson by @Tom_Gilroy useful:

Hi @tommo,
Thank you for your comment and for the reference to Tom Gilroy’s video. I’m watching it right now. As requested I added another video to my original post, normal speed.


An additional aspect I have observed is that most of the fatigue in my hand centers on the area of the flexor/abductor digiti quinti:

This is another video in which I play 16th notes sequences with three fingers at a time (e.g. 5878, 5868, 5767, 857875, 856865, 756765), also at around 120bpm. I can do the index-middle-ring sequence for 2-3 minutes, and the index-X-pinky for 1-2minutes. While playing I’m trying to stay as relaxed as I can, but my ring finger moves when I’m doing sequences with index-middle-pinky, and my pinky finger moves when I do index-middle-ring:

According to this other video, some people don’t have fully independent pinkies:

I’m wondering if my current problem could be related to lack of independence, and the need for developing more stamina on both fingers, because they always sort of move together.

Hi @YoshuaNava.

It’s difficult to give clear, direct advice regarding the fretting hand without some discussion. I can give you my initial impressions.

The fact that the left hand is fatiguing is by itself strongly indicative that you are excessively tense.

Your fretting hand looks very stiff and rigid to me throughout this video. The posture of your hand at the 0:40 mark where you do a little vibrato looks particularly awkward to me.

I don’t know what your resting hand looks like, so I can’t really be sure, but there’s a lot here that looks weird to me.

As an example, when you play (1 3 4) combinations, I notice flexion and extension at the distal interphalangeal joint of the 2nd finger, with little apparant movement at the proximal interphalangeal joint an no noticeable movement at the metacarpophalangeal joint.

The only way this would be possible is if your extensor group were under constant tension. When the extensors are relaxed, activating the flexor group results in flexion at the metacarpophalangeal joint first, then the proximal interphalangeal joint and finally the distal interphalangeal joint.

The elbow of your fretting hand is also seems uncomfortably tight to your body and you are most definitely playing from a “pinching” fretting posture.

If my assessment of what I’m seeing is correct, I very much doubt it’s an issue of “stamina,” and more that you are fatiguing yourself due to inefficient movement patterns.

If you’re experiencing fatigue in those muscles, it means those muscles are under prolonged tension while you play. However, it’s not immediately apparant why. It could be that your fretting posture is requiring excessive abduction of the 4th finger to reach and maintain a stretched position. Your fretting posture for the whole/whole shape with (1 2 4) might need to be addressed. It’s also possible that there’s just a lot of sympathetic tension in your hand and that abductor & flexor digiti minimi is fatgiuing first simply because something has to.

Please stop doing these exercises. I am writing this out of genuine concern for your well being.

120bpm is really not that fast and the fact that you are fatiguing so quickly is strongly indicative that something about your fretting technique is fundamentally flawed. These exercises will not help you to develop finger speed. They will not help you develop “stamina” or “finger independence.” They will continue to fatigue you and reinforce your flawed movement patterns.

Fretting an electric guitar string is not a strenuous activity. It does not require any significant strength or stamina, and certainly not more than the average person already has.

The fact that you’re playing these exercises and timing how long you can do them for suggests to me that you’ve been thinking that you need to develop some strength or stamina to overcome the issues you’re been having and that some kind of exercise routine is the answer. If that’s the case, you are on the wrong track.

At the risk of saying something which sounds like pretentious bullshit: You cannot try to relax. You can only focus on developing the sensitivity to know when you are tense.

Also, while some finger movements can certainly be caused by excessive tension, other movements are the result of relaxed fingers the movements of other structures on which they depend. Consider the natural movement of the fingers when the wrist flexes and extends, for example.

She’s a hand surgeon, I’ve no doubt she knows the anatomy and is using the term “independent” in a manner which is consistent with her field.

However, nobody has truly independent fingers by the strictest definition. Some people simply have alesser degree of dependence than others

If fingers were truly independent, we could touch the finger tip of any finger to the palm while keeping all others fully extended, or fully extend any finger while keeping all others in a tight fist. The hand simply does not work this way.

Incidentally, I can move both of my 4th fingers in the manner she describes as being “independent.” She’s absolutely right that no amount of training will overcome your anatomy.

Fast, effortless fretting does not come from developing stamina or finger independence. It’s comes from learning to move efficiently, understanding the limitations of your fingers, even deliberately exploiting their lack of independence.

Please, check out the posts I wrote in this thread by @Imnobedhead. If you want me to give you the kind of help I gave him, please record some more footage of you playing from a front on angle (what you’ve already provided), an angle behind you (looking at the back of the neck) and a “reverse magnet” angle (down th strings toward the fretting hand). This would help me to help you.

This video from that thread might be helpful, in addition to those in the thread @tommo linked:

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I guess I wouldn’t stand even a minute of a constant non-stop 1-2-3 pattern. However, I’ve never seen in my life a song which makes you repeat one and the same finger sequence for 2 or 3 minutes straight without any stops. There are always whether rhythmic pauses/slowdowns or another positions/fingers.
Do you have any stamina problems while playing some particular song?

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