Fretting hand tension on acoustic guitar

90% of my time right now, is spent practicing and playing on acoustic. The ‘sound’ of electric just isn’t driving me to play at the moment, whereas I can listen to (even my) acoustic guitar playing for hours without ear fatigue.

Yeah I find sometimes I’ll end up fretting too hard on my electric once I move to it from my acoustic.

Or do you find your troubles are limited to really specific fingering sequences? That squeezing sensation is something to avoid across the board in all aspects of guitar technique… that feeling you’re trying to “bully” the guitar to produce sound is a really bad one and I’m trying to get at where you experience that in your playing. Like any musical examples?

“It’s complicated” :smiley:

I think it’s how I learned to play initially. You know, the kind of effort you first used when trying to sound out a full F barre? It’s the primary reason I still can’t quickly make full barre shapes. My fingers are already ‘rigid’ before I even place them on the neck, they’re not supple at all in many cases. That doesn’t apply for ALL chords, just specifically barre shapes.

So that symptom most often occurs with chord shapes. I’ve gradually been able to relax while playing scales or runs (the difference being single notes heh) to the point where I can really rip through a few at pretty respectable speeds without any hand fatigue.

So to summarize:

I am more able to recognize tenseness and relax when doing single note sequences, to the point where I don’t feel it is currently a MAJOR issue (although it’s still something I need to be aware of and monitor)

I am still having serious issues with pressure when forming chords. Some of that might be due to playing primarily on my acoustics, as I am able to consciously relax playing my electrics, since it also helps me not sharp the hell out of chorded notes :flushed:

That’s interesting. I’m wondering if it is a mental or physical thing, since you mention the rigidity specifically before the chord is fretted. And what I mean by that is maybe you have some sort of anticipation of difficulty in your mind which causes you to tense up. Have you tried just sitting with your fretting hand hanging loosely on the neck as you watch TV, not playing anything? It could be a negative mental association you have with the instrument for this specific pattern only. If this sounds kind of “foo foo bullshitty” I get why, but just think of live guitarists who know a very complicated solo is coming up, so they tense up accordingly. Same deal here, regardless of whether it’s a simple chord or shredding at 220 BPM.

The only alternative is that you’re using some sort of extremely unconventional fingering for barring which I would find hard to believe since barre chords are about as standardized as it gets.

What does your hand look like when you’re fretting these chords… Can you take a picture or video of your fretting hand? I still think a specific example is needed.

1 Like

It is almost definitely mental. It’s a subconscious thing that I can ‘solve’ by making the movements slow and deliberate. But since that is boring and tedious to do I’ve not practiced it enough to ingrain that particular ‘pattern’ so that it supersedes the current one that’s the ‘autopilot’ version. I imagine.

I will take some video tonight, technically should be working at the moment so probably shouldn’t go full forensics guitar technique mode just right now. Cheers for the replies.

Edit - Also I just realized this is NOT what the original poster had in mind I don’t think so if it needs to be moved or taken elsewhere, that’s fine too!

1 Like

Yeah that’s a good point, we have diverged a bit. @tommo could you break this thread off please. Thanks man

1 Like

Done! Provisional title :slight_smile:

If you can think of a better one feel free to edit!

1 Like

All good fellas and thank you. Awesome discussion!!!

1 Like

This is what I’ve been doing for quite some time now to relieve my fretting hand pressure and gain speed and precision as a result. I don’t practice as regularly, so there isn’t as much progress as I would like. Nonetheless, it might help:

This guy explains this approach a bit more in depth:

1 Like