Looking for a critique of my left hand

I’ve been noticing that when I play sometimes my right hand will do little jumps as though I’m switching strings but I’m only playing on one string. I JUST realized it’s just my right hand correcting for how reckless and messy my left hand is. It’s really clear in this video when I’m on the G string in the first run; that’s why the video was called “wrist tracking?” I can tell now that my right hand is doing that jump because my left hand is flinging the guitar all around

Could anybody give me a little advice on my left hand? Any other assorted feedback very welcome

I feel like the angle that my wrist makes when I go to lower string is very NOT what tom_gilroy was preaching, but I don’t know how else to make those notes happen. Is that the way that playing on lower strings is supposed to look?

This is EXACTLY what my wrist looks like when I’m playing on lower strings, but it seems like there is maybe a better way!? I definitely can’t practice in that low register for too long or I start to feel like I’m potentially hurting my inner forearm

Hi @Imnobedhead.

I’m happy to help whatever way I can, but I need more to go on. I can’t really see from what I’ve been given. A front on angle, and angle from behind you (looking at the back of the neck) and a reverse magnet angle would help me to help you.

Your fretting hand is indeed “flinging the guitar around.” This is mostly (though not only) happening on position shifts. I can’t be sure if it’s what’s happening here or not, but this is usually the result of two factors.

The first is too much fretting pressure, so that the shift will tend to drag the neck in the direction of the movement. The second is that the shifting movement is not correctly aligned in the direction of the neck, so there is some movement in skewed direction.

The other issue which can sometimes cause this is too much anchoring pressure with the picking hand forearm on the body. When the fretting hand releases the neck, there is no force to counteract the inward force from the picking hand, and the guitar moves until the fretting hand resets.

I can’t determine if these issues are at the root of your problem from this video. It doesn’t look like too much anchoring pressure, but you’ll have to clue me in on this.

Your picking hand seems to be pretty much on point, so good job on that, but there are some issues with synchronization. Your fretting hand seems to be lagging behind here.

One thing I do notice is that you seem to include a slight pull-off movement whenever you descend from a higher finger to a lower finger. This will throw off you synchronisation and it introduces unnecessary movement and tension.

Your basic posture seems fine. A slight bending in the wrist to accommodate larger stretches is sometimes necessary, especially low in the neck. However, if the position feels like it could potentially hurt you, this is a problem. If you could show me a 3 note per string G major scale starting on the third fret low E, I might be able to help with that.

Also, there’s quite a lot of finger movement happening here, and I think some of it is the result of too much tension in the hand. I wouldn’t tell you to try to reduce that movement, as that can be accomplished by introducing more tension. I’m just saying I see tells of tension.

Have you seen my video on the hand at rest? if so, can you show me your resting hand?

I’ll film a few more posture and stretching videos today, which might help too.

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I appreciate your comments SO MUCH. Thank you!

I spent most of today trying to internalize all of your notes. I’m going to give myself another day or two and then make a video demonstrating my technique after I’ve gotten the hang of your advice so far

No problem. I’m happy to help.

This is how I’ve always played. As you can see, there is a lot of jumping around.

The way I’ve played has always been very percussive, chordal and crosspicky, so this hasn’t been an issue for me really. I’m always releasing and squeezing with my left hand to get the right attack. However, this technique is absolutely terrible for a lot of the single note stuff I’m trying to get going from this website.

This is where it’s particularly bad from my perspective. When I’m playing low is starts to hurt my left wrist pretty quickly

Is the way that I keep my thumb gently on the neck at the end of this video closer to the correct way to handle this scale from your perspective?

Here’s a video critique of your posture. Please let me know if you have any questions.

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This absolutely rocks! Thank you so much

I am understanding what you are saying about the different grip for low stretched playing. I’m also understanding why when I go up higher you think my thumb should move a little towards the nut. I’ve watched your other videos that you’ve posted to the forums but for some reason the “side of the first finger for some fretting” didn’t click for me till just now

I’m a little confused about how to move my hand as a unit though. If you could post a video of the back of your hand while you’re playing the 3nps g Major scale I think it would help me understand the last little piece of the puzzle

I’m experiencing friction on the back of the neck that is tricky to deal with and I am a little confused about some of the small adjustments I need to make to move from string to string

It would also be super cool if you played anything with a ton of position shifts

I think even if you play this stuff super slow it will still help me A LOT

Thank you again

Also, if ANYONE wants to chime in with any other input it would be very appreciated!

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To clarify: I am noticing that the more I get the hang of this the less friction there is on the back of the neck. I’m squeezing the guitar too hard and it’s making extra work for me. However, there is some friction which just seems inherent to what we’re doing. I just want to see how you handle that

I can’t write much more today, but I might be able to make another video tomorrow.

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You’ve definitely given me a days worth of material to work on imo!

I really do think I understand 95% of what you’re saying!

A big part of my style is playing “chord melodies” (the Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass sort of thing) interspersed with single notes. I am not sure if I can use a lot of what you’re saying for my chord playing. Figuring out how to reconcile the two is going to be a lot of fun experimentation

What I’m trying to say is: Take your time! You’ve already given me a lot of good stuff!

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Thank you Tom, I found this video very helpful fo identify sources of discomfort in my left hand, and to understand why I never liked the Gmaj scale :slight_smile:

Now the hard part will be to bake these ideas into my muscle memory.

Thanks again for taking the time & for sharing!

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I’ve time to write a little more. A few more thoughts.

Moving the hand as a unit can feel very strange when you’re not used to doing it, and to do so from a posture you’re just learning to adopt and maintain is obviously going to take some time to develop.

I’ll make a demo videos of this as soon as I can.

Totally normal.

I’ll try to include that.

Slow would probably be most helpful. The movements can be quite subtle.

It’s very good that you’re aware of this. The amount of friction you experience is proportional to the force you exert into the neck. To minimize that friction, you need to develop a light touch.

When I’m ascending, I can leave my thumb in contact with the neck without any issue. The amount of friction I experience is very small because I have a light touch.

When descending, the small amount of friction is enough to cause the thumb of the fretting to act as a “frame”, which can impede the movement.

I’ve learned to slightly break the contact between the thumb and the back of the neck to prevent this occurring. Only a tiny movement is required, and this is easy to do when the thumb in relaxed position throughout the unitary movement.

I hadn’t counted or tracked exactly where I do this, but it seems that I make this slight adjustment once every six notes when playing the full scale descending. My guess is that this due to my descending 6s pattern. On other patterns, like descending 4s, the movement seems to occur between instances of the pattern.

Whatever the situation, I’d recommend small, regular adjustments to your form rather than waiting for the problem to become untenable and trying to rescue yourself with a big adjustment.

Great!

I’m terrible at that style of playing. I just haven’t put the time into it yet.

I can do the Eric Johnson style chord melody, but it’s not really the same thing.

I’m happy to weigh in and give suggestions when you’re learning to integrate these principles for your purposes, but I don’t want to pretend that I have all the answers. I have thought a lot about how to fret some nightmarish Holdsworth chords, so I might still have some helpful insights.

I’m glad this has been helpful to you too!

Most people don’t realize this, but the whole-whole stretches in the standard 3 note per string G major scale at the 3rd fret are roughly equivalent to a diminished triad at the 9th fret. That pattern is no joke.

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Thanks Tom, this helped me out a ton also. I’m pretty bad at long legato stuff and I think my fretting posture is a big reason why.

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Ok, here’s a few back of the neck shots to demonstrate moving the as a unit.

They’re way quieter than I expected. I’m looking at the camera rather than my hands, so the position was a little awkward. Still, this should give a decent idea of what the movements look like.

G Major Scale

Position Shifts (pattern on D and G strings)

I hope you can see that there’s no break in contact when ascending, either from a low string to a higher string or moving up the neck. When descending, either from a higher string to a lower string or moving down the neck, I make slight breaks in contact and adjust. This is easier to see in the position shifting example.

I hope these help.

Super helpful for me too! I have a huge struggle with the stretches on left hand (I was engaging the palm as you pointed out), and this new shift of positioning is much more natural. I will practice these. This thread and site continue to deliver!