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  1. #1

    Newbie! Practice advice sought: hitting the right strings

    Hi

    I'm a novice player attempting to master a chord melody version of Autumn Leaves. I am using a pick and I am often missing, for example, the fattest string of a four string chord. So, I slow the metronome right down and start again, not watching my picking hand, just checking chord fingering. Does anyone have any practice routines they can recommend that can build up string accuracy - specifically for chords?

    Thanks, in advance - Kev

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  3. #2
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    A Modern Method for Guitar book 1, purchase the book with access to the online lessons. Going through the book, you will learn to do rest strokes with a pick, which will teach you how to do this accurately. Probably more than you were looking to do, but it worked for me.

  4. #3
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    Focus on that specific problem. Skip the metronome, don't watch the right hand, and practice hitting desired strings with the pick. E.g. go between strings 5-3-5-3-5-3-5 etc. Any combination you'd like, just cover all strings.

    What's your right hand's reference? The palm? finger(s) on the pick guard? I'd advice to have a loose and relaxed right hand, but still keep a reference point for the hand. When doing chords (no string muting desired) I keep my palm raised and touch the guitar with ring/index below the strings myself.

  5. #4
    @dwparker: thanks for recommendation. I'd not seen this book before - I will take a look.

    @Runepune

    Ironically, my picking of individual strings is not too bad. It could always be better and I use a spider exercise to improve things. It's the chord targeting that can cause problems. For example if I try to strum a four string chord on, say, the D-G-B-top E strings, I'll miss the D string.

    I never look at my plucking/strumming hand and often do as you suggest: use my middle finger as a pivot under the strings.

  6. #5
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    Try practicing the chord melody solo in your head first.

    Put your guitar in the case and try picturing or visualizing in your mind's eye both hands playing the arrangement one measure at a time only.

    Clearly picture the particular strings both hands are playing - in your case I would focus harder on visualizing which strings your pick is striking.

    I think you will find that if you can "see it" clearly in your mind's eye your fingers will be able to find the strings more accurately.

    Regards,
    Steven Herron
    Learn To Play Chord Melody Solos

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinG View Post
    Ironically, my picking of individual strings is not too bad. It could always be better and I use a spider exercise to improve things. It's the chord targeting that can cause problems. For example if I try to strum a four string chord on, say, the D-G-B-top E strings, I'll miss the D string.
    Yeah, but you miss strings when you strum, so practice strumming chords from E/A/D. Start with e.g. just strumming a chord from the D string. Then go back and forth between two chords starting on e.g. D and A strings. Then chose a different string or pair of strings, etc etc. As slow as needed.

    You need to program that picking hand to know where those strings are and how to hit them precisely, and it's a good idea to repeat, repeat, repeat, just focusing on fixing the specific problem. Do it for a few minutes, take a minute break, and do it some more minutes....or something like that. Take a short break and go back to learning Autumn Leaves. Rinse and repeat as needed

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Runepune View Post
    Yeah, but you miss strings when you strum, so practice strumming chords from E/A/D. Start with e.g. just strumming a chord from the D string. Then go back and forth between two chords starting on e.g. D and A strings. Then chose a different string or pair of strings, etc etc. As slow as needed.

    You need to program that picking hand to know where those strings are and how to hit them precisely, and it's a good idea to repeat, repeat, repeat, just focusing on fixing the specific problem. Do it for a few minutes, take a minute break, and do it some more minutes....or something like that. Take a short break and go back to learning Autumn Leaves. Rinse and repeat as needed

    Ah: I understand now. Thanks to all for the great suggestions.

  9. #8
    What you are doing will work.
    Just give it time.
    Log the hours.
    Be patient.
    It will come.

  10. #9
    That's a good problem to have! Another way, other than those suggested here, is to arpeggiate the chord grip (various patterns of your choice) and occasionally, strum the entire chord. You could interrupt your arpeggio pattern on any string and strum. You could also strum part of the chord only.

    For example, let's take a simple six-string major barre chord. You can arpeggiate it up to the high E string and then strum starting on the low E string, but you could also arpeggiate (loop the pattern, ascending and descending) and when you reach the B string, strum starting on the A string!

  11. #10
    This is a long shot, but it seems to me that it is possible for a poor setup to make this harder.

    The fretboard is curved -- called radiused. The bridge saddles should, typically, have the same curvature. If they don't, the D string could, conceivably, be a little too low and therefore harder to pick.

    You can eyeball this. Or, you can measure with a metal ruler marked in mm or 64ths.

  12. #11
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    FWIW, just spend 10 minutes a day practicing, at a slow tempo and making sure you can visualize the intended strings in your mind's eye but without looking at fretboard (eventually anyway), working on this. Within a few weeks you'll be fine. Your body will figure it out.

  13. #12
    Thanks very much for all of the advice folks: I've been putting it into practice and starting to feel my fingers locking into it more.

    I thought I'd share some advice I picked up from Matt Warnock who I believe contributes to this site.
    He advised I check out his fingerstyle lesson where there are routines for developing finger independence (p,i,m,a patterns). Instead of using your fingers: use your pick! Simple, really I found this appealing because I had some rudinentary knowledge of the classical guitar.

    Thanks again

  14. #13
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    Jim Hall

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinG View Post
    Matt Warnock ...
    He advised I check out his fingerstyle lesson
    Do you have a link please?

    Thanks

  15. #14
    Sorry if I'm stating the obvious, but it's important to realize that for single note playing and for chord solo playing you may need to change the angle of your hand, the attitude of attack and the relationship with the strings. I have several distinct hand articulations that I need for different situations, all of which require a change in hand attitude. Once my hand is positioned for the attitude in relationship with the strings, the "gravity" I feel is different and I can feel the natural balance that makes accuracy possible. It's an exercise in awareness and objectivity. Does this make any sense?
    David

  16. #15
    I think I do David, yes. Thanks. I suppose my problem is attaining that sense of gravity. I am assuming that lots of practice will help me develop it.

    AS to Matt Warnock's fingerstyle exercises, here is the link: Fingerstyle Guitar - Fingerpicking Patterns and Exercises

  17. #16
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    A lot of good advice here.

    I would add, practice muting individual strings with your left hand, so you can strum across a range of strings and only have some of them ring out. For example, make a chord that uses strings 1-2-3-4-5 and strum across all of them, muting each one in succession.

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