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  1. #1

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    just wondering if people do strengthening exercises for the fingers.
    I was handed the bass a few nights back and played a lot of 12 bar blues...I rarely play bass .and my fingers were tired quite quickly......also when I attempt fast gypsy jazz....past a certain point I get subject to cramping in the fingers....I see other players often shaking their fingers too after hard playing
    my old tai chi teacher did press ups on his fingers to build up strength as he was also into acupressure.Maybe that would be a good thing....
    A pianist I knew used a tennis ball that he squeezed throughout the day
    Last edited by morjaz; 05-14-2007 at 06:36 PM. Reason: addition

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    i wouldn't do anything that could put undue stress on your fingers-- sounds like a trip to tendinitis.

    your tai chi teacher would probably give you the same advice i'll give you. slow down. perfect a musical sequence slowly and relaxed, and gradually build up speed. your hand should be as relaxed playing a gypsy jazz lick as it is playing a slow ballad. yeah, easier said that done. but this relaxation is the key. if your hand is tense,not only will you never reach the speeds you want, you'll keep hurting yourself in the process.

  4. #3

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    I think you're right......forcing harder playing isn't going to be good. So following your good advice I'll concentrate on more relaxed playing.... (yay).......cool!

  5. #4

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    What about trying something like this? I don't have one, but I've thought about getting one.



    Here's a link to the website.

    Gripmaster Hand Exerciser for Guitar and Piano Players

  6. #5

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    thanks for that EcG,......The Gripmaster looks like the goods......and always staying relaxed while playing ,,that'll do it...

  7. #6

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    I use a gripmaster to build strength and coordination in my left hand. I am an old coot and have some arthritis in the fingers of both hands. The gripmaster seems to help in that area although the arthritis doen't seem to bother me after I get warmed up.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by wizard3739
    I use a gripmaster to build strength and coordination in my left hand. I am an old coot and have some arthritis in the fingers of both hands. The gripmaster seems to help in that area although the arthritis doen't seem to bother me after I get warmed up.
    Thanks Wizard! Its nice to hear of someone having a favorable encounter with the GripMaster. I'll probably go ahead and get me one too!

  9. #8

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    I don't like them at all I had one but I did not like to use it.But thats me.

  10. #9

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    On a well adjusted guitar strength is not required, it's all about endurance. For example, if your hands get tired after a short while because it is difficult to hold down the strings for chords, and notes -- then the action is too high.

    However, if your hands get tired after playing for a half-hour (just an example), because of the repetition of playing the notes and chords -- that is a lack of endurance.

    If it's a high action, the guitar should be adjusted or lighter strings maybe.

    Getting tired from playing just means more practice is needed, to build up endurance; much like a long-distance runner.

    I was taught to use as little effort as necessary to play any note, ie. use just enough effort to play the note, and as little movement to get to the note as possible.

    As Mr. B stated, strength training can cause undue stress on those little fingers.

    I hope this wasn't redundant information, but someone out there is pushing too hard on their strings and needs to learn that it is important to play with a light touch (for the most part anyways).

  11. #10

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    I tried a gripmaster for strength training as a bass player and quit using it. It developed the wrong kind of finger strength and it actually took me longer to warm up my fingers for playing after using it. Oddly, playing piano did more to strengthen my fingers for bass.

  12. #11

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    I find that playing different types of guitars works well to teach my fingers to react appropriatedly in different situations. By this I mean going from a classical to an acoustic with stiff strings to an electric with fast action to bass guitar. I rarely experience finger fatigue. I hope this helps.

  13. #12

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    I had a gripmaster for a while, and didn't like it either. I started using Jody Fisher's 30 Day Guitar Workout about 3 years ago, and start out each practice session doing about 30 minutes of his stuff now.

    It has made a huge difference in my hands. The other side of this topic, is over use. Chris Standring had an article (can't remember the author's name) on his site a while back about how tense we guitarists get all thru our bodies, and how it hinders our playing.

    I now consciously look for tension while I am playing, and force myself to relax. Also, squeezing too much increases this problem. I think it is important to get to the point to where we can make a barre or whatever, and then let up just enough to still hear the notes ringing.

    Sometimes we think it is increased hand strength that we need, but I think more often it is increased hand stamina.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by derek
    I now consciously look for tension while I am playing, and force myself to relax. Also, squeezing too much increases this problem. I think it is important to get to the point to where we can make a barre or whatever, and then let up just enough to still hear the notes ringing.

    Same here, especially when practicing. I like to play little game called 'how lightly can you finger this particular chord/scale etc'.

  15. #14

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    John wrote:

    >I like to play little game called 'how lightly can you finger this particular chord/scale etc'.

    It is so much easier and faster to switch between chords and single lines when I do this. Also, I find I have developed a much lighter touch, and have improved my dynamics.

    Good suggestion.
    Last edited by derek; 08-21-2007 at 04:05 PM. Reason: mistake

  16. #15

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    This is an old thread but a good subject.
    I just resumed playing again after about a three year rest. My left hand has tendonitis. It effects everything including my pinky finger. I just got a 2 nd steroid injection and this time the doc hit the right spot. He's says if we are lucky it will be operable. I have had surgery already on my pinky finger for trigger finger and the removal of a tendon.
    I large part of my problem is the 2nd finger. It doesn't bend at the first joint due to an accident with a table saw. However: It is wise for you to be concerned about maintaining your hands and doing warm ups. If you are like me, when you get home from work or play you just want to pick up your guitar a play. Imagine loosing all those skills and the love of playing all your life.

    Learn finger warm ups and do them....maintain good posture. I use a foot rest.

    Good luck

  17. #16

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    good call on the footrest.

    there's a lot to be said for "proper" classical technique...it don't look as cool as jimmy page, unfortunately.

  18. #17

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    I am new here but my background was rather intense classical guitar, followed by composition, saxophone and now pack to guitar. Between a badly set broken elbow (w/tendon damage) and a few other things I mutilated the tendons in my right hand. No more fingerstyle and I can't play fast runs or anything with my left. I can tell you now there is nothing as frustrating as going from classical (ie Fingerstyle) to using a pick. It lets me play but it is a really different beast!

    A few things I've learned from physical therapy etc...

    Stretching. Shoulders, arms, wrist, fingers before and after you play!!
    Gripmaster=a good way to do permenant damage to your hands. Most discomfort from playing is tension that causes your hands to get tired and that tension is probably related to bad posture and tense shoulders more then anything in your hands!!
    If you want to do a few excercises to help your playing do some shoulder and chest weight lifting, high rep, low weight...An hour or two of practice and 30minutes of stretching/30minutes working out will leave you a better guitarist then 4hrs of hard playing...

  19. #18

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    how about some simple legato exercises? You don't need a gripmaster to build strength in your fingers IMO :-) If you do thrills with each pair of fingers you're gonna be fine. I do it like this:

    e-1h2p1h2p1h2p1 etc for 5 seconds on each string with each set of fingers: first index and middle finger, then middle and ring finger, then ring finger and pinky. You can expand it as much as you like, doing the same with index and ring finger. Then you can do rolls, same principle, hammer on and pull off everything but now with 3 fingers. Make sure every note sounds clear, the volume should be as high as when you're picking them.

    It sure hurts a bit and I'd start out slow but it really really works!

  20. #19

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    Don't switch actions from guitar to guitar without serious slow warm ups. Changing actions from low easy electric to hard acoustic is a surefire way to tendonitis. The tendons don't know whether they are coming or going. Relaxing is everything.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by KDC1956
    I don't like them at all I had one but I did not like to use it.But thats me.
    They're useless.

  22. #21

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    Correct positioning is more important than strength.

    It's not double bass.

    BTW DB player crook their thumb for more strength.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by KDC1956
    I don't like them at all I had one but I did not like to use it.But thats me.
    me too

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    They're useless.
    I dunno, if KDC1956 had carried on using his since his post in 2007 he might have noticed a difference by now.

  25. #24

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    I avoid finger exercise devices like the plague, they are tendinitis traps. Just try to be fit, do some mild workouts for the whole body.

    On finger strength, i like the thing Tuck Andress recommends, where he warms up playing everything staccato, chords or single note lines, having his hand kind of bounce off the fretboard a bit. It works wonders, plus it improves your funk chops! But you have to build it up, can't expect to be able to play bass strings just like that for a whole set. That's my biggest fear and caution when playing bass, especially if i haven't really played it for a while.

    Also, i really consider it important to work on developing an effortless and light technique without tension, no matter the instrument or setup. If you need to put effort, probably something could be improved. A classic example is going over from an electric to an acoustic guitar, most electric players have the idea you have to force the note out, whereas a really light touch on both hands works much better.

  26. #25

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    Playing your guitar exercises your fingers.

  27. #26

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    Ben Hogan, the famous golfer in the 30s-50s, told a story about a fellow pro who decided his hands needed strengthening.

    In those days people traveled by train. He spent his time on the way to the next tournament squeezing a rubber ball over and over.

    Once there he played terribly as his hands had lost all feel.

  28. #27

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    I think that all of you who say strength training is bad are right. Those who practise light athletics for example have to wait 2-3hrs before they can play a fingered instrument with nuance/feeling. I follow the 'correct position plus light touch' advice, which in general makes playing more rewarding and comfortable too. I'd really hate to get tendinitis or such.

  29. #28

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    I searched Internet for reliable medical advice – not quacks or panhandlers but medical institutions. Preliminary results indicate that nobody is advising exercise for strengthening fingers, except when they have been broken or afflicted by arthritis. Grip strengtheners are recommended only by businesses with a financial interest in them.

    Be careful out there, and remember Robert Schumann.

  30. #29

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    There are muscles that makes the hand close (Flexors) and muscles that make the hands open (Extensors). Since everything we do in life involves closing our hand in some way like playing the guitar it is pretty redundant to get the grip strengtheners.

    Not only is it redundant but actually pretty dangerous because working only on the Flexor muscles with no regard to the Extensor muscles causes muscle imbalance and can cause something called the 'fake carpal tunnel syndrome'. Then people get surgeries (potentially further damaging their hands irreparably) and whatnot without knowing they can actually reverse the symptoms themselves. Truly tragic.

    But anyways the only things that I know of that help out Extensor muscles with regards to guitar is to be able to do Rasgueados with both hands (on a soft object or knees help). That and there are various hand opener exercise thingies that you can order online in case you're not playing guitar. But yeah.. The opening of the hands. Very overlooked imo

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazznylon
    But anyways the only things that I know of that help out Extensor muscles with regards to guitar is to be able to do Rasgueados with both hands (on a soft object or knees help).
    I've been practising these (there's a whole series) - credit: Patlotch, who posted it recently; skip to end for results: