Author Topic: Help - my fingers are not in shape.  (Read 3689 times)

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Offline Scottie_72

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Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« on: February 08, 2020, 03:02:41 pm »
Hi Everyone!,

I've always wanted to learn the guitar - now 47 years young I happened across a acoustic guitar in a charity shop £25.00 bargain (I didn't want to spend loads of money on something that I couldn't play and end up left in the cupboard).

Now a friend of mine highly recommended Justin's website. And I've just come to the first lesson which is the D Chord.

My fingers are not even coming close - I feel that I'm just kidding myself. I even tried the finger strengthening exercises and my pinky finger can't reach the top string.

Any encouragement or other helpful hints would be gratefully received.

Thank you! :o

Offline savarezguy

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Re: Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2020, 03:21:38 pm »
Hi, and welcome! Me being the same age, I remember the first D chord ... it was almost impossible. Give it a try every day for 10 minutes. A week or two and it becomes easier.

Offline Scottie_72

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Re: Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2020, 05:03:19 pm »
Thanks savarezguy! I shouldn't worry that my little finger doesn't reach the top string then? :-)

Offline joueur de guitare

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Re: Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2020, 05:32:33 pm »
I'm a little confused here. What do you mean by  'my little finger doesn't reach the top string'?
Guitars. Fender Highway 1 Tele: Fender Shortboard LE Mustang: Ibanez AS73 semi-hollow: Ibanez SR370 bass: Squier Affinity Strat: Squier Jagmaster.

Offline close2u

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Re: Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2020, 05:36:54 pm »
I'm confused too - your little finger is not used when learning to play any of the first three chords in Justin's course.

Also - and I understand the need to be budget conscious - your £25 charity guitar is likely to be way more difficult to play than any beginner should experience.
Cheap guitars are the reason so many people stop before they even begin because they are so difficult to play due to manufacturing and build issues.

I would start saving and look to get something for at least £100 on the 2nd hand market asap.

Offline savarezguy

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Re: Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2020, 06:02:52 pm »
I started with a classical guitar (nylon strings). It was way easier to get started than using steel strings. Also the string action was very important. Let someone with the right knowledge have a look at your guitar and adjust it properly.

Offline Scottie_72

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Re: Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2020, 06:22:24 pm »
I'm confused too - your little finger is not used when learning to play any of the first three chords in Justin's course.

Ah, by the looks of it I have jumped the gun! and searched for finger exercises as I was frustrated that I couldn't get my fingers working as it should so found this on YouTube.






Online DavidP

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Re: Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2020, 05:26:22 am »
Spot on Skottie, just persevere with the first lesson and if you stick at it 10-15 minutes as close to daily as possible you will slowly develop the dexterity and strength needed.

As Close said the guitar may not be a bargain at all. If poorly made it will make it really hard to learn. Best to take it into a reputable store and get an opinion.  And if an ok guitar then make sure it is properly set up. If not ok and you are keen then better to spend a little more and get a suitable guitar.

Offline Drubbing

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Re: Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2020, 05:48:00 am »
As above. Don't assume a dirt cheap guitar is a bargain. Some of the cheapest guitars are cheap for a reason - they're virtually unplayable. Then they end up in charity stores.

When my son started lessons, I bit the bullet and got him a Yamaha Classical @ $400AUD. He's not even had it set up at the store and it plays beautifully. If he doesn't stay with it, I've still got something that is saleable 2nd hand.

Offline Scottie_72

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Re: Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2020, 01:05:17 pm »
Thank you all so much for your help and encouragement. I'm ready to get practising in a moment. Just noticed the name of the guitar is an Encore? Have a great day  :)

Offline Twilight Storm

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Re: Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2020, 04:04:31 pm »
Where you place your thumb could make it easier or more difficult. If your thumb is sticking up on the side of the neck you can have less finger range of motion too.

If you place your thumb pad near the middle of the neck you will probably have more mobility especially while your fingers are stretching. (Which takes a while)

Justin likes to stick that thumb up like a flag on his "easier" songs! If you look at House of the Rising Sun, and compare where his thumb is, to Moonlight in Vermont. You will see he positioned his thumb behind the neck to make the difficult stretches he needs for Moonlight in Vermont.

Don't worry TOO much about your guitar right now. It's what you have. 😁 Do go to a shop and try different brands even if you don't intend to buy one right away. Neck shape, string spacing, and body size make a huge difference. So does string action! (But that can be fixed by a shop)

Once you have an idea which brands you like, and are comfortable for you, you might be able to bargain shop for something specific second hand.

By the way, building calluses is horrible. It takes quite a while and it's miserable feeling. Once your fingers toughen up things get way more fun.
Just a noob who likes diminished chords and songs that use them.

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Offline Scottie_72

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Re: Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2020, 07:50:47 pm »
Hi Twilight Storm, That is really useful info; I really didn't think about where my thumb was! I'll give that a bash later on tonight. Definitely like the idea about trying out different guitars in the shop. Thanks again, very much appreciated! :D

Offline Cummings

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Re: Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2020, 02:55:22 pm »
Scottie, I’m 44 and been playing c14 months

It’s just practice and patience. Stick with it though. I can remember thinking how impossible a C chord felt. Then wondered how I would ever get it without walking my fingers.

Then I don’t remember when it happened, but I could just find that chord!!

I also started on a low budget instrument.  As soon as I knew it was for me, I upgraded and it’s a world of difference.

Also, good luck 👌

Offline neophytosdm

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Re: Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2020, 12:53:49 am »
Hello Scottie! Nice advice from the other guys here and I agree. I just wanted to add something regarding the "strengthening exercise" you talked about.

Don't skip it just yet. It's the best exercise for stretching and strengthening your fingers and that will help with your chords. You just have to have in mind a few things, I think Justin mentions them all in the video.

A. Start on a fret closer to the bridge/further from the neck. The frets there are narrower so the stretching is less.

B. Keep your fingers perpendicular to the neck. If your fingers go sideways, your little finger probably won't reach the last fret you need to play for the exercise.

C. The thumb as mr. Twilight said! The thumb is very important especially in this exercise. The thumb is a little over the middle of the neck. Also, it's somewhere between your first and second finger (the exact location varies depending on the individual but somewhere there is the best position to provide a solid grip). Lastly, don't think the thumb as an anchor, the thumb moves like the rest of the fingers depending on what you want to do. In this particular exercise the thumb might move a little down as you play on the thinner strings, and them move a little up again, and that might help your little finger to reach the final fret you want to play.

Also do all the exercises in sets. For example, do the exercise a certain number of times up and down the neck. That's a set, rest for 5 minutes (or do a different exercise that is irrelevant with the first one). Then repeat. The exercise will probably feel easier. But don't overdo it. If you feel a lot of pain, just stop and rest.

Offline WoundUp

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Re: Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2020, 07:04:14 am »
You may think about looking into something like the Diddario Varigrip hand excerciser. From the reviews, they seem to work and be made well.

https://www.daddario.com/products/accessories/hand-fitness/varigrip/

https://www.daddario.com/products/accessories/hand-fitness/varigrip/


I'm not having any sort of finger pains and my calluses built up rather quickly. But I also work with my hands repairing automobiles for a living so that may contribute to the lack of finger pain. That's with me practicing daily for over 3 weeks straight. I think I may have missed a single day in that period. I also found, accidentally, that super glue makes awesome 'temporary' calluses. Like an idiot, I tried to wipe off some excess during a side project and it dried on the end of my index finger and stayed there for the next 5-7 days before I finally scratched it all off.

Offline 8livesleft

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Re: Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2020, 07:11:37 am »
As others have mentioned, it could be the guitar. Good steel string acoustics are hard to play to begin with. A cheap acoustic will likely be harder to play.

If you really want to continue with that acoustic, try having it setup by a pro. And use lighter strings - like 11s. It will be money well spent.

If you don't want to spend, you can DIY. I've filed down 2 of my acoustic bridges to make the action lower. It's a lot of work but if you do it right, well worth the effort.

Sent from my ASUS_X01BDA using Tapatalk


Offline savarezguy

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Re: Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2020, 08:05:29 am »
It is easy to measure the string action if you have feeler gauges or take some metal or plastic with known thickness. Search the net for guitar action good string height and there will be plenty of reading.

The measurement is done from the top of the metal fret to the bottom of the string. When you press down a string against the fret you will have 0mm, and after release the string you should have a reading similar to below values:

Third fret: low e 0.7mm, high e 0.4mm
12th fret: low e 2.5mm, high e 1.7mm

So if you see 4mm at 12 fret, it is a bit high and will be hard to play.

Offline close2u

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Re: Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2020, 09:16:06 am »
Thank you all so much for your help and encouragement. I'm ready to get practising in a moment. Just noticed the name of the guitar is an Encore?

Definitely at the low budget end and made to a very tight budget with low cost materials and craftsmanship and if in a charity shop goodness knows what condition it is in following who knows what type of treatment / storage etc that could have cause the wood to shift.
I would not recommend you spend money having wotk done on this.
Any self-respecting tech would not take the £20-30+ on doing work on this as fundamentally what they could achieve would be limited.
Save that potential good-money-after-bad and build up a little stockpile towards a better guitar.
In the mean time, tune all the strings down so they are loose and slack and read the notes:
d
A
F
C
G
D
Then put a capo on fret 2.
Your guitar will then match standard tuning.
Your actual fret 3 will act as fret 1, your actual fret 4 will act as fret 2 etc.
It will be easier to play like this.

Offline Bytron08

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Re: Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2020, 12:09:53 am »
easiest song to learn is horse with no name in my opinion... So Em with your middle and ring finger then switch the chord with your ring finger down a string. Just make sure you get the strum pattern down then you can work on the riff that i made up if youve seen my horse with no name cover in audio or video of you playing.

Offline useDraW

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Re: Help - my fingers are not in shape.
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2020, 02:57:25 am »
through cumulative deliberate practice (through days leading to noticable improvement in weeks if you focus on what's relevant to you personally) they'll become more limber.
21 yo noisemaker/musician, been playing guitar for 12'ish years.

 

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