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Finger fatigue?

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#1 Cardrakys

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 02:24 PM

I've been practicing now for two weeks. I am following the video "Getting Started on the Electric Guitar" from Keith Wyatt. I am currently practicing switching between D, A and E major chords. But now after 2 weeks, I find that a few minutes after practicing my fingers seem to feel tired and are a bit sluggish. I was able to keep up with the DVD music track a couple of days ago but now I have to play at a much slower tempo just to switch properly. I googled finger fatigue and found some suggestions that merely say "take a break" but they never mention if they mean take a 5 minutes break or take a 3 day break. Or maybe I just need to push myself and really work my fingers? Not sure at all what to do. I don't want to stop practicing but if I need to stop for a couple of days I will.

Any help is appreciated.


#2 karcey

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 03:44 PM

Welcome to our community.

No! It's not wise to push yourself and really work your fingers. When we start a new kind of physical activity our bodies should be seduced into compliance, not whipped.
Now's the time to see your musical journey in a new light. There's much to learn, plenty of skills required for both hands and much for the brain to absorb. So do something different for a while ... a few days if that's what it takes for your fingers to recover. You won't lose what you've achieved so far, but I can promise you'll lose much more if you damage yourself.
How about learning the positions of notes on the fretboard, or reading a bit about keys? Everything you punch into your brain now will be useful later on.
Keep in touch.
"The music matters more than the instrument on which we play it." Jason W. Solomon

#3 carol m

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 06:26 AM

Welcome aboard. Wise words from Karcey as always. In the mean time you could check out Kirk's theory content at the tops of each page - that will really help your progress. And in Other Member's lessons there are more lessons, tab and note trainers and much more.
One good thing about music is that when it hits you, you feel no pain - Bob Marley

#4 jafa

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 03:09 PM

Also make sure you stay relaxed, tension won't help tired fingers (nor the rest of your body either)

#5 DavidStHubbins

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 04:45 AM

I had a similar problem a few weeks ago. Apart from playing too much (up to five hours on some days), I was in the habit of resting the guitar neck in the crook of my index finger, which meant I had to strain my fingers to make all the notes and bend my wrist uncomfortably. I was half way to carpal tunnel syndrome. Happily, I decided to take a break, have a look at my technique (my thumb's now safely behind the fretboard, and my palm's off the neck), and not play myself to death (despite still being in the first flush of enthusiasm after getting my guitar). Problem solved.

#6 starsailor


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Posted 05 February 2012 - 05:23 AM

I agree with all the above, after two weeks your hands are still getting used to a new activity it takes time to get them fit, maybe turn the DVD off and practice the changes at your own pace, trying to keep up with tracks at this early stage can turn into a race you can't win yet and lead to tension and frustration, frustration is the beginner's biggest enemy and the reason many potential players quit,, there's no harm in having a break for a couple of days, you can get back into what you've learned fairly quickly, take it slow and push yourself a little each session, once you've got changes up to a good speed have a go at the DVD again.
You don't stop laughing when you grow old; you grow old when you stop laughing.

#7 RolandC

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 12:48 PM

Welcome to the board!

My $0.02.

Keep in mind that at its heart, guitar is a physical activity requiring the training of muscles that are not normally used. As with any new physical activity, you need to strike the proper balance of work and rest in order to make steady progress; and steady progress is the name of the game in learning guitar, IMHO.

If you push too hard, you risk injury that will seriously impact your ability to play.

On the other hand, if you don't push hard enough you won't make any progress, leading to frustration.

You mention fatigue, but not pain, and it's important to tease out the difference.

Fatigue--including some muscle soreness--is to be expected. It takes consistent repetition over time for muscles to get toned and build stamina. For example, if you had never run distance before it would be wrongheaded to imagine that you could seriously train for a marathon and not get sore leg muscles from time to time--the worst being at the beginning. They don't call it "feeling the burn" for nothing.

Pain, on the other hand, is a signal that something is really wrong and indicates that you need to reasses your regimen. Using the above example, while soreness and fatigue in your leg muscle would be expected, shooting pains in your knees would be an indicator that something is seriously wrong.

So, you need to decide whether what you are feeling is the routine fatigue/soreness that is incident with any new physical activity, or pain that is warning you to back off.

BTW & FWIW, I am a big believer in practicing every day. Every. Single. Day. Without fail.

Remember, learning guitar skills is incremental, and every day is an opportunity to better your skills just a little bit. Consistent daily practice will get you better results than a single weekly marathon session.

If, for example, you practice 6 hours on Monday and then have to take the next 6 days off because you have wrecked your hands, you will find it hard--if not impossible--to make progress. On the other hand, if you practice 1 hour (or any amount of time that leaves you with enough juice to get back to it tomorrow) and practice every day consistently, you will make better progress and feel less frustration.

As for keeping up with the guy on the DVD? I'm sure he has been playing for years, and so he has already built up a huge amount of stamina. Again, imagine you were training for a marathon with an Olympic marathon gold medalist. He could slow down to a speed that you could reasonably start with, but of course he could keep it up for much longer because he is already trained whereas you are not. I think you would be better served learning what to do from the DVD and then practicing the chord changes with a metronome. Find a speed that you can do comfortably, and then raise it in small increments (maybe only 2 beats per minute, at first) until you can do it in tempo and without feeling overfatigued.


Good luck!
With apologies to the Bard:

"The fault lies not in our [guitars] Horatio, but in ourselves."

#8 paulg1630

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 01:14 PM

i think take rest for a day or 2 maybe learn some music theorey to supplement ur practice on these days, just do 15 minute stints then take a break when ur practicing.Dont just play chords play notes like 1234 and alter the pattern play in reverse on each string that could help condition your fingers quicker perhaps.Make up some simple patterns and ret playing them.even an extreme exercise to strengthen the fingers would be to do a few finger pressups before playing never tried it but it just came to mind i used to do it in martial arts training.

#9 mset3

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 09:24 PM


All good advice above. Being a beginner, you may be pressing down on the strings too hard causing tension on the fingers and wrist. Take notice of your technique. You only have to press down enough to make the note sound. Press down on each string just behind the fret. Unless your action is high a light touch will work. Take your time. Rest often when you feel a strain in your fingers and wrist.


#10 kpheard

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 05:19 PM

I think when you are a beginner, you should try and play for short amounts of time to start with. Maybe only 5 or 10 minutes a day for the first week then add 5 minutes a day as each week passes. That way, your hands, wrists and fingers will gradually get used to the new physical activity. After all, you are asking your body to do things which are alien to it. Gradually ramp up the time and use the time when you are not playing to read and watch guitar lesson videos maybe? That would be my advice anyway.

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