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  • brians356 1:16PM
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What to focus on in the left hand for an absolute ( guitar ) beginner

Hello dear people,
I recently started to fullfil a livelong dream: Mastering ( or at least try to ) the Manouche Rhythm guitar.
Since I am a professional drummer I do not struggle too much with the right hand, keeping time, dynamics or understanding of song structure or musical context.
However my left hand struggles a lot. I hope it will become more flexible with time ( but since I am already in my late 40s I am also realistic enough to expect no wonders.)
The problem is, that very often I find myself muting a string that should be sounding or vie versa, because my of my fingers ability to bend in the right places :)
I have got some very nice and ¬Ľoriginal¬ę sounding albeit complicated voicings and I think I should rather live with unprecise sounding chords in the beginning and then work my way into the details once they are more internalized then to simplify the voicings.
Some guitarists however told me to rather be very precise with the finger positioning in the beginning.
What is your take on that? Does the stretching come just by playing alone when you are not a kid anymore?

Thanks for all input!

Comments

  • BonesBones Moderator
    Start with simple 3 chord songs and simple left hand grips and play slowly at first. No faster than you can play cleanly. Then slowly increase tempo.
  • Thanks for the tip. Which songs would you recommend?
    I of course worked with minor swing and omitting the in between chords.
  • Hi,
    From your post it's unclear whether you know how to play guitar or not at all... anyway, I am writing in assumption that you are brand new to guitar.

    I began to learn guitar (from knowing nothing at all) when I was in my mid-40s. Four years into it (with the guidance of a gypsy jazz guitar teacher weekly), I found some critical lessons:

    (1) Make sure each chord sound clean. Make sure the strumming hit all 6 strings including those need to be muted. There are plenty of easier chords to start with. No need to immediately learn chords that need the participation of left thumb.

    (2) Once the fingers know those chords, play sloooooooooowly to make sure the whole tune sounds clean. 45 beats a second or even slower.

    (3) Make sure the left thumb is in the proper place and not stress it out by bending too much and by not relaxing. Relax not only the thumb but also the whole shoulder.

    I started with simple tunes such as:
    Sweet Georgia Brown
    Autumn Leaves
    La Vie En Rose
    I'll See You in My Dream
    Swing Gitan
    Exactly Like You

    Have fun!
  • PetrovPetrov ‚ú≠‚ú≠
    In the beginning, what you are experiencing is normal when fretting chords. Something that worked for me and I've seen it suggested is this.

    Fret the chord. Play one string at a time slowly. Make sure that everything sounds good. Notes are clear with no buzzing and strings muted stay that way. When you encounter a issue, look and analyse what is going wrong. Move your fingers until it sounds good. Take note of the position and the feel of the hand.

    Take your hand off and then re fret the chord and do the same thing as before. Repeat over and over until it sounds good. Then do the same thing but while strumming all the notes at once. If it doesn't sound good, go back and analyse the problem.

    Once you have that going for two chords, start a simple progression like a V7 to I (D7 to G for example in key of G)

    Also make sure to stretch and warm up before and stay relaxed. If you are tensing up, take a short break.
  • PetrovPetrov ‚ú≠‚ú≠
    For songs, I would recommend any blues form. At their core, they are only 3 chords. Easy to remember and getting started. Once you get it in your ears and hands, you can focus more on clean sound and good tone, instead or worrying about a more complex progression.

    Bones
  • BonesBones Moderator
    edited September 6
    Some 3 chord songs:

    Minor Swing (without the passing chords)
    Minor Blues
    Duke and Dukie

    Start with simple grips (3 note "Freddie Green" style work well) to get the left hand going in coordination with the right. Start at slow tempos and play with a metronome or recording so that you know you are not cheating on keeping good time. When you can do that and have good tone and swinging then add in more complicated grips or songs with more complicated chord structures.

    It helps to pick songs that you like. And remember that even though you are playing guitar you are still the percussionist.

    Hope that helps. Have fun! :-)
  • Hello and thanks.
    I will keep working :)

    I got some beautiful voicings from Hono Winterstein for Minor Swing ( see attached file ) but I am really struggeling to make the C sound on the Am6/9.
    Attached are also both fingerings I am trying.
    Any which way, the C always is muted because of the way the 2nd and 3rd strings are pressed ... Any pointers?
    For the voicing I dont consider the C to be very important ( like the B and E ) So I was wondering if I should just live with it for now....
  • BonesBones Moderator
    edited September 9
    Yeah those are tough grips and I never use them for that reason and also I just don't ever play rhythm in that high of a register because I want to leave that range completely open for the soloist. But that's just my preference and I don't want to discourage you from working on that if you and your bandmates like that sound but again I'd suggest using simpler grips anyway as a beginner rhythm player so that you sound clean and have good tone, time, and are swinging. Otherwise you will sound sloppy and probably clash with the soloist. If I was playing an Am6 it would look like this

    x
    x
    5
    4
    x
    5

    or at most Am6/C (especially if there is a bass player covering the root)

    x
    7
    9
    7
    x
    8

    But again I never play in that high register so I would use Am/C without the 6th on top.

    x
    x
    9
    7
    x
    8
    Andrew Ulle
  • Andrew UlleAndrew Ulle Cleveland, OH‚ú≠‚ú≠‚ú≠ Antoine DiMauro modele Django
    you can do a lot of songs with just a few easy shapes that can be moved up or down as needed: (these are in Minor Swing as I learned it, certainly not the only or best way, just simple)


    x (Am6no5) 5 (Am6)
    x 5
    5 or 5
    4 4
    x x
    5 5

    x (Dm6/B) instead of this chord, if it's too hard, just move the Am shape
    3 above to the 10th fret. You can do the whole song with
    2 that one shape.
    3
    2
    x

    x (Bm6no5) this is the same shape as the Am6, just two frets up
    x
    7
    6
    x
    7

    x (Cm6no5) this is the same shape as the Am6, just three frets up
    x
    8
    7
    x
    8


    For other songs:
    This A7 is common and easy and can be moved anywhere:
    x
    x
    4
    5
    x
    5

    this minor chord comes up a lot (shown as Am6) and also can be moved:
    x
    x
    5
    5
    x
    5


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