Wow, my fingers hurt

steteaksteteak Kern County, California Paris Swing
edited December 2013 in Gypsy Rhythm Posts: 50
Hello every one. While this might not be a discussion group for the book that I am studying, I know someone can relate. I recently bought "The Gypsy Swing as Played By the Masters," by Roux and Daussat from When it arrived, I quickly opened the box. Eager to dive into the lessons, I downloaded the file into iTunes and saved it to my iPad. While the accompanying CD played in the background, I skimmed through the material. After giving the book a once-over, I began the first lesson, which after a bit of practice was rapidly accomplished. I am not boasting, I'm just stating the first lesson was rather simple with some unfamiliar fingerings. This evening after I practiced the first lesson again and regained my experience all my confidence was shattered, when I began the next lesson.

In the second lesson there is a short progression with chords that were very difficult for my brain to signal my fingers where to go within my time keeping. So, I slowed it down. For a couple hours I slowed my rhythm to a crawl. After the slow and steady pace, I was at the point of sheer agony of pain and lack of coordination from fatigue in my pinky and ring finger that I regrettfully had to put my instrument down (normally I play for four to six hours an evening with the only symptom being mentally tired). I wondered if I wasted time by practicing one thing for so long.

I hope that I did not lose any one with my longwindedness, but I had to set up my question.

Can some of my fellow friends, whom open the ears of others to the sounds of lifes troubles uplifted and carried away with every melody and arpeggio, explain a daily workout that maximizes each fundamental aspect of the style? A physical trainer, a Mr. Miagi, so-to-speak, or some one with a successful routine. While, I do not have any funds for private lessons because I have family obligations, what I can offer is that your generousity will be paid forward. Feel free to private message me. Thank you. -Steve


  • Its a physically demanding style both in rhythm and solo work.

    If you set a practice goal of just getting one thing simple and straightforward as it may be and concentrate on that one thing then stop and take a break. Maybe 15 minutes at most.

    If your fingers are hurting and you already play guitar then you are likely gripping way too tight. Give your body a break...relax and concentrate for short periods. In the end that path is the quicker and gives a better end result.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Sometimes on a unfamiliar chord progression i will play it really really slowly watching my fingers just two chords there and back there and back ....100 or more times sometimes way more...until it becomes subconcious and easy, then I work it up to speed.

    ...if you aren't committed to the journey and are only interested in the destination this will be a difficult voyage for you.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • crookedpinkycrookedpinky Glasgow✭✭✭✭ Alex Bishop D Hole, Altamira M & JWC D hole
    Posts: 922
    I'd recommend using a tennis ball or those spring handgrips from a sports store to build up strength in both hands and try and relax while playing. I know exactly what you're describing, shortly after I started playing this stuff I had a five hour lesson with Lollo Meier and by the end of it was almost unable to move either hand never mind the pain.

    I think a good posture, comfortable grip on the guitar and good pick and fingering and strength are the keys to this - and a lot of that you will have to discover for yourself. Good luck and happy - and painfree - playing.
    always learning
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,858
    I hear you, buddy. Somehow I've hurt my right wrist so that it doesn't bother me while I'm actually playing but comes back to repay me later...

    If you want to do something relaxing and easy, however, I'd recommend some two finger chords on the 3rd and 4th strings, as discussed in the most recent Givone users group thread entitled "stupid questions"...

    I promise it'll be easy on the hands but give the old noggin a real workout!

    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

    Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
  • swingnationswingnation ✭✭
    Posts: 62
    steteak wrote: »

    Can some of my fellow friends... explain a daily workout that maximizes each fundamental aspect of the style? A physical trainer, a Mr. Miagi, so-to-speak, or some one with a successful routine. -Steve

    Here's a great tool I learned from Stephane Wrembel for strengthening your fingers. Start your practice every day with this one exercise that takes 2 minutes. Only do it once and then move on to other things.

    Set your metronome to about 60-70. you will play one whole note per beat. play low string E in 4 chromatic notes using proper GJ technique- rest stroke, down stroke when switching strings. here's the thing though- start with index on fret 1 of low e (F) and play d-rest stroke, play the next note with u-stroke (fret 2, F#) with middle finger without lifting the index finger on fret 1. repeat with all fingers to pinky on 4th fret.

    now, with all your fingers on their respective frets and without removing any of them, lift the index only and play d stroke on the first fret note on low A string (A#). keep that finger there and only lift the middle finger from the E string and place it on 2 fret of A sting and play u stroke. and so on... When you get to high e string, reverse the pattern always starting with removing the index first. The key is to make each note play clearly and with legato for the entire beat. Hope that makes sense

    After a while, you'll definitely notice a huge difference in your playing doing this just once at the beginning of your practice.

    Good luck.

  • Jayson - he's letting you get away with a "brisk" 60 bpm?
  • BonesBones Moderator
    edited December 2013 Posts: 3,320
    Are you pushing down too hard on the strings? Give it a break (lay off the playing) until your pain goes away and then try using less pressure maybe. Note that for me it is a survival technique to get thru a 2 hour gig or jam session playing rhythm. You can't put the death grip on every chord and keep that up for long. Besides, in this style you really don't grab the chords for long duration. You are releasing the grip just as fast as you are strumming. A light touch may help you.
  • If you put a death grip on a stretch the strings more than they should be and the chord will not intonate correctly....just enough pressure for the strings to contact the frets so they resonate cleanly.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • steteaksteteak Kern County, California Paris Swing
    Posts: 50
    The two-minute drill is quite challenging. Last two days I have incorporated it into my noodling. Does any one have other exercises to add?

    @Jazzaferri and @Bones I think I am pushing the strings into the fretboard too hard.
  • Just try for a minute or two each day aornd the seventh fret try a four note chord on the top strings pressing just hard enough so that the strings touch rhe frets but your fingers dont touch the fretboard. Close your eyes and just feel how soft that touch is....put a number rating on from 1 to 10 with one being the lightest. Then resumer your normal chord practice with an alarm set for five minutes. When the alarm goes off close your eyes and rate the pressure on the strings. Keep doing this once a day til you have light finger pressure.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
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