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I'm scared. Losing playing ability after 3 months hiatus?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Spearhead, Jun 2, 2020.

  1. Spearhead

    Spearhead Member

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    For the past 3 months i haven't played any electric guitar at all. Instead i've just been strumming chords on the acoustic while practicing my singing.
    Today i finally picked up the electric guitar again and to my great horror i noticed i've lost what feel like 50% of my ability. Even picking up the guitar felt foreign.

    I've been practicing technique for years and until now i've been able to shred around pretty fluently with a good amount of freedom in the styles of blues/80's rock stuff (Yngwie, Paul Gilbert...) Now my technique is heavily reduced. I recorded myself while noodling around to get a better idea of how low i have sunken. And what the heck!!? I'm just so sloppy and sound like a beginner now.

    I'm starting this thread in despair. Is this normal??? :(
     
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  2. duke23433

    duke23433 Supporting Member

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    In undergrad I went through probably years of never playing except for picking around on an acoustic 1 or 2 times a year. Sure I wasn't as polished when I started playing again but it came back quick
     
  3. johnsav

    johnsav Member

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    You're just a little rusty, it will come back.
    My former trumpet teacher, a working pro, felt he had to practice every day or his technique would suffer.
    After an extended break, he would have to woodshed to get those muscles back to top form.
    He always got it back quickly.
     
  4. Blix

    Blix Supporting Member

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    Perfectly normal. But give it a week of practising and you'll be back I'm sure.
     
  5. Tommy Biggs

    Tommy Biggs Silver Supporting Member

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    It’ll take 3 weeks, (or a week if you woodshed). There’s a lot of little things that go into playing! Don’t worry, it’ll all come back, and you’ll have some new insights and inspiration.
     
  6. Evitucci

    Evitucci Member

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    It will come back, I did something similar, keep at it for a few weeks and it will be back.
     
  7. Timtam

    Timtam Member

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    As the saying goes, it's like riding a bike. The motor programs are still embedded in your brain somewhere.
     
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  8. sleewell

    sleewell Member

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    i didn't play much but my band has been playing together again the last few weeks. it comes back but was rough at first.
     
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  9. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Silver Supporting Member

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    The same thing's happened to me, though I've made up what I've lost in fingerboard dexterity with working on, improving, and putting to practice my songwriting chops. So no concerns - as others have noted, give it a couple of weeks of solid practicing, it'll all come back.

    Even Jerry Garcia, upon awakening from his diabetic coma, recovered fully but it took time:

    On July 10, 1986 Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia lapsed into a diabetic coma that nearly killed him. The band’s upcoming shows were cancelled as Garcia spent weeks and months recovering with help from old friend Merl Saunders. While Garcia played a number of Jerry Garcia Band shows in the Fall of 1986, the Grateful Dead finally returned to the stage on December 15, 1986 to begin a series of three performances at the Oakland Coliseum Arena.

    Scribe Blair Jackson described Merl’s role in getting Jerry back into shape for a Dead.net article:

    When Jerry nearly died in the summer of 1986 after slipping into a diabetic coma, it was Merl more than anyone else, who literally sat by Jerry’s side and helped him regain his musical gifts—which had become scrambled and elusive following the coma—by patiently re-teaching him the fundamentals, rebuilding his skills a little at a time. And even before he was ready to attempt to play, Merl helped him get some of his strength back: “I’d take him for a walk. We’d take 10 steps, then take 10 steps back. His attitude was great. He wanted to get better, but he was scared, too. He got tired very easily, but he never really got discouraged. The most he’d say would be, ‘Oh man, this is harder than it looks!’”

    Once Garcia picked up a guitar, “It came back very slowly,” Merl said. “He had to learn chords all over again and he had a lot of trouble remembering how to do even the simplest stuff. And I didn’t want to push him. ‘Man, I’m tired.’ He’d been playing for five minutes. ‘OK, that’s fine. Put it down. Let’s go for a walk.’ And we’d do that for a few minutes until he’d get tired. We’d talk about music. I’d tell him about songs I was working on and that would get his mind going. We’d talk in musical terms. And slowly he started to get his strength back. But it sometimes took an hour or two for him to get even a simple chord down. Then, as we got farther into it, some things started to come back to him a little, but it took a lot of work. The first song he wanted to learn again was ‘My Funny Valentine.’”
    From all accounts the first Grateful Dead show back, which took place on this date in 1986, was an incredibly emotional affair. There was a time Deadheads thought Jerry may never be back, but not only did Garcia return to the stage he also unveiled new songs. In fitting fashion the Grateful Dead opened with “Touch Of Grey,” which gave fans a chance to scream along with the chorus of “I will survive!” On audience recordings you can hear the capacity crowd go absolutely wild both as the Dead take the stage and throughout “Touch Of Grey.”

    The first debut of the evening came early on as Jerry led his mates through “When Push Comes To Shove,” a song the group would record for In The Dark though surprisingly disappeared from the repertoire in 1989. Jerry and Bob switched off fronting the group throughout a first set that included such classics as “Greatest Story Ever Told,” “Loser,” “Cassidy,” “Althea” and “Candyman.”

    After opening the second set with “Iko Iko” and “Looks Like Rain,” Garcia stepped to the mic to deliver the first ever “Black Muddy River.” Unlike “When Push Comes To Shove,” Jerry and Robert Hunter’s “Black Muddy River” stuck around until the very end of the Grateful Dead’s career and was the penultimate song the group performed at their final concert on July 9, 1995. Weir did most of the heavy lifting in a second set that featured multiple sections of “Playing In The Band” and a raucous “Johnny B. Goode” encore. The Grateful Dead was back and would go to achieve their greatest commercial success the following year with the release of “Touch Of Grey” as a single. Yet the tune never meant as much as it did on December 15, 1986.

    https://www.jambase.com/article/grateful-dead-returns-jerry-garcia-diabetic-coma-date-1986
     
  10. johnsav

    johnsav Member

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    Taking a break might affect muscle memory and form, but like you say, there's a freshness in approach that makes it worth it sometimes.
     
  11. Scary Uncle G.

    Scary Uncle G. Member

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    I haven’t been playing electric guitar much in the past year, as I’ve been focusing on a life long dream of learning the violin. I might go days now without picking up a guitar. When I do, it still comes back.

    Of course, I was never an 80’s “shred” player, so maybe the bar is lower. OTOH, I have a huge working repertoire of songs. I always say I’ve forgotten more songs than I know.
     
  12. Lt Dak

    Lt Dak Supporting Member

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    Totally normal.

    I took a couple years off when kids happened, and when I picked it up again felt like I totally sucked. It comes back. I think I'm better now that I ever was then, it just took some work.
     
  13. 56Tweed

    56Tweed Sub-Octave Member Silver Supporting Member

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    Are you relaxed when you are playing, or are you tense from being uncomfortable with it all? You mentioned that it felt foreign after so long so that could very well be part of it. It will definitely come back, and probably pretty quickly. I'm always amazed at how quickly the muscle memory responds after a long break when life gets busy. For me, in these stressful times, the music has been my saving grace.
     
  14. monty

    monty Member

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    No different that going to the gym after a hiatus. Have to back work up to those weights but it comes back quicker than you thing.
    And like the gym, make sure you are warming up!
     
  15. johnsav

    johnsav Member

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    I can imagine that taking time off violin would require some work to get back in shape- there are so many skills involved in playing fretless bowed instruments.
     
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  16. rizla

    rizla Member

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    I didnt play anything noteworthy for 2yrs once.
    Still havnt.
     
  17. Jarick

    Jarick Supporting Member

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    It should come back pretty quickly.

    I'm curious if/when I ever play drums again how I'd do. I have barely touched them in 10 years (maybe longer). As a kid I played for hours a day, took lessons, got very good in my opinion. The couple times I tinkered around on an electric kit I was still not bad, I could get through a set of easy material cold. A lot of it is muscle memory and in the brain. But the details I'm sure would be ugly.
     
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  18. Rockyrollercat

    Rockyrollercat Member

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    Sometimes I don't play for months at a time then an audition pops up. When I go to the audition the bass and drums still drown me out.
     
  19. C-4

    C-4 Member

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    Just for the OP's knowledge, if I don't practice daily, and even then, I loose something which comes back to me after a set or two playing live. I've had to practice daily all of my life, or I go south VERY fast.

    You will regain your technique with practice and live playing, if you do play live.
     
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  20. jekylmeister

    jekylmeister Supporting Member

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    Sounds like my golf game..........
     
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