Is travis picking and shuffle stuff supposed to wreck my wrist?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Turi, Apr 27, 2015.

  1. Turi

    Turi Member

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    I'm only 27. I don't have arthritis or anything.

    Whenever I try travis picking and any sort of shuffle stuff, where you might extend your pink to say, 2 frets further than a power chord, it freaking wrecks my fretting hand wrist.
    Absolutely wrecks it. I can feel it burning pretty quickly.

    5 minutes tops is all I can do it for, and nothing is fretted properly anyway.

    I figure I've GOT to be doing something wrong. >_<

    Is it supposed to burn so fast? Or burn at all?

    I really need to nail this stuff.

    It's like every time I go to learn something new, some rhythm stuff comes up (in this case, it's a "Country Shuffle" from the 1-2-3 Country lesson on Truefire) and there's something there that wrecks my hand.

    Last time it was Travis picking - I just can't hold the bar chord for that long without it burning the **** out of my hand.

    Even the bog standard blues-shuffle thing, where you go from like
    57xxxx to 59xxxx wrecks my hand.

    It's really annoying because I just want to get this stuff nailed ASAP.
     
  2. Turi

    Turi Member

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    This rhythm stuff is so much harder than any lead guitar stuff I've learned so far.
     
  3. JonR

    JonR Member

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    What fingering are you using for a power chord? Try index and middle, and the pinky should then easily stretch another 2 frets.
    If you have trouble stretching index and middle 2 frets, you just need more LH exercises.
    But also think about thumb position. Eg try placing that pinky first (get that comfortable, nothing else), and then stretching the index back. The thumb should be on the back of the neck, somewhere in between index and pinky, so that those 2 fingers spread out from the centre, as it were.
    Lastly, raise the guitar neck, so your left elbow is 90 degrees or (ideally) less. All (or any of) these things should help the left hand and wrist.
    Definitely sounds like poor LH position. Keep the neck high, and your LH close to you.
    Difficulty with barre chords can be down to high action (poor setup) or heavy strings, but yours sounds like a hand position problem.
    Travis picking is an advanced RH technique, and you should definitely get your basic LH technique sorted.
     
  4. JonR

    JonR Member

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    OK - sounds like you've done things in the wrong order! Rhythm (chords etc) should come first, before lead stuff, IMO. (I mean, it's good to learn a few riffs, tunes and scales first, for finger exercise and fretting practice, but chords come next, before anything like soloing.)
    At least, you ought to be fully on top of power chords, and the basic barre shapes.
    But you don't say how long you're been playing, and it does take a while -months, maybe a year or more - for the left hand to gain flexibility and strength. Just make sure your fretting hand (and wrist and arm) is in the best position.
    (And like I say, Travis picking is advanced. It can years to get the basics of that; and do it with easy open position chords first, not with barre chords.)
     
  5. Turi

    Turi Member

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    I've been playing guitar for like 9 years.
    Maybe 2 years for trying to learn how to actually play it.

    I use my pointer finger and ring finger to do power chords with and then extend the pinky.
    I thought this was the normal way of doing it.

    I'll try getting the pinky comfortable first.

    With these lessons, rhythm always comes first so I am learning rhythm first.

    I just meant any lead stuff I knew previously.

    All these rhythm ones are harder than any leads or solos I already know.

    It wrecks my hand hard hard with the pinky extensions and holding bar chords forever (for Travis picking).

    The lesson for Travis picking starts on a Gdom13 chord, so the whole progression you learn is barred chords, nothing is open - that's from 1-2-3 rockabilly BTW. Awesome course.
     
  6. Axis29

    Axis29 Supporting Member

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    First, try pointer and middle for power chords, Like JonR suggests!

    Second lighten up the pressure... It sounds like you have a lot of tension going on. Strike the string with your right hand (finger or pick, whatever) and then lighten up with your left hand until the sound disappears. Right before it deadens, that's the pressure to use.... Try not to go any heavier.

    Also, what kind of angle is your wrist? You don't want any kind of severe angle. It should be as neutral and relaxed as possible.
     
  7. stevel

    stevel Member

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    On the 3rd fret?

    Move it up the neck where the frets are closer together!!!
     
  8. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Merle himself would probably have played that chord with thumb on 6th, not as a barre. ;) (Doesn't mean you have to play it that way, but worth a try.)
     
  9. Turi

    Turi Member

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    Yeah, third fret. The shape is:
    353453



    Hey, I tried it with index and pointer, and could do it way, way easier.. so much better!
    Thanks a tonne!

    It's a slightly different angle for my index finger now though, so I'll need to keep at it to make sure I'm fretting the third string for a country shuffle properly with this fingering.
    Shape is:
    353xxx, then you shuffle up to 373xxx
    That's not exactly right. You hit the lower 3 in between every other note.
    Can't explain it too well, it sounds kinda like Chuck Berrys shuffle-type sound.

    I also keep going back to my normal way of fingering the chord out of habit - need to stop this because the index and pointer way is so much easier, for the shuffle stuff.

    I understand that for a full chord, I can't really do it that way because I need the pointer to fret the D string.. but still, for the shuffle stuff this is great!

    Thanks fellas!

    I'll get a pic in a bit of my hand, so you guys can see how I'm holding the neck. I might have something bad going on that I need to get rid of.
     
  10. mastercaster

    mastercaster Member

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    Lithsp, that fingering you show for the shuffle looks more like the fingering for the country rock pattern in that course. If it is Jason really plays it at pace and hybrid picked on that one. I slowed it down and played it relaxed till I got comfortable with it.
    But like the others have stated posture and and playing position are important. Shift the patterns up the neck and move them back down a fret at a time after you become comfortable with a position. Slow the rhythms down and play relaxed.
     
  11. Turi

    Turi Member

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    You're right, it is the country rock one but its pretty much a shuffle still!
     
  12. JonR

    JonR Member

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    :confused: Hold on: "index" and "pointer" are the same thing...
     
  13. Turi

    Turi Member

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    I meant index and middle, lol.
     
  14. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Right ;) .
    You can get in trouble if you point with your middle finger... upwards that is....
     
  15. fuzz_factor

    fuzz_factor Supporting Member

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    People have mentioned wrist angle, but put another way: Don't wear your guitar too low. You don't want an extreme bend (or much of a bend at all) in your left hand wrist.

    DON'T be afraid to use your left hand thumb for certain chords. I almost never play a full barre chord any more. Google lessons on Jimi Hendrix style rhythm guitar style (or find a good Little Wing transcription). Hendrix's method of chording is much easier on the hands, sounds great and allows you to throw in lots of little licks and fills.

    I've been playing guitar on and off for almost 30 years and I also can't hold some chords for an especially long time, such as when playing a Travis picking style thing. That has more to do with damage I've done to my left arm/shoulder from computer overuse than guitar playing, but still... Holding the same chord a long time is repetitive stress and will lead to damage.

    Also, shuffle rhythms are SUPER boring! I realize that you want to master them, but IMHO no one wants to hear that stuff anymore. Try mixing it up a little, using 7ths chords like this (A7):

    x
    5
    6
    5
    x
    5

    You can use your thumb to fret the 'A' on the low 'E' string. From there, it's easy to hit D7, E7, Bmin7, etc. You can even mix and match the shuffle pattern with chords stabs using the fingering above for variety and to give your hand a break from monotony.


    Spice it up! Good luck! Don't mess up your wrists playing shuffles for hours!
     
  16. mc5nrg

    mc5nrg Supporting Member

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    Maybe your guitar needs an action setup or lighter strings....
     
  17. Turi

    Turi Member

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    [​IMG][​IMG]

    That's how my hand is for the Travis picking one.
    That's how I hold my hand for all full barre chords.
    Hurts after a while. Not even a very long time either.

    The power chord-like shuffle has become easier using the fingering suggested in this thread.

    EDIT: I must have slightly shifted my index finger while trying to take the pic - it's supposed to be on the G..

    Fingering for that particular chord is

    353453
     
  18. Turi

    Turi Member

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    I don't wear my guitar too low. Just.. normal height. I can't play properly with it too low, and I look like a douche anyway doing that.

    I do use my thumb for lots of barre chords.. but I'm trying to break away from that and trying to use proper fingering for stuff.

    I don't find shuffles boring, but eh, the country rock pattern I'm learning to play properly actually is based on the dominant 7 sound. :p

    Nah, the strings are fine however thick they are at the moment, I barely notice them.
    The action did need sorting out when I first got the guitar, but I've since got around to doing that and it plays like a dream, with absolutely no fret buzz anywhere.

    To have no fretbuzz, I've had to raise the strings a little higher than they were.. but eh, it feels really good to me.
    I'm not a shredder or anything so I don't need really low strings.
    In fact, I'm finding I prefer the strings a little higher than I thought I would, since it helps with my pickless 'snap' kinda method of playing.
     
  19. ianb

    ianb Member

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    I immediately noticed where you place your LH thumb, behind the neck. If that is it's normal position, it might be part of the problem, or at the very least, it's not helping. I always teach my students to keep the thumb opposite the the first two fingers, and not placing it as far to the left as shown. You are making your hand work much harder this way. Try moving your thumb to the right, and see if that doesn't make a difference. And always move your thumb along with your LH hand when changing position on the neck


    .
     
  20. fuzz_factor

    fuzz_factor Supporting Member

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    Cool! I wouldn't call thumb over 'improper', however. It's just another tool in your toolbox. Learn both techniques and mix and match to suit. Six string barre chords can be really fatiguing! ianb's advice was spot on.

    About playing shuffles: Have you considered starting in 'E' at the 12th fret and slowly working your way down to 'A' at the 5th fret over the course of a few weeks or months? That will give your fingers a chance to stretch gently over time.

    It looks like you have small fingers - I do too, relative to my height. I could stretch a lot further when I was younger and before I spent 15 years using a computer. Now, I don't even try to fight my way into certain chord voicings. I'd rather be able to play a long time and not jack up the tendons in my wrist.

    Good luck!
     

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