Mudcat Café message #989946 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #61497   Message #989946
Posted By: PoppaGator
24-Jul-03 - 05:33 PM
Thread Name: Learning to play the guitar
Subject: RE: Learning to play the guitar
I've been more-or-less relearning to play, after many years of relative inactivity followed by a few recent years of absolutely NO playing at all, due to arthritis in the fingers. That's when I started to really miss playing, and to regret having played so little since my youth.

After discovering glucosamine, a very effective supplement that has given me back use of my fingers, I've begun playing again.

I do remember *how* to do all kinds of things with both hands, but I've found it pretty difficult to actually *do* them, at tempo and with the requisite ease and "swing."

One trick that has worked very nicely for me is simply to capo up a couple of frets -- tunes that I had not been able to play in a free and easy manner in first position immediately became *much* easier, and I could eliminate a lot of frustration, forget myself, and simply "get into it" for extended periods. Most importantly, it's enabled me to practice/play for more total minutes and hours.

The capo serves to lower the action a bit, but (for me at least) I think it's more significant that it allows you to play where the frets are closer together, shortening up the left-hand stretches.

I just thought to pass this insight along after reading Sorefingers' post immediately above, where he closes by saying he does NOT use a capo -- perhaps as a way of keeping things simple, etc. I understand -- I didn't even own a capo for years, during the very time when I was most active as a player.

I've never heard anyone recommend using the capo this way, as a learning aid -- "training wheels," so to speak -- but now I feel strongly that shortening up the neck once in a while could be as effective a learning aid for a new player as it has been for me as a rehab case.

You wouldn't want to become dependant upon the "cheater" as a crutch, so you shouldn't use it all the time. However, clamping it in place two or three frets up the neck after playing in first position for a while might make it easier to log some extra practice time, and so to begin playing more easily and thus less consciously.