Keeping fingers close to the fretboard

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I’ve made good progress in recent months in terms of improving my finger control and stopping the fingers flying too far off the fretboard - ie when doing a scale - and thus improved my speed a fair bit. 

However my middle finger continues to misbehave - especially if my ring finger or pinky are down. 

Does anyone know of a good exercise for trying to address this? I’m working on doing chromatic exercises (ie just 1234 etc) using the tiniest movements possible but I’m still having a fair bit of trouble with that specific finger. 

Interested to hear any tips!
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  • It can take a loooong time. Mine still fly off sometimes, but much less. Daily exercises, and watching for fly-off when playing, will eventually fix it.

    That said, I'd love to see some exercises too.
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  • BRISTOL86BRISTOL86 Frets: 1435
    It can take a loooong time. Mine still fly off sometimes, but much less. Daily exercises, and watching for fly-off when playing, will eventually fix it.

    That said, I'd love to see some exercises too.
    Yeah I’ve noticed big improvement without specifically doing exercises targeting this. Just daily warm up / exercises and trying to be aware and in control of the movements. Not sure why the middle finger in particular is the problem one, I thought it would be the pinky I would always struggle with!
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 6980
    edited February 21
    So with the 1234 chromatic thing there is a good set of exercises.

    The main principle is only move one finger at a time.  So you'd go 1234 on the E, but as you put a finger down you leave the previous fingers down, and you do this when you cross strings.

    So you'd go 1234 putting a finger down each time, but then on the next string with the 1 you only move your first finger, leaving your other fingers on 234 on the previous string.  Next note would be 2 on the next string, and you'd already have your first finger on the 1 of that string but the the 34 frets on the previous string would still be fretted.  If that makes sense.  Then the 3 on the next string, with your 12 fingers already on that string but the 4 on the previous string.  Then bring the 4 across, and repeat on to the next string.

    I'd do that 3 ways, using the names of the strings:

    1. String to string, so E A D G B E, and back down E B G D A E.
    2. Up 3, down 1, so E A D, A D G, D G B, G B E, and back down E B G, B G D, G D A, D A E.
    3. String skipped, so E D, A G, D B, G E, and back down E G, B D, G A, D E

    I hope that makes sense and that I've not made a mistake somewhere.
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  • BRISTOL86BRISTOL86 Frets: 1435
    So with the 1234 chromatic thing there is a good set of exercises.

    The main principle is only move one finger at a time.  So you'd go 1234 on the E, but as you put a finger down you leave the previous fingers down, and you do this when you cross strings.

    So you'd go 1234 putting a finger down each time, but then on the next string with the 1 you only move your first finger, leaving your other fingers on 234 on the previous string.  Next note would be 2 on the next string, and you'd already have your first finger on the 1 of that string but the the 34 frets on the previous string would still be fretted.  If that makes sense.  Then the 3 on the next string, with your 12 fingers already on that string but the 4 on the previous string.  Then bring the 4 across, and repeat on to the next string.

    I'd do that 3 ways, using the names of the strings:

    1. String to string, so E A D G B E, and back down E B G D A E.
    2. Up 3, down 1, so E A D, A D G, D G B, G B E, and back down E B G, B G D, G D A, D A E.
    3. String skipped, so E D, A G, D B, G E, and back down E G, B D, G A, D E

    I hope that makes sense and that I've not made a mistake somewhere.
    Makes perfect sense, thanks! Will definitley get that into my daily practice! :)
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  • sev112sev112 Frets: 380
    Each individual finger goes where it does as a result of what the other (usually the adjacent one) fingers are currently doing
    so on some runs/chords it will be fine, but on others it will fly off

    so thats what you have to work on.
    it’s doable, partly it’s rebuildimg neural networks with exercises

    ”finger independence” in google shows. Number of ideas, e.g
    http://hubguitar.com/technique/build-finger-independence


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  • carloscarlos Frets: 1286
    Having a mirror where I can see my hands when I practice has helped me a lot. Self-awareness of body movements is important if you want to improve in almost any physical activity.
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  • I've never specifically worked at keeping my fingers close the the fretboard. I wonder whether it might happen naturally as a result of practicing building speed, and using exercises to build finger independence as described in some of the earlier posts.

    Also, when playing legato (especially with a clean sound and on acoustic) sometimes my fingers come further away from the fretboard so I can slam them down harder, compared to a close-in light touch when using a higher gain sound.

    It's not a competition.
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  • I suspect that it isn't just a question of doing these kind of exercises, though they will certainly help. Many of us probably fret with too much force, so when you release the fretting finger, it flies upward. So there's a need to constantly assess the tension in your hand and arm, and develop increased awareness of how much force you are using to fret notes.
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  • BRISTOL86BRISTOL86 Frets: 1435
    I suspect that it isn't just a question of doing these kind of exercises, though they will certainly help. Many of us probably fret with too much force, so when you release the fretting finger, it flies upward. So there's a need to constantly assess the tension in your hand and arm, and develop increased awareness of how much force you are using to fret notes.
    Good point. Too much tension is definitley something I’m aware of and trying to improve on. 
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1951
    I suspect that it isn't just a question of doing these kind of exercises, though they will certainly help. Many of us probably fret with too much force ... there's a need to constantly assess the tension in your hand and arm, and develop increased awareness of how much force you are using to fret notes.
    Pressing too hard is a well known problem for beginners. It’s not just a beginners’ problem. Nowadays I don’t practice much in order to preserve my ailing joints, and I notice that I’m pressing harder than I used to.

    At one time I looked at keeping my fingers close to the fretboard. It helped me to keep my hand in a good position, so that the smaller fingers don’t have too far to travel. After a while I backed off because I found that it interfered with my playing. If you play like a sowing machine, and pick every note with the same attack, then keeping your finger tips close helps with speed. If your playing includes hammers, pull-offs and legato then you need the extra distance for those notes which need more emphasis.

    Most people use 1234 exercises, with equal emphasis on each note, to improve finger independence. They help, but they are not particularly musical, and it’s not often that you can incorporate them into your playing. Scales are a little better because they have more use in real playing. Even better is to play melodies, and focus on emphasising key notes in the melody. Sometimes you’ll find it useful to move position and/or change string in order to use a different finger and string to get the right sound for a particular note. D and G strings are the obvious area for this.  My experience has been that, if you focus on melody and emphasis, the fingers will fall into line.
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  • Make sure you drop your wrist lower and don't the thumb over the neck as this restricts your ability to fret notes with your left-hand. One of my learners is frustrating as he doesn't drop his wrist low enough to reach round to fret the barre chords he's learning. Also doesn't help he doesn't listen to me and just goes off doing his own thing so we go round in circles.

    The chromatic scale and 1234 stuff will help too if done regularly.
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  • BRISTOL86BRISTOL86 Frets: 1435
    Make sure you drop your wrist lower and don't the thumb over the neck as this restricts your ability to fret notes with your left-hand. One of my learners is frustrating as he doesn't drop his wrist low enough to reach round to fret the barre chords he's learning. Also doesn't help he doesn't listen to me and just goes off doing his own thing so we go round in circles.

    The chromatic scale and 1234 stuff will help too if done regularly.
    I’m a very thumb over guy (but try not to be when doing 1234/scales etc) but something to watch for, for sure. 
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  • digitalscreamdigitalscream Frets: 11762
    I tried to do this once, and after a few months I got it down pretty well. Unfortunately, it transpired that fingers flying everywhere is what made me sound like me, so as soon as I stopped doing that all my playing sounded horribly sterile.

    So I went back to the old, horribly inefficient way of doing things and just accepted the fact that I wasn't going to be playing particularly fast. I can live with that.
    "Mains is ouchy if you get it up you" - Sporky
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