Many of you wanted to know what kind of exercises I use to avoid tension in my playing.
All guitarists struggle with playing with too much tension. And while tension can’t be eliminated completely — and is even necessary to properly play the guitar — playing with too much tension can make things unnecessarily difficult. It can affect our fluidity and accuracy. It can also be painful, and in some cases, cause physical damage.
For this video I’m going to show you a simple yet powerful exercise I use to avoid tension in my playing, and to play softly and more fluidly.
I’ll start by choosing a particular lick or scale. For example a B minor arpeggio, but it can really be anything you want. Once I’ve chosen a particular lick, I rest my fingertips on the strings so they are barely touching, then play the lick. It’s probably not going to sound very good at first, but that’s ok. Rather than a clear, defined note, I should only hear a muted clicking or harmonics when I do the run.
After going through it a few times this way (lightly touching the strings), I begin to gradually add more pressure until I can hear clear, defined notes. Once I start to hear the notes clearly — without any noise — I know I have found the “sweet spot”. What’s happening here is I’m teaching my brain, hands and fingers the minimal effort concept. You’ll quickly find it does not require that much pressure to get to the pure note. It’s barely more pressure than what I started the exercise with, but now I am getting the pure essence of each note and doing it with very little tension.
It’s very important that you practice this exercise every day to achieve positive results. Approach this with the goal of playing with a softer touch. Over time, this simple exercise will greatly reduce the tension in your playing; your playing will become more fluid, expressive and accurate. And best of all, you’ll achieve it with minimal effort.