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Thread: Some light touch questions

  1. #1
    Junkie for soulful guitar metalprep6969's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    North Carolina

    Some light touch questions

    Hey guys, I'm trying to get the light touch down, but some of it is misleading to me. I use moderately thick strings so when I use vibrato (a very big part of my playing) and bend, it takes some force. Should I play lightly for most notes, but apply heavy pressure when doing vibrato and bending?

    Also, I have trouble separating the amount of pressure applied by each hand. Generally, if I am playing lightly with my left hand, I'm picking lightly with my right hand, and if I'm picking heavily with my right hand, I'm pressing pretty heavily with my left. Are there exercises that help that? Paul Gilbert picks very heavily but with his blazing speed, I'm sure he doesn't press very hard with his left hand. I'm trying to develop that ability myself.

    Lastly, when I try to use a light touch, it seems like the notes to sound as alive as when I'm pressing heavily. I think this maybe be because I pick lightly when I'm pressing lightly, but maybe not? Thanks for the help.

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  2. #2
    Latin Wedding Band Los Boleros's Avatar
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    Oct 2004
    San Francisco Bay Area
    I am sure someone here will have a good excersise for you. I think it just comes with years of practice but as with all things, there is usually a methodical approach to speeding it up. Another down side to heavy left hand is chords go out of pitch. (especially with jumbo high Fretts or a scallopped fret-board.
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  3. #3
    fan of the G string curiousgeorge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Britney's basement

    I've been trying to do the same thing, but I realized that in order to have that very light touch, it is much easier if your hand and fingers are very strong. Try to get stronger by doing the 6-minute trill every day, Petrucci's stretch exercises (will put in powertab if requested), lots of legato, and play root 5th and 6th string add 9 chords all over the neck on every possible fret. Or, any other hand strengtheners you can think of. That's my theory anyway because it seems that a lot of older cats get this light touch after playing for many years, so I can only assume it has something to do with hand/finger strength and conditioning. I may be wrong, but I would like to hear some other theories as well. Cheers!


  4. #4
    Freestyle Bluesman Yukon Jack's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Deep South
    My experience is much the same. When I use vibrato or bends, I have to grip the pick harder and apply more left hand force. But I like that 'feeling' it imparts. I play more blues than shred so I look for contrast in the sounds I get from playing lightly and then more heavily.

    I read a Jamey Andreas article where he suggest practicing 'finger flapping' everyday to help calibrate that light touch. I'm sure the article is somewhere on this site. Other than that, I don't know of any specific exercises for developing a light touch.

    I play most lightly when playing exercises like chromatic runs and scales. Its much harder to play blues licks with a light touch.


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