Left Hand vs Right forearm

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
yossarian83
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Left Hand vs Right forearm

Post by yossarian83 » Tue Dec 02, 2014 10:15 am

Hi Everyone,
Forum and classical guitar newbie here :oops:

I was hoping someone could clarify an issue I've recently become aware of...

On the "Pumping Nylon" dvd, Scott Tenant recommends to use the weight of gravity on the left arm to assist in pushing the strings down with the left hand, with very little "squeeze" from the thumb. The point, I think, is to spare the small muscles of the hand and forearm from over-exertion and develop a light touch.

He also recommends to treat the right arm as "tonearm" from a record player, meaning one shouldn't alter the angle of the wrist when moving from the 1st to 6th strings with a free-stroke. Which requires resting the right forearm very lightly across the guitar.

This advice leads to contradicting guitar balance issues. If I rest my right forearm lightly so that I can keep my wrist at a constant angle and "move my tonearm" then I can't possibly use the weight of gravity on my left arm to press down the string because the guitar has to be supported by my left thumb.
Likewise, if I simply relax my left hand and use the weight of gravity (very little if any thumb pressure on the back of the neck) I can't keep the lower bout of the guitar from pulling outward against my right forearm.

I hope this makes sense, any advice?

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tormodg
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Re: Left Hand vs Right forearm

Post by tormodg » Tue Dec 02, 2014 2:30 pm

You do not want to support the guitar with your left thumb - or even left hand - at all. Make sure the guitar rests on your left leg and stops against your right leg (assuming you're not playing LH of course). The guitar also rests against your chest, at an angle so you can see the top of the fretboard without craning your neck.

Added later: The lower right arm should keep your guitar gently in place in such a way that you can still move your right hand as needed. Usually your right hand should stay in position (more or less).
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BugDog
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Re: Left Hand vs Right forearm

Post by BugDog » Tue Dec 02, 2014 5:03 pm

I agree with tormodg. You should be able to hold the guitar in position without asistance from the hands (Look Ma, no hands).
The problem you describe is valid.

The right arm doesn't have to constantly press the guitar body, only when countering the left hand pressure. It's a bit like juggling, or walking, or riding a bike. There's a lot of small movements that are applied momentarily then released, adjusted, or unnecessrary at that particular instance. It takes a little while to get used to, like those previously mentioned activities, but after awhile it's just automatic.

Also, be carefully when you are exposed to certain ideas. I'm not going to say Scott Tenant is wrong, he's not. It's just that sometimes the concept being presented only applies in some contexts and not in others. For instance that tonearm concept. It applies as long as you're not trying to move between the fretboard and bridge. Or doing string crossing where the wrist has to deviate a bit, or to change attack. And sometimes you just gotta use that LH thumb pressure, just don't make a career out of it.

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Luis_Br
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Re: Left Hand vs Right forearm

Post by Luis_Br » Tue Dec 02, 2014 7:48 pm

I agree with your observation, that is one reason I do not recommend using LH arm weight. It hinders right arm mobility. So press with the thumb. Another reason is arm weight may overload fingers muscles, since fingers will need to hold the higher tension from the arm weight. But I think it is nice to practice using arm weight and no thumb for developing sensibility and relaxation to the correct use of minimal thumb tension. Just as a study, in real playing, I use thumb. Well, there is some "arm weight", or the fingers force reaction to the fretboard would push the hand/arm out.
If you still want to use some arm weight, as well as prevent guitar from slipping when moving Right Arm, my former teacher recommended me to use a suction cup tied to my leg or pants and fixed on the side of the guitar. Nowadays I use this solution together with Murata/Ergoplay to achive a Galbraith's style posture where Right Arm is free and floating.

yossarian83
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Re: Left Hand vs Right forearm

Post by yossarian83 » Wed Dec 03, 2014 12:51 pm

Thanks everyone for your help.
I reckon I must be in the beginning stages of figuring out the juggling act for guitar balance. I wish the guitar (a cervantes hauser concert) would stay in place with no hands but mine likes to slip out, maybe I should adjust my feet/stool.

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lagartija
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Re: Left Hand vs Right forearm

Post by lagartija » Wed Dec 03, 2014 1:34 pm

I am not very tall and a normal height chair leaves my thighs sloping toward the floor. I use two pieces of shelf liner on my legs to keep the guitar from slipping if I am faced with using a regular chair. I bought a bench that is portable and can be set lower. I use that in the practice room and I can bring that with me for performance. It allows my legs to be parallel to the floor. This makes the guitar less likely to make an successful escape from my grasp. With a foot stool, I do not have to hold my guitar to keep it on my lap; my legs are sufficient to keep it in place. I remember it took me nearly a year of playing and struggling with my guitar to figure out how to keep it in my grasp as I played. This is a stage that I think we all go through, unless one is quite large with arms and legs that envelope the instrument!
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Luis_Br
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Re: Left Hand vs Right forearm

Post by Luis_Br » Wed Dec 03, 2014 2:38 pm

yossarian83 wrote:Thanks everyone for your help.
I reckon I must be in the beginning stages of figuring out the juggling act for guitar balance. I wish the guitar (a cervantes hauser concert) would stay in place with no hands but mine likes to slip out, maybe I should adjust my feet/stool.
Wiht no hand it certainly should stay in place and stable. It is very important to figure out a position/accessories etc. that allow a very stable guitar. But stable does not mean rigid. I like to have the ability to change guitar position a bit during playing, according to angle for desired sound/style of the piece.

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Re: Left Hand vs Right forearm

Post by baroquerogue » Wed Dec 03, 2014 4:00 pm

If you're using a foot stool, start with the lowest postion that elevates the head of the guitar above your shoulder. Each person will find the sweet spot to be different. Keeping the thigh somewhat parallel to the floor is a good starting place. What you're looking for is a posture where the guitar is balanced and giving your hand and arms freedom of movement.

yossarian83
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Re: Left Hand vs Right forearm

Post by yossarian83 » Wed Dec 03, 2014 6:05 pm

Great advice, thanks again. I guess I'll start by working with my footstool height. Oddly, I usually practice in an unused guest bathroom upstairs so my seat isn't exactly adjustable, ; ) ... better acoustics!

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