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Playing Disabled


DocPate

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As many know, I have severe arthritis in two fingers left hand. My forefinger and ring finger along with my thumb works fairly well. So I can pick a little but chords are out of the question. Now my picking style over the years has relied on fingering chords even though picking individual notes. I've tried lately to relearn picking with just the good fingers but it's harder than learning the first time.

 

Have any of you folks had similar experiences?

 

I mean with relearning the basics because of an injury or disabilty? And, does the inability to finger chords inhibit your ability to play leads?

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I haven't personally had any hand problems...yet.

 

Still, you might take some solace in learning about Django Reinhardt.

 

In 1928 in Saint-Ouen, Seine-Saint-Denis, Reinhardt was injured in a fire which ravaged the caravan he shared with Florine "Bella" Mayer, his first wife. They were very poor, and to supplement their income, Bella made imitation flowers out of celluloid and paper. Returning from a performance late one night, Reinhardt apparently knocked over a candle on his way to bed, igniting these highly flammable materials. While his family and neighbors were quick to pull him to safety, he received first- and second-degree burns over half his body. His right leg was paralyzed, and the fourth and fifth fingers of his left hand were badly burned. Doctors believed that he would never play guitar again, and intended to amputate one of his legs. Reinhardt refused to have the surgery and left the hospital after a short time; he was able to walk within a year with the aid of a cane.

 

His brother Joseph Reinhardt, also an accomplished guitarist, bought Django a new guitar. With rehabilitation and practice, he relearned his craft in a completely new way, even as his fourth and fifth fingers remained partially paralyzed. He played all his guitar solos with only two fingers, and used the two injured digits only for chord work.

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Django_Reinhardt

 

Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: âNinety percent of everything is crapâ

 

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

 

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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Yep, I have a hurt trapezius muscle in my left arm which hurts and some neuropathy in my hands and feet. My playing is getting sloppy because my hands and fingers will not answer exactly on call. It happens early in my sessions but goes away somewhat as I play. I also have carpel tunnel in my left hand and a trapped ulnar nerve in my left elbow. I am trying to have all of that fixed in the coming months.
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So far I haven't had a serious enough problem to have to relearn to play. I am battling a case of arthritic gout that seems to come around once every summer affecting my fretting hand. I haven't been able to really play for about 2 weeks now. It is starting to subside a little and I'm hoping to get back to playing soon...I truly hate it when I can't play at least a half hour to an hour a day...Good luck to you Doc and I know you'll stay with it as long as possible! I have more trouble playing chords than I do playing leads when I have a flare up...I do try not to bend strings when playing leads as that tends to cause some pain and swelling the next day. :cool:
Take care, Larryz
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My case is different. Y'all know my issues after a mini-stroke a couple of years ago. Affected my digital dexterity.

 

I have no problem with chords. Playing melodies and leads is my problem. Still.

 

I can go OK for about a minute or so, but after that the fingers get all "flibbety". But, I'm not giving up, so keep at it Doc. But, if the pain increases as you keep playing, I'd look into something else(or some other approach). But don't give up hope.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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Just curious...how important is the middle finger of your fretting hand to your style of playing? For me, it's extremely important for both leads and chords. I can't even play a decent slide without the ability to bend it.
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I pretty much use all of my fingers on both hands; I don't use any kind of picks an I do a lot of barres and partial-barres and double-barres and... yeah, i use and need all of my fingers on both hands. Sometimes I even use my fretting-hand thumb to hold down a note.

 

 

I get serious stiffness and soreness in my hands and fingers if I do a lot of hard physical labor with them, which can make it very difficult and even impossible to play even simple, basic guitar parts... That eventually clears up, though. Alternating hot and cold water and stretches help.

 

 

Brick/block laying, etc., is the kind of stuff I'm talking about, or other labor that's hard on the hands- although when that's happened, no amount of loosening up or scales or exercises will make a difference; only a few days or more of recuperation... Although stretches and taking a break and a professional's input are very important! Not to contradict anyone, but sometimes it's NOT a good idea to play through the pain- depending on the cause of it.

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Just concentrate on flipping the bird Doc! Pick the chord formation that works best for you:

 

examples using low to high G and C chords (moveable)

 

like for a minor 3 5 5 3 3 3 root on the 1st and 6th strings

minor 7th 3 5 3 3 3 3

 

for a major 3 3 5 5 5 3 root on the 5th and 3rd strings

7th 3 3 5 3 5 3

 

for leads skip the bird finger while playing pentatonics and use the ring finger to slide with... hope this works a little for you! :cool:

Take care, Larryz
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Sounds as if you're describing one of those chromed steel bars that steel guitar players employ. Most "slide" players use a metal or glass tube that slips over a finger.

 

Remember, back in "the day", we used to call the style "bottleneck" due to the earliest players of this style slipping the necks of broken beer or wine bottles over their fingers and going at it. Over the years, some would take the thin metal cover off of their lady's tube of lipstick and use IT.

 

"Over the finger" in this case, since the issue was arthritic hands, would be the better choice I'd think. No worries about being able to grasp and hold.

Whitefang

 

 

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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And, does the inability to finger chords inhibit your ability to play leads?

 

Can't address the disability question, personally. I get soreness in my hands and arms from my work, but nothing lingering. However, my ability to play leads depends on me using all four fingers of my left hand, and occasionally tapping notes with my right. Losing strength or response in any of my fingers would be a detriment.

 

If your difficulty in playing chords is an issue of strength, you may still be able to play leads, but if it's strength & dexterity, you'll probably have an issue playing fast, but that doesn't mean you can't still play expressively. I'd consider a change in string gauge and set-up, first of all, to get your guitar 'built for comfort', so to speak. Beautiful phrasing isn't about speed . . .

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

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@ jimmac, I have arthritic fingers and fretting hand and wrist problems. Between the upright bottleneck slide style and the lap steel style of slide playing, I chose the lap steel style and bought a square neck dobro. The steel bar that Caevan recommended by Dunlop called the Lap Dawg really did the trick for me. I'm keeping it on the back burner until I have to go in the slide playing direction. When you play bottleneck, you will be using your other fingers to play above and/or below the slide and will still have finger problems. With the lap steel (pedal steel, square neck, Hawaiian styles) just using the bar, you only need an additional finger for dampening. I have fun using a G7 tuning... :cool:
Take care, Larryz
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Wouldn't that depend somewhat on which finger you choose to put the "slide tube" over?

 

I tried both the "pinkie" and the "ring" finger(but in my case, neither proffered any success at it :D ) and never used any remaining fingers to play ANYthing. Some do, and others don't, so I also guess it depends on what you wish to do in that style.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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+1 there are many different styles of playing upright slide using different fingers to put the slide tube over. I've tried playing with the slide on the 1st finger and the other fingers hitting notes above the slide for playing scale notes. Then I read an article by Sonny Landreth who developed his method of playing below the slide. The concept being that the slide rests on top of the strings and you can lower the notes below the slide and alter tunings and get those minor 3rds, etc. I think Bonnie Raitt uses the slide on her middle finger and like you, doesn't use the remaining fingers...Sonny is one great slide player and I really liked his method. I shared the article with a buddy who plays some great slide and he loved the concept that Sonny uses but it is not easy at first. Most slide players whether lap or bottle neck style will use at least one finger below the slide to dampen and keep the strings that are not in use from ringing. Then again, letting them ring at times is cool too... :cool:

 

 

 

Take care, Larryz
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Interesting. I haven't seen or heard ALL those who play slide, but I noticed on one of those "Crossroads" events shown on PBS once, that a whole slew of slide players took the stage( a bunch of guys I never heard of, but they WERE very good) and they all seemed to just use the remaining fingers for damping. But I've seen old films of Johnny Winter, and HE seemed to be doing what you describe. And I once saw an old episode of The Dick Cavett Show on which George Harrison apppeared with some band and also seemed to be doing that too. :)

 

I recall that once in here(the forum) that in the liner notes of Bob Dylan's first LP, reviewer STACEY WILLIAMS referred to the method as "fretting". Dylan does slide on "In My Time Of Dyin' " and the notes say he used girlfriend Susie Rotolo's lipstick cover.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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Funny you mentioned Crossroads, Dylan and Winter...back in the 90's I was playing Keyboard and jamming with with studio musicians that could dust me on guitar so I let them have the lead LOL! Anyway one of the songs I brought in was my blues version of Highway 61 (one of my favorite Dylan songs). Years later around 2005 or so I'm back on guitar jamming with my slide player and my harmonica player life long buddies. They liked blues so I started doing my blues version of 61 and they said, "that's not a blues tune!" So, along comes Crossroads 2007 with Jonny Winter doing Highway 61 and I had to call them up and say "so that's not a blues tune eh?"

 

What was really cool about the 2007 DVD is Derek Trucks had been playing slide on his red SG and then they wheeled out Johnny with his Firebird. Derek is a great slide player, but it was cool watching the look on his face while he was looking over Johnny's shoulder learning some new tricks from the old master! And they were playing my song! (not saying the stole my idea but we all found some blues in that tune!). Sonny Landreth is also on the DVD and it's one of my favorite DVD's as just about everyone you can think of, to include Steve Winwood, BB, Guy, Beck, Clapton, Cray, Gill, Alber Lee, Willie, Los Lobos, etc., etc., is on the two discs. I highly recommend it! :cool:

Take care, Larryz
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I'll try and do that.

 

Not a "blues" tune? What WERE those dudes thinking?

 

My guess is that they never considered paying blues any mind until the late '60's when a bunch of electric white guys started doing some old blues tunes and figured VOLUME meant "soul".

 

I've known guys who thought blues tunes HAD to be slow, And just a three chord progression. Like Michael J. Fox's Marty McFly says in "Back To The Future"---

 

"Your basic blues riff in B..."

 

I too, have done an acoustic blues version of "Highway 61" without of course, the "police whistle" or any solo breaks.

 

It's a fun song to do. You CAN "blues" just about any tune actually, as many of us did agree that blues was a main ingredient in the recipe we call "Rock'n'Roll. :)

 

Some may recall my old story about how I became a "blues freak" back around the age of 6 or so, and how I at first thought it was just a different type of the rock'n'roll music I heard every day on the radio. :D And how I liked it also because the guys who DID those tunes I heard had those "cool" names. Like "Muddy", "Lightnin' ", "T-Bone", "Howlin' " "B.B." and all. :D

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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^Them "white guys" were doing it back in the 50's...at the age of 6 I was an Elvis rockabilly and jump blues fan. A real good example of jazzing up a blues tune was Hound Dog. Most white guys can't sing the blues like Muddy, Howlin, BB, etc., and go for the faster remakes. But, Johnny Winter definitely comes in at the top of the list for one that could IMHO. Eric Clapton does a decent job in trying to be true too... :cool:
Take care, Larryz
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Heh----another aside:

 

I remember seeing an old clip of "Ozzie and Harriet" in which what looked like a 13 year old or so Ricky playing Mama Thorton's "Hound Dog" on a table top phonograph. The scene switched to David sitting in the living room, listening to classical music. He cranked up the classical to hear it over Ricky's "Hound Dog" and Ricky cranks up Thorton in response. It went back and forth like that until Ricky's table top record player blew a fuse! :D

 

Your referrence to Elvis proves to point out that despite your claim HE was playing a form of blues, but in reality, NONE of his fans back then THOUGHT of the music in that term. They just considered it rock'n'roll. MY referrence to "electric white guys" was more in the vein of guys like MOBY GRAPE, who did an album of loud "psuedo" blues called "Grape Jam", that many guys I knew then considered it to be THEIR introduction to the music.

 

And the first "blues" tune most budding guitar slingers learned was "Rock Me Baby". :D

 

And let's not forget JOHN MAYALL, who long had a love and respect for blues. And did a fair job at playing them!

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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I'll try and do that.

 

My guess is that they never considered paying blues any mind until the late '60's when a bunch of electric white guys started doing some old blues tunes and figured VOLUME meant "soul".

 

I've known guys who thought blues tunes HAD to be slow, And just a three chord progression.

 

You CAN "blues" just about any tune actually, as many of us did agree that blues was a main ingredient in the recipe we call "Rock'n'Roll. :)

 

Whitefang

 

This is what I was talking about as I was not familiar with the Grape Jam that you were thinking about but didn't bring up. Elvis is credited with taking old 40's rhythm and blues and jazzing it up to make some early rock and roll stew in the 50's. His 1st song That's Alright Mama is also and old blues tune. I didn't look up when Elvis did his version but Mama did Hound Dog in '52 and Elvis probably did it around '57 or so (i.e. pre 60's). Either way Elvis was bridging the gap by bringing songs by black artists and the blues influence into rock and roll. That would be my only "claim" and I'm not claiming he was the only one doing it at the time either! I wasn't claiming or suggesting that his audience was or was not aware of him playing the blues. But many of them were and the good old Farmers didn't like that black music he was playing at the County Fairs that their daughters were attending and going nuts over...

 

Chuck Berry is credited with Johnny B. Goode, as writing one of the early jump blues rock and roll tunes. It's still a favorite of mine. Chuck and Elvis were both doing the same thing and on the same wave length. The difference is, Chuck wrote his own stuff! Maybe the writers of that Ricky Nelson episode got the idea from "my temperatures rising and the juke box is blowing a fuse" by Berry LOL! :cool:

 

ps. OK, I looked it up and Elvis released Hound Dog in '56 as a single. The B side was Don't Be Cruel... :cool:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybcAPMq2VdE <---Mama's Hound Dog

 

<---Elvis and Scotty Live!

 

<---Elvis studio version...
Take care, Larryz
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No, it's true that at the time, NObody thought of it being Elvis reworking old blues tunes. It was N----er music and had to be banned!

 

But JOHNNY B. GOODE was Berry's 10th single, with most of THOSE that PREDATE "Goode" being in that same jump blues style. Especially his 1st single, "MAYBELLINE", which has what I considered not only one of my FAVORITE Berry solos, but one of my all time FAVORITE guitar solos!

 

Berry always credited jump blues, especially LOUIS JORDAN, a MASTER of the style, to be a major influence in his music.

 

Incidentally, the "B" side of "Maybelline" is a tune called "Wee Wee Hours", a straight-up blues, NOT jump tune, and also long one of my favorite Berry tunes. But to be truthful, I can't think of one Chuck Berry tune I DIDN'T care for! ;)

 

And I'll add that it wasn't the MUSIC Elvis was doing that the girls went "nuts" over. It was just ELVIS. They probably couldn't care less WHAT kind of music he was singing. ;)

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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^I would almost agree with the girls going nuts no matter what kind of music Elvis sang but then again, his music got more than the girls going nuts. It was great music that got everyone up and rock'en. Much the same storm blew in with the Beatles. Girls gone wild but, the music was also there that got all of us kids rock'en out again...Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and Little Richard are the black artists that really got me up and rock'en and a little later down the road, I'll throw in James Brown...

 

For me, I always considered Maybelline a classic hillbilly rock kind of tune. Meaning there was lots of country influence on Chuck Berry's tunes and it was/is a great song. Elvis, Carl Perkins, Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, etc., had a lot of country vibe going for them too. If you listen to many of Rolling Stones tunes, you'll hear that same influence/vibe that country music had on rock and roll... :cool:

 

ps. My fretting hand arthritis/gout pain is gradually disappearing and I'm almost back in action. So, I've been able to play about a half hour a day now! (segue back to Playing Disabled LOL!) :cool:

Take care, Larryz
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I'm being proactive, I wear copper compression fingerless gloves. It takes some time to get used to but once I got used to them it felt like I wasn't wearing them. I have used them for computer work and decided to try them when I played and have been using them for several months now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Arthritis, in my opinion, is an insidious disease, creeping up on the unsuspecting. I knew something was wrong with a couple of my finger joints. But I just attributed it to some earlier injury like a jammed finger, or the likes. When I had to take a sabbatical from playing due to an illness, it didn't recover. I just set my guitars aside and when I tried to play again, the fingers were fused completely.

 

But, I'm trying to get accustomed to playing with a slide and open D tuning. I can capo up to open E and play chords fairly well.

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http://www.frugalguitarist.com/post/2011/09/09/5-Guitarists-Who-Overcame-a-Career-Ending-Physical-Injury.aspx <---I knew about Django and Les Paul's story of playing through their disability but here's 3 more to go with them...There are somethings like severe arthritis that you just can't play a guitar through once the condition reaches it's peak, no matter how hard you try. Like Doc, I'm prepared to play slide. And then, I'm prepared to use technology to write music...as long as my ears work, I can still listen and enjoy music. It's hell getting old but the never quit attitude has to be the way to go [no pun intended] LOL! :cool:
Take care, Larryz
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