Agree, not "pressing" with the whole arm, that would be the same as clenching with the hand as far as tension, I suspect. I think we have 2 different ideas here. When beginners are told to use the bicep, I think of that as more of a transition kind of thing, to stop them clenching the hand, but it is useful when you have to change the angle steeply, for example, it's impossible as far as I can tell to relax the arm in order to help form a bar above the 9th fret. I pull with my bicep. There may be a better way but I haven't found it yet with this guitar.Mr Kite wrote:Well, the weight is always going to be mainly supported by the shoulder joint. Is the brute force comment really about weight, or could it be about pulling with the lats / biceps?Luis_Br wrote:I am totally against pressing with whole arm, as taught by some players, since it overstresses finger muscles. You press from finger, arm weight is used, but just enough to prevent hand moving up as a reaction from fingerboard. String feeling and finger detailed sensation gives you the control for just right amount of strength to press, and you equilibrate with arm weight, rather than the brute force of whole arm makes your poor fingers hold its massive unnecessary weight.
It seems to me that there has to be a little tension in the shoulder to keep the hand in a position where it can move freely up and down the neck, and we are just talking about relaxing it a bit while the bar is down. Come to think about it, there's no reason why that would only apply to bar chords.
Yes, we obviously need some tension in the sense of muscle contraction to move the arm. I think the idea is you don't want more than necessary. If you totally relax your shoulders you can still move your arm, right? Maybe a detailed description would be helpful to someone. When I'm playing my shoulders are completely relaxed and even, balanced (unless I screw up, of course). My fingers are quite firmly on the strings at the frets, but the muscles in my fingers are also relaxed in that they are not pressing down at all. Because of that my hand is relaxed. Again, if I don't screw up. At its most relaxed, this is enough pressure to make lines on my fingers even with good callouses but there's no pain. It is probably a bit slower, but I mostly play slower. When I need to play faster, I notice that I'm lifting a bit of the weight off using the bicep very slightly, this is less pressure on my fingertips so they can move faster but less relaxed than I would want to be all the time. Again, I'm self-taught, so if anyone has other suggestions, I'm happy to listen. Hey, free lessons!
Absolutely, it does not apply only to barres. In fact, I first used the idea in the very early days when I could not sound anything without buzzing. Ugh, I hope the nightmares don't return. I realized that my trying to press down harder on the strings did nothing for the tone. As soon as I relaxed the arm, the tone rung out and far more pure and consistent than all my pressing did. Then I could play chords. It was a miracle. I think it's partly a matter of where you put your attention. Just being aware that your relaxed arm has much more "power" than your death grip is a powerful concept.