Tuesday 12 December 2017

What's happening December 2017

I've been focussing on Dark Side of the Moon recently, I have a half finished a resolve for "Any Colour You Like" which was missing the last half of the ending guitar and keyboard solo. Like I've recently done with "Time" I decided that I should learn the solo outtro and cut the solo short, so that the song feels complete even though it is missing parts in the middle.

Hey, it's a "tribute" to DSotM. If/when I arrange every last morsel of it, then it will be a "full arrangement". Until then, it just should feel complete!

Since I'm in the DSotM zone, I got onto my mate Shaun and lined up another Open Mic, planning on a playthrough of DSotM and then maybe some "The Wall" and finish up with "Wish You Were Here". I need DSoTM to be a feature in my toolkit, that I can bring out anytime. I've also got 2 gigs this month at South Beach Tacos (summer is back) so I will do some test runs there. All good!

However what's not so good is that all this extra practise has caused me to overwork my left pinky finger, a long standing issue for me. I've had to stop playing a root 5 A shape barre chord with just my pinky, which bugs me, I prefer fretting that way, but a 2/3/4 left hand chord is much less harsh on pinky than a 4/4/4 chord. Additionally, I must have some sort of hole in my index finger, when I bar a root 5 the top string is not always clear. However, I've always done a full bar - 6th string included - for a root 5 chord shape bar, which of course you don't need to, and I have realised if I only bar a root 5 chord to the fifth string, there is no hole in my finger there and the top string is clear! So many years of playing to work these things out!

As for poor 'ole pinky finger, I have resumed stretching out the offending muscles in my arm. Legend has it that most of the pain in your hands/fingers are from over-tight muscles, from overuse, that pull on joints too much, which causes them to be inflamed, and thus painful. So by calming down those muscles that are too tight, you stop them pulling on joints, stops the inflammation, stops the pain.

I'm there, I agree with the legend. I watched a few more videos about it and saw another interesting tip, that it's your cerebellum that is responsible for the fine motor skills and thus the overtight muscles. So if you put pressure on the sore points and then move the muscle (say, wiggling fingers moving hands) then your cerrebellum kinda "resets" the amount of tightness it is applying to the muscles with the feedback it is getting.

Look it is interesting stuff, we know very little about how our brain works, so I give these things a try. Pressure point stuff definitely works, I have proven that to myself. And "tender tissue is tight tissue" which the dude was saying I have also proven to myself as correct.

Let's do it - put your arm out, palm down, now with your other hand, on top of your forearm getting close to the elbow, dig your thumb in, wiggle it around until you find a sore spot. If you spend you days typing and nights playing guitar, that's probably everywhere. Dig in so it hurts and hold it. Wiggle fingers and hand for a bit. Relocate, keep going, keep finding more sore spots. Stop, and see how you feel. Possibly bruised at first, but later, a bit free-er? A bit less pain? It works for me, but then I forget to do it (because it's no longer painful) and then the tightness comes back.

"Don't forget to do it on a regular basis future-JAW!" "Yes yes, past-JAW."



  1. Jaw, do I understand properly that you play all the time on nylon strings?
    I would expect this sort of problems on steel string acoustic guitar, interesting to see that one can develop such issues also on "weaker" nylon strings.

    1. I played steel string acoustic for maybe 10 years? But these days, all nylon. I think however these issues come from bad/sloppy technique rather than the force required. If all the angles are in a loading direction that isn't putting force against the normal direction a joint wants to move, then a bit more or a bit less force isn't going to make any difference, within reason. I half blame my typing (I spend my work days behind a computer) and it's only a few things I do on the guitar that perhaps I shouldn't do.

      My main takeaway is that the finger/arm overuse nature of guitar (and typing), even with good technique, is going to tighten up muscles. We were designed for balanced use, if we focus on repetitive specialised tasks I reckon we need to so some maintenance to keep ourselves tuned for it.

      Thanks for stopping by Pete!

  2. Hey! Been a while, buddy. Hope you've been well!.
    I understand the pains.. after finally getting a real job and sitting at a desk for 3 yrs messing with AutoCAD files, I have developed a real problem with my right hand pinky (mouse hand). I broke that pinky metacarpal years ago but it never gave me problems until now. Now it cracks in funny ways. It's painful after only a few hours or so on a mouse or a cpl on a guitar.. I should try stretching. It's just that it feels like its the knuckle, not the tendons. but I'll try anything at the moment.

    1. Good to hear from you and season's greetings! I'm pretty sure that being on a mouse and keyboard at work 8hrs a day for decades hasn't helped me either. But since I wrote this I have been sticking my thumb and fingers into all the sore points in my upper and lower forearm, wiggling my fingers and rotating my wrists while it hurts, and after a few days it was getting hard to find sore points, and now, two weeks later, there are no sore points left. It hasn't "cured" my left pinky problem, but my fingers overall feel better for it.

      I did this to my right arm as well, but yesterday did a heap of wood working and the sore points have come back. It's not something you can do once and never have to do again! Needs to be a regular thing I guess!

      Stretching from my experience is only useful to me when I'm been playing too hard/long or in an anxiety situation like on stage, where my arm pumps ups. I've never stretched before or after playing a guitar, for close on forty years. The first song you play is your stretch/warm up isn't it? Maybe that's the thing, I don't go straight for the finger busting songs first up.

  3. Great to talk to you again! seasons greetings indeed!
    hmmmm.. I'll try that.. being on a mouse all day sucks, although I've been looking for special mice and think I found one that sits good and proper in my hand. I hope it helps. I've been stretching but it just doesn't seem to stop the dull pain that comes after a couple hours.

    I think my pain stems from having broken the pinky metacarpal by punching a wooden fence post about 15 yrs ago (I was punching the fence, didn't know it was the board with a damn post behind it, and... Everclear was involved sooooo super smart eh? lol.

    So how have your gigs been going? Still playing out regularly?

    1. Ha, yeah, the stupid things we did when we were young. I'm still paying for countless hours with an angle grinder with no hearing protection during my late teens/early 20's car head days. I suggest sensible courses of action to my kids, olde man style, mostly it falls on deaf ears but hopefully some goes in.

      I get out to a gig at least once a month. If I don't have a paid gig I'll play at my mate's open mics. It stops me from going rusty :-)

      But yes, work mercilessly on your forearms, regularly, squishing out that pain, I'm sure it helps overall. Yet another of the experiments I run on myself!

    2. Ack! an angle grinder? Wow, yeah that'll do it's thing alright!

      I've begun to practice more often lately.. No shows per say but I have someone to play for now..... right when I've forgotten a lot of what I knew! lol typical :)

      Lol, good ol' Jaw :) making himself a lab rat for the rest of us. Cheer mate!

    3. Someone to play for is nice. My wife doesn't mind me playing in the same room as her these days, possibly because I arrange songs I know she will like. But even if I'm belting out Pink Floyd she won't say "can you do that somewhere else" which is nice :-)

      I'm always running experiments on myself. It's a bit more ethical than running experiments on other people.

      Keep up the practice mate, good stuff!