Why It Is Bad To Begin Guitar Practice At The First Fret! – Guitar Principles

Why It Is Bad To Begin Guitar Practice At The First Fret!

​If you began to learn guitar by learning notes or chords at the first fret, you have left hand form and tension problems........unless you are a professional who has overcome the bad effects of starting guitar at the first fret. Let me explain......

Why The 1st Fret Is A Bad Place To Begin

1) The 1st fret requires the arm to be extended away from the body. This means the large muscles of the shoulder ares must support the 8 to 10 pounds of arm weight while you attempt to use your undeveloped beginner fingers. There is no way a beginner can do this without creating great tension in the shoulder, and other areas of the body.

Because of muscle memory, this tension will remain, and be reinforced every time you practice. You will think the tension is normal, as you try to bend your fingers into a chord, or get them down on individual notes. This tension will affect your playing the most when you try to play smoothly, or fast.

If you can't make it through a whole song, or you have trouble playing scales fast, your problems likely started here.

2) It is an anatomical fact that the more the fingers bend, the harder it is to separate them. It is also true that to play on the first string (the thinnest string) the fingers must bend more than when playing on the lower sounding strings. So, it will be difficult or impossible for a beginner to play notes on the first string at the first fret while ​ ​keeping the fingers not ​​​​being used close to the string, and relaxed enough to play the notes they have to play. A beginner struggles to get from one note to the next.

Conclusion: If you have been playing for a while, and have a pile of songs and pieces you can't play without breaking down, the tension locked into the muscles of the hand and arm from starting to learn at the first fret is the primary reason.

Remedy: ​​​​ ​The fingers must be re-trained higher up the neck, and the sensation of finger lightness must be built into the fingers. Then, certain movements must be practiced extremely slowly while relaxation of the arm and shoulder is maintained. 

The Best Thing You Can Do Right Now.....

​1) Watch this video to see a student learning at the first fret, and how much it destroys her ability to move smoothly. You will then see a student who has been trained correctly, playing the same piece with smoothness and control. 

​​​2) Read this article "The Secret of Speed", which contains an exercise you can do to begin to get the correct feeling of finger lightness into your ​fingers. I call this feeling "The Incredible Lightness". ​​​