I’ve been pretty consistent this week with the practice after having a bit of a setback on Monday.
I finalized my decision to go down from 11 gauge to 10 gauge and stopped to get the new strings after work. I also happened to grab a new strap and a clip on electronic tuner, but I digress. I went to bed early and planned to sleep all night but I woke up around 2 and couldn’t get back to slumberland. I had been so curious when I got home about how the new strings would feel and sound that it was the first thing I thought of when I couldn’t get back to sleep. So I got up and changed them. I did a crappy job. I rushed it and the windings were barely passable style wise. The strings still tuned fine though luckily so I kept them as is.
The string feel was almost the same. Makes sense since it was only one gauge down and I’m not as attuned to the feel of a guitar as multi-decade veterans are. Pressing down felt about the same as well, if maybe a teeny bit easier. I did some freestyle chording. Immediately I noticed a ringing sound out of the tremolo system from the springs. Very strange. I felt sick that I had screwed something up. I tried removing the two springs I had added when I moved up to 11s to keep the bridge stable. Nope, that just raised the bridge as should’ve been expected. The look and alignment of the bridge was perfect as it was, it was just that ringing sound. Freaking out a bit, I went to bed again.
The next day was a horrible practice, no way to sugarcoat it. That ringing was still there. It seemed much harder to play any chords without buzz. I tried the one minute changes and it was like my fingers caught a case of the retardeds. They wouldn’t move fast or accurately. It was a perfect storm of suck that had me feeling really down afterwards. Of course I started thinking the worst, like despite all the positive motivation I’ve heard that anybody can play guitar if they stuck to it, maybe I’m the sole exception to that and I’ve wasted my time and money and hopes and dreams on this impossible craft.
I remained dour until the next night. Then I figured what the hell. The practices are always challenging and not up to my standards of what they should be, but I sort of enjoy them anyway. Now that the callouses on my fingertips are finally coming into their own, I can go for longer. Those facts added up to me giving it another shot. I did the 5 minute warmup with strum-pick out-strum. Fine enough. And the ringing from the springs was drastically reduced. A good sign? Then I decided to try my first round of one minute changes with the 3 new chords. They weren’t completely horrible. I got to at least 20 with all but one. What was even better to me was that I could last a lot longer. My fingers didn’t get tired. Hello, reinvigorated motivation.
That was Wednesday’s practice. Today, Thursday, I worked on the one minute changes I’d had the lowest scores on. I improved on every single one. Awesome. I lead off every day with D to E changes which still aren’t at 60 yet. Hovering around 50. I think I’m on the verge of a leap there. My D chord is almost natural now. My pressure on the E is getting more consistent. I should be able to finally conquer that in the next few days. The D minor chord was very hard at first. Even that is starting to become a natural hand formation. Every change with that one is still in the 20s but as I progress through each rep, it’s getting faster and faster the longer I go with it. Everything’s coming up roses now. I have to remember the good days when I have the bad ones. The 10 gauge strings were the right call. That’s probably a big contributor to me being able to play for longer without getting tired or sore.
I may have been playing wrong this whole time. With D/A/E, I used (and still use) the 3rd string index finger anchor to go back and forth. That was enough stress on that finger. I’ve been having issues though playing songs with repetitive chords, ex. A-A-A… I kept that finger held down the whole time. As a result it got tender/numb quick. Dummy that I am just noticed that today. I mean, I knew what I was doing, I just didn’t put two and two together. If instead I press the chord AS I NEED IT and not just keep it held down, my skin has a chance to breathe instead of wilting under the sustained pressure. Didn’t get a chance to test that yet tonight but it’ll be something I’ll try to experiment with going forward. Practices could last EVEN LONGER!