Touching the corpus while strumming

Hi everyone,

my 16 note strumming exposed a problem with my strumming hand: while strumming very fast, my pick touches the guitar corpus occasionally, on the down strums, and it makes a sound I don’t want. I tried gripping the pick so that only a tiny pit peeks out, and also gripping it more firmly with a 0.4 pick, but then my finger nails get stuck in the strings.

Is it my arm movement? Something in the wrist? I can upload a recording of me just strumming with no chords, if that is helpful. I am looking through Justin’s strumming videos for trouble shooting, but so far no luck.

Do you have any tips for me?

Hi Eva.
By corpus - do you mean the guitar body?
If yes, what part exactly?
The part below the 1st string (thin E string)?
Is it knocking into the scratchplate?
A video would help if you can do that.
:slight_smile:

Hey Eva!
It’s difficult to diagnose the issue from what you describe… a video would be helpful to figure out the problem!
I occasionally touch the guitar with the pick… this isn’t anything unusual - this is why pick guards were invented!!!

Have you ever seen Willie Nelson’s guitar? This is “Trigger”:

-

So, as you can see, it’s not isolated to any technical issues that are unique to your playing!

Tod

@CATMAN62 WTF?? That is… yeah, that is definitely a well-used guitar :astonished: Ehm, no, I have never seen pictures like that, jeeze. OK, so definitely not an isolated problem, and kinda normal, gotcha. Good to know, actually :laughing:

@Richard_close2u Yes, the body, below the thin E string. Sometimes it’s even knocking into the bridge a little bit, but not often. I had to google scratch plate, but from what I’ve seen, yes, mostly there.

I try to put up a video, but it might take me a while.

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I’m thinking it might be kinda normal too. To touch the body of the guitar with the pick while strumming.

My '76 12 string acoustic I’ve managed to wear the finish away down to the wood at the bottom of the sound hole. The pick guard is very scratched up too. However I can’t hear when I hit the guitar with my pick so I don’t worry about it.
On the other hand. I have a '18 China Casino. I keep hitting the pick gaurd (there kinda raised like a 335) with my pick. This one I can litterally hear my pick touch the pick guard. It comes though the amp as a click, click every time I do it. My answer to that was to remove the pick guard. This mostly worked but every now and then I still actually hit the pickup, which goes click too(I think my pickups are unpotted, like hollow, not wax filled). My only remedy to this has been to try and pick between the pickups so I don’t touch the pickups.
Or, lately, I been playing w/o a pick… :wink:

For sure your idea of having only a little bit of pick protruding between your fingers also helps.

Just a guess, but one possibility is that you are tilting your guitar back to look at your hands, which means that the arc of your picking hand is not parallel with the strings, and is colliding with the guitar body.

Posting a video would be extremely helpful in diagnosing this.

I’m going to preface my answer by saying I’ve only been playing for around a year so I’m not the most qualified person to answer but my pick never touches my pickguard - really, never, even in fast strumming.

Is it connected to how much you move your arm? I’d say that I typically have part of my arm in contact with the top edge of the guitar body and that ensures that my arm moves on a very shallow arc back and forth and the result is that my pick is rarely anywhere near the guitar body. I could imagine if my forearm was completely free of the guitar body then the angles would change and I’d also not have that reference point that helps keep my strumming consistent. I play with a 0.60mm pick and typically have a good 1cm beyond my fingers, so I’m not hiding the end of the pick to do this

Clearly there’s far more accomplished players than me that bash the heck out of their guards / guitar body but it seems possible to play without doing that

@HappyCat Good to hear it might be normal, even if it does distract me from the music a little bit. I don’t work with electrics yet, I’m still starting out and don’t really know if I’ll keep it up enough to justify that kind of investment yet. I actually prefer playing with no pick, but I thought I’d give it a try :smile:

@Tbushell I don’t tend to look at my hands much, except for occasional glances, because I don’t like to hunch over too much, but I could have tilted the guitar because I’m mostly sitting on my couch while playing. I tried it on a chair to find out if that is it, and specifically paid attention to the angle, and I don’t think that’s it.

@mattswain Hm, interesting. I also think it should be possible to play without accidentally bashing your guitar (on purpose is different, of course :wink:), if only because now that I noticed the sound, it has kinda become a point of fixation for the moment, and it annoys me. I also think it’s something in my arm, or maybe the wrist, but I don’t know.

I recorded myself like you all suggested, and I hope you can spot anything despite the angle being off. I only have my tablet to record, and I haven’t yet found a good way to not screw up the angle. As you can see in the end, my fingers got stuck in the strings, because I had too little of the pick showing.

Edit: Hm, now that I look at it again, the strumming looks kinda tense. Maybe that has something to do with it?

The thing I noticed straight off is that your arm touches your guitar right at the top whereas I’ve got a relatively small bodied acoustic that I can get my arm over easily. The result is that my elbow sticks out at the end of the guitar only just above where the strap attaches to the guitar whereas your elbow is pointing up to the sky. It also means I can swing my arm closer to the guitar body in a shallow arc. It might be to do with the size of the guitar or how you are sitting. What are you sat on? If it’s a stool or a hard chair that’s ok but if you’re on a couch that wouldn’t help as that would get in the way of you maybe being able to hold the guitar a little lower relative to your body.

Your strumming is a bit uneven but that might be as much to do with being uncomfortable as anything else.

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I sat on my couch here, because that’s where I usually practice, but you’re right, I do feel like the guitar I was playing is a bit too big for me. I have another that is smaller, and it’s more comfortable. I have also just tried the smaller one sitting on a chair, and it works better. I still touch the body, but not as often. I think we’re on to something! :+1:t5:

Maybe getting a strap and playing standing up would work even better, since I don’t have the funds for a smaller guitar atm?

It’s because I only got into 16 note strumming a few weeks ago, and haven’t practiced it much yet. I’m due some metronome sessions soon, for sure^^

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It’s not going to be an immediate fix but if you’re seeing some improvement that’s good.

Definitely invest in a strap. I play with one, whether I’m seated or standing, it means my other hand can move more freely on the neck because it’s not supporting the guitar neck. But yes, standing might help you get arm over the guitar a bit more easily.

My first videos were of me playing on the couch and that definitely compromised my position. It seems like a nice thing to do, playing the guitar relaxing on the couch but the reality is it’s not the ideal position for playing.

Hopefully you’ll find just changing your seat will save you the expense of a new guitar! Sixteenth note strumming is difficult, it feels crazy fast, I remember that well. You do need to be relaxed to do it.

Good luck :blush:

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Alright, strap is on my wish list as of now, and depending on how much they cost, hopefully with me very soon :+1:t5: I do feel like my fretting hand is also kinda holding the neck in place a bit, and I noticed it does make me do weird little tilting motions when I change chords if I don’t pay attention, so it will be hopefully a solution to that as well.

Sadly, seems like you’re right. Ah well, maybe I can fit a small stool into my guitar corner as well^^

Thank you so much for your help, and the kind words! I feel like I learned something valuable today :hibiscus:

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Hi Eva,
I agree with all of Matt’s statements/assessment. Another suggestion is to slow it WAAAAAY down. Justin often recommends starting out at 60 bpm or so when learning something new… I would try to practice your 16th note strumming at about half the speed you are using in your video. When you’re feeling good & it seems consistent, speed up gradually! This technique of slowing things down will serve you well in most areas as you progress!
Good luck!!! :four_leaf_clover:

Tod

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@CATMAN62 Yeah, I know I need to slow down a lot of the things I’m doing, and I know it helps so much from other skills I’ve learned before. It’s just… well, it’s not much fun, is it? It’s like practicing, when I mostly just want to have fun and make music. But I know I will slow down for metronome sessions, because it does not yet work any other way, and I know it will help a lot. I’m just not gonna do it every day, you know? :wink:

Thanks for the help and the wishes! :blossom:

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I do think it’s all related. If you have tension in one part of your body then it’s hard for the rest to be relaxed. You should find chord changes become easier if your fretting hand isn’t doing the double duty of supporting the neck as well as making chord shapes. You might even find that playing on a stool/chair allows you to get your strumming arm over the guitar more which might help stabilise the neck as well

It’s all connected! :astonished: :smile: :wink:

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So, I’m at work today & we’re having a super stressful day. I had a break & picked up the guitar to de-stress but couldn’t play well because my whole body is too tense… did a couple of standing yoga exercises, picked up the guitar again & just played slow, relaxed random chord changes… it was a total chill~out moment. So, not necessarily “fun”, but it was right for the moment.
Metronome practice is like that… it’s one of if not THE most important thing in playing music that you stay in time & on beat!!! So, again, not fun but it’s critical!

Tod

P.S. I totally get what you’re saying… I feel that way about playing scales - I absolutely hate them, but they’re an important tool to learn!

Kudos for posting a video Eva.
People are very correctly identifying guitar size and seating position / posture as being urgent issues to address.

If you have a smaller guitar then I recommend using it. That one looks too big for you. You need to be able to get your strumming elbow over and around to the front of the guitar body. Your elbow is resting on top and it makes then angle of your forearm all wrong meaning you have to contort your forearm and wrist and hand to be able to strum the strings. That will cause pain, tension and a poor angle for strumming and picking.

Also, soft cushions on a sofa are really not ideal. You need an upright chair or stool, without arms, to achieve a good posture.

Could you post another video with a different guitar on a different chair for us to see if there are any other suggestions that may help?

:slight_smile:

@CATMAN62

That sounds awesome, tbh. I have used guitar to reduce anxiety and feeling overwhelmed, but that was playing songs, not just chord changes. Though I do like to just mindlessly pick patterns while I watch tv. It’s very relaxing for me when my hands have something to do that I don’t have to look at/think about. I even do it when I’m in my online class, which helps me focus better on what I’m learning.

I think metronome for 16th is kinda fun, because you can get into the groove when it is working. I tried it for 16th note strumming without a pattern today, and even though it was just up and down, it was kinda groovy and meditative because it was so regular. And at 80 bpm, it is also not as slow as I thought it would be, which I didn’t expect. I started at 60, but 80 is my sweet spot atm.

I can only play scales when I’m really motivated for practice, not just for playing. And even then I need to actively tell myself how important they are, and that I want to improv some day in the future, or I’m not doing it.

@Richard_close2u I’ll record a video tonight, but I can already give a few spoilers: I tried 16th note strumming with the smaller guitar today, sitting in my desk chair, one foot on the rolling thingies on the bottom of the chair, with no pattern (just up and down) to a metronome, and it was night and day. No touching the body, a lot more relaxed, with the arm around the body properly, and it feels so much better. Doing the pattern from the video was also way easier afterwards, and even chord changes are easier and faster this way. I only have to watch the angle a bit, because my belly tends to tilt it a little bit, but that is just a smidge, and easily corrected.

It really is all connected, and I’m amazed at how much one little change has improved my playing. Thank you everyone, I’m really happy right now hugs you all :hibiscus: :blossom: :hibiscus:

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Another useful thread! I tend to pick-tap the body too, and have made similar adjustments. I also find that shortening my arm swing a little and using the wrist a bit more makes for fewer unintended body taps.

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