Its possible to forget sometimes just how easy it is to hold down a guitar string. When our left hand is required to do many complex movements and move rapidly in synchronization with the right hand we can forget to relax and end up using much more pressure than we need. That pressure builds up and can cause aches and pains in the palm and forearm. It also makes playing more difficult than it needs to be.
This exercise is really wonderful at letting you know just how “easy” playing the guitar really is!
A great way to re-train the left hand to play with less pressure or to simply reinforce good technique is to practice with buzzing. When a string is pressed down very lightly so as to play a note but not enough to make a clear tone there is a buzzing sound that comes from the string. You can find this sound by pressing down very lightly on the string so it sounds dampened and then increase the pressure until you hear the note clearly. Experiment with the sensation of lightness and ease that it takes to play the note clearly and then find the half way point in between a dampened sound and a clear note where it buzzes.
Once you have found a good buzzing sound then you can use it to practice scales, exercises or whole pieces. Because the amount pressure needed to buzz the string well is quite exact you will start to gain more control over your finger pressure in the left hand. After buzzing for a while, go back to normal playing and you might find that the sensation of lightness is quite surprising. This exercise is really wonderful at letting you know just how “easy” playing the guitar really is!