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Post new topic Sudden loss of 'chops'?
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Author Topic:  Sudden loss of 'chops'?
Landon Johnson


From:
Washington, USA
Post Posted 12 Jun 2018 7:24 pm     Reply with quote

Been playing about 8 months and recently started to see some improvement - now, all of a sudden I feel like I can't play a darn thing in tune, can't block, missing strings.... I play by ear and am off on my chords much more than usual...

Anyone else suffer this sort of backslide as they were learning? I've tried PSG twice before, gotten to this point, and given up.

I don't want to let that happen again please help!!! How do I get outta my funk?....

Thank you!
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Bobby D. Jones


From:
West Virginia, USA
Post Posted 12 Jun 2018 8:37 pm     Sudden loss of 'chops'? Reply with quote

With spring in full swing in the northern Hemisphere. Have you been mowing ward, Running gas weed eater, Tilling garden? Loud noise from internal combustion engines without ear plugs could be affecting your hearing. The vibration of Lawn Mowers, Weed Eaters, Chain saws can affect peoples motor skills for fine hand movements.

Also another thought, Have you changed food or drink consumption, Or have you changed medications, or prescriptions. These could have effects on motor skills. Good Luck and Happy Steelin.
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Micky Byrne


Post Posted 13 Jun 2018 12:16 am     Re: Sudden loss of 'chops'? Reply with quote

Bobby....it will come back, but in time. I've had many lay offs after health issues...you loose your "grips" miss strings etc etc, but it WILL come back, it's according to how patient you are Smile

Micky "scars" Byrne U.K.
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Dave Campbell


From:
Nova Scotia, Canada
Post Posted 13 Jun 2018 1:26 am     Reply with quote

at 8 months, i wouldn't worry. expect this cycle to continue forever. the good news is that every downturn is usually followed by a greater upturn.
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Chris Walke


From:
St Charles, IL
Post Posted 13 Jun 2018 4:46 am     Reply with quote

For every few steps forward, there will be a step or two back once in awhile. I think that's just part of learning. Keep at it. There will be something that you stumble upon that will bring it back, inspire you, and you'll be progressing again. Then you'll plateau, or step back a bit, and regain your traction....ad nauseum.
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Al Evans


From:
Austin, Texas, USA
Post Posted 13 Jun 2018 4:49 am     Re: Sudden loss of 'chops'? Reply with quote

Landon Johnson wrote:
Been playing about 8 months and recently started to see some improvement - now, all of a sudden I feel like I can't play a darn thing in tune, can't block, missing strings.... I play by ear and am off on my chords much more than usual...

Anyone else suffer this sort of backslide as they were learning?


I've only been learning pedal steel about six months, and this happens to me about every other day. I play a few other instruments, and it happens there, too. What works is always the same: slow down, work with a metronome, focus on perfection of tone and execution. On pedal steel, I go back to bar accuracy exercises, picking and blocking exercises, chimes, slants, ....

You gotta getcher fundamentals, that's what it's all about! Very Happy

Trust persistence, trust the learning process, it will work!

--Al Evans
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Pete Burak


From:
Portland, OR USA
Post Posted 13 Jun 2018 7:34 am     Re: Sudden loss of 'chops'? Reply with quote

Landon I see you are from Washington.
There are alot of players in WA/OR.
You might consider some lessons from John McClung in Olympia, or come to one of our Steel Jams in Portland (Larry Behm is our Fearless Leader).
Alot of us guys are good at helping Advanced Beginners make the leap to Solid Intermediate. Once a guy becomes and Advanced Intermediate they usually off on their own.
You can always just, say the prayer...
Lorrrrrd, Please bless me with the clairvoyance to transcend the Steel Guitar Re-ward I am about to receive!
Smile
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Dan Kelly


From:
Boston, MA
Post Posted 13 Jun 2018 8:28 am     Reply with quote

Landon - What you are describing may be a reflection of your improvement. The more you know, you see just how much more you don't know. This can be frustrating. To track your progress and take heart in what progress you have made, try recording yourself, even if it is just scales. Then, in a few months, listen to your recording. It will be encouraging to compare your playing at that point versus your earlier playing.

It is important not to take ones self too seriously, either. Keep the fun factor up by just noodling around or experimenting with different pedal effects, for example. "Seat time" just cannot be rushed. Many of the great PSG players have been at it since they were kids... and even they can have off days. So, keep at it and have fun!
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Rich Peterson


From:
Moorhead, MN
Post Posted 13 Jun 2018 10:57 am     Reply with quote

Lots of good advice here. I suggest that when this happens, don't try to fix everything at once. Pick one thing and work one it exclusively for a day or two. Going from one grip to another, or moving the bar at the same time as you press a pedal/lever so that the pitch of the raised/lowered string doesn't change. Play a chord and keep the loudness the same as it decays with the expression pedal. Connect a tuner and play octaves as you move the bar to different frets.

MOST IMPORTANT! Put a smile on your face as you struggle with these techniques. Seriously. You will learn faster. Guaranteed.
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Landon Johnson


From:
Washington, USA
Post Posted 13 Jun 2018 11:25 am     Thanks everybody! Reply with quote

I appreciate the responses and am pretty well over my 'funk'. I noticed a couple of items on my BMI that need attention; these could also be affecting my playing. I guess I just reached a plateau...
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John Goux


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 13 Jun 2018 4:13 pm     Reply with quote

Landon, your description sounds like my first 20 minutes at the steel, every time I sit down to play it. I’ve been at it a bit longer than you, too.

My advice.
Take one or two days off. Your hands and brain will be more relaxed when you come back. Pushing through a slump can be detrimental. And you’ll be fascinated by the sound of the instrument when you return.

Learn some new music. A chord progression, a solo off an album. Use a slow down app or program.. There are oceans of great steel solos out there, and so much music to be learned.

A slump is not a good time to concentrate on technical exercises. They will frustrate you and you will eventually get bored and loose interest in the instrument.

Music is why we play. Put your energy there.

John
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Jerry Korkki


From:
Arizona, USA
Post Posted 14 Jun 2018 8:00 am     Reply with quote

Chris in an earlier post hit it, called plateaus of learning. It seems to happen most with learning an instrument. Just when you feel like you're moving right along stagnation sets in sapping inspiration. Perfectly normal, and each time you hit a new plateau, you're a better player. Just keep aiming for the next plateau and you'll be OK. A little time off here and there is not a bad thing either, and remember the more you learn, the more you learn there is to learn. The never ending path of music.
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Landon Johnson


From:
Washington, USA
Post Posted 14 Jun 2018 1:05 pm     Reply with quote

I'm taking the advice of letting it be for a few days. In the meantime I am going to fix some niggling issues on my BMI (crossbar bushings and springs) and look forward to playing a tighter, happier steel. Try and kill two birds...

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!
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Ray Gehringer


From:
New Jersey, USA
Post Posted 15 Jun 2018 5:11 am     Reply with quote

I'm a beginner on PSG and also play fingerstyle guitar. When I made the switch from a flatpick to fingers I would have phenomenal days or even weeks practicing where everything goes as right as it can go and then for no apparent reason everything would occasionally turn into a wreck. When this would happen I kept telling myself to play/practice no matter how frustrating it got... things usually got better and if they didn't I'd try something new or different for a while.

I try as best I can to apply this attitude to PSG especially since I'm new to it and have to deal with a fair amount of frustration and some days are just better than others.

It's really cool that you came back to PSG after a layoff or two... soldier on!
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 15 Jun 2018 10:22 am     Reply with quote

The Nolan Ryan effect. He pitched 7 no-hitters in his career and had 5700 strikeouts, but he also lost almost 300 games. Everyone has bad days where they can’t concentrate and can’t execute and wonders if they should just quit. The great ones inspire us to roll off it and do better next time.
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Franklin


Post Posted 15 Jun 2018 11:14 am     Reply with quote

Landon,

The good news is you are actually improving when this happens.....The more I practice towards improvement, the more focused my hearing becomes....As my hearing keeps improving what was acceptable months ago, no longer rises to my new level of proficiency...That's a good thing and should happen over and over as we learn new things, or work on correcting bad habits. Whether we are 8 months in or 56 years like me, that is the process....

In my practice regiment I strive for learning with balance in mind....Developing well rounded musicianship is like building muscles...I was taught how to build musicianship all at once so everything comes together evenly....I have known many players practice with an omni focus on one or two issues and the result was unbalanced musicianship...

Paul
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John McClung


From:
Olympia WA, USA
Post Posted 15 Jun 2018 11:28 am     Reply with quote

Landon, I'm the instructor mentioned by Pete Burak up above. I live in Olympia, WA.

It's my experience, and that of most of my students, that you'll hit a series of "plateaus" over the course of your playing lifetime.

But it's likely that your loss of chops now and then could be something as simple as any of these things:

• you're sitting on a different seat of a different height.
• you're sitting farther to the left or right than usual. You should be centered on fret 15 or thereabouts.
• you're using different picks, throwing off your picking game.
• you aren't warming up enough with familiar scales, licks or grips exercises. Doing so reacquaints your hand with what they already know, preparing them for learning some new things.

Good luck. Don't give up, we all have our struggles, no matter what level we've reached. If I can help in any way, contact me!

All best,
John McClung
Pedal Steel Lessons, Casuals, Sessions
Olympia, WA 98512
Email – steelguitarlessons@earthlink.net
Website – http://steelguitarlessons.com
Skype name: professortwang
Cell & text: 310-480-0717
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