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Post new topic How long does it take you to "warm up"?
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Author Topic:  How long does it take you to "warm up"?
Justin Myers


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2021 5:15 pm    
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I've been playing for about 6 years now, so I'm still relatively a newbie, but I try to practice almost every day. I find that it always takes me about 5-10 minutes to warm up my right hand. My left hand also needs to warm up some, but not near as much as my right. I find that after playing 5-10 minutes, my confidence, blocking, and accuracy on my right hand is substantially better than when I first sat down. It's not necessarily a big deal at home where I'm just practicing, but if I am playing a gig, I always hate those first 5 minutes of my playing haha Shocked

Just wondering if it is the same for some of you or if you ever get to a point to where you sit down and immediately can play confidently and cleanly. Do you guys have any tips on how to warm up before sitting down at the guitar?

I do know one thing that has helped me is to mentally practice while I'm away from the guitar by thinking about what intervals I can get on certain strings with differing bar, pedal, and lever combos. I jot them down on paper sometimes at work to test myself.

Thanks!
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David LeBlanc


From:
New Brunswick, Canada
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2021 7:15 pm    
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Like you, I need a couple of songs to get warmed up.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2021 7:48 pm     Re: How long does it take you t
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Justin Myers wrote:

Just wondering if it is the same for some of you or if you ever get to a point to where you sit down and immediately can play confidently and cleanly. Do you guys have any tips on how to warm up before sitting down at the guitar?

I think real pros can. 50 years of playing guitar, 20 of that basically full-time, it never happened for me. Only four years into playing pedal steel, I don’t expect it to happen any time soon.

I think it is important to literally be warm. If your body is cold, your fingers, feet, and knees will feel disconnected from your instrument and will be in no shape for playing. Loosening up, breathing and stretching, walk around the block to get the blood circulating, whatever it takes to get into a more relaxed state (like Georgia...), will help get to that place of confidence and competence.
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Kevin Fix

 

From:
Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2021 8:04 pm    
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I play in a vintage country band. Once I a set up and tuned up I will, at low volume, do a kick off of something like Night Life on the back neck and then something like a kick off to Highway 40 Blues on the outside neck. Anything works for me.

Last edited by Kevin Fix on 13 Jan 2021 3:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Bob Bestor

 

From:
Ashland, OR
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2021 9:58 pm    
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About 4.5 years so far.
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Tim Sergent

 

From:
Hendersonville, TN, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2021 10:23 pm    
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Bob beat me to the punch...I was gonna say 40 years
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Tim Sergent

 

From:
Hendersonville, TN, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2021 11:04 pm    
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But seriously, Justin, sometimes when I sit down at my steel it feels like I have somebody else's picks on. I always try to bend them to where they feel comfortable on my fingers and then I grab triads. Starting with strings 10,8,6...then 8,6,5...6,5,4 and so on just to make sure it feels like my picks are striking the strings at the correct angle. You will feel it if they aren't.Then play the triads pretty briskly. Then do some simple arpeggio's to make sure your picks are hitting the strings at the angle that feels comfortable to you. Even go up and down the neck in different inversions to check feel and tuning

After that....just play your butt off!!!
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Richard Stoops

 

From:
Ohio, USA
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2021 4:11 am     warm up
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When I first sit down to play (I use the term very loosely) I go through the grips several times. My playing sucks and my tone is awful, but I still love doing it.

As an aside, I have a beautiful Emmons Lashley Legrand II and a Rittenberry ultra light. Both play great, but the Rittenbery seems to fit me perfectly and seems easier to play, so I play it almost exclusively. Nothing against the Emmons, but the Ritt fits me better. Does anyone else have a favorite steel?
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Travis Wilson


From:
Johnson City, TX
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2021 5:25 am    
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It sounds crazy but I’ve been doing this before I played steel and did mostly piano, at the gig I wash my hands with hot water to loosen my fingers and get the blood flowing. I feel it helps.

I also play for about 30min at home before the gig to stretch out
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2021 6:22 am    
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I like to warm up if possible. When I'm on the road I'm the guy practicing on stage after sound check and during the dinner break. For lots of gigs there is no time to warm up or I don't have access to the stage. Bar and club gigs are often throw and go so I'm lucky if I have time to make sure my amp is on. Big TV gigs are the worst. They often do a lighting tech set up super early and then you sit around for 4 hours on a frozen set. They say the name of the band and you run out and start your three minutes of glory immediately. Warming up just isn't always an option.
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Earnest Bovine


From:
Los Angeles CA USA
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2021 7:04 am    
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Takes me about 20 minutes to warm down, and then I do something else.
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George Kimery

 

From:
Limestone, TN, USA
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2021 7:11 am     How long does it take you to warm up?
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Cold hands and muscles are not very conducive to good playing. A friend of mine who was one of the greatest slight of hand magicians in the world, wore warm gloves before each performance so his hands were ready to rock. Sounds reasonable to me. If we follow suit, it might eliminate the need to physically warm up our fingers. Mentally warming up is a different issue. Our fingers can only do what our brain tells them to do. I have often wondered, especially in warm weather, if warming up our fingers has anything to do with it. It's more about putting our brain into finger dexterity mode when we are warming up. Think about all the times you struggle to hit the notes and the other times. hitting the notes is a cakewalk. This is a brain/finger connection issue, not lack of your fingers being warmed up. Scotty said he asked Buddy once what was the secret of getting your fingers to move so fast on the fast stuff. Was it finger excercises to warm them up or what. He said Buddy laughed and said it has nothing to do with your fingers. Everybody's fingers move the same. It's all in the brain telling the fingers what to do. Bottom line I think,is thousands of hours of practice and training the brain to go into automatic mode and not slowing you down by having to do it's normal job of thinking. If you want to learn speed picking, the best way is to use a metronome set on a slow speed until your brain understands the pattern and what you're asking it to do. Then you gradually start speeding the metronome up so your brain can speed up too. Give it some time to catch on. Some brains like my old brain. will take a lot more time than you younger guys, and due to old age, may just not be capable of going at warp speed.
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Earnest Bovine


From:
Los Angeles CA USA
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2021 7:56 am     Re: How long does it take you to warm up?
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George Kimery wrote:
Cold hands and muscles are not very conducive to good playing. A friend of mine who was one of the greatest slight of hand magicians in the world, wore warm gloves before ..


Right. Playing with cold hands doesn't seem to be the way to make your hands warm. Glenn Gould sometimes put his arms in warm water for 15 minutes before playing, and wore winter coats in the summer. But of course I'm not sure that we should imitate Gould's idiosyncrasies.
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Earnest Bovine


From:
Los Angeles CA USA
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2021 8:01 am     Re: How long does it take you to warm up?
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George Kimery wrote:
It's all in the brain telling the fingers what to do.


Yes, I find it hard to play a note correctly without first knowing what that note is, how to play it, and what it should sound like. When things get faster I think of groups of notes. When things get very fast, I give up.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2021 9:39 am    
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Everybody’s fingers don’t move the same. Neither do their legs, or their brains for that matter.
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Ricky Davis


From:
Buda, Texas USA
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2021 11:49 am    
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OMG; yes for 35 years and counting...and actually EXACTLY everything Tim Sergent Said is MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!
Ricky
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Henry Matthews


From:
Texarkana, Ark USA
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2021 1:01 pm    
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It used to take me 10 minutes or more to warm up until I saw guys like Buck Reid, Doug Jernigan, and others just sit down and start playing these complicated and fast tunes without warming up, I realized that they are doing something different than me and found out it was technique. I worked couple years on my technique, even though I’ll never be close to those guys, and it helped me get in the grove a lot quicker. Now, about 10 seconds and I’m as good as I’m gonna get.
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D-10 1968 Emmons cut tail, black, 8&5
D-10 1974 Emmons cut tail, fat back,satin rosewood, 8&5
Nashville 112 amp, Fishman Loudbox Performer amp, Hilton pedal, BJS bar, Kyser picks, Live steel Strings. No effects, doodads or stomp boxes.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2021 1:24 pm    
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All other things being equal, of course it’s technique. The question is, do the people you mentioned use exactly the same technique? I highly doubt it, even if the results are very similar.

For the rest of us, our technique (defined as muscle memory, or messaging from brain to body part, to achieve a desired result in the most efficient possible manner) is bound to be some variant on those of the masters we learn from. Not many are going to have the opportunity to develop that variant in their lifetime to the extent that the masters have.

Buddy Emmons is often cited for his ability to think ahead three measures or so into an improvised solo. He had reached a point where muscle memory was automatic, and most of his brain process involved musical ideas, not pedal steel guitar operation.

Warmup exercises, like going through the grips and working through a few pedal and lever moves, are obviously a great idea, but I have had the experience of others in this thread where doing them is simply not an option.
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Nikolai Shveitser

 

From:
Louisiana, USA
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2021 1:30 pm     Re: How long does it take you to warm up?
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buddy wrote:
Everybody's fingers move the same. It's all in the brain telling the fingers what to do.

FWIW, I interpret this as saying most folks' fingers can move fast enough to do the actual striking of the strings in speed picking. The brain's challenge is coordinating the picking action with the blocking action and finding the next string to pick etc.
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Justin Myers


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2021 1:35 pm     Re: How long does it take you to warm up?
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George Kimery wrote:
It's all in the brain telling the fingers what to do.


Thanks for all of the great advice! I agree that mentally, the faster your brain makes the connection that what string your hitting is going to make a certain tone, the faster you can get up to speed. That quote made me realize that I have about 3 playing speeds or gears if you will...

1st gear is things I can play easily with seemingly no mental engagement (feels natrual).

2nd gear is more mentally focused, but I know what I’m playing (if I lose focus, I could mess up).

3rd gear is 100% mental engagement and feels more like playing a memorized pattern than me knowing what I’m actually doing. Any percent past 3rd gear is crash and burn haha Laughing

I’ve got to start in 1st gear to warm up to 2nd gear in hopes that I can pull off 3rd gear haha.

I will try warming my hands up as well. I’ve heard of people stretching or just wearing their picks until it’s show time even.
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Justin “Dale” Myers
- Cargo Pilot and Steel Picker
- 67’ Emmons D-10 Cut Tail 8x5
- Show Pro LDG SD-10 4x5
- jmyerspedalsteel@gmail.com
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John Macy

 

From:
Denver, CO/Rockport, TX
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2021 6:00 pm    
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One of my favorite Cowboy Jack Clement quotes is “Even an air conditioner has to warm up to be cool....”.
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W. C. Edgar

 

From:
Iowa City Iowa/Lives in Phoenix
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2021 9:24 pm    
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I can go two years without taking it out of the case, sit down and have all my chops back and more in 10 minutes max.
What's cool is, after a long time off I find things I've been looking to figure out for 20 years. LOL

WC Edgar
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0nCQHub5p0 At Luckenbach with Whitey Morgan
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Rich Upright


From:
Florida, USA
Post  Posted 14 Jan 2021 12:20 am    
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Usually by the end of the 4th set.
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Ron Hogan

 

From:
Nashville, TN, usa
Post  Posted 14 Jan 2021 6:03 am    
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I remember Sonny Garish saying that he couldn't go over two days without playing or he'd feel a difference in his chops.
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