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Even though I practice a lot in my head, if I don't have some sort of physical contact with the guitar over long periods, my thumb tires quickly and becomes lazy, which in turn throws the timing off. When it becomes a problem, I resort to a couple of chop builders I used to suggest in seminars. One is to pick any open string, place the bar where it will be a unison note with the string and repeat the following pattern with the thumb and second finger until tired: TT2T22T2, or reverse it: T2TT2T22. A metronome is essential because if you don't have the discipline of steady time, you'll slow the pattern down just to be able to play the notes properly. Better to start at the speed you can do it without problems. Also work on the lower strings as well. You hand doesn't rest on the strings when playing low notes, so it becomes a bit more difficult to play the pattern. For blocking and bar control, I play open strings 4 and 5 on the C neck and ascend one fret at a time up to the twelfth fret. Then I descend back down until I get to the open position again. Without stopping, the next time jumps to two frets up to the twelfth fret and down and then three, and finally four. Over the entire series, you cover chromatic, whole tone, augmented, and diminished patterns. The thumb and finger pattern is 2T2T2T2T, etc. When you're comfortable, reverse it and start with the thumb. By approaching long layoffs in that fashion, I find it easier to recoup through this routine than trying to get it back by playing songs. They are patterns that pop up frequently in my playing, so for me it's best to isolate them and get right to the source of the problem. You might want to study the patterns you use in your playing and set up your own thumb and finger sequence using the same open string technique.
Last changed: August 02, 2015