quote Archimedes leverage guitar
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Archimedes and the Art of Leverage on Guitar

 

Here in the Great Northwest, logging is a major industry.

In the old days (and still, in some places) loggers used the rivers to move hundreds and thousands of limbless trees downstream to the ports.

But sometimes, the logs piled up and jammed. And while the beavers may have marveled in admiration, the loggers had to get things back flowing.

Usually, there was just one log, known as the “King Pin”, that, when released, would free all the other logs.

Working on the log-jams further back was pointless. Wasted work.

But a small amount of time and energy directed at the King Pin would set things right in no time.

This is a prime example of leverage: applying pressure at the most strategic point to get the biggest results with the least effort.

In classical guitar….

…we also have King Pins. And we can leverage these to get the biggest long-term results in the least time.

It can be tempting to “work the logs further back”, because the problems are often sexier. These problems feel more advanced, and are good for the ego. But they’re often unnecessary. In fact, many wouldn’t even be problems if we focused on the “King Pin”.

So what are the “King Pins” in classical guitar? Here are a few:

  • Our technique – how we move our hands
  • Our attention – how aware we stay of what we’re doing (hint #1: slow down; hint #2: we play with more than just our fingers)
  • Our consistency – focusing on something long enough to make it stick, then keeping it in our awareness (and improving)

Usually, one of these will go far in solving any problem we encounter. Logs moving miles down a river may jam multiple times. But each time, the King Pin is the first place to focus. It’s the same in guitar. If something’s not happening, go back to basics.


Give me a lever long enough and I’ll move the world.

Archimedes




allen mathews classical guitar

Hi, I’m Allen Mathews. 

I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s.  Despite a lot of practice and work with teachers, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well.  I struggled with excess tension.  My music sounded forced.  And my hands and body were sore after playing.  I was frequently frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward.  Then I studied with two stellar teachers –  one focused on the technical, and one on the musical.  In time, I came to discover a fundamental set of formulas and movements. These unlocked my playing, and brought new life and enjoyment to my practice. Now I help other guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.


Hi Allen, I am thoroughly enjoying your website and I find it is just what I need in my renewed passion for classical guitar. I have rediscovered a great love for this instrument and the music I can learn and play and it has changed my life for the better dramatically! Thank you facilitating this process.


-George Rogers

Hi Allen, just wanted to provide some feedback. Since I've started doing the exercises [in The Woodshed program] my guitar is sounding a lot better, with fuller sound, less effort. Its as if I bought a new guitar or got a new pair of hands (or both). Amazing my friend. Thank you!


-Nusret Aydemir


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