Here’s a lesson on Guitar Hand Synchronization. This is chapter 3 from “5 Minute Guitar”
For The Part I Video on guitar technique Click Here
Technique #1 How To Rest The Guitar In Your Lap For Years Of Comfortable Playing
- Sitting in an upright position, resting the guitar on your leg, hold the guitar close to your body, with the neck of the guitar pointing straight (not dipping or raising by too much)
- Slide the guitar away from you by 1-2 inches
- Tilt the guitar back into your chest so you can clearly see the fretboard while maintaining a comfortable position (try not to hunch or curve your back over the guitar)
- Make sure your right leg is high enough – Use a support to raise your right leg if needed. This could be anything from a block, to your chairs cross brace, to a dedicated guitar foot stool
- Sit back and relax! Remember, you won’t become a better guitar player with your face close to the fret board. Sit back in your chair and use the backrest for extra support.
Technique #2 The Buzz Test – How Get Crystal Clear Notes!
Placing your fingers on different areas of the same fret will have a huge impact on how you sound. Playing notes while snugged right up behind the fret you’re playing will give you the best and clearest sound. Without this simple tweak, a guitarist may sound like a rookie forever!
The buzz test can also show you how little pressure is actually needed when fretting a note! Another step towards making the guitar as stress-free and easy as it can be.
Caption: Playing low on the frets sounds buzzy
Playing close to the fret sounds clear!
Put Yourself Through The Buzz Test:
- Find the 3rd fret on the low E (the 3rd metal bar on the thickest string)
- Now try this – Move your finger as LOW as you can in the “fret zone” and play as far away from the 3rd fret as you can (fret your finger close to the 2nd fret). Strike the string with your right hand. It probably sounds buzzy – if it doesn’t, intentionally apply a low amount of pressure with your left hand to get that nasty buzzy sound. Sounds brutal, right?
- Now move your finger right up to the 3rd fret (as close as you possibly can without being on top of the fret) and play the string again. Is it clear? YES!
- If you complete the buzz test and you’re still getting buzz, try pushing just 5% harder to access that clean, clear note!
The buzz test is designed for you to understand why you might be getting a buzzing sound from the strings while you play and how to eliminate it forever.
If you’re STILL getting buzz, there’s probably something wrong with your guitar. To eliminate the buzz from the guitar, it would need to be looked over by a luthier
(more on Luthiers in Chapter 1).
(Please note, that it’s normal for electric guitars to have a little bit of buzz. As long as it’s not coming through the amp and restricting the guitars ability to sustain notes, then that’s ok!)
Technique #3 The “Warm Up Scale” – The Movement That Pro’s Use Which Beginners Can Do Easily
The “warm up scale” involves simply going up and down the frets and strings, one at a time. This is a great way to warm up and practice; beginners play it, professionals play it.
*Remember to keep your fingers high up on the frets and your thumb planted on the back of the neck. It will look and sound like a straightforward 1-2-3-4.
- Start with your first finger on the 3rd fret of the low E string and play that note (tip: you can actually play this anywhere, but in this example we’re using the 3rd fret).
- Continue by playing the same string now with your second finger on the 4th fret.
- Then third finger on the 5th fret.
- Then fourth finger on the 6th fret.
- Now move up to your “A” string and in the same place repeat that 1,2,3,4.
- Continue on each string, all the way up to your high “e” string.
After you have tried going up, see if you can do the same thing in reverse and go back down. If you get bored, try moving up one fret after each rotation. You win the warm up scale by playing every note from the bottom to the top and back down (this includes the open strings)… but seriously, you win because you are now warmed up!
When playing ANY scale (including our warm up scale) here’s your priority list. Notice that “#3. Speed” get’s the bronze medal – it’s still important and makes the podium but isn’t as important as #1. Clear Notes and #2. Consistency/Rhythm
Technique #4 – How To Have Total Control Over The Guitar & How Pro’s Play With Their Eyes Closed
Your Right Hand
Your right hand is a huge part of your sound and control on the guitar. The first things to consider are your stabilization points. As you can see from this picture, there are no stability points in place, in this position, a guitar player’s hand is essentially “floating”.
Now we’re sitting straight, with an arm comfortably over the guitar, playing some notes, we’re going to install these “must-know” techniques into your playing which will basically ensure your success on the instrument.
“The Thumb Pillow”
The thumb pillow is on the palm of your hand, just down from your thumb. It’s that fleshy part, and one of your most important contact point with the strings. What you’re going to do is rest your thumb pillow on the strings OR the bridge. If you’re playing notes on your A string for example, try resting your thumb pillow on the E string just above it.
The middle of your wrist at the base of your palm often sits on the bridge of the guitar. This provides a great stability point and gets your hand in a good position to play.
Keeping your wrist angle straight, try playing your warm up scale, one note at a time while using the thumb pillow. You’ll notice that you will naturally be moving your hand across the strings/bridge as you go up or down the scale. This will also keep all of the strings that you are not playing, from making sounds.
Learning these techniques from the very beginning is the secret to playing great songs note for note.
Technique #5 – The Pick – What To Use & How To Hold It To Play Faster And Smoother
A pick can be anything that’s used in the playing of a stringed instrument. People in the 1900’s used wood, metal, whatever! Famous guitarists have recorded with coins or even cut up credit cards!
The outer shell of the Atlantic Hawksbill sea turtle was once used to make picks because of its tonal sound, strength and flexibility. These days, they are generally made of plastic.
Picks are usually referred to by thickness in millimeters. A heavier pick generally produces a darker, louder sound. I recommend that people use a .73mm thick pick (or close to).
Learning how to hold your pick properly, and choosing one that feels/sounds right, will enable you to get the best sound out of your guitar.
Holding The Pick:
- Hold the pick out so the tip comes to the end of your first finger.
- Let your thumb fall naturally on top of the pick to hold it down.
- Curl your index finger in behind it and leave the tip out just past your thumb.
Technique #6 – The Secret To Playing Fast – The 45* Pick Angle
- This techniques I’m sharing with you should naturally put the pick on a 45 degree angle. This reduces the amount of contact the pick has with the strings. You’re going to be able to play faster and smoother!
If you’ve already been playing guitar for awhile, allow this chapter to be a big “reset button”. If you’re a brand new beginner, don’t overlook these techniques! In my many years of teaching experience – guitarists will ultimately be held back without these techniques in place.
By the way! This isn’t stuff that I’m making up. The material you’ll find here is what famous guitar players do from Slash, to Zakk Wylde to Paul Mccartney.
The warm-up scale (1,2,3,4 scale) is great to apply this techniques to. Because of it’s simplicity, you can focus on all your elements of 100% correct, left and right hand technique.
For The Part I Video on guitar technique Click Here
Let’s keep on rippin’!
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Thanks and keep on rippin it! – Will Ripley & Mike B