The Right hand.

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by 8trackmind, Mar 1, 2020.

  1. 8trackmind

    8trackmind Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,206
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2018
    Location:
    Dark side of the moon
    Observation: when I see new or unacomplished players one thing is glaringly obvious. Right hand technique.

    Newbs are sure that it's the left hand that's doing all the heavy lifting, but in reality it's along for the ride. No doubt, it has to do its job but in reality, the difference between say Clapton and King, or anyone one else is not just note choice or phrasing, but that right hand.

    To all the pros that frequently visit this forum, let's offers some advice to those that struggle with the unsung hero of the guitar playing equation: The Professional right hand.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2020
  2. sleazy pot pie

    sleazy pot pie Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    1,456
    Joined:
    May 31, 2014
    Location:
    austin
    Two of my biggest hurdles are with my right hand. I have a hard time keeping my pick in position due to limited range of motion in my thumb.
    my other hurdle, that I am really working on, is moving my wrist and not my elbow.
    I picked up the bad habit of lots of elbow Nd no wrist when I started and just recently realized it is the cause of my heavy hand.
    The better I get with not moving my elbow, the less issues I have with the pick moving as well. But it took me a long time to make the correlation.
     
    Greggorios likes this.
  3. 8trackmind

    8trackmind Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,206
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2018
    Location:
    Dark side of the moon
    Ah, the heavy right hand. The Bain of nuanced guitar playing.

    The pick should not be held so tight. It should almost fall out of your hand. It's hard to explain. But it should neither be held tight, nor loose. In addition, you should be able to choke up on the pick or hold it at an extension depending on strumming or single note passages.
    It should move in your hand subconiously depending on what you want it to do.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2020
  4. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    70
    Posts:
    3,247
    Joined:
    May 20, 2017
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    My right hand had been a major hurdle to my playing until...

    Finger style. I wanted to play one particular country tune and nothing I could do with a pick would let me play it. There were double stops that I couldn't play with a pick and my ring finger and triple stops were out of the question. So I worked on my finger style for three months until I didn't sound like crap playing it. And then I worked on another song, and then another and another. It took about a year until I could play a fluid finger style. I never got Travis picking down, but by that time I had begun to develop a personal finger style that worked well across genres. I played two bass notes in succession arpeggio style with my thumb and then opened chords with my other fingers. I began to solo using primarily my thumb and ring finger with my index and middle fingers for stops and flourishes. This style sounds very piano like. With practice, I developed speed and soon enough was able to play "bluegrass fast". I solo off of chords, so my left hand holds them down allowing for open strings where possible. My index finger and thumb do the bulk of the holding with single notes fingered by my middle, ring, and pinkie fingers. I really didn't develop speed with my left hand until I had already gotten fast with my right. I think the right hand gets overlooked because shredders are lightning fast with their left hand but often use hammer ons and pull offs rather than picking to sound notes. I can play most everything I play either with a pick or finger style. There are a few songs where I still use a pick, but I use it more for tone and attack. And believe it or not, playing finger style improved my picking accuracy for the songs I do play with a pick. When working on a new song, I try both finger style and a pick but I find that almost always finger style wins out. I'm also playing a jazz number I composed using only my thumb and I'm just as fast with more tonal variation playing with my thumb than with a pick. Developing a good right hand opened up a lot of music to me that was impossible otherwise.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2020
    Greggorios, Macrogats, Skub and 3 others like this.
  5. 8trackmind

    8trackmind Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,206
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2018
    Location:
    Dark side of the moon
    Once we get heavy right hand fixed, let's talk about changing what you have, to get what you want. In other words, taming a a bright setup, or getting brighter sound with volume management, or getting the cut you need with pick attack in a live performance.
     
    Greggorios likes this.
  6. 8trackmind

    8trackmind Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,206
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2018
    Location:
    Dark side of the moon
    Guess asking random folks about pickup choices yields better results. :rolleyes:
     
    tfarny and Tommy Biggs like this.
  7. scook

    scook TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    99
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2013
    Location:
    Etlan VA
    Honestly a huge part of your tone is in your picking/plucking hand. Technique, material you strike the strings with, angle of attack, intensity of attack, where in relation to bridge you pick, etc. are super important. Palm muting is picking hand. Additionally your picking hand is your metronome and timekeeper as well.

    There are tons of technique lessons out there covering a lot of this but it isn’t exciting for most folks so it goes unnoticed, although there are technique junkies out there that go deep into this.
     
    Greggorios and JL_LI like this.
  8. 8trackmind

    8trackmind Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,206
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2018
    Location:
    Dark side of the moon
    You're absolutely right on all counts.
     
    Greggorios likes this.
  9. dkmw

    dkmw Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    64
    Posts:
    4,654
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2016
    Location:
    Florida USA
    Great thread for this subforum. It’s #1 on my list of things I wished I’d realized sooner.

    Still, it’s something that takes time (pun intended). But every beginner should be aware of it, right from the start.
     
    Greggorios, 8trackmind and Joshiquad like this.
  10. gregulator450

    gregulator450 Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    728
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2014
    Location:
    The Dry Side
    Not a pro, but I am interested in this thread. I personally find my left hand's ability lags behind that of my right. I am a drummer before becoming a guitar player, so the right-hand metronome thing was already built in by the time I grabbed a pick for the first time.
     
    Greggorios, ladave and 8trackmind like this.
  11. NBS2005

    NBS2005 TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    72
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2008
    Location:
    Hamilton, ON
    I'm in the first month of a no pick ban; rounded them all up and stuffed them away. The motivation was flexibility and control. I'm pretty early in my guitar journey; looking forward to following this thread to learn.
     
    8trackmind likes this.
  12. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    52,919
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2009
    Location:
    Kelowna, BC, Canuckistan
    Speaking for left handers, this thread is racist.
     
    tintag27, Jlwctn, dkmw and 1 other person like this.
  13. thankyouguitar

    thankyouguitar Tele-Meister

    Age:
    39
    Posts:
    114
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2020
    Location:
    Dearborn, MI
    Right hand strumming hand non-fretting hand. Yes! So important! I will try to temper my excitement.

    As for advice, I feel my successes have been led by my ear. I first had to hear (or hear in my mind's ear) what I wanted to execute before I could learn how to get the hand to do it. Then it became a matter of arranging the attacks over the pulse. As my sense of rhythm improved, my hearing also improved. I could hear the result of subtle differences in attack, upstroke vs downstroke, picking location. Wanting more feel from the strings led me to drop the pick and grow my nails.

    I guess what I'm circling around is that I found it endlessly useful to develop an analytical sense of listening. Being able to take a musical idea apart provided me new tools and new directions for study.

    Also, I didn't do this alone. Find a friend. Work together. Talk about it. That's why I'm here anyway!
     
    Old Deaf Roadie and 8trackmind like this.
  14. Rockinvet

    Rockinvet Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    586
    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2019
    Location:
    Virginia
    Picking hand technique if that is the politically correct term, is developed and coordinated with sense of time. I always begin students with alternate picking first. Simple saying “foot goes down pick goes down, foot goes up pick goes up. Then all other picking techniques like sweep picking etc can be developed from there. Of course there are many different styles but alternate is the best way to start. But the fretting hand and direction of the line play a role too but that’s another thread. I’ve had many students over the years whose time was so messed up because of bad picking technique.
     
    scook, BigDaddyLH and 8trackmind like this.
  15. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    52,919
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2009
    Location:
    Kelowna, BC, Canuckistan
    I think you mean "if that is the correct term", and it is. See, not that hard!
     
    Rockinvet likes this.
  16. ElJay370

    ElJay370 Tele-Holic

    Age:
    50
    Posts:
    973
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2018
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    The right hand (or left hand depending on your...handedness) is where all the roll in rock and roll comes from. After learning where to put your fingers to make chords and figuring out how much pressure to put down to make notes ring out cleanly, getting that strumming hand in order is the next big challenge.

    I'm hard pressed to offer much advice in this realm for new players. Rhythm is the most fundamental musical skill, and I hate to say that it's something that needs to be innate in order for someone to be a good guitar player...but it kind of is. My best advice to anyone who is struggling is to listen to the drummer. Find where the accents are. Listen to the interplay between the snare and kick drum. Feel how your body responds and try to translate that into strumming and picking patterns. Your wrist should be relaxed, but most of the strumming energy should come from your elbow and to a certain extent, your shoulder.

    Like this guy...



    For lead playing, I've found that choking up on the pick a bit less has helped me to articulate notes more and makes for a cleaner sound. You can grab it a bit tighter for pinch harmonics and other fancy stuff, but I've found that getting my fingers out of the way is useful. Where you pick also makes a huge difference. I've noticed by watching footage of some of my favorite players that the location of their picking hand plays a big part in their distinctive tone.

    For electric guitar, the best advice I ever got was to stay loose, lighten your touch, and turn up your amp.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2020
  17. ArcticWhite

    ArcticWhite Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    829
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Location:
    Portland Oregon
    Well, my first teacher started me off alternate picking with the thumb and index - no pick allowed!
    Thumb goes down/finger goes up.

    Then, a few weeks later, he let me use a pick. Alternate picking, major and minor scales, and Pentatonic later.

    Years later, I spent a lot of time learning fingerstyle from a Happy Traum video. (Homespun Blues)

    Now, I don't think much about the right hand at all. My internal clock is pretty good I guess.
     
    JL_LI and 8trackmind like this.
  18. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Posts:
    2,640
    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2003
    Location:
    UK
    I've always been a bit heavy handed. I've improved recently by going for a heavier pick - jumped way up from 0.71mm to 1.4mm. I can now get the same attack with less effort. With that, my forefinger position has naturally migrated more from the pad of my finger to the first knuckle, meaning I get more attack with less force.

    The pick is a much underrated aspect of tone!
     
    8trackmind likes this.
  19. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,884
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2017
    Location:
    York PA
    converted bass player..dunlop red picks are my friend...each year that goes by softer approach is happening...now the finger style is really opening up ways to make new music.learning to trust in my set up & not always worrying about extracting more volume off the strings with attack all the time...
     
    8trackmind likes this.
  20. 8trackmind

    8trackmind Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,206
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2018
    Location:
    Dark side of the moon
    One of the two things I see with a heavy picking hand are thinning out the note played, (especially when the action is low) and pushing the note sharp on attack. You should be able to see this on a tuner if it's fast enough. A light touch will make it go a little sharp on attack and then settle in. A strong attack may show it going even more sharp before it settles in.
     
    bftfender likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.