Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lesson 3: More Technique!

Assuming that you've worked on your hammer-ons and pull-offs with your pinky, (which is by far the weakest digit) you can now get a better understanding of how all of the fingers on your left hand are parts of an equation.

Anatomically, you've four fingers and one thumb to work with on your fretting hand.  Your thumb is a sparse tool (variable), unless you play chords often, so we'll concentrate on the fingers for now.

While many guitarists argue over fundamentals and principles, I believe that a good technique is the first step.  With incredible dexterity comes quicker understanding and faster results.

Thinking of music like any other thing you have to learn is essential. You weren't able to walk the first time you tried, and everyone knows that learning how to read is a process.  Treating your guitar the same will help you greatly.  Don't jump ahead to something you can't handle off the bat.

Exercise 1:

 e e e e e e e e   e e e e e e e e 
 d u d u d u d u   d u d u d u d u 


Exercise one is also going to be tricky, but remember to stick to the principles.  When practicing, there are 3 principles to follow:

1. Practice slowly when learning something new, and practice with a metronome. This CANNOT be stressed enough.

2. Make sure your picking is consistent with what is instructed. Pick it as I've shown.  Once you've reached a good speed (160 bpm), reverse the picking pattern and start with an upstroke.

3. Believe in yourself.  Set goals.  Don't get angry at your guitar, your fingers, your brain or anything else for that matter.  You will build speed, accuracy and dominance if you follow these lessons.

Remember these principles and live by them!

Exercise 2: 

 e e e e e e e e   w
 1 3 2 1 3 1 2 1   4
 d u d u d u d u   d


Exercise 2 is borrowed from John Petrucci's "Rock Discipline".  It is very effective for developing string skipping, as well as alternate picking.  Notice how after you pick (downstroke) your first note, your pick is already traveling downward toward the bottom of your guitar.  An important thing to notice here is that the next note is an upstroke. Your pick is already traveling down to that A (note, 7th fret, 3rd string) and if you deliver an upstroke, your pick would travel upward toward the third note (E, 7th fret, 2nd string).

Also, note that you should keep your shoulder locked when picking, and your elbow should have LITTLE movement.  Your wrist should be the main piece to the puzzle for speed. Your elbow is to guide your wrist to different strings.

If you don't find this easy yet, work on it.  Under no circumstance should you substitute an upstroke for a downstroke on this exercise.

This practice of alternate picking only uses the movement needed to play the note.  Excess movement will only slow you down, and limit your success on the guitar.

The last thing I want to discuss is simply that not only does technique involve contact with the instrument, but also the space and time between contact, whether it be the strings with your pick or fingers.  Keep as close to the strings with your fingers and pick as you can while playing.  A lot of guitarists don't realize that the time you spend off of the fretboard, is more important than the time you spend on it.  For example, when someone is trying to quickly take something off of a surface, or quickly clap their hands, you realize that their hand is close to the object they're intending to touch, in order to achieve a quicker speed.

Thanks to those who keep reading.  I promise, things will get more informative.. and I will let everyone know about special practice techniques that are quite unorthodox.

As always: Principles, practice and domination.



  1. Feel free to ask any questions any of you may have about the material, or anything I haven't covered yet. (:

  2. cool blog man..im so bad at guitar tho..makes me sad!

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  4. Good read . Day Supp.

  5. i await for ur daily post mate.

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    supportin you!

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    i love it ;)
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