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Lesson 19 - Good Right and Left hand Technique - VI

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Previous page: Lesson 18 - The Modes part II Next page: Lesson 20 - Heavy Metal Guitar, Lesson I: The Basics

Lessons of The Week was a series of guitar lessons circulated in "News", in the pre-web days of the Internet. 29 lessons were written before it died out, and I happende to write the first three. They represent a little bit of internet history, as they may have been the first guitar lessons written for the internet.

The lessons were all written in txt format - they were written around the same time as Tim Berners Lee were sitting in Switzerland specifing the first version of html. I have converted them to html, and may have added a few links from the lessons.

Lesson: 19
Title: Good Right and Left hand Technique - VI
Level: Intermediate
Style: Technique
Instructor: Tim Fullerton

PART V -- Right hand position (cont.)

This series is the approach that I use to teach pick-style technique to all of my students. For best results, take these articles to an educated and experienced teacher who is stylistically broad based and who knows this approach, so that (s)he may coach you.


This approach is to attain the maximum possible cleanliness and articulateness in ones tone. Also, it will give, ultimately, the greatest speed with the least health risk. I am careful never to say that it is the CORRECT way to play. There is no such thing, and many people do great things with really sloppy technique. Wherever possible, though, I will indicate the exact benefits of each technique.

If you are left handed, please excuse my right-handed bias, and reverse all of the relevant direction and hand indications.

J) Picking Motion

The picking motion should come from the wrist or from the thumb. A common bad habit is to get the picking motion from the elbow. I have found that if one tries to get the motion from one's wrist, then it will come from the elbow. I recommend that you try to get the motion from the thumb, and it will come from the wrist.

Also, the motion should be as small as possible. Experiment, find out the smallest motion you can use and still have a good attack. The stroke should not be visible to the eye.

As you move the pick from string to string, that motion can come from the elbow. The bad habit that people have is to get the motion from the shoulder. Again, to get the motion from your elbow, visualize it from your wrist.


You expend less effort, thus, improve your endurance. There is also, ultimately, greater control. A smaller motion provides, ultimately, greater speed.


There is a tremolo picking technique where one flexes one's arm and picks with the trembling that the flexing produces. It can sound very clean, but there is absolutely no control over the speed. I would recommend that you develop enough legitimate speed to surpass that which the trembling produces so that you have control over what you are playing.

K) Relaxation

I have said before that any tension anywhere in the body will manifest itself adversely in one's tone. I have found that people often simply do not know how to relax. Other disciplines teach it. You may have learned it from the likes of Martial Arts; other instruments, especially voice; marksmanship; or meditation. If not, approach it systematically.

Sit up in a straight-backed chair or lay on your back.

relax your scalp
relax your forehead
relax your eyelids
relax your cheeks
relax your nose
relax your ears
relax your jaw
relax the back of your neck
relax your throat
relax your shoulders
relax your upper back
relax your deltoids (where your arms join your shoulders)
relax your biceps
relax your triceps
relax your forearms
relax your chest
relax your abdomen
relax your lower back
relax your sides
relax your buttocks
relax your quadriceps (upper legs)
relax your calves
relax your shins
relax your feet

When you play you should be that relaxed. With a little practice it is pretty easy to do, although tension can creep in insidiously. I found that it crept into my right bicep and my back.

Do the pseudo-chromatic exercise from Lesson II with the following criteria:

A) Guitar Position (see part I)

B)1. Left Hand Thumb Position and range of motion (midline [G string] to
     to edge... see lesson II)
  2. Left Hand Thumb Pressure (NONE! PERIOD! again, see lesson II)

C) Left hand wrist. (Straight as a ruler, palm away from the neck...
                again, lesson II)

D) Left hand wrist. (parallel to the underside of the neck... lesson III)

E) Finger placement. (close to the neck... lesson III)

F) Overall position of right forearm. (lesson IV)

G) The pick, angled for the least noise (Lesson IV)

H) Alternate Pick (lesson IV)

I) Do not brace the right hand

J) Use a very tiny motion to pick

K) Relax


Coming Soon: speed development...the technique exercise from Hell copyright 1993 by Tim Fullerton. Used by permission.

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