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Right and Left Hand Technique

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Previous page: More Chord Construction Using the Major Scale Next page: Development of Chords from Scale Tones in Thirds

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: 7
Title: Right and Left Hand Technique
Level: Beginner
Style: Technique
Instructor: Tim Fullerton

This is part one in a series of how to develop good right and left hand technique for pick-style guitar.

*****THE LESSON****

PART I -- guitar position

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 is acquainted with this approach, so that (s)he may coach you.


This approach is to attain the maximum possible cleanliness and articulateness in ones tone. It will also give, ultimately, the greatest speed with the least health risk. I am careful to never say that it is the CORRECT way to play. There is no such thing, and a lot of 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.


The strap should be worn always.

The guitar should rest on your abdomen, well above your left leg, such that it is in the same position whether you are sitting or standing. The neck should be at a 45 degree angle up. Note that I said LEFT leg (if you're right handed, vice versa if you're left handed). This is contrary to how untrained people USUALLY play. Usually, right-handed people rest the guitar on their right leg.


This is required so that the left hand may be positioned well.


While some may find this awkward (or nerdy looking) at first, it is a small hurdle. The only apprehension that I have ever had is with small female students. A full sized guitar angled up can rest on their left breast. All so far have assured me that this is not a big deal. Nonetheless, if it is a problem for you for this reason, you are probably small enough to merit a 3/4 size instrument. If this is not the case, but you still have problems seeing the neck and/or reaching the first fret, then having the guitar a little further to the right should solve the problem.

Class Assignment:

Play with the guitar set up in this way all of the time from now on.
1987 Upper Chelsea Rd
Columbus, Ohio 43221
(614) - 488 - 9322

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Previous page: More Chord Construction Using the Major Scale Next page: Development of Chords from Scale Tones in Thirds