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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

Four Basic Rules of Right Hand Technique Which We Can All Agree (Maybe)

Since the beginning of time (guitar players’ time, that is!) right hand technique has changed, developed and evolved, sometimes with very different versions active simultaneously in the same period. And so is the case today: to apoyando or not to apoyando, to raise the wrist or lower the wrist? You get the picture. Clearly there are things which cross over from one version to another. More than that, there are more characteristics in common than not. So here is a summary to be getting on with which may help put things in perspective, especially if you are undecided.

Well, is it? Tension is not good, and can lead to very serious trouble. Here is a rough rule of thumb (pardon the pun). The position should feel natural, and be in accordance with relaxed principles of movement. If you have any doubt as to what these are, find out.

….OK, so now you are relaxed.

Good tone
Are you making a good sound? Do those whose judgment you trust also think you are making a good sound? As you play you are sitting behind the guitar, not a good vantage point for hearing yourself. Furthermore, you are constantly juggling with all the other elements of playing: tone is just one and may be overlooked. Importantly, can you make a good tone even when you play loudly? When I say good tone, I mean as good a tone as you dream of, nothing less.

….OK, you are now happy with your tone and you are relaxed.

Speed is the measure of accuracy and of your chosen technique. It really is the final frontier! Very slight modifications to your chosen technique will produce significant improvements to your accuracy at speed. Both single note passages (scales) and arpeggios should be measured for speed and accuracy.

Just one more thing…

Your chosen technique should be put through its paces in chords. How easily and how well can you voice the chord? In other words, can you bring out the top, the middle and the bass as you wish? A word of caution - it may be nothing to do with your chosen technique, but more to do with the way you use it. In my experience as a teacher it is often the weak link in even really good players.

Technique is an ever-evolving element of your development as a player. It is not cast in stone. As your playing matures, as your musical judgments become more refined, then so too does your technique change and adapt to new requirements.

This has been my rough guide to the basic rules of right hand technique.

24th April 2014, Mexico
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