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Title:  Right hand Left hand technique - cont.
Level:  Beginner
Style:  Technique
Instructor:  Tim Fullerton

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

*****THE LESSON****

PART II -- left hand  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

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


    Place your fingers on the bottom string like so:

E|-1-2-3-4--------|  FRET
   1 2 3 4      <--- FINGER

   With your fingers in this position, the TIP of your thumb should be
touching the midline of the neck; that is, behind the G string. Most
people tend to have the thumb peeking up over the top. Also, most people
tend to squeeze much too tightly, grinding in with the knuckle of their

    Now place your fingers on the top string:

E|----------------|  FRET
   1 2 3 4      <--- FINGER

   In this position, the tip of your thumb should be behind the top E
string, directly behind your fingers.


    In all cases, the left hand wrist should be straight. Many with bad
thumb habits tend to rest their palms against the back of the neck.
Avoid this! Also, many who adapt the "good" thumb position tend to jut
their wrist forward. You should be able to place a straight edge from
the back of your forearm to any of your last knuckles.

    The thumb position is  required so that :

    1) the wrist can be straight.
    2) The fingers can come down straight and not mute the strings
        beside what they are actually fretting (remember the first
        time you tried to make a "D"?).

    3) With the thumb low, the average full sized  person can reach
        across eight frets. With the thumb high, the average person
        can barely span four frets.

    Low thumb pressure reduces strain on certain muscles and tendons. It
will also increase your endurance dramatically.

    The wrist position is a matter of your health. If you practice a lot,
especially with any speed, and you have a bent wrist, your tendons and
carpal nerves are obstructed and you run a greater risks of repetitive
strain injuries.


    Some styles, blues for example, demand having the thumb over the top
to assist in muting strings. Here it is often appropriate to pick all six
strings and mute all except the ones you want to ring. Also, the thumb
should come over the top to give you leverage in a bend. In neither
case should the palm touch the back of the neck. Just the webbing
between the thumb and the first finger.

    There are certainly other examples of specific tones that you would
want to get that demand a thumb-over-the-top technique. In general,
though, for pristine tone, avoid it.

Class Assignment:

    Play this as an exercise:


Make sure that you assign 1 finger per fret... just like they were
set up a page ago.

    Continue this pattern up the neck until you can't get clean notes
out anymore. As you do this, do not stray from this checklist:

A) Guitar Position (see part I)

B)1. Left Hand Thumb Position and range of motion (midline [G
     string] to edge)

  2. Left Hand Thumb Pressure
        If this continues to be a problem, take a couple of passes of
        this exercise without your thumb touching at all. This will give
        you an idea of exactly how little pressure it takes. Then put
        your thumb back down WITH NO MORE PRESSURE. It is just there as
        a guide.

C) Left hand wrist.

   Stay Tuned, and be patient. There is a lot left!

copyright 1993 by Tim Fullerton
   1987 Upper Chelsea Rd
   Columbus, Ohio 43221

   (614) - 488 - 9322
No  Name                           Style               Level         Instructor
 10 How Chords work                Theory                B        Tim Fullerton
 11 Right and Left hand techniques theory (etc.)         b        Tim Fullerton
 12 Modes                          Theory                I            Dave Good
 13 Octaves                        Theory                B           Bill Quinn

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