More Right Hand Guitar Exercises

by Tim Gillespie

The Easiest Way To Master The Fretboard!Uncle Tim's Building Blocks

The series was developed visually, because people natively think visually. You do not have to interpret a picture. You can understand it by looking at it.

And when you combine it with knowledgable text, the meaning and rules of music will jump out at you!

Immediately you will begin to see into the instrument and develop an understanding that is not possible any other way.

This is one of the main reasons this series of books carry a lifetime guarantee. We back up our words with an iron clad policy that has been in place for years!

Buy The Books Now

Get The eBooks Delivered To You Now

eBooks are delivered instantly!

A year ago we talked about how important the right hand is when playing guitar. For anyone who has not read that column let me say this again. The right hand is greatly misunderstood and the amount of attention this deserves is as big as any concept for guitar! When you think of all the different ways available to play notes or chords, and how the right hand has a different responsibility for each one, it becomes clearer just how important this is.

To read that past issue, click here.

You can play a scale, strum a chord, finger pick a passage, flat pick and play arpeggios to name but a few. In each instance the right hand has a different set of responsibilities and each note depends on how well behaved the hand is. The left hand usually holds the chord or adds some accent notes between wholesale switches. At times it can remain somewhat stationary for extended periods.

But the right hand is usually in constant motion. The goal is to be capable of exact placement and to arrive on time when executing each motion. This implies a heavy level of control. No question that if you play with a pick and want better control, this type of exercise will yield big results over time.

The first thing to consider is; what are you going to do with a pick? Are you interested in just strumming or do you want to finger pick too? Is your immediate goal to be able to flat pick? Are your goals simple or are complex moves and advanced concepts in your future. What a type of tempo do you usually employ?

All of these questions are important as are many others, because each one will place a different demand on your skills. You might be tempted to think that if your goals are just to strum songs, there is no need to put yourself through these exercises. Wrong! At least for me.

Exercising your right hand will bring precision to it and that precision will be there when you go to strum a simple song. And when it shows up you may be tempted to add a twist or new flavor to your music. A slight twist may be all that is necessary to ignite the piece and escalate your interest in it. You would be tempted to do this because the control is present and you feel like it.

Most of the time, even when we start simple, we add complexity to things we do. We continue to learn, which causes more curiosity, and we then experiment with what we play and eventually turn it into to something else. A few years later and the most basic progression may be different. Sometimes it happens from elevating your skill levels.

So what do you do to gain control?

For all the types of uses hinted at above, you can always start out by using simple, in-depth exercises that isolate motion and allow you to concentrate on specific muscle groups. These are simple but when used over an extended period they yield significant increases in control. They must be done every day for a few months at least.

My favorite way to start a person is to introduce them to double picking and start practicing this on a single note, then on a single string with a few notes.

Double Picking

Double Picking is a technique of attacking the string from both sides. When you strike a string with a pick, you either use a downstroke or an upstroke. Both are important. They are doubly effective when used together. When you want to increase the efficiency of the attack, you can combine the up stroke with a downstroke and start a cycle of double picking.

The exercise goes like this.

1. Choose a string. I like the A string. Fatter strings work better at first.

2. Choose a pick. I like heavy picks because they do not give way much at all. You can pick hard with a medium pick too, but the level of control decreases somewhat because it bends. Hold it firmly but comfortably. Have the tip exposed so you can strike the string without brushing the string with your flesh.

3. Begin to slowly attack the string alternating between downstrokes and upstrokes. Keep the alternating perfect. Try not to miss the alternate stroke. Do this for ten minute sessions at a time. Take a short break and go back for another ten minutes. Keep this up for at least one half hour.

This is something you can do in front of the television. Once you gain the basic mechanics there is very little to worry about. You just need to keep some sort of rhythm and consistency and alternate correctly.

This type of exercise is 100% geared for your future. The design is to develop your muscle groups and develop a deep level of control. If you use this exercise every day for three months you will install a much deeper sense of pick control. Then when you go to sweep strum some simple songs, your right hand movements will be more crisp and your timing will be sharper. You can easily hear these types of changes.

Next month we will center around the effects of incubation, so I am not going to go into to this too much now. But this must be understood. When you do these kinds of exercises you cause your muscles to react more precisely. The muscle groups learn and perform more accurately each time. They break down and build up as they are exercised. Muscles get stronger and more coordinated each day they are used. The effect grows with each passing day. At times the effect seems to be quite small and insignificant while other times it will seem overwhelming.

As this skill incubates, it will grow more accurate. After a few years it will grow into quite a serious tool. Technique exercises do pay off big for those of us that are willing to use them on a daily basis.

Add Complexity

The next baby step is to introduce a little complexity in this exercise. Now that we can work the pick across a string, we can add some string switching and a few more notes.

This next exercise is an animation for simple double picking while switching strings. It should give you some ideas for practice. One word of caution. In a few minutes of practice, it is common to want to increase the speed substantially. Resist this temptation and keep an even tempo. Use a metronome if you want, but do not allow the speed to increase.

Otherwise you will increase the speed until you can no longer execute the exact movements. That is a bad thing because your muscles will remember it. It is like installing a bad habit. Don't do it! Later it will be acceptable to adjust the speed level and it will be more fun then too. For now concentrate on getting the feel of this.