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How’s your right hand technique? Are you happy with it?
I suppose you’re not, seeing that you’re here.
Or maybe you’re just a beginner, and you’re making sure you learn the right hand technique properly. Either way…
This guide will show you the top 5 right hand technique fundamentals, and how to apply them.
Holding the guitar pick
The first step in improving your right hand technique is making sure you’re holding the pick properly.
If you don’t know how to hold a pick, here’s a quick guide to get you started!
Your guitar pick is your lifeblood. It will make or break your right hand technique, so make sure you’re holding it properly!
Once you know how to hold a pick, you’ll want to make sure you have right one! I strongly suggest a heavy pick with a hardness of at least .80-1.50 mm.
Hard picks are sturdier than soft picks, which makes them easier to control.
Think of it like a rubber pencil vs. a hard pencil. Which one would you pick? I suppose there are some eccentric writers who would choose the rubber pencil, but you get the point.
Also, Here is a guitar picks buyer’s guide if you want to learn which picks are best for you!
Learn right-hand picking techniques
Understanding right-hand picking techniques is the second step in mastering right hand technique fundamentals.
The most important thing to understand with right-hand picking techniques is picking efficiency and energy conservation.
Basically, you need to use right-hand techniques that will get you from points A-B the easiest, using the least amount of energy, while also complementing the music.
The two most popular techniques for doing this are alternate picking and economy picking. Both of these techniques simply explain how and when you need to use upstrokes and downstrokes.
You’ll always be alternating up and down with your picking hand, but alternate picking and economy picking will help you understand how to move from one string to another.
Exercise the right hand and left hand independently
Your right-hand gains a ton of value from learning left-hand techniques. After all, your right hand is only one part of the equation!
There are a wide variety of techniques you need to learn for both hands, and I lay out the most important ones in this post.
For starters on the left hand, you’ll want to learn legato techniques/articulations.
The 3 most important articulations are hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides. These 3 techniques pair nicely with the right hand, as they allow you to pick a string once and let the left-hand do the rest of the work!
You’ll want to practice alternate picking single strings with the right hand. Start by alternate picking open strings. You can move onto fretted notes later.
When practicing your alternate picking you want to make sure your right hand is relaxed, and work on using just the tip of your guitar pick.
Practicing them together
When practicing with both hands you’ll want your technical goals to align with your musical goals.
For example, you’ll want to work on picking (right) + sliding (left) if you’re learning blues guitar.
Or, you may want to work on tremolo picking if you’re learning metal guitar.
No matter what you’re working on, make sure that your left hand and right hand are relaxed.
Increase your right hand picking speed
There’s a lot to consider when increasing your right hand’s picking speed.
As a general rule, the best way to increase your right hand’s picking speed is by playing something fast, and letting your fretting hand adapt to that speed.
Yes, you’ll still want to practice phrases slowly, but you’ll only practice slowly to learn the notes being used. You’ll want to practice fast as soon as you have the notes down.
Here’s a video from Martin Miller explaining this picking speed principal.
And here’s a video from the late and great Shawn Lane. He talks about how putting this into practice gave him his super-speed.
Practice right hand technique fundamentals daily
It’s important to remember that the quality of your practice is far more important than the quantity of your practice.
Your right-hand technique will never develop properly if you are not practicing the correct way! You need to find a guitar teacher if you don’t know if you’re practicing correctly.
I suggest practicing right-hand techniques for a short time every day. Doing this, plus practicing other techniques, will lead you to a developed right hand quite quickly.
Right Hand Technique Summary
You’ll need to bring all five right-hand technique fundamentals together to have the best right hand possible!
Start by learning how to hold the pick properly.
From there, make sure you know the most important left-hand and right-hand techniques.
After you know those techniques, you can start exercising your hands dependently and independently.
Once you’ve learned how to exercise both hands, you can work on speeding them up.
And lastly, you’ll need to practice daily to continually improve your right hand.
Rock on, and remember to have fun as you learn guitar!