You are here

How To Hold The Guitar & Plectrum (Pick), And Left Hand, Right Hand Techniques

First, checkout this great writeup:-
How To Hold A Guitar by Fretjam_com.

Some pointers:-

1) Learn the sitting position first, and the standing position later when you are more comfortable with the guitar feel.

2) Slightly raise your right leg - use books, or buy a guitar foot rest. [Note: the traditional classical guitar position is to raise the left leg]

3) Place the guitar's underside on your right leg and hang your right hand over the top side (near the back) of the guitar. Take away your left hand. The guitar should sit/balance comfortable on your right leg with your right arm resting on the top (without any assistance from your left hand).

4) Place left hand fingers over the top of guitar on the fretboard. Do not press yet. keep your left thumb behind the neck. Keep the left wrist and and forearm as straight as possible - the left hand will not tire so easily. The more the wrist and forearm is bend, the more tension in the left hand. When we play bar chords, this cannot be avoided - that's why it is tiring when we hold barre position. So keep the wrist and forearm as straight as whenever possible and our left hand will be less tired.


(A) Using Pick/Plectrum

1) Your right-hand picking action is like "flicking off a fly sitting on your wrist".

2) learn to pick downwards initially, each downward stroke for each simple note of a tune like the chorus of "Rasa Sayang". The upstroke will come when one beat is divided into 2 half beats - then it is downstroke followed by upstroke - like the verse of "Rasa Sayang".
So strong accented beat notes are usually played with downstroke and half beats are played with upstrokes (less strong accent).

(B) Finger style plucking - right-hand

1) curve your right-hand fingers like 'holding an orange' and move the fingers like 'squeezing the orange'. Thumb plucking 'outwards' and the other 3 fingers plucking 'inwards'. (Note: the little finger is not used).

2) Thumb (p - pulgar) takes care of the bass strings (the top 3 most (fatter) strings - jumping up and down)

3) the other 3 fingers generally sits (reverse i.e lightly pulling upwards) on each different string - 1st (bottom most or thinnest), 2nd and 3rd string as follows:-
i - index finger (next to the thumb) -> 3rd string
m - middle finger -> 2nd string
a - anular finger -> 1st string

4) In a right-hand ready-to-play position, it curves and sits on the strings (p on 6th string; i on 3rd string; m on 2nd and a on 1st string).

(C) Arpeggios

1) Arpeggios are plucking single notes of a chord one after another in quick succession, from top to down and or down to up - and you can try in dfferent combination as accompaniment.

2) Simplest try - pluck downwards, from 6th to 1st string, one after another, in slow succession using both pick and fingerstyle (thumb plays 6th, 5th by 4th string).

(D) Strumming

1) In C(2) above, we can also play in quicker succession (brushing action), and each downward stroke is known as strumming the guitar. Each downward stoke can be held longer apart and we are strumming gently to any slow song.

If you're aspiring to be a serious guitar player, picking techniques are serious stuff, especially if you're beginner and want to start on the right footing. But there's a caveat here - many professionals also say pick the technique that's comfortable for you after trying different styles.
See Picking Techniques For Serious Guitarist