Beginner Lesson - Right Hand - Strumming Fingerpicking Practice
Hey guys, this is Caren Armstrong for Guitar Tricks today. I am the guest host. I am coming at you with the tip of the week and the lesson of the week. But before we go there, I strongly recommend that if you are not currently watching this lesson on Guitar Tricks channel, you will find an opportunity to sign up for the newsletter and once you’ve done that, which takes about two seconds, Neil will start sending you two free lessons of the week straight to your mailbox. Two free lessons of the week for nothing, that’s an incredible deal. You’ll learn to play much faster.
Having said that, let’s talk about the tip of the week today. My tip is, take care of your tools. That would be your hands. Granted these are the things you use your guitar, you use your strap, but it’s your hands that you really need to play the guitar with. So I’m going to let you take a quick look at my hands here. Notice my left hand, short fingernails. Right hand, fingernails: all one length. Right there, really important information on how to get a good sound out of your guitar.
So I’m going to come over here and talk about my left hand a little bit. Take a look at my fingernails: all short; they’re all neatly filed. Take a look at my calluses. They’re all flat; they’re all even. Often as you start playing and building callus, you get real thick funky calluses, maybe they start to peel on you a little bit. That’s going to interfere with your ability to get across your strings with your left hand.
So not do you only want to keep your fingernails trimmed and well-filed, you want to keep those calluses nice and well-filed and even too. Every now and then, you have to get an emery board out and just even them up a little bit because you’ll get -- occasionally you’ll get a thick skin that will inhibit your playing.
Let’s talk about our right hand a little bit. If you look at my right hand, you’ll notice I’ve got fairly long fingernails. I actually wrap my fingernails with a silk wrap to keep them strong. Whatever length you use, short, long, in the middle, you want them to be all the same length. You also want them to be neatly filed. You don’t want any jags or any snags on your nails because I guarantee, they’ll catch up on your string.
So keep your fingernails smooth and round. You get a sharp corner on the edge of your fingernail here and that thing is going to hang up on your string and give you an unhappy sound. So one of the most basic things you can do to be a better player, take care of your hands. All right, that is the tip of the week.
So speaking of taking care of your hands, the lesson of the week is right hand position. One of the most important things in my book that you can do to be a good player is to keep your right hand in the simplest terms, “over the strings”, and get a good position going. Notice my hand has got an egg-shape position going and from this shape, I can both strum, I could take a nice general chord strum here.
Notice my hand is round. I don’t have a lot of finger motion. I can really control what I’m hitting. Now I’m playing very generally, I’m strumming. I’m strumming more often in here. Because my nails are even, I get a good tone, but I can take a real generic strum like that and get a lot more detailing to it by combining the strumming and fingerpicking. And I am able to do that because I’ve got this round shape that I can both use to strum just as I did or if I wanted to, I could fingerpick this.
Ultimately, what would make a really cool groove out of this is both strumming and picking. So I’m just going to sit here and roll back and forth. I’m playing a D seven chord, a D sharp or an E flat seven chord and an E seven chord. And if you’re not familiar with this chord, just take a C chord, turn it into a C seventh chord and move it up to the fifth fret.
What I like about this position is normally this chord is a four-string zone: five, four, three, two. But because I’m on an E chord here and I’ve got two E notes on the outside, I have this big fat six-string zone, which gives me a lot of room to play around with my right hand.
I’m going to start by using my finger to act a few bases. Grab a little base with my thumb. You can see I’m going back and forth. Sometimes I’m using my fingers to fingerpick, like that. Sometimes I’m using them to strum to get a more general groove sound. Change chords. This is actually one of my songs.
I start over. You can see how much variation I’m getting on my tone. I’m going to get you a little slow mode here. Just a little pop. When I get to the top, I rotate my base a little bit, I reach down with my thumb there, that thumb coming out into a fingerpicking style. I’m hitting a few strings with my fingers, and I’m strumming again.
So I’m in slow mode. It doesn’t matter what string you use as long as you plan a good chord. So I could get a nice groove going here, with a couple of chords and ability to go back and forth between strumming and picking. There’s my picking position, there’s my strumming position: round, egg-shaped hand.
Keep that going, learn to keep your fingers over the strings, you’ll be a much better player, you will have a much more interesting sound in everything you do. Egg-shaped hand and well-filed nails will make you a better player.
Thank you so much for tuning in today for the tip and the lesson of the week. Get those two free lessons every week, all right? Signing out, you guys take care.