Hands on the Fretboard (Guitar Lesson)


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David Isaacs

Hands on the Fretboard

Learn hand position, posture and see how to set up your playing for success when it comes to your fret hand. Dave goes in depth with his discussion and demonstration of hand mechanics. Don't miss this lesson!

Taught by David Isaacs in Beginner Guitar With David Isaacs seriesLength: 16:10Difficulty: 0.5 of 5


Developing good technique from the beginning isn't difficult. Watch any good player and you'll often get the impression that their hands move effortlessly. This is because good technique is natural and ergonomic, meaning that we use our hands in a way that works with our natural anatomy to minimize effort and strain. This lesson introduces the fundamentals of good technique, from hand position and posture to specific finger placement, and leads up to a simple blues melody you can play with one finger.

When the hands and fingers are relaxed, they move easily, and proper hand position makes it easy to stay relaxed. The big idea introduced in this lesson will apply to nearly everything you ever play, and it's very simple: use your hands in the most efficient way, maximizing freedom of movement but minimizing effort. A position that keeps the wrist and hand loose keeps the fingers relaxed, and makes it easy to stay poised over the strings and ready to play. Efficient motion also means that we don't move any more than we need to...in many if not most cases, reaching a particular note often just requires a small change in position. Whether that motion is to change chords in the same position or to move along the neck, the same principles apply.

We'll look at specifics of wrist, thumb, and finger position, and the way that small, controlled movements allow us to navigate the neck without working harder than we need to. There are variables here – there's no “perfect” or absolute hand position that works for everyone – but the beauty of the ergonomic approach is that it's based on YOUR hand and the way to move most efficiently. You'll find that this approach makes everything you do easier.

Starting with simple movement exercises, we'll explore how the hand position changes as we reach for notes in different places. This sets us up for our first simple piece, “Baby Step Blues”: an easy blues melody you can play with just one finger. Once you start to get comfortable with the simple motions, start working with the backing track to practice making those moves in time. As with all our exercises, start slowly enough to concentrate on movement, hand position, and motion. Playing in time is important! Even before you play along with the backing track, it's important to have a sense of the beat. This falls into the area of what we'll call musicianship: the skills that make notes into music. The ability to keep time is one of the most essential of these skills.

Of course, it can be challenging to locate the notes on the fingerboard, think about hand position, and strike the right strings while still keeping the beat. It's probably best to isolate these different elements. Take a small section – maybe a whole line, maybe just four notes – and memorize the left hand patterns, moving slowly. Focus on coordination between your two hands, and gradually work your way through the entire exercise piece by piece. Once you can play through the exercise confidently at a slow tempo, try working with the backing track. Remember that you can use the piece-by-piece approach with the track as well – for example, playing just the first four notes of each line, or every other measure, or just one line. Working this way allows you to give equal attention to every part of the tune and to every individual aspect of what it takes to play it. It's a powerful method and it works...see for yourself.





Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


MaarsMaars replied on January 18th, 2017

Another wasted night as I still get no picture of David's playing?

MaarsMaars replied on January 18th, 2017

Another wasted night as I still get no picture of David's playing?

Jason.MounceJason.Mounce replied on January 18th, 2017

Hi Maars, I don't quite understand what you are having trouble with here. Are you having difficulty playing the lesson video, or are you looking at the supplemental content? If you're having trouble, please either give us a call at 877-999-4526 between the hours of 9am and 5pm Monday through Friday, or send us an e-mail to [email protected] and detail what you are having trouble with. We can help you troubleshoot and get you going.

MaarsMaars replied on January 18th, 2017

I find I can not get the picture of David Isaacs playing?

MaarsMaars replied on January 18th, 2017

I find I can not get the picture of David Isaacs playing?

MaarsMaars replied on January 18th, 2017

I find I can not get the picture of David Isaacs playing?

louishe3louishe3 replied on January 9th, 2017

While I understand that you can't go at a snail pace for beginners, I have to say it is really hard to follow you when you go through the lesson and don't pause at each change. Then too, it's very confusing to see the notes at the bottom of the page when I can't read/don't understand what they mean. I think it would be "really" helpful if every time you played a note that the note on the sheet below would light up. Just a suggestion.

nonyabizznonyabizz replied on December 5th, 2016

Is it bad that I can do it so much better with my middle finger?

Jason.MounceJason.Mounce replied on December 8th, 2016

Everyone's biology is a little different and as a result some fingering positions may be easier for others. If your middle finger works best for you here, don't read too much into it. As with everything guitar, I would recommend learning in multiple different ways which opens up your playing ability as you progress.

clay296clay296 replied on September 12th, 2016

Hi. I love this lesson and have a question about the Baby Step Blues and reading the tabs. It seems strange to me that you cant see what is coming when the bars change until its right upon you. IE you play along to bar 4 and the screen doesn't show bar 5 until you should already be playing it. Is this normal or am I missing something? I expected to be able to see what is coming next so I can prepare for changes to hand position etc. I'm very new to guitar and it puts me behind a bit when I can't see the changes. Love David's instruction manner though.

deanodude1deanodude1 replied on August 14th, 2016

i like his "open minded" approach

clm123clm123 replied on August 1st, 2016

My problem is with thumb in "natural" position it is often difficult to reach the "one finger per fret" fingering.

oliviasjonesoliviasjones replied on July 14th, 2016

he is the best teacher ever the other people teach super easy stuff this guy teaches you just the right amount of stuff best teacher I have seen so far : )

nonyabizznonyabizz replied on November 28th, 2016

They can be printed from the 'supplemental' tab above...

Richie GuitarRichie Guitar replied on June 30th, 2016

Please let me have a way for me to print the music and tab sheet for my practice. Thank you

GraleeGralee replied on June 25th, 2016

I'd like to share one thing that helped me with the whole ergonomic set up - a guitar strap. It helps keep the neck in the right position and I'm not fighting to stop the guitar sliding off my knee! Also helps to maintain the neck in the optimum position (for me) especially when I need to drop my wrist to reach up to the low notes. I can lower my wrist without it having to do the added job of supporting the neck, as this is held in place by the strap. For what it's worth...:)

flyn2fishflyn2fish replied on June 8th, 2016

hey guys! On the "supplemental" tab below the video of Baby Step Blues there is a audio. one is "audio track" and there is a "play along" track. i can't find the "play along track" for the next lesson in the series, which is "Which one's Pink". does it exist? do i have to unlock it somehow? thanks for the help! FYI I'm 51 and just starting to play. this is great!

EmmamoEmmamo replied on June 7th, 2016

I am on windows ten on jam play and the video quality is not that good and it might be my computer but I don't think it is I've just joined on jam play but I might just try to find another teacher that I go face to face with in reality so just saying I don't know if I want to keeps being on jam play so so sorry. Bye for now!

mcosta08mcosta08 replied on June 6th, 2016

I just signed up and using Google Chrome. Seems to work very well. No issues.

j.eric.smith@live.com[email protected] replied on May 29th, 2016

I've read numerous complaints about video quality. I'm on Windows 10 using Chrome v50 with absolutely no problems. As a matter of fact, I am a web applications developer, and I am extremely impressed with this site. I do have a request. The play along links to the backing track and vice versa. That's not a huge deal, but I'm requesting the backing track to be recorded at a normal volume; then I can control the volume I need personally. Currently, I have to edit to add volume, which of course affects the quality a bit.

EmmamoEmmamo replied on June 7th, 2016

God idea!

jpuopolojpuopolo replied on May 24th, 2016

Hi. I have been playing for a few years now, mostly self-taught. I just joined JamPlay, and am starting from the beginning again, just to pick up new tips from a different perspective. After the first few lessons, I am already quite pleased with the instructor, the quality of the instruction and the videos, and the supplementary materials. Thank you and bravo!

jtroutt19jtroutt19 replied on March 28th, 2016

That's right! Because your device is having trouble playing the video blame it on the site instead of your device! That seems really intelligent. I am using the edge browser that comes in Windows 10. It works well I have not had any issues yet. I tried to use firefox and had issues. Just saying

karolkakarolka replied on March 16th, 2016

Thank you for a great lesson. I switched to Google Chrome and all of my video problems went away.

vineyviney replied on March 4th, 2016

This is awsome

sososorrysososorry replied on March 2nd, 2016

i am very upset about 1 thing this is the last episode until it is all member Ive had ENOUGH i am upgrading for i no choice:( X_X

sososorrysososorry replied on March 2nd, 2016

please don't hate :D

EmmamoEmmamo replied on June 7th, 2016

please don't hat what

EmmamoEmmamo replied on June 7th, 2016

sorry spelled hate wrong so what do you hate

tim0jmtim0jm replied on January 22nd, 2016

The backing track and play along seem to have their titles switched.

lclarklclark replied on October 7th, 2015

I use firefox and have had numerous problems with videos from various instructors. I'll be moving on.

Southern CashSouthern Cash replied on September 24th, 2015

Good ideas to try, thanks!

EmmamoEmmamo replied on June 8th, 2016

which hand do you use to play?

EmmamoEmmamo replied on June 7th, 2016

why is is your call sing southern cash?

EmmamoEmmamo replied on June 7th, 2016

never mind

dirk.savagedirk.savage replied on August 17th, 2015

Video and sound are out of sync..then sound quit completely

pranaszechuanpranaszechuan replied on August 3rd, 2015

When I was playing this video on Firefox at 0:09 seconds, the audio jumped forward into playing the song and never caught up or reset. I opened in Chrome and perfectly synced. Just wanted to post this in case someone else has an issue. I don't know what the deal is with Firefox - all the other videos I've watched worked just fine. Best wishes!

NautilustearsNautilustears replied on June 17th, 2015

Finally I can get my pinky finger to hit a note. I always had it to far from the fret. Good lesson.

cawdorcawdor replied on June 13th, 2015

I really enjoy the explanation of ergonomics. I hope it works when we get into chords.

akcelesteakceleste replied on May 20th, 2015

Safari on the mac eliminated the same issue with firefox

trezurhuntertrezurhunter replied on April 14th, 2015

I had the screen lock up at 00:39 on 2 Baby Step Blues. I ran it back and it locked up again at 00:40. There seems to be a glitch in the program. The voice carries on but the screen freezes up.

EmmamoEmmamo replied on June 28th, 2016

try and speed up the video that worked for me. -o-

susansnetsusansnet replied on April 29th, 2015

I had the same problem on several videos in different places. I looked for the help, and it recommends updating adobe flash player, that seemed to help. Also, when I tried it on Chrome instead of Firefox that worked - they say Chrome & Firefox work better than Internet explorer. Good luck.

00-Steve00-Steve replied on April 5th, 2015

I found the suggestions about thumb placement behind the neck very useful. As suggested, I was putting my thumb directly against the middle of the neck and it was creating tension in my wrist and forearm. Now, I simply let my thumb rest in its most comfortable position and I'm able to form cords with less effort. Thanks

rericsawyerrericsawyer replied on July 12th, 2015

Decades ago, when I use to play a little classical guitar, it seemed very important to keep the thumb low. But the reasons for that do not apply to a folk-style guitar, or electric. The neck of a classical is so much wider that you will have a hard time getting all the way around to the low E string if your thumb is high. You will really strain to do it. Also, a classical player typically will hold the guitar a little differently. It goes over the OTHER knee while sitting, and most players hold the neck at a little higher angle. The result is that even with the thumb in the middle of the back, the wrist is still relaxed and "Neutral" The ergonomic points made in this video are exactly right. The exact thumb position will vary depending on the instrument, but the wrist should definitely be relaxed and neutral. You will be much more comfortable, and reach frets much easier when things aren't all bound up!

00-Steve00-Steve replied on April 5th, 2015

I've enjoyed going through most of the basic exercises in Phase 1 over the past few weeks. I am particularly glad that I discovered the "Baby Step Blues" exercise, especially since it includes a nice backing track. If you are looking to start out learning some blues music this might be the best exercise in Phase 1.

Beginner Guitar With David Isaacs

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Whether you've never played before, or your coming back to guitar after brief startup attempt, you'll find everything you need to get going in this series. David uses real musical examples to teach even the most basic concepts and techniques.



Lesson 1

The Series Introduction

Don't get stuck learning chords, scales and theory with nowhere to apply the things you work on. Take the "David Isaacs" approach and learn the guitar by using real music. You'll be playing along with...

Length: 2:32 Difficulty: 0.5 FREE
Lesson 2

Strings & Things

Tune up, learn your way around your guitar, and explore a simple, musical picking exercise to help you learn the string names. You'll be playing right out of the gate!

Length: 22:20 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Hands on the Fretboard

Learn hand position, posture and see how to set up your playing for success when it comes to your fret hand. Dave goes in depth with his discussion and demonstration of hand mechanics. Don't miss this...

Length: 16:10 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Your First Song!

Learn the E7 minor and Am chords and then immediately put them to use with a simple song. Play along to the provided backing track and feel like you're part of the band...It's only your 4th lesson! Keep...

Length: 15:32 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Power to the Chords

Power chords are some of the most simple and ubiquitous tools for playing and making great songs. Learn the most basic shapes and put them to use right here! Dave also discusses the beginnings of strumming...

Length: 12:21 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Music & Melody

Learn a simple melody and take in a little info about what a 'key' is. You can learn the melody and have a friend strum the rhythm. Or, do it the other way around!

Length: 18:07 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Two Finger Chords & More

These simple, musical tools can take you a long way. Use your index and middle fingers to play a simple Am chord and a simple E chord. You'll also learn how to read chord charts and play through another...

Length: 16:46 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

A Simple Melody

You will be introduced to a simple A minor scale and then learn a song that helps you get your new scale under your finger tips!

Length: 12:08 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 9

Finger Independence

Do you ever feel like you are wearing mittens while you are trying to practice your guitar playing? If you have ever experienced this sensation, this lesson is for you!

Length: 11:04 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Let's Major on C Major

You'll be introduced to the C Major scale and then you'll be able to put it to use over a soothing acoustic guitar rhythm bed. Have fun!

Length: 10:37 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

The C Chord and G7 Chord

Here you'll get to spend some time applying some fundamental chord shapes. Dave shows how to switch between these two chords seamlessly and, as usual, has a creative example ready to go so you can put...

Length: 18:39 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

G and C Working Together

I know what you're thinking..."I just learned these!" Well, you did learn a C chord and a G chord, but this lesson goes over ways to play these chords together in a chord progression that REALLY sounds...

Length: 11:06 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Playing Most Songs

You've probably heard it before, but most songs out there can really be played with just 3 or 4 chords. In this lesson, Dave gives you the tools to play most of the songs you know and love!

Length: 14:04 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

Rhythm & Charts

We're moving into some new territory with this series now. You'll now be focusing more and more on material that you can play in a band setting. Up until now, you've been applying the basics to real music,...

Length: 24:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

A Taste of the Blues

Learn about the blues form and strum along with a cool, laid back, bluesy track. You'll be able to take the material in this lesson a long way down the road! Don't forget to have fun with it now though...

Length: 12:03 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Major Pentatonic Music

Learn the C major pentatonic scale and put it to good use over a catchy tune! You'll be surprised how simple this is and how very musical you can be with just 5 notes arranged in a musically interesting...

Length: 8:38 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Four Fingers and a Chord

The mighty and intimidating F chord is one that most beginners see as a major hurdle in learning the basic chords on the guitar. Dave offers some ways to make the F chord more approachable. Once you examine...

Length: 15:35 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

Chord Shapes & Arpeggios

Work on precision with your picking hand and more finger independence with your fretting hand using a soothing practice track called "Chimes". You'll get a good taste of combining melody and rhythm playing...

Length: 15:34 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 19

Work Those Rhythms

Dave works you through eight different strumming variations, discusses how to feel the groove while keeping the rhythm, and shows you how to take a handful of examples and create any strum pattern you...

Length: 14:18 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 20

Complete C

Look at the C major scale once again. This time however, you'll get to complete the first position C major pattern. You'll play every note within reach of your first 4 frets. You'll also learn a catchy...

Length: 16:28 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 21

The Return to Chords

Work in the Am, Dm, and Em chords and play them in a melancholy, yet soothing example. You'll also get to work on your basic strumming.

Length: 12:18 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 22

Shifty Pentatonic

Learn the E minor pentatonic scale with a small position shift that will get you out of the open position and moving around the neck a little bit. This is where it really starts to feel like you are owning...

Length: 13:53 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

Let's Major on A Minor

Earlier in the series, we explored the C major scale. In this lesson, the A minor will get some love. Learn the basic open position and use it in a new melody.

Length: 15:43 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 24

In 7th Heaven

Back to some chords now. In case you couldn't tell from the title, we'll be focusing on 7th chords for this lesson. You learned A7 a while back, and now you'll learn E7 and B7.

Length: 13:32 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 25

Walkin' The Blues

Take a moment to pat yourself on the back! You've covered a lot of ground so far! You've been playing real music now for some time, and in this lesson, we're going to learn a walking blues line. What is...

Length: 10:50 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 26

Moveable Chords

Chords that don't have any open strings in them AND chords whose open strings fit comfortably within the chord all called "moveable chords". Learn how to play a couple chords up the neck.

Length: 15:31 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 27

Moveable Pentatonic

In this lesson, you'll take another big step forward when it comes to working outside of the open position. You'll feel like doing some jamming too!

Length: 8:44 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 28

Syncopated Strumming

There are eight more strum patterns for you to dig into in this lesson. This time, they are a bit trickier. Follow along with the rhythm charts and take each example in chunks if needed. Combine them with...

Length: 19:33 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 29

And Now...Barre Chords!

You knew it was coming! This is the lesson where we stop dancing around full fingered moveable chords and dive head first into the most common barre chord shapes. They're not as bad as you may be fearing....

Length: 19:21 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 30

Advancing with Blues

As the musical examples continue to distance themselves from that stereotypical beginner sound, Dave works through this track with a simple, moving melody inside a blues progression.

Length: 14:47 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 31

Make It up as You Go

Some of you may have been waiting for this one! Now we'll focus on some improvisation...Some lead playing. It's not about knowing all the scales or trying to be fancy. It is about using what you know...

Length: 12:45 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 32

Like a Drummer

Learn how to create motion and percussive interest with your strumming. If you look at and listen to how drummers accent general grooves, there is a lot of insight there in to how to make your rhythm playing...

Length: 17:29 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 33

New Chords, New Strums

Learn B minor chord and continue developing your feel and grooviness when it comes to strumming. Be sure that you are combing over older lessons as well so that you can incorporate many ideas into what...

Length: 21:19 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 34

A Start to Alternate Picking

Develop precision in your picking. Learn when it's best to use alternate picking. Get comfortable with a few exercises and then apply the technique in a musical context!

Length: 20:26 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 35

A Little Bluegrass

We're going to continue with rhythm playing and 16th note strumming, but this time we're going to touch on some laid back bluegrass playing. This is another simple style of playing to add to your arsenal.

Length: 10:06 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 36

A Bit More on Barre Chords

Learn a few more barre chord forms and get more advanced with your strumming. As you've come to know and love with these lessons, you'll have a chance to learn a new song!

Length: 13:51 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only

About David Isaacs View Full Biography Nashville-based Dave Isaacs has made a name for himself as one of Music City's top guitar instructors, working with both professional and aspiring songwriters and artists at his Music Row teaching studio. He is also an instructor in the music department at Tennessee State University and is the coordinator and artistic director of the annual TSU Guitar Summit.

A seasoned performer as well, Dave has released eight independent CDs and gigs steadily as a solo artist, bandleader, and sideman. He continues to write, record, and perform as well as arranging and producing projects for other artists.

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Greg J.

"With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace"
 

I'm a fifty eight year old newbie who owns a guitar which has been sitting untouched in a corner for about seven years now. Last weekend I got inspired to pick it up and finally learn how to play after watching an amazing Spanish guitarist on TV. So, here I am. I'm starting at the beginning with Steve Eulberg and I couldn't be happier (except for the sore fingers :) Some day I'm going to play like Steve! I'm self employed with a hectic schedule. With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace, rewinding and replaying the videos until I get it. This is a very enjoyable diversion from my work yet I still feel like I'm accomplishing something worthwhile. Thanks a lot, Greg


Bill

"I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students."
 

I am commenting here to tell you and everyone at JamPlay that I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students. I truly enjoy learning to play the guitar on JamPlay.com. Yes, I said the words, ""enjoy learning."" It is by far the best deal for the money.



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