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The Right Hand (Guitar Lesson)


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Steve Eulberg

The Right Hand

Steve explains proper picking hand technique.

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Kids and Guitar seriesLength: 9:34Difficulty: 1.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (09:34) The Right Hand or Picking/Strumming Hand In the past several lessons, Steve has covered some basic guidelines concerning the left hand. In the current lesson, he will explain some key concepts relating to proper right hand technique.

Using the Thumb for Strumming

When you first begin to play guitar, it is perfectly acceptable to use your thumb when strumming chords. Allow your thumb to pass through the strings in a relaxed motion. Bracing all of your fingers on the body of the guitar will hinder this movement. If you feel like you must anchor part of your hand to the body of the guitar, anchor the pinkie finger to the pickguard.

However, using the thumb for strumming has several limitations. Strumming in a downward direction works rather well with this technique. Unfortunately, strumming in an upward motion with the thumb is quite impractical. As you advance as a guitarist, the ability to strum in both upwards and downwards motions will become increasingly more important. Using the thumb for upstrokes also produces a nasal tone that is undesirable.

To overcome this obstacle, Steve suggests that you use the index finger when playing upstrokes. Simply drag the fleshy pad of the index fingers across the strings in an upward motion.

Using a Pick

Strumming the strings with a pick is the single best way to maximize right hand control. Using a pick will also produce the clearest tone.

Note: The following information about playing with a pick is taken from lesson 2 of Brad Henecke's Phase 2 Speed and Technique series.

Choosing a Pick

When it comes to choosing a pick, there really is no right and wrong. Picks come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, thicknesses, and textures.

Pick Size / Shape

Almost all picks are made in relatively the same shape. There is a broad end and a pointed end. However, there is a wide variety of choices within this stipulation. The majority of picks are taller than they are wide and measure roughly one inch in height. A common example of this pick type is the Dunlop Tortex. However, there are other options available. For example, Fender makes a pick that is just as wide as it is round. Fender also makes picks in the shape of isosceles and equilateral triangles. Most guitarists can't stand these picks. However, a few famous guitarists such as Daron Malakian have been known to use these picks almost exclusively. Finally, most jazz players prefer a very small pick. This allows the picking hand to be as close to the strings as possible. This is not desirable for players who frequently palm mute. You will learn about this technique as you work your way into the Phase 2 series of lessons.

Pick Texture

Ideally, you want to choose a pick that is easy to hold onto. Almost everyone is different in this category. The amount of oil your hands produce has a large impact on which pick is easier for you to grip. For example, many players find the Dunlop Tortex picks very easy to hang onto. However, players with very dry skin typically find them impossible to hold onto. These players usually prefer a pick with a smoother surface such as picks made by Fender.

Thickness

Almost all JamPlay instructors recommend that you play with a medium or heavy pick. Thin picks produce an annoying clicking sound when they strike the string. They also tend produce a very weak tone. However, make sure that you do not choose a pick that is too thick. Picks that are too thick are clumsy and awkward to use. Using such a pick also puts you at a higher risk of string breakage.

Holding the Pick

In order to properly swing a golf club, you must first learn how to hold it. Similarly, in order to use your picking hand properly, you first have to learn how to hold the pick. There are three acceptable methods of holding a guitar pick. Spend significant time experimenting with all three options to determine which works best for you and the style(s) of music you play. They are listed here in order from most common to least common.

Method 1

Most guitarists prefer to hold the pick between the thumb and index finger. This grip seems to feel most natural to the vast majority of players. Within this method, you have two viable options pertaining to how the index finger grips the pick. Most players prefer to hold the pick between the fleshy pad of the thumb and the pad of the index finger. On the other hand, some guitarists choose to hold it between the pad of the thumb and the bony side of the index finger. JamPlay instructor Matt Brown prefers the latter method. He feels that he is much less likely to drop the pick when it is held in such a way. He is also able to play with a more aggressive tone.

Method 2

Some players prefer to hold the pick between the pads of the thumb and both the index and middle fingers. These players feel that this method provides them with the firmest, most stable grip on the pick.

Method 3

Eddie Van Halen has been known to grip the pick between the pad of his thumb and the pad of his middle finger. This method frees up his first finger for rapid tapping licks. This method is not recommended unless you play tapped licks very frequently.

Regardless of which method you eventually choose, slightly less than a fourth of an inch of the pick should extend outward from the fingers holding it. This is the only portion of the pick that should make contact with the strings. Almost all guitarists strike the strings with the pointed side of the pick. Watch Steve for a clear demonstration of how to hold the pick in this manner. However, some jazz players such as Scott Henderson advocate holding the pick upside down. Scott holds his pick this way in order to achieve a slightly softer, darker tone.

Pick Angle

The angle at which the pick strikes the strings has a huge impact on tone production. Holding the pick totally parallel to the string yields the brightest tone. JamPlay instructor Dennis Hodges prefers to hold his pick this way. However, the tone produced by this method may not be ideal for you. Other instructors such as Matt Brown prefer to slightly angle the pick into the strings. This produces a slightly darker tone similar to the effect of rolling down the tone control by 1 or two settings.

The pick angle also has a profound effect on rapid picking. Some players prefer to angle the pick slightly when tremolo picking so that the pick slices through the string. Other players find this technique undesirable and choose to keep the pick parallel to the string while tremolo picking.

Note: If you do not have a "hitchhiker" thumb, you will most likely not be able to hold the pick perfectly parallel to the string. If this is the case, do not try to force the thumb into a position that is uncomfortable. The thumb should remain as relaxed as possible at all times.

Picking Motion

Almost all guitarists generate the picking motion completely from the wrist muscles. The forearm only gives involved when two or more strings are strummed simultaneously. However, some players prefer to generate the picking motion between the thumb and index finger. The thumb pushes the index finger towards the middle finger to produce a downstroke. Allowing these fingers to return to their normal, relaxed position produces an upstroke. Guitarist Dave Navarro is a strong advocate of this technique.

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Member Comments about this Lesson

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


steveeulbergsteveeulberg replied on June 30th, 2013

tabbydog, are you talking about right hand pick accuracy? That comes with lots of repetition and practice.

tabbydogtabbydog replied on June 24th, 2013

Hi from a 64 year old kid. I'm having trouble with my accuracy finding the proper sting to play in lesson 5. Is there a good home base or other method in playing the proper stings? Oh! great job.

libbylu1125libbylu1125 replied on September 13th, 2011

hi

Kids and Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Playing the guitar can be a fun, educational, and productive activity for children of all ages. Introduce your child to the wonderful world of music with this lesson series.



Lesson 1

Introduction to Guitar

In this lesson, the first in the Kids and Guitar series, Steve Eulberg introduces the guitar and its many wonders.

Length: 7:23 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Parts of the Guitar

Steve Eulberg talks about the parts of the guitar and how they function. You also get to see some of his wonderful artwork.

Length: 7:30 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Holding and Playing Guitar

Steve explains how to properly hold your guitar. He also explains how the strings are named.

Length: 8:54 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 4

Playing Guitar

Steve prepares you to play your first notes in this lesson. Get ready for some fun!

Length: 13:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Finger Placement and More

Steve explains finger placement and proper playing technique. He also teaches a fun new song.

Length: 14:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Tuning the Guitar

Learning how to properly tune the guitar is an absolutely essential skill. In this lesson, Steve walks you through the tuning process.

Length: 8:30 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Hand Exercise

In this lesson, Steve Eulberg provides a new exercise that will challenge your mind and hands.

Length: 8:07 Difficulty: 1.0 FREE
Lesson 8

Chords and a Song

Steve introduces some basic chords. Then, he teaches the classic song "Hot Cross Buns."

Length: 14:48 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

The Right Hand

Steve explains proper picking hand technique.

Length: 9:34 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Steve Eulberg covers the classic children's song "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

Length: 6:37 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 11

Aunt Rhody

Steve teaches an easy children's song called "Aunt Rhody." We've all heard the song. Now it's time to play it!

Length: 10:59 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Paw Paw Patch

Steve teaches a classic song called "Paw Paw Patch" in this lesson.

Length: 10:50 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

The Wheels on the Bus

Steve Eulberg teaches the popular kids song "The Wheels on the Bus."

Length: 5:54 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 14

The Wheels on the Bus Part Two

In this lesson, Steve Eulberg teaches the song "The Wheels on the Bus" in a different key.

Length: 14:11 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Steve teaches the popular kids song "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" in this lesson.

Length: 11:03 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Ode to Joy

Steve teaches "Ode to Joy," a catchy and highly recognizable tune.

Length: 20:52 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Scale Finger Practice

Steve demonstrates techniques to accomplish the ability to move your fingers independently.

Length: 6:54 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

E Minor Chord

Steve teaches the E minor chord. This chord was first introduced in the song "Ode to Joy" and serves as an introduction to the remaining minor chords that will be taught in this series.

Length: 5:54 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 19

A Minor Chord

Steve introduces the A minor chord. You have an opportunity to compare and contrast the difference in sound between major and minor chords in this lesson.

Length: 9:16 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 20

Picking Technique

Steve breaks away from left hand positions to focus on picking hand technique.

Length: 6:44 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 21

B Minor Chord

Steve adds yet another chord for your fingers to enjoy. In this lesson, he teaches the B minor chord. Steve teaches the proper fingering for this chord and incorporates it into a few chord progression...

Length: 10:54 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 22

4 Fret Exercise

Give your fretting hand a workout with this 4 fret exercise!

Length: 9:24 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

12 Fret Movement Exercise

Steve Eulberg explains an exercise that will develop your ability to perform position shifts.

Length: 11:11 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 24

"Monkey Around" Fret Exercise

Steve shows how to "monkey around" with a fret hand exercise designed to develop creativity and proper technique.

Length: 4:45 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 25

D Minor Chord

Steve demonstrates the D minor chord.

Length: 3:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 26

Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho

Steve uses the new D minor chord from Lesson 25 in the classic song "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho."

Length: 9:36 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 27

Smooth Chord Transition (The Pivot Finger)

Steve demonstrates some techniques that help transition smoothly between chords.

Length: 9:35 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 28

What and When Hands

This fantastic lesson explains that the strum hand determines when we hear the sound, and the "what" hand creates what we hear.

Length: 8:15 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 29

5th Fret Magic

Steve breaks explains how notes are laid out in first position and how the 5th fret is used to shorten up the work needed to play full scales.

Length: 8:40 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 30

House of Chords - The Room of G

Welcome to the first installment of a series that details how various chords are formed! Get started by learning some "G" chords.

Length: 4:50 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 31

House of Chords - The Room of C

Steve moves from room to room in the house of chords. This lesson features the room of C.

Length: 5:01 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 32

House of Chords - The Room of A

Steve continues through the House of Chords. In this lesson, he has found himself in the room of A.

Length: 14:18 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 33

House of Chords - The Room of E

Steve welcomes you to the room of E as he continues to take you on a tour of the House of Chords.

Length: 5:01 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 34

House of Chords - The Room of D

Steve finally completes his tour of the House of Chords with the room of D.

Length: 3:39 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 35

Advanced Strumming Pt. 1

It's time to introduce a new strumming technique commonly referred to as the "boom-chuck." This lesson will help develop more advanced picking hand skill.

Length: 6:04 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 36

Advanced Strumming Pt. 2

Steve continues with part 2 of his advanced strumming techniques.

Length: 4:16 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 37

Advanced Strumming Pt. 3

Diving more in depth and getting a better grasp on the alternate "boom chuck" style of picking, Steve continues with part 3 of his advanced strumming techniques.

Length: 2:44 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 38

Advanced Strumming Pt. 4

Steve introduces full chord strumming techniques in part 4 of his advanced strumming lessons.

Length: 3:50 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 39

Advanced Strumming Pt. 5

Steve demonstrates how to "alternate the boom" to a different string in this Advanced Strumming Pt. 5 Lesson.

Length: 3:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 40

Advanced Strumming Pt. 6

Welcome to part 6 in a series of advanced strumming techniques. This lesson demonstrates how to "alternate the boom" on two different strings.

Length: 4:15 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 41

Advanced Strumming Pt. 7

Steve Breaks down what the D chord looks like when applying the "boom chuck" strum technique.

Length: 2:33 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 42

Advanced Strumming Pt. 8

Steve finishes off his strumming sessions by demonstrating additional alternating bass patterns within the context of the "boom chuck" strum pattern.

Length: 6:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only

About Steve Eulberg View Full Biography An Award-winning multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, Steve Eulberg weaves mountain and hammered dulcimers with a variety of unusual instruments to create thought-provoking, smile-inducing, toe-tapping acoustic experiences.

He has sung and composed for religious communities, union halls, picket lines, inter-faith retreats, mountain-top youth camps, as well as the more familiar venues: clubs, coffeehouses, bookstores, festivals, charity benefits and showcase concerts.

Born and raised in the German-heritage town of Pemberville, Ohio, Steve was exposed to a variety of music in his home. Early piano lessons were followed by trumpet in school band, and he became self-taught on ukelele and guitar and harmonica. Mandolin was added at Capital University where, while majoring in History, he studied Ear Training, Voice and took Arranging lessons from the Conservatory of Music.

While at college, he first heard hammered and mountain dulcimers, building his first mountain dulcimer just before his final year. Seminary training took him the west side of Denver where he built his first hammered dulcimer. With these instruments, he was able to give voice to the Scottish, English and Irish traditions to which he is also heir.

Following marriage in 1985 to Connie Winter-Eulberg he settled in Kansas City, Missouri. There he worked cross-culturally in a church of African-Americans, Latinos and European Americans, with music being a primary organizing tool. He moved with his family in 1997 to be nestled beside the Rocky Mountains in Fort Coillins, Colorado.

Founder of Owl Mountain Music, Inc. he teaches and performs extensively in Colorado and Wyoming with tours across the US and the UK. He delights in introducing the “sweet music” of dulcimers to people in diverse settings and in addition to his own recordings, has included dulcimers in a variety of session work for other musicians.

In 2000 he was commissioned to create a choral composition featuring dulcimers for the Rainbow Chorus in Fort Collins. It was recorded in the same year (BEGINNINGS). He is currently at work on a commissioned symphony that will feature hammered dulcimer and Australian didjeridu.

Eulberg passionately believes that music crosses cultural and language barriers because music builds community. Influenced by a variety of ethnic styles, his music weaves vital lyric with rap, rock, folk, gospel and blues. Audiences of all ages respond well to his presentation and to his warm sense of humor.

Steve is a member of Local 1000 (AFM), The Folk Alliance, BMI and BWAAG (Better World Artists and Activist's Guild).

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