Tip 3 – Guitar Right Hand Technique And Position

Ok, let’s run thru guitar right hand technique and the position to clearly understand how to do it. Today we’ll spend some time to go thru few right hand picking techniques mostly playing electric guitar. Our mission is to cover all possible techniques playing with the pick. We’ll also cover a little apoyando (Spanish guitar technique) and its amelioration – tirando that is preferred in today by classical players.

We’ll not cover apoyando and tirando in details, because this post is dedicated to right hand picking with the pick. Spanish playing technique will be covered from basic point of view.

Spanish guitar technique – apoyando and tirando

Apoyando – means playing guitar with plucking technique or known as “rest stroke”. It is plucking the strings. This is how right hand is positioned.

Typically, the thumb stands as a ground on low string (mostly E or A). And the chord or melody is played by rest fingers (with or without pinky). Second, third and fourth fingers usually play any high string and strike the previous (stops on lower string!). This makes like stopping on previous string (not playing it!).

It’s kind of advanced right hand technique that is complicated for beginners. It needs a lot of practice, because you need to work on accuracy and speed.

Apoyando is also a basic bass guitar right hand technique. It’s quite a like, but the main idea comes from here.

Tirando – is a friendlier and easier technique than apoyando. It’s also plucking and is used in classical or flamenco guitar. It’s like pulling or “free stroke”. Fingers do not touch the lower strings. It looks like the right hand is hanging in the air. The thumb is also hanging in the air and it allows using it for more complicated playing and strumming at the same time.

It’s much better for beginner to use this kind of technique if you’re classical guitar player. I’m not using it so it’s hard to me say something more about it. Here’s an example of tirando:

That was the quick overview of Spanish guitar technique; now let’s move to the main point.

Right hand technique and picking

This topic has many points to pay attention to, that’s because I would like to talk more about it. There’re many ways how to play with the pick and work on your right hand picking technique. There’re just few resources on the internet, so I’ll try to put everything together.

Way 1. Using wrist

Most comfortable and ergonomic way of playing fast licks or going from string to string (string skipping).

Players that use this technique: Paul Gilbert, John Petrucci, Winnie Moore and many others.

It’s mostly used and it’s the best compromise road between using energy for playing and getting clean and fast play. You don’t need to load hand a lot. This is also my playing technique.

Way 2. Using fingers

It’s kind of complex way of playing, because it forces to use thumb muscles to go down and up. At the same time wrist also works hard to move along with the thumb. In this way of playing its kind hard to work on comfortable and fast playing, even on clean guitar licks or arpeggios.

Players that use this technique: Yngwie Malmsteem, Erik Johnson.

Way 3. Using forearm which moves parallel to guitar deck

Well, this technique requires using forearm to play fast alternate picking and jump over strings. The hand and the thumb isn’t working at all, the main job is doing forearm. This isn’t quite complex technique. All I can say is that this technique requires strong forearm muscles to keep going on and on. The forearm can get tired very fast, because humans arm isn’t meant for doing these kind of fast arm movements. But as you can see, there’re some guitarists that play in this style.

Players that use this technique: Greg Howe

Way 4. Using forearm to play rotationally from elbow

Like in previous way of playing (using forearm) all the work is doing forearm again. To keep it going, it requires making a rotational motion. In this playing technique arm rests on the guitar deck. To play string skipping and jump over strings it needs to use playing style like in previous way (forearm). This playing is also quite complex and arm can get tired really fast, but the sound is impressive using a lot of tremolo which Van Halen does quite well.

Players that use this technique: Eddie Van Halen

So, these where four types of playing techniques. Personally to me, first way of playing is the most comfortable and ergonomic one which isn’t complex like rest ones. But as you can see, it doesn’t mean that you can’t play different, and I think that using fingers and forearm can slow down possibilities to play some opportunities.

Ok, that was the main idea that I wanted to share with you today about right hand technique. Hope that these tips where useful for you so you can think about your hand movements and improve energy spending.

Think a little how you play and try to feel if it’s comfortable or something must be changed. Look thru all 4 ways of guitar playing again and find the most suitable to you.

Next time we’ll look at another example that will explain about palm muting strings and experiment with the sound.

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