After many requests I have finally decided that I would cover the issue of technique. Technique could be the single most important part of any given musical instrument other then what comes from your heart. If you are a beginner player then I would strongly recommend utilizing proper techniques now while it’s still easy. Any advanced player will agree on me with this issue.
I was primarily a bluesman until I was seventeen. As much as I love the blues there are a lot of techniques involved with untrained playing that can really affect your future playing and will cause serious damage to your wrists and fingers that are not curable allot of times. I know it looks cool to have a low slung guitar, but it is not efficient in any way, shape, or form. It forces your wrist to bend in a way that it shouldn’t, causing carpal tunnel and many other ailments. It is crucial to have your wrist as straight as possible while playing. If you are a beginner or intermediate student that has not ever taken professional guitar lessons before then you need to sign up immediately with a qualified teacher. Your best bet will be to go to a jazz or classical teacher in your area. Whether you like those styles or not that is pointless. You have to have someone watching you to point out what you should be doing to get proper technique. It is also impossible to pull off complex lines without good technique. This is why I am doing work on the Internet to get people out of the rut that they get stuck in. It happens to 99% of all guitarists at some point of time when they are stuck playing the same rehashed stuff over and over again.
So, now that, that is off my chest, I have already said that your wrist should always be straight. Not only should your wrist be straight, but your thumb should always be behind the neck. There is only one exception for that and that is when you go to pull off a soaring blues bend. Other then that it needs to be behind the neck at all times period. Now with the right hand I personally use a cross between the Shawn Lane style of picking where my hand makes a loose fist and I hold the pick at a slight angle and the Eric Johnson bounce techniques. I almost always anchor my hand on the bridge with a very, very light touch. My pick is held as close to my hand as possible. Being in this position it is nearly impossible to trip up anywhere. A lot of great guitarists anchor their finger on the body. I personally prefer to keep my hand in a fist for maximum balance and to keep my fingers from getting in the way. By doing it this way I can easily palm mute, do pinch harmonics, and reach everything very comfortably. The bounce technique is where you go up with the pick instead of through the whole string. This allows me to get to the other side of the string very quickly and efficiently. The key to doing this is to be able to lightly brush the string yet be able to get some power in it as well. Of coarse crosspicking should always be used religiously. This is where you do a downstroke with the pick, and the next note played you do an up stroke. As far as sweep picking I go through the note mute it with my palm and rest my pick on the next note, which of course will be on the next string. You do not want your notes to ring out while you are sweep picking. The way I utilize my right hand is a very complete method compiled from years of instruction, school, and even students. Just like everything else it is an on going learning process, but the essentials change. I mute all strings that are not being played on with my palm and extra fingers on my left hand.
As far as my left hand goes again efficiency is everything. My left hand is probably the strongest technique that I have. I usually do it the same way Vinnie Moore does it where you use the very tips of your fingers. After time you will develop muscles that you never knew you had. If you look at Vinnies fingers they are almost like sculpted mallets. I also encourage you to lift weights on both arms. Primarily curls and reversals to build you forearms so you will have stamina. Your left hand needs to always be able to go to the next move in an efficient manner. Use visualization heavily for really both hands. Visualize how you will play one passage to quickly be able to go to the next. I also mentioned visualization in my how to practice column. Of course always use a metronome to build maximum technique. With your thumb behind the neck you have a greater range of reaching for those far out there notes. You should be able to comfortably reach at least an eight fret span. Always look for a more sensible way to play something. If you are reading the tab for something and it has you going all over the place. Look for the same notes in a six fret span. You should be able to play any chord or scale in any given six frets. The only reason you should ever have to move out of where you are at is for different tones. You should come up with as many possible ways to play anything. Also practice getting your fingers in a normally uncomfortable situation so that you can get anywhere at anytime in a quick and fluent manner while still being in time.
That covers my basic technique. I’m sure I could sit here for hours on end covering everything, but I will have to save that for a book Thank you for all the kind Emails and you are always welcome to Email me if you have any questions.