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The Trials And Tribulations Of The Devil's Instrument.

Why your left hand doesn’t do what you want it to do…

While all have issues playing the guitar, we all think these issues are different from everyone else’s, but they aren’t. It usually comes down to one of two things; the left hand, or the right hand. Today, we’re going to focus on that left hand and develop some good left hand technique. What is technique? Technique is the way we do something. And as we all know, there’s an easy way to do something and a much harder way to do that same thing.

When most people start playing guitar, they do whatever they can to make those first chords. It may hurt, and it may be hard, but they’re excited and just excited to be playing something. Which is awesome, it keeps us going and motivated. But as time goes on, you mind find you’re at a plateau and just can’t get any better. Or maybe things are just out of your reach. This is where learning good technique can really help out.

Your hands are amazing when you stop to think about it. They do what you want them to do, and most of the time you don’t even think about what you want them to do, they just do it. Whatever you think of, your hands can do it. Pick something up, type, steer a car, pinch that dropped potato chip from in between the seats, pretty much anything. All you have to do is look at a situation and think of how you’re going to grab that chip. It’s the same thing on guitar. All you have to do is look at a chord, a lick, a run, and think of how you’re going to do it. And then let your hand do the work.

And that’s the biggest issue. You have to let your hand do the work. If your guitar is down to your knees, and you can barely reach it, your hand isn’t going to work. If your thumb is hooked over the top of the guitar, your fingers are not going to be able to play that major seventh chord. At least, not well. So let’s look at some technique that will allow your hands to do whatever you want them to do.

First, your hand should be able to reach the frets, and all the strings, top to bottom, WITHOUT repositioning it. Trust me, you won’t have time to move to reach it in real life. To do this, your thumb should be vertical on the back of the neck, about in the middle. It should be right across from your middle finger. It’s much more useful this way, because you can get pressure on the string without using too much force. It’s this way, your fingers can reach all the strings and frets within about 6 frets. With that thumb hooked over the top? You got about three. That’s not to say that’s wrong, because that style CAN help you in certain cases, but for most playing, it doesn’t.

This does more than allow you to reach more frets. It lets you fret with the tip of your finger, and your other fingers won’t get in the way, they can be closer to the frets and it allows you to use your pinky. Ah, that pinky. It doesn’t do what you tell it to, does it?

Looking at your left hand, the pinky is probably the least used finger. So keeping that in mind, you just have to ” train ” it to do what you want. The muscle that controls the pinky also controls the third finger, so you have to learn to separate the two. How do you do that? Here’s some exercises. Remember;

1. Go slow, make sure what you want to happen, happens.

2. Make sure your thumb is in place and your can EASILY reach the frets

Try to keep all your fingers, especially the pinky, as close to the fretboard as possible at all times, even when you’re fretting other notes. Trust me, it’s gonna be hard at first. But with practice, it’ll get easier and easier, to the point it’ll do what you want it to do.

Written by

As a private guitar instructor, and as a performing musician, I’ve come across all types of guitar players. Some good, some bad, and some just plain out there phenomenal. Always curious into what makes some people more adept at playing guitar than others, I’ve done a lot of research into what it takes to be a great player. As I pass this information on, keep on mind that there’s no secret ingredient, no fast and sure way to get instantly better, and no substitute for putting in the time on the guitar.

1 Comments to “Why your left hand doesn’t do what you want it to do…”

  1. Sanora Montalban says:

    Im a beginner.. this really helped.. thank you.

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