2(a) Right Hand Position
Fingerstyle guitar in traditional, informal
somewhat lacking in terms of providing any method
for learning. We tend to be self
taught by watching others and trying to emulate
them. While this is a great thing, it can be
frustrating when progress halts and there seems to
be no way forward. Classical guitar teachers tend to
have a fairly structured approach to teaching which
can be very helpful. Having said this, it is
possible to make dramatic improvements to the right
hand by keeping a few things in mind and stopping bad habits before they set in.
This book and the tablature are all based on free stroke
picking. In this case, a finger plucks the string and does not rest on the
string beneath as in rest stroke. For steel string fingerstyle guitarists it is
probably less common to use rest-stroke, as the technique is more important in
playing classical and flamenco guitars using nylon strings. Classical guitar
fingering symbols are used throughout this book as follows:
Right Hand Positioning
Among fingerstyle guitarists a number of right-hand positions are
used. Often the right hand tends to approach the strings at an angle. This is in contrast to a classical
guitarist who is more likely to approach the strings at a right angle as
Fig. 2.1. Classical guitar position
2.2. Common fingerstyle guitar position
The position shown in Figure 2.2
above works well as long as the strings are just brushed.
Particularly with the thumb, the angled approach may encourage a weaker brush
with the side of the thumb. If you keep the knuckle joint of the thumb extended
and pluck at a near right angle to the strings, a far brighter sound results.
When seated with the guitar, it’s a good idea to point the knuckles of the right
hand towards your knee, keeping the knuckles as motionless as possible. The
finger-picking motion should also move at near right angles to the strings.
Fingers resting on the guitar face or strings
When the right-hand
pinky finger is stretched out to rest on the face of the guitar it is likely to
cause a lot of tension. This can only hinder the right hand from playing freely.
While it does provide extra stability to have a finger anchored somewhere, in
the long-run it will be easier to have the right hand