Lesson for Right Hand

  • The object is to achieve independent action of P, i, m, a and to learn which sounds go with which finger.
  • Thumb(P), index(i), Middle(m), Annular(a)
  • Guitar Strings are E, A ,D, the bass (P) and
  • G, B, E the treble and belong to i, m, and a

Their are a variety of patterns that can be employed to arrange any piece of music for which you have the chords. One of the simplest in 6/8 time is P – i – m – a – m – i where P plays the bass and i – m – a – m – i are plucked on the treble strings. This is the pattern for Silkie as played by Joan Baez. Its a good place to start if you like the song. Here are the chords:

D  C  D // G  D  C  D  / C  Em  Am D — // means repeat first line / means new line.

Silkie is in 6/8 time. One beat, one string at a time. Play each chord for six beats. Use a metronome and count 1 2 3 4 5 6. Same patterns for Hallelujah but more difficult chords.

Two alternatives for 4/4 time are:

  • P – i – m – a Bass 2 – 3 – 4. Play the root of the chord in the bass.
  • P – m – i – a as above play the root of the chord with your thumb.

Alternating these two patterns makes a more intersting arrangment. Note that this technique gives you a distinct sound for each finger on each beat. If you hear the melody in your head you can always change the pattern to play it, but it is best to start out simple and just get control of each finger.

When I play 900 miles I use the second pattern and play the melody with my thumb in the bass.

Charlie Byrd recommended the Guilliani 120 studies for the right hand as a way to mastery. These studies will be familiar to anyone who has studied classical guitar. I have done page one. People who have had piano lessons may be concerned that they don’t learn any notes. True enough, but this approach will connect your ears to your fingers.

There are a few weeks of work here. The next logical step would be Travis picking which requires a completly independent thumb playing alternate bass. Freight Train is a great place to start as the melody is all on the b and e strings.

Author: Charles West

I was the VFSS Treasurer for a few years then moved on to host the Pickers Circle on Zoom when we were hit by Covid 19 in 2020.

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