Acoustic Guitar Flatpicking Techniques For The Right Hand
by Ricky Sharples
Acoustic guitar flatpicking techniques are components of the language that helps you to speak to your audience. As you do not have the electronic effects an electric guitarist has at his disposal, you are left with the flatpicking techniques you can use to make your music touch the minds and hearts of your listeners.
Acoustic guitar flatpicking techniques govern how you touch the guitar strings with your pick. How you control volume and tone, and how you manage the clarity of your flatpicking. The right hand controls the way you play your acoustic guitar and how it sounds, we should concentrate on this hand.
The main part of your collection of flatpicking techniques is freedom of movement. Your right hand should be able to move freely from soundhole to bridge to give you the biggest range of tones available on the acoustic guitar. The biggest obstacle to freedom of movement for your right hand is anchoring it by pressing down on the guitar body with your little finger.
Many guitar flatpickers anchor their little finger on the guitar body, and of course, after years of practice their playing sounds fine, but their ability to move their right hand is severely limited.
This means if a flatpicker wants to move his right hand for tonal effect he needs to swivel it around while it is still touching the body of the guitar or lift the finger and plant it in a new position. Either method increases tension and the number of muscular operations the guitarist needs to carry out while playing.
Another basic element of acoustic guitar flatpicking technique is the ability to move the pick up or down to connect between any two strings as and when the music requires. This is simply a matter of practice.
The basic when you are deciding whether to play using up or down strokes is where the next note is going to be played. If you are playing a note on the sixth string and your next note is on the fifth (or first) string, you will, of course, be using a down stroke to get there.
The problem a lot of flatpicking guitar players have is that down strokes are more comfortable to do than up strokes. So they never even try to practice their acoustic guitar playing using the up stroke.
If you think about it, it stands to reason that if you use a down stroke on the first string and then a down stroke on the fourth string, you need to stop the downward momentum of your hand on the first string, move the hand up to the fourth string, then start another downward movement.
It is much more relaxed and economical in terms of energy use to allow your down stroke to finish and naturally progress to an up stroke to strike your next string.
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