[Sheet Music]

Lesson 21: Some Thoughts

Right Hand Technique

There are three primary ways of using the right hand:

  • finger-style
  • with a pick
  • pick and fingers
When comping, I would say that finger-style is the way to go. Exceptions would be when you're playing four to the bar - "Freddie Green style" or when you're doing folk strumming.

Playing Up and Down One String

Playing up and down one string is something you should check out and practice a lot. Position playing is important but don't let yourself get stuck with position playing as your only approach to playing the guitar.


  • scales up and down one string
  • tunes on a single string
  • improvising on a single string

Playing Other Instruments

Learn other instruments. The more you know about playing different instruments, the more you'll know about what's happening in music and the better you will play. Learn

  • bass - bass lines and patterns
  • drums - grooves and styles
  • piano

Listening to Music

Listen to guitar players. Learn how to play and sound like a guitarist. But - and this is perhaps more important - also learn how not to play and sound like a guitarist.

Listen to:

  • piano players, especially for comping ideas and work on
    • voicings involving a half step
    • voicings using open strings
  • horn players, especially for ideas for soloing and work on
    • legato playing
    • different types of ornamentation
  • vocalists - after all, the human voice is the most natural instrument

On Playing/ Practicing and Pain

Beware of pain in your hands and arms. Stop playing immediately if it hurts and let your body rest. I'M NOT KIDDING! Many, many musicians have damaged themselves permanently by not listening to their bodies in time!

It is strange that many musicians don't take this seriously. We value our hands and would not think of endangering them in any other way. Personally, I'm thrilled by Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The fear of something happening to my hands keeps me away from them, though, as surely as it keeps me away from chainsaws and many other machines. Remember that your instruments can hurt you too and take it easy!

2004 Tomas Karlsson. All rights reserved.