Master guitar teacher and player Stefan Joubert is the founder of The London Guitar Institute. He cordially invites all guitar lovers from absolute beginner to advanced to come and learn how to play the guitar with his excellent teachers! He also offers lessons online via Zoom and Skype as he is based in the UAE in Dubai.
WARNING:Never push your right hand technique if your hands ache. Take proper breaks and frequent breaks. Please see advice on the following website: https://rsi.unl.edu/music.html
Why I have set out to write this article:
It is my experience that tons of guitarists have more (speed-related) problems with their right hand than with their left.
One of the reasons for this is the fact that most guitarists tend to look at their left hand and not at their right picking hand.
It is frustrating to see so little attention being paid to good right-hand technique.
It is my desire that you will be inspired to take your guitar playing to the next level by pushing your right-hand technique to a much more proficiency level.
Step 1 – Learn to hold the plectrum in the most efficient manner
A lot of your (R.H.) problems can be traced back to the manner in which you hold your plectrum.
If you study some of the greatest virtuoso guitarists ever – Shawn Lane, John McLaughlin, Yngwie Malmsteen, John Petrucci, Guthrie Govan, Michael Schenker, Pat Martino, you will notice a few things:
They hold the plectrum in the following manner: (Or something of that effect)
Their plectrum have a slight angle to the strings.
They play with excellent plectrums that are not flimsy!
They have learned to play a flurry of notes in exactly the same manner to how you are reading this sentence.
Basically, they play six notes as if it was one note! (One of the secrets of developing great speed)
Take a look at this wonderful video demonstrating excellent right-hand technique ala Pat Martino:
Step 2 – Practice your right hand separate from the left.
It is absolutely vital to practice your right hand separate from you left.
I teach all my students a number of techniques to seriously increase their picking prowess.
I recommend spending at least 15 to 20 minutes a day just on the right-hand if you can. (Yes, you probably can!)
If you hope to become a virtuoso guitarist, you will need to spend at least 45 to 90 minutes just on your right hand – six days a week.
I guarantee you that if you work on your right hand separately, with proper exercises and a journal, you will make mind-blowing progress.
The world will be your oyster when it comes to playing with your right hand!
Step 3 – You need to understand the power of compound return – doing a little every day will amount to a lot over the long term!
This is extremely important.
Unfortunately, only 0.001% of the world’s population understands this. It is not so much what you do today that matters, but what you do every day over a very long term.
With proper practice on a daily basis, you can become an exceptional guitarist even if it’s only for your own pleasure.
To become great -you need to understand the power of compound interest.
The first step is to lay foundation.
The second step is to lay a strong foundation on the foundation.
The third step is to build the skeleton of the building.
The fourth step is to finish the building.
The first step is to decorate the building.
The sixth step to expand the building.
Your guitar playing is that building.
You need great mentorship.
Proper daily practice.
And compound interest (along with success) will be yours!
Step 4 – Log your speed in your own right-hand journal. Compete with yourself!
Nothing grows quicker than measuring numbers and comparing those numbers with time.
If you write down how fast you can play in a journal on a weekly basis, you will be surprised when you end up in six months.
Journalling your progress is one of the best ways to develop.
I recommend only writing down one or two exercises.
Practising the guitar is already arduous, and the journal should be there to assist you not there to become a pain.
To just jot down a few exercises (e.g. a chromatic scale or a fast lick) and work on a weekly/monthly basis to increase your speed.
Once again I do not want the journal to be a pain, so only write down your speed with a metronome every now and again.
Your private journal should be your friend!
If you follow the advice given here, you will drastically improve your right-hand technique!
Step 5 – BELIEVE that you can do it!
All things are possible…
All things are possible to those who believe!
Now, you may not yet believe entirely, but as long as you keep on striving for success you will start believing.
Believe is basically based on hope.
As you keep on hoping, what you hope for will (eventually) become true.
The key is to keep on believing that you can do it!
If you feel you can’t believe – at least hope – it’s basically the same thing.
Whenever you believe, it is for something that does not yet exist.
That is why faith is a force that attracts future goods to you by using the power of belief.
So believe you can do it – hope you can do it and eventually you will be able to do it!
Step 6 – Play faster than you can in short bursts to push yourself further…
Firstly, a word of advice: if your hands feel fatigued – take an immediate break. Step away from guitar playing until you feel better. You do not want to hurt your hands. Also, make sure you are very relaxed when you attempt to do this. You have been warned – it is at your own peril.
I have found that the only way to truly achieve your goals – whether it is for playing the guitar, your career, your finances, your future is to push things further than you currently can for a short period of time.
By pushing along with believing, you will expand your possibilities and reach your goals quicker.
So for practising your speed, I recommend playing a major scale or a minor pentatonic scale and try to play it as fast as possible.
Even play it sloppy.
It doesn’t matter.
It is all about going for the hope of eventually getting it right.
The best video that I can recommend you watch on the subject is the following:
Step 7 – Persistent and you will (eventually) succeed!
Rome was not built in a day.
At least not all of Rome.
The world’s richest investor Warren Buffett started his career by handing out newspapers door-to-door.
He worked tirelessly to achieve his goals.
He did not start at the top, but at the humble beginning just handing out his newspapers.
(According to Wikipedia: At the age of 15, Warren made more than $175 monthly delivering Washington Post newspapers. In high school, he invested in a business owned by his father and bought a 40-acre farm worked by a tenant farmer. He bought the land when he was 14 years old with $1,200 of his savings. By the time he finished college, Buffett had accumulated a princely sum of more than $90,000 in savings measured in 2009 dollars – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Buffett#Early_life)
A couple of decades later he actually bought the Washington Post the very newspaper that he handed out… How is that for being rewarded for faithfulness! (Inc. power of faith and belief)
Your guitar technique will not become amazing in a day either.
It is impossible to develop an exceptional technique without putting in an exceptional amount.
Just like Buffett did with his business endeavours, so you need to do with your right-hand technique.
Start small and build to something big!
Your reward will be directly correlated to the amount of work that you put into your craft.
That is why you need to persist and insist until you exceed.
That is why structured practice alongside quality mentorship is the best way for you to become the best guitarist that you can possibly be. (I DO NOT believe a better way exists – all greats did the same!)
In order for you to develop serious guitar technique, you need to stick to a set practice schedule day in and day out.
If you practice your quality right-hand exercises on a daily basis, you will eventually become the guitarist that you have always wanted to become technically. At least you will get a great right-hand technique.
I wish you the greatest success with your guitar playing and your right-hand technique!
Finally, my own video demonstrating some of my thoughts regarding the right hand: