To play guitar well you have to play it every day. According to one of Jimi Hendrix’s girlfriends (Monika Dannemann I think) in the late '60s he used to walk around their Chelsea flat with the guitar strapped to him, all the time, making breakfast, drinking vodka, watching TV – the guitar became part of his body.
We can’t all be as good as the greatest guitarist who ever lived (yes, I'm biased) but, assuming we play because we love the sound and feel of the instrument, we can do everything possible to get better.
This particular video shows a simple left hand technique.
Left Hand Fingerwork
The rif, a flamenco-flavoured exercise I do every day to warm up my fingers, is full of little techniques including:
- fluid playing from note to note
- occasional note holds
- note bends
To see the full effect of this, take a look at the video below which shows what the right hand is doing.
Watch the fingers pause while the hammer-ons operate on the left hand, continuing the melody. It is entirely possible to play a series of notes without using your right hand. This gives the sound a more fluid quality and adds some texture and variety to your playing.
This sort of rif can be played on any guitar: electric, acoustic steel, flamenco or classical nylon, as long as the instrument has some bounce in the strings (some of the cheapest guitars are so rigid it’s impossible to get a decent sound out of them). An electric rock guitarist might hold some of the notes longer, a folk guitarist might try to achieve a more staccato feel but a classical player might aim for greater tonal variation.
A Couple of Other Tips
It’s important to feel the string as you play, don’t just knock out the note: push into it, move around it, make it resonate.
Here's a simple exercise to play once a week: strike just one note repeatedly but make a different sound with each stroke, find different qualities of sound each time: harder, softer, more vibrato, make it rasp and sing.
It's worth spending five minutes a day on left and right hand techniques for a few weeks while you begin to explore the notes and strings.
The next videos will focus on further left hand techniques and introduce chord combinations.
Our Flame Tree Music chord finder website with sound for each note. Here.
Take a look at Flame Tree Rock for inspiration, mixtapes and free downloads.
See a video for right hand techniques here.