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This is the first lesson in a series on right hand guitar technique. The first thing I recommend in the beginning is to start playing with a regular flat pick. A medium weight is usually best when you’re just starting to play. Grasp the pick between your thumb and index finger, and point it directly at the body of the guitar. Pick down and up. In the long run, using down and upstrokes will give you much more speed than playing just down strokes.

The motion is similar to shaking hands. You want to keep your wrist fairly flat, rather than elevating it. It’s okay to use a bit of arm motion, but the movement comes primarily from your wrist.

You generally only want a small area of the pick protruding from your thumb and finger. If you have too much surface area of the pick sticking out, it will slow you down, especially when playing single notes, otherwise known as melodies on the guitar.

In addition, you want as little amount of pick as possible inserted beside the string. Again, if you use too much pick, it will slow you down.

You want to stabilize the right hand as much as possible. You don’t want it floating all over the place when you play, which will make it much more difficult to control, and get a consistent sound. When playing lead lines, again otherwise known as melodies, you want to keep either your fingers resting on the other strings, or on the body of the guitar, or you want to keep the palm of the hand resting on the larger strings, depending on which string you’re picking.

Start out by picking very slow. Speed will come with time.

There is a lot more to right hand guitar technique if you want to be good at it. This will at least get you pointed in the right direction.

Good luck!

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