Is There A CORRECT Way To Learn TECHNIQUE On Guitar?

Is There A Right And Wrong Way To Learn Technique On Guitar?

Tommaso Zillio

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correct technique guitar

Many guitar players will tell you that the best technique is whatever works for you and that there is no single “correct” way to learn any particular idea or technique.

Is this correct?

Well… no.

But also yes, sort of? It’s wrong in all the right ways and right in all the wrong ways.

…let me explain.

When learning a new exercise, technique, even music theory ideas, etc., there will always be one way of learning that is easiest. We can call this the path of least resistance.

That is, one technique, one method of learning will always be the simplest way, and this method will provide the most consistent results for the most amount of people.

Buuuut… (yes, there’s always a ‘but’)

When you are getting started with guitar, everything feels awkward: so both the path of least resistance and all the other ways to play (let’s call them “wrong habits”) will feel more or less the same.

So, unless you had a good teacher following you when you started, you most likely developed some “wrong habits”.

The question is: what to do with them?

  • should you ignore them?

  • should you relearn everything from scratch?

  • should you spend a lot of time “fixing them”?

Oh, I wish I had a one-liner answer here, but the reality is that… it depends. So here’s a video that explains what happens when you have “wrong habits” and what you have to do.

Of course, what good is technique if you don’t have anything to play? Check out this free EBook on how to make a great solo out of the pentatonic scale to inspire some new ideas.

Transcription

Hello, internet! So nice to see you. I have a great question that one of you asked in the comment and I want to give an answer to that.

We’ve lost the point that technique is a tool, and every single one of us will use it depending on how we process our music playing. This means what works for me, maybe won’t work for you, and vice versa. And it’s okay.

And you see if I really, really want very much to agree with that. But the thing is, I don’t. It’s still a great comment, it’s still a great comment. But I don’t agree with that.

Because there are reasons why some things work for me, and some things don’t work for me, or some things work for you, and some things don’t work for you. And those reasons are not all the same, okay?

Meaning that sometimes you just got used to do something that is inefficient, and having somebody showing you the efficient way can improve your playing, then you can decide if it’s worth checking that and changing your habits and go to the more efficient playing or not.

But the thing is, sometimes technique is just the efficient use of your hand anatomy to play.

I’m going to give you an example. Okay. And as all the example I’m going to make today are controversial. I’m telling you immediately, all the examples I’m going to make today are controversial because it’s so easy to do the other thing, the other thing, okay, because at first you just don’t see the difference. And then you get used to do one, one thing, not the right thing. And then you get stuck in there. And all this kind of thing.

So for instance, let’s say I want to play a scale, okay, and I’m gonna play a scale using the three note per string system, which is another controversial thing, okay, at this point, but let’s say I want to simply play on the sixth string and playing fret number three, five, and seven. Okay, so I have to play three notes. And those notes are always two frets distance. Okay.

There is no question that the first note is played with your index finger and no question that the last note is played and with your pinky. But some people play the center note with the middle finger, some people pay the center note with the ring finger. Okay, and at first, there doesn’t seem to be much difference in there. Okay.

But here’s the thing, there is a clear answer on which one is the quote unquote, right one and we try it, I don’t mean morally right, that you are superior if you do it, okay. What I mean is that it’s easier to play one way than the other, especially when you go up to speed, or you start to play the scales, not in a straight way, but sequences, or you have to put different things and be more versatile in what you play like phrasing another thing.

And the thing is, you want to play the center note with your middle finger. And now you can hear half the audience going, yay. And the other half of the audience going no. Okay, but don’t worry, okay. It’s up to you to decide if you want to change the habit, but let me first explain why.

Because of the anatomy of your hand, okay, the middle finger is at the center of your hand. Okay. And whenever you have a note at the center of the extreme, it’s easier to reach with the middle finger.

The span between the stretch you can do between the middle finger and the index finger is bigger and the stretch you can do, or at least not bigger per se, if I push here, and if I push the ring and the pinky, I get comparable and if not even more stretch on the ring and pinky.

But if I tried to do them under their own powers, I’m not pushing it, it’s easier to stretch the index finger than stretch the pinky and the ring. Okay, it’s not so much that the middle finger is better, it’s that the ring finger is worse, the ring finger is the weakest finger of your hand, surprisingly, ask any piano player, okay, and is the finger that has less control.

So whenever you play this kind of thing, it’s very natural, anatomically speaking again to play the center note with the middle finger. So people do this with the ring finger. But what happens is that when you start doing legato, etc, they have more difficulty learning that.

When you’re a beginner attention here, when you’re a beginner when you start doing these, everything feels awkward. Okay, so it could be that when you start the ring feels slightly less awkward to you and so it feels like it’s the right way. But believe me, I’ve seen it when people get more and more advanced the difference increases.

Now attention because I know you guys are going to scour the internet search every corner of the earth leave no stone unturned and find at least one or two famous musician if not dozens that use the ring finger and not the middle finger. And then you’re gonna come back here and tell me but you see Tomasso this person uses this, so it’s possible. Yes, it is possible.

So you’re telling me there’s a chance.

Okay. It is perfectly possible but Which one is easier?

Even for the people who are very famous, and play with this finger, if they started the other way, it will be easier. Practically every time I take a student and I change the this little habit, they start improving faster. I haven’t seen an exception yet. And I’ve seen a lot of people, okay.

Now, of course, if you are already famous, or if you already been playing for 20 years, if your muscle memory is already with the ring finger, I am not saying that you have to change this habit. You are already there. You already solved the problem.

Okay, you could have solved the problem probably in a shorter time or with less energy, the other way, But your solution– Now you have the solution. There’s no point in coming back and relearn. Okay.

Yeah!

just saying it. I’m not saying that you are wrong, I just said, you went down the longer road. Okay, but now you’re there– Now you’re here, don’t come back. Just because you want to come here, the shorter route. There are other very good reasons to use the ring finger, the middle finger, okay.

And again, remember, I’m recommending the middle finger. But for instance, once I had a student who had a carpentry accident, yeah, the stuff of nightmare and the lost a finger. So let’s say that you lose the middle finger, okay, or you have other problems.

I’ve interviewed a few players. And I’m not gonna reveal their names because they asked me not to, that focal dystonia on the middle finger. So they essentially they cannot move the index finger, the middle finger, even if it’s perfectly sane, it’s perfectly healthy, but they cannot move it. It’s a kind of a neurological condition.

In this situation, of course, learn to play with the ring finger, okay. So if you’re talking about those situation where your hand has a problem, and the middle finger is not up to shape to play this way, of course, you’re gonna use the ring finger. I mean, that goes without saying now it’s kind of logical.

But let if your hand is perfectly intact, and your neurology of your hand is perfectly intact, okay, and you have no other problem and you’re getting started, the recommendation is always going to be use the middle finger because they’re going to improve faster, okay.

Yes, technique has to work for you. And technique may also depends on your goals. If you come to me and tell me Tommaso, I do not want to play scales, ever, I’m gonna try to convince you of the opposite, of course, because I mean, scales work in every single style.

But if you’re adamant and you tell me, I never want to play scales, then we’re not playing scales that are not you’re never gonna do this.

Simply because you’re not playing scales. But the moment one of your goal involves playing scales, there is one easier way to play scale that works best with your anatomy. Okay.

And by the way, also, everything I said is, depends on the idea that you are holding your hand correctly. If your hand is not held correctly, your elbow is out, your thumb is in the wrong position, and all this kind of thing. And then in some position, of course, the ring finger is going to feel easier than the middle finger.

But that’s because the whole hand position is in the wrong position. And again, when I say wrong, I don’t mean morally wrong. I don’t mean you’re an inferior person, come on, I just mean that you’re making your life harder, you’re okay.

If we change the position and you get used to the new position, which is weird at first, then it’s going to be easier to improve. So that’s the thing with technique. It has to work for you. It may depends on your goal, but once you have a specific goal most of the time, there is one answer one technique one system that works faster than the other and works better than the other even if it feels weird at first.

Now you guys notice how many disclaimer I put in this video? Okay? If if everything is intact and you have no problem; if you are a beginner, you haven’t spent 20 years learning; if you have a specific goal if if if if.

Okay, so everybody commenting that I’m wrong, please explain me how all those disclaimer don’t apply. Because you’re going to see the discussion happening, you’re gonna see a lot of people commenting down and I said this at the end of the video, is because people who are going to comment are not going to see the end of the video.

But, you are going to see a lot of people criticizing all this down there that there is not one right technique then there is other famous people doing in a different way. Yes, I’ve already answered all these. It’s in this video. Watch it again. Okay.

Anyway, that’s one example. Okay, but there are many different examples. There are many situations here, okay. And again, just to be controversial, There are people who are picking alternate picking and people who play in directional picking or sweep picking one of those makes you learn faster than the other and gives you the exact same sound and it’s directional picking, directional picking makes you learn faster.

Okay. It’s easier to play. It’s easier on your wrist, the rhythm is the same if you train with a metronome the sound is the same if you train the right way. Okay, and that’s apparently a very controversial statement to make, every time I say something like that, I get a lot of people.

Since we are here. I’m also saying that the three note per string system is The easiest way to learn to scale if you’re learning a scale using the CAGED system, the CAGED system is lower in this respect and the 3 note per string system is faster, more versatile, easier to remember easier to play. It’s easy to play fast. It’s easy to play melodically and a number of other things.

Some people are gonna tell me of course, the CAGED system is not a system to learn scale. Great, fantastic if using the CAGED system for something else than scales, maybe it’s good, but when if you learn your chord using the CAGED system, there is a better way than that.

Okay, which is a bit too long to explain here. It’s the way I use in my course complete chord mastery, by the way, and yes, I know I sound like an infomercial here.

Here’s how to order.

But there are different ways to learn the chords that are faster than using the CAGED system. The CAGED system has a lot of fans out there, I don’t want to say that those people are wrong, they’re using a system they’re taking the long road once they learn their chords, their learning is as good as mine.

Once you arrive there and you know, your chords, you know your chords. It’s just that it’s longer and harder to learn them with the CAGED system and be shorter and easier and you get better results sooner using other systems that don’t have a name yet, okay.

But I cannot say it’s ‘that system’, it doesn’t have a name, okay. But people have been doing this other ways using these other way to learn chords from the beginning of guitar, okay, it’s not something new or something I invented I just organized it. Okay, and it works much better.

Now even with all those disclaimer we are going to have people writing in the comment that I don’t understand the CAGED system, I do not know how to use it. I could stay here hours showing you how I know the CAGED system really well but honestly, it’s not worth it. Either you take my word or you don’t, Okay?

So the thing is this– given a specific problem there is typically one solution that is easier than the other faster to implement, okay, and it gives you this good results and we’re going to call this the right solution and then there are all the others Okay.

And I spent a lot of time finding the right solution and in some in for some problems, I don’t know which one is the right solution. For some other problems. I know which one they are okay.

So just saying, here technique has to work for you. But once you establish the problem, there is one solution. So the original comments to this video that I am answering is both true and false at the same time depending how you understand it.

Okay, now if you want to see how I go about learning scales or chords, I have my two courses master the modes for scales, and complete chord mastery for chords completely up to you if you want to take them, if you are a fan of the CAGED system, don’t take them because we are not using the CAGED system in there. I’m actually demolishing the CAGED system throughout the whole course okay, but it’s completely up to you.

And if you want to check them out, check the link on the top right

You’ll be saying wow every time.

If you liked this video, smash that like button, click on subscribe. Don’t forget to click on notification. If you have any comments to make or if you want to send me some hate emails. Yes, please do these in the comment below. I’m here I enjoy reading your questions. I enjoy a little bit less reading the hate email but hey, it is what it is.

This is Tommaso Zillio of MusicTheoryForGuitar.com And until next time, enjoy.


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