This is part one in a series of how to develop good right and left hand technique for pick-style guitar. This series is the approach that I use to teach pick-style technique to all of my students. For best results, take these articles to an educated and experienced teacher who is stylistically broad based and who is acquainted with this approach, so that (s)he may coach you.
This approach is to attain the maximum possible cleanliness and articulateness in ones tone. It will also give, ultimately, the greatest speed with the least health risk. I am careful to never say that it is the correct way to play. There is no such thing, and a lot of people do great things with really sloppy technique. Wherever possible, though, I will indicate the exact benefits of each technique. If you are left handed, please excuse my right-handed bias, and reverse all of the relevant direction and hand indications.
A) Guitar Position.
The strap should be worn always. The guitar should rest on your abdomen, well above your left leg, such that it is in the same position whether you are sitting or standing. The neck should be at a 45 degree angle up. Note that I said LEFT leg (if you're right handed, vice versa if you're left handed). This is contrary to how untrained people USUALLY play. Ususally, right-handed people rest the guitar on their right leg.
Benefits: This is required so that the left hand may be positioned well.
Exceptions: While some may find this awkward (or nerdy looking) at first, it is a small hurdle. The only apprehension that I have ever had is with small female students. A full sized guitar angled up can rest on their left breast. All so far have assured me that this is not a big deal. Nonetheless, if it is a problem for you for this reason, you are probably small enough to merit a 3/4 size instrument. If this is not the case, but you still have problems seeing the neck and/or reaching the first fret, then having the guitar a little further to the right should solve the problem.
- Tim Fullerton.