How to Improve Your Left Hand Technique
If you’re interested in learning how to improve your left hand technique on the guitar, these 4 posts are written for you. Students of all walks and experience often neglect their fretting hand technique, instead focusing on the picking hand. The truth is that both hands have to work perfectly in tandem to achieve accurate, well synched, clean articulation.
When we’re playing licks, lines, scales or riffs, we want total clarity. We strive for total control, with minimal tension. A great teacher can help you notice many of the problems guitar players face, and provide valuable feedback.
This article will provide 4 examples of using pull offs with open strings. The goal is to provide ways to discover how to come up with interesting ideas using open strings, as well as strengthening your left hand technique. You can hear examples of famous licks that use this technique in “Rumble in Brighton” from the Stray Cats, and “Heartbreaker” from Led Zeppelin.
Previous examples (click here for part 1) started out with the basics of how to get started with these left hand examples. In this one, we have a descending lick, starting on a high G, pulling off to open E, then on to the B string with another 3 note set, and two notes on the G string. These types of runs are great to play over anything!
Previous examples, and all others moving forward are in G major, but feel free to experiment using the ideas presented over scale forms you already know well.
This next lick draws the left hand to the B, G, and D string. Similar to example 6 with a slight wrinkle in the pattern. For an extra challenge, try to combine both examples so far. In fact, all the licks on this page should be combined into a big monster lick. Of course, it’s also recommended to change up the rhythms for more interesting ideas.
Number 8 contains a triplet feel, even though you play it as written with 8th notes. You should also try to play each example with different rhythmic variations. Three notes hammered and pulled can be tough, but focus down on making each note clear and crisp, with no sloppiness.
The last exercise in this post has 4 note pull off phrases to start off with. Like other licks in this post, all of these can play over G major, E minor pentatonic, even other keys and chord progressions that are closely related to G/E minor.
With these exercises you should be:
- Armed with knowledge on how to do descending runs in 1st position using G major/E minor.
- improve your left hand technique by using exercises in musical contexts
- Know how to play runs that use open strings, pulls offs, with the left hand.
- Combining Exercises verbatim to create longer lines.
- Experimenting with playing these exercises with different rhythms.
- Play these exercises even over chord progressions that do not outline G or E minor. Even though the melodic material is specific, it can still sound fantastic over other progressions.
As always, thanks for reading!