The Left Hand

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

At first we’ll concentrate on the left hand. To play the chords, simply sweep the pad of thethumb across the strings—we’ll add sophistication later.

The illustration shows the basic position of the left hand. Notice that the thumb is behindthe neck, approximately behind the fret played by the first finger. Here is an excellent firstexercise to establish and strengthen the left hand:

  1. With the thumb in a good position, hammer down your first finger just behind the firstfret of the sixth (lowest sounding) string. See how loud a note you can sound with justthe left hand.
  2. Leaving the first finger where it is, hammer down the second finger behind the secondfret. Be sure to be close to it, or the next frets will be difficult to reach.
  3. Still leaving each finger on after it has hammered, play successively the third andfourth fingers.
  4. Next do the same thing on the fifth string.
  5. Following this, play all the remaining strings, hammering as loudly as possible.

The left-hand position

This is a wonderful first exercise, because it builds both strength and stretch. Don’t bedismayed if you don’t produce much sound at first—you’ll be amazed at the difference aftera few days.

The next step is to put both hands together to play a chord.