Your Hands Are Weak (Even if You Know a lot of Songs)

A lot of guitar players focus on learning songs. Which is good. However, the songs that players practice will tend to be within a very narrow selection of music styles. After some time, the guitarist will branch out and begin learning other forms of music. Thus expanding their horizons and introducing new skills...

Eventually, players will go further and start learning scales, arpeggios and how to perform solos. But, the problem that tends to occur is that a lot of guitarists will often remain weak technically, for too long. This causes everything from sloppy playing to having pain in the hands or wrist. In this episode of the Guitar Blog Insider, I'm going to discuss ways to help strengthen your hands, by Learning More Songs in More Styles.

In getting started, I want to say that learning songs is important, and I highly recommend it. However, when you do learn songs, it is more valuable to continuously switch through songs that are from different types of musical styles (performed by different musical artists) in those styles.

Changing styles like that, will help you develop a wider scope of different techniques that you'd otherwise (very likely) never get exposed to if your stylistic focus was more narrow.


Here's a basic Folk /Bluegrass strumming piece, in the style of the, "Grateful Dead."


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Playing Folk /Bluegrass style is excellent for focusing on a lot of the open position chord types. Plus, it also tends to include some melodic passing tones as well. It's a great study of basic chord strumming, and it helps players develop a solid sense of straight time feel at slower tempos.

However, if we switch to a completely different style of playing, we'll introduce separate and very different playing techniques, which will in turn strengthen our hands and allow us to incorporate new playing techniques (in order to achieve the sound required for playing in those other styles).

This includes styles like; hard rock, heavy metal or even speed-metal. These music styles can offer a whole new perspective to our playing technique.


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Performing ideas in a guitar style like Hard Rock or Speed Metal will require a fast and highly accurate picking hand, along with a solid ability to control over-drive settings and distortion pedals so that the amount of "unwanted" noise from the amp (being over-driven) is kept down to a minimum.

It's not as easy to do as some guitarists think. But, the skills you gain from trying to play music like this can be applied toward many other playing styles. In fact the dexterity you gain from rock and metal can even help in "Other" unrelated music styles - like Jazz.


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Playing jazz offers guitarists the chance to start reaching for many unique chord voicings that are very different for the fretting hand's fingers to deal with. When making the transition from Folk, or Country or Pop music - into Jazz, we'll have to begin learning a lot of 7th quality chord types.

Plus, jazz requires us to stretch the chord tones even further by including extensions like; 9th's and 13th's along with altered tones and diminished shapes. It's a lot of new chord fingerings to learn, and, this means adding a lot more fretting dexterity to the skills of the fretting hand.

There's still another side of playing to consider when it comes to higher dexterity, and that's the other hand - the strumming-hand. When you stop and think about it, one of the best styles to learn for developing that side of the equation is Funk.

Funk is about as demanding as it gets when things come down to playing fast rhythms with tight chord shot ideas. Jazz playing will mix major and minor pentatonic scale single-note lines. When you study playing Funky guitar ideas, you'll need to learn how to think fast on your feet and control all of the very quick hand movements applied by both the fretting hand, as well as, the strumming hand.

Funk is the style of sixteenth-notes performed using a lot of syncopation. And, this means learning how to play with many types of different off-time rhythmic elements and that will require mastering your strumming-hand's rhythm skills.


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Even if you know a lot of songs, it still doesn't necessarily mean that you have strong control over your hands' ability to perform all types of different techniques. And, when it comes to playing guitar, technique is certainly abundant. In fact, the more control you have over your guitar sound - the better. The more chord patterns you can perform - the better.

The more overall control you possess technically will help you become better equipped to play guitar in a lot more situations.

That flexibility translates to less stress (when other musicians ask you to jam with them), and more opportunity to play more types of gigs, and in the end - make a lot more money.

Well, I'd like to end the discussion by saying, thanks for joining me... If you want to learn more about what I do as an online guitar teacher, then head over to my website at and sign up your FREE lifetime membership.

When you want more, you can always upgrade to either a Basic, or a Premium lesson package and start studying the guitar courses that I've organized for the members of my website.

Also, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on all of this in the comment section below... if you enjoyed this video on YouTube, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe for more.

Thanks again and we'll catch up next week , for another episode of the, "Guitar Blog Insider."


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