Learning to play the guitar can be a frustrating experience for many people. Often guitarists can't
play the way that they want to. And they don't know what they need to do to reach their desired level of
playing. They have problems with their guitar playing, but don't know the underlying causes of their
Over the years I've helped a LOT of guitarists overcome their guitar
playing problems. And I've noticed that MANY of these problems were created by the
The student hadn't yet developed an effortless guitar technique.
But I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself. What the heck is effortless guitar technique anyway?
Effortless Guitar Technique
Think about one of your favorite guitar players for a minute or two. Close your eyes and imagine them
playing. How do they look as they play?
I know that when I watch my favorite guitarists play, I notice one very important thing about them…
They make it look easy.
And do you know why they make it look easy? It's simple really…
It IS easy for them.
They can play what they play without having to think. Their fingers are on autopilot. Which
brings us to my definition of effortless guitar technique…
Effortless guitar technique is the technical ability needed to play how you want to play, in a
relaxed way, without thinking. In other words, it's the
level of technical development needed to play in an effortless way.
[It's not a very scientific definition I know. But hey, I sucked at English when I was
in school...so give me a break. ]
Four Technical Flaws That MUST Be Overcome
If you've studied technique development in a serious way you probably already realize the vastness of
the task. You could spend many lifetimes learning about and refining your technique. I know my students are
often surprised at just how many details there are to think about!
With that said, here are four common technical flaws that NEED to be overcome if you would like to play
in an effortless way…
Excessive Muscle Tension. Simply put, you are using way too much energy to play. Two very
common areas this can happen…
- Thumb. You fretting hand thumb presses too hard against the guitar neck.
- Fingers. You fret notes with too much pressure.
Excessive Motions. Your playing motions are way too big. Two very common areas this can happen
- Fretting Hand Fingers. You lift your fingers far too high off the strings.
- Pick Motions. Your picking motions are way too big.
- Poor Posture. How you hold your guitar and your general posture has a
profound effect on your playing. It is one of the most important things to get right. So when
you have poor posture, this negatively impacts many other things.
- Inappropriate Hand Position. There are two main hand positions used in electric guitar playing.
Each one is useful depending on the playing situation. If you're using the wrong hand position for a
specific musical passage, it can ruin your chances of playing that passage in an effortless way.
A Few Steps Backwards To Take Infinite Steps Forward
A big part of what I do as a guitar teacher is rebuild technique. I need to help my students develop the
technique they need to achieve their musical goals. And this, for most students, will mean dealing with
the four technical flaws we talked about earlier. And even though going back to basics can seem like a
(few!) steps backwards, it has to be done. Those flaws will make it impossible for you to develop an effortless
Correcting technical flaws has a massive benefit. It means that your potential is not limited by your
technique. It is only limited by the number of focused hours of practice that you do. And that's one of the
greatest gifts you can give to yourself.
Return To: Guitar Technique