Preparing, Planting and Striking

Great technique is all about economy. Why move your fingers more than you have to? Why use muscles when you don't need to? This article concentrates on use of the right hand.


One of the first techniques we learn is called Planting. This is when you place your finger on the string so it is ready to play. This is useful when you start playing guitar; it gives you the security of knowing your finger is ready to play. It is also useful when playing fast arpeggios because you can place all your fingers on the stings before you start to play and then pluck one string at a time.

However, Planting can cause problems when playing repeatedly on one string. The note will stop ringing when you plant your finger and you will loose your beautiful legato tone. To play legato, you need to Strike the string. Your finger sweeps in, plucks the string and follows through all in one movement, rather like a golf swing, or kicking a ball. Do not let your finger rest on the string before playing or the note will stop.

Whether Planting or Striking, accuracy is very important. You must Prepare your finger to play each note. This means moving your finger to a position where it is ready to play, hovering just above the note. Having played, your finger should quickly move back to its original position, ready to be used again. Do not let your fingers pull too far away from the strings, they will then have to travel back to their original position before they are ready to play again!