Right Hand Technique:
I will be devoting a whole section to right and left hand techniques but for now here are some simple guidelines. If you use a flatpick, use a small circular motion, always up and down.
If you are using your fingers, use your thumb for the 6th, 5th , and 4th strings and alternate your 1st and 2nd fingers for the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st strings.
Floating the Right Hand Over the Stings:
There are several different styles but my strong advice to you is do NOT put your little finger on the top of the guitar or your palm on the bridge when you play. If you prefer finger picking, I do a lot of it myself, the same rules apply. Hang your arm confortable over the body of the guitar so that you can play the strings at almost a 90 degree angle. If you need to adjust, try raising or lowering the neck side of the guitar. The best place to play the strings is just behind the soundhole, (acoustic guitar).
Keep the guitar vertical:
Don't "lay" the guitar out infront of your "so you can see your hands on the fretboard. Lean forward momentarily if you just have to as you learn to place your fingers but don't turn the guitar out in front of you. For some people a mirror is helpful. I have a friend who is Dyslexic that was learning the fretboard. The mirror was very helpful in that case as well.
Getting Ready For the Diagrams:
Use your thumb in a down stroke for strings 6 – 4, and your 1 & 2 fingers, strings 3, 4, and 5, (if you don't know what I mean then I'll explain the finger numbers below later), in an alternate pattern, letting it stop on the string above it, (called a rest stroke), for this exercise.
Very simply this is what you do with each of these diagrams. Play the note from the open string to the 12th fret using the finger specified. Say the note name out loud as you play it. Only work up the neck only as fast as you can PERFECTLY play it and say each note. If you make mistakes and continue you, will memorize your errors – not a good thing to waste your time on and then have to spend twice as much time to unlearn later. Go back and play only as fast as you are able to play the notes and say them correctly.
Work on one string diagram at a time and learn it until it is VERY familiar and you can play it and say it without having to think about it consciously. USE A METRONOME to set the pace and play the note in time to the metronome. It is the most profitable to practice using the metronome in almost every situation. Why? Because it enhances the intuitive learning process.
Remember silly song you learned to memorize the alphabet. I bet you can sing it in your sleep – 'A-B-C-D-E-F-G…. H-I J-K-LMNO-P… Q-R-S…T-U-V… W-X…Y & Z… Now I know my ABC's… Tell me what you think of me!" You learned not only the letters but the pace of the song. The timing and rhythm enhanced the part of the learning process where you learn on the intuitive level. By practicing with a metronome you are also working on another of the most important and basic skills of music – playing in time.
Now, on to how to use the upcoming diagrams…