Hand synchronization

Is it right to assume that most of my crappy picking could be to blame on the left hand… I realized last night certain licks were flawless because I’d been playing them that way for years and others I tried learning on the fly were absolutely shite. I took video and realized there is a great deal of technique in my right hand but if the left can’t keep up it goes out the window?

I’m kind of in the same boat. My picking hand feels pretty good. Not perfect, but passable. However, my left hand seems to be a little behind a lot of the time. Or if it is in time, not hold notes long enough a lot of the time.

I really hope that I’m not just stuck with however fast the left can grasp things cause then it doesn’t matter how much the right hand works… maybe someone will have some good advice for us

I think it’s a pretty fundamental constraint. On anything that involves the fretting hand, you can’t play the correct notes unless the fretting hand can keep up.

Even though CTC doesn’t focus on the fretting hand, if you post some video, maybe there are things you can tweak about your fretting hand to make it work better. @Tom_Gilroy has a pretty good thread here somewhere on fretting hand considerations.

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A different perspective: you have a combination of fingerings and picking patterns that you are comfortable with, and the things you’re trying to play are entirely dissimilar?

I see very common patterns in the guitarists that I dig (Petrucci, for example, commonly does 2 or 3 patterns, all over the fretboard), and usually those are the riffs that they can play insanely quickly. There are probably not many guitarists that can play a pattern they’ve never encountered before comfortably at speed without some practice.


In many ways its easier to move the right hand more quickly than the left. This can be useful for techniques like tremolo picking, but for most melodic, scale and arpeggio based patterns - the left hand is more important. You can only pick as fast as the left hand can move and fret accurately, otherwise you’re out of sync. The best solution seems to be lots of legato practice.


I found some cool vids from ole uncle Ben on how to practice hand synch and he shouts out Troy with the chunking concept which after some time is starting to get me from like 90 bpm to 100. They familiarity is also a big part after playing the same licks (not comfortable ones) they are starting to clean up drastically. Y’all freaking rule for the tips and also the Gilroy thing was great for remembering to relax and if I can’t relax then I need to slow back down. Thanks yall

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I agree with your point but I wouldn’t necessarily agree that the solution is legato practice. I rarely legato, and when I do it’s for lines that aren’t “really” meant to be picked.

If I had to come up with a “solution”, I would identify a pattern that you like the sound of, and practice that pattern all over the fretboard. I personally started with Petrucci sextuplets:

He commonly uses that pattern. The other one I can think of is the Erotomania / Home variant, which feel similar to me.

Once you get a pattern down, tweak the pattern little by little until you get more comfortable with the new variant.

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Great advice.

The left hand really is the limit for any pattern involving both hands as a final product.

I like to do left hand separate practice for any fingering because it gives me a pulse that I can feel. It also helps me know that I can never play it faster than I can do it alone. Once you’re very familiar with the left hand pattern it becomes easy to see which types of pickstrokes to add to make sure you don’t break the timing, especially if you’re doing a mix of hammers/pulls and picked notes.

Is this true? I never practice legato. I always thought the picking hand drives the fretting hand and pushes it to play faster.

I think you and I are on the same boat: no / little legato.

I’m definitely in the practice legato camp. I find a useful excercise for identifying the culprit when it comes to hand synchronisation is to completely isolate each hand.

For the left hand - I use legato technique, so hammer ons and pull-offs only whilst muting heavily with the right hand. I’m not necessarily listening for the notes to ring out nicely. It’s more of a percussive noise. I’m more focused on making sure the notes are relatively consistent and in time.

I then do the same with the right - ie. mute the strings with the left hand and try to produce the picking pattern for the same phrase. If everything is fine with the phrase, I should be able to reproduce the rhythm that my left hand just tapped out. If not, I can now tell where the issue lies.

I like this approach because it forces you to be very analytical about what each hand is doing. In many cases, I hadn’t even thought about what the picking pattern was before I tried this. It gives each component of your playing nowhere to hide and as an added bonus it’s good for legato practice too.

The only issue with this is that it doesn’t work if there are any barred notes involved but for most scale runs, it’s fine.