Looking for hand sync help

Hey all, been playing for 20 years or so and decided that it’s time to clean up some (all) of my bad habits. I pretty much play skate punk and bit of metal and have never really cared for shredding but ya know… why the heck not :). I’ve just joined and have dived headfirst into the Pickslanting Primer and holy moly it’s been an eye opener!

Besides cleaning up my picking hand I wanted to look at some exercises and drills to sync up the left and right hand. I can’t seem to find anything other than picking technique anywhere. Can someone recommend some content here to practice all this… I’m assuming there’s some drills or scales to go through but I can’t seem to find anything.

Thanks in advanced shredlords!


Welcome! I would start directly from a piece of music that you want to play.

Are there any songs you know where you experience hand sync issues?

If you were to assume I can’t/don’t play leads pretty much at all then youd be assuming correct :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:. I guess I can dig up some tracks that I like which have some mid level lead riffs/solos going on and just practice on them.

My right hand has some decent speed/timing because of the stuff in the genre’s I like that have a lot of triplet palm muting galloping kind of thing going on. When I just tremolo on a string I’m actually surprised how decent and consistent it sounds. But yeah my left hand coordination keeping upto pace with my right hand is virtually non existent, definitely need to be working on left hand speed and sync.

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I know I know, the last thing we all need is another exercise. This one really helped me out though. I’ve been playing it for a couple months now, on and off, but I entered it into SoundSlice just now in the hopes it might help you and others as it’s helped me.

I’ve recently noticed a couple problems in my own playing:

  • My tremolo motion would change slightly as soon as I engaged the fretting hand
  • I had trouble doing notes “on the beat” that were not fretted with my index finger

So I needed hand ‘independence’ as much as I needed hand sync, if that makes any sense. I always think of the analogy of trying to brush your teeth while combing your hair. Either can be easily done on their own, but if you start one and then introduce the other…the thing you started with will start to drift, as if the other hand is pulling it into something different.

So this drill helped to make all that more consistent. It is just a repeated three note pattern (fretted index|middle|pinky over and over), but played in 16th notes. This means if you begin with the index finger, when you complete a measure, the next measure will begin with your middle finger. When you complete that measure, the next measure will begin with your pinky. Each measure I terminate with a full measure of tremolo on the finger that will begin the following measure. The idea is to make each hand a little motor that chugs along without any hiccups or inconsistency.

Once you get comfortable with this you can do it with a different shape, and/or practice it descending instead of ascending.

Hope it helps! This definitely should not be the only thing you do to practice hand sync lol! Take @tommo’s good advice and find some songs to practice.


Synchronization issues are often, but not always, rhythm issues.

In order to play a rhythm you have to produce the rhythm in your brain. You have to audiate strongly, and connect this to movement. Strongly felt rhythm connects the mind across hemispheres. So does balancing. Tap your foot. Move your body. Bob your head. Imagine the loudest drum groove you can.

I practice rhythm rudiments on drums, percussion, bass, guitar, banjo, and keys, and I use konnakol. Konnakol is rhythm solfege which developed in India thousands of years ago. Connecting rhythm rudiments to speech is a natural way to ensure that strong audiation is happening because we are all primed and practiced at speech.

I can connect my rhythm audiation to many different kinds of movements and techniques on stringed instruments- clawhammer, crosspicking, Travis picking, thumping, tapping, etc. You practice these things by practicing awareness. No one can tell you how much pressure you need in your hands, and even if they could you have to be aware of what your hand is doing.

I’ve also found that 20 minutes of meditation can beat 40 minutes of practice because you’re practicing awareness. The best practice though, is a form of meditation.

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My previously closed mind is completely open so I’ve bookmarked this and will give it a whirl for a couple weeks. I feel like getting my picking technique flush across the spectrum + these kinds of drills is exactly what I need.

My picking hand is definitely changing tact from strumming to hard palm muting to playing slow leads to playing fast leads so I know I need to make that more flush.

Thanks for the link!

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I find my rhythm to be pretty damn good in general. When I double track rhythm guitars they’re almost always identical and I can latch onto tempos in a snap. I think it’s more that my left hand is just severely under developed and just crumbles under any sort of intermediate tempo. My right hand can hang in tight with 200bpm punk downstroke palm mutes kinda thing.

There are various levels of rhythm. And all music ultimately is rhythm. You can get very good at hammering out certain rhythms while having little ability to produce others.

Like you, I started out playing punk rhythm guitar. I couldn’t play a proper triplet or swing feel because it wasn’t part of the music I played. I had trouble with odd note groupings and starting phrases on upbeats.

I believe this is my problem as well. I can keep a very fast/smooth RH “tremelo”, but struggle to get it lined up with my LH fingers. They just “feel stupid”. My LH needs better control.

What are your thoughts on the 1-2-3-4 permutation exercises. Players like Petrucci, Govan feel that althought they have no musical merit, they teach the brain/hand indepencence.


Well in one way it is hard to argue with advice from players of their caliber. But if I am honest I think the whole “Rock Discipline” thing took me down a rabbit hole that could have been filled with better things. That very well could have been my implementation though.

It makes sense that if you make your hands do just about any finger combination starting on any pick stroke you can play just about anything. I am just at the point where I want stuff that is directly applicable to actual music. That little exercise I linked can be played to a backing track, for example. Then all the sudden it becomes a little phrase and you can start crossing strings at whatever place makes sense given your motion mechanic and it is more like jamming than practice

i understand and agree. i’ve used the 1234 variants as a mental primer, prior to playing diatonic stuff, and musical scale practice. But I see the point in not practicing things that don’t have any musical value for the most part.

I’ve been working with the exercise you posted. it’s excellent and forcing my brain and hands to work “better” together if that makes sense.

thanks for posting

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Ive tried that hand sync exercise for collectively 30 mins so far. My brain can process it a lot better than traditional 1234 up and down the fretboard. I know I’ve got a lot to work on so anything to make chipping away at things mentally easier is great, solid routine for a beginner


Try the exercise that Joe posted in reverse as well. Also, use fingers 1-3-5, and 1-2-3.

I wasn’t advocating the 1-2-3-4 exercise, necessarily, just mentioning that the many permutations of it, are advocated as a way of developing finger independence and hand-brain awareness.

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Interesting thread. You know, i dont think i ever specifically worked on hand sync. Like, i would practice other technique and keep hand sync in mind, but never directly practiced hand sync outside of a few malmsteen drills. But never for a lengthy period of time. I always thought hand sync would just kind of get to where it needs to be on its own. But i think im going to start dedicating a few minutes every practice session to a little tremolo, single string licks for hand sync and a few basic string change licks. Just spend more time doing the basics better and see what happens.

The problem here is that hand synch issues can be caused by so many different things. Any technical issue in the right or left hand can make it impossible or too difficult to stay in synch…

Is there information here to tackle technical issues in the fretboard hand? If not can you recommend anything? I’m very happy with my current practice on my pick hand after just joining here but I’m here for rewiring all of my playing so all this info will help!

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Tom made some excellent posts on fretting principals


Thanks @joebegly.

I think synchronization depends massively on our ability to create and associate temporal points of reference for our movements. The more of these points of reference we can create, and the clearer they are, the easier synchronization will be.

If our reference points are insufficiently many or clear, the coordination becomes “fuzzy”. It’s difficult to synchronize fuzzy actions to each other or to an external tempo.

To me, the defining characteristic of movements which allow for the creation and association of these reference points is impact. For the picking hand, we have the moment of impact of the pick hitting the string. For the fretting hand, we have the moment of impact of the hammering action of the finger while fretting, finger to string to fret.

When we look at the picking hand, most players are able to keep a strictly alternating movement on a single string in time with an external click. The sensation on impact of each pickstroke creates a tactile reference to a point in time.

However, sweeping is notoriously difficult to play with good synchronization. Instead of clearly felt individual impacts drawing our points of reference, the pickstrokes “blur” into eachother and we lose our point of reference for each individual note. Instead, we are forced to synchronize based on the endpoints of the sweeps, where we change our direction and feel that clear moment of impact again. Banjo rolls also have this “blur.”

We experience blur for the fretting hand also. There is no impact in lifting a finger off the fretboard to reveal a lower note, or in a pull-off, a finger roll or a slide.

Percussive actions are easily synchronized, but factors can result in even percussive action feeling woolly, making it dificult to distinguish the moment of impact. A very soft pick will flex and absorb impact when picking. High action separates the moment of the finger hammering the string from the moment of the string hammering to the fret.

The moral then is that impact is your friend. Create as many clear impacts in your guitar playing as you possible can. I know that for me personally, my fretting hand became much more esily to synchronize either to my picking hand or a click when I learned how to play everything with hammers (ascending, descending and from nowhere).

Also, something my father (a very good drummer) told me has always stuck with me:

If you want to groove, you have to move.

Groove is a body thing. Your ability to internalize the pulse, your sense of time and rhythm, your ability to follow a groove and find your pocket are all contingent upon your movement of your body. Whether it’s tapping you foot, bobbing your head (like every bass player ever) or anything else, allowing yourself to move will help you to form that connection between your body and time.

For experienced players, the movement of your picking hand or your fretting fingers can be enough, but in the beginning when we’re learning unfamiliar movements, creating another temporal reference with our bodies is massively helpful.