Shouldn't my frethand be better?

So I have been practising guitar alot the last 12 years and have a lot of hours under my belt. It puzzles me why I still have problems with things that shouldn’t be a problem at my level. One major thing is my fretting hand.

Doing trills for example is quite hard for me. Should this not be working the same way as with learning a picking motion ie you can only do it right by trying it fast first?

I feel like I should have been practising it enough to where I can do fast legato at least on a single string but I really cant’t.

Anybody who can share any sucess story in regard to getting a fast fretting hand?

I guess with the left hand you should practice in slow and fast tempo both.
I’m not very good with my left hand too but I have my own story of improving.
Since my left hand was injured it was hard for me to use it. For example I couldn’t do pulloffs with pinky or ring finger at all. I still have some problems but it’s became much better recently.

What I did was developing additional strength. I used a gate with a very fast attack, then I turned threshold until I could barely hear my usual hammer-ons and pull-offs. Then I played scales and licks using left hand only, trying to make them audible. This required to have strong sharp hammer-ons and a bit forceful pull-ofs . Then I turned threshold up a little and repeated the whole process (which made me to do even more strong ho/po).
After some time of this procedure I gave my hand some rest, then turned the gate off, cranked the amp, and played the same stuff trying to use just as little force as possible to get acceptable sound.

After a week of this ‘practice’ (which I did more for fun than for practicing purposes) my left hand became better.

P.S. It worked for me but it wouldn’t necessary work for you since we have a bit different problems.
P.P.S. If you still want to try this method - don’t overdo it. I mean I have playing piano since I was a kid so my fingers had some ‘training’ ) But I wouldn’t recommend to do forceful part of this exersise for more than 10 minutes a day.


Good advice. Overdoing it with fretting hand can lead to injury. This is particularly true with slurring forcefully. A little of the right movements done consistently can go a long way.


@joebegly well said!
I had my hand already injured so I had nothing to lose, but other people must be very cautious!

And couple of words additionally to avoid mistakes (some of which I made).

  1. Don’t push you resting fingers in the neck. Fingers that are not used now must be almost relaxed. During hammer-ons they often do not even fret the string. Just like left hand muting.
  2. Hammer-ons are more like fast than strong. Like a piano staccato… One fast tap - click! - and the finger is relaxed again. The best way to practice it is to do hammer-on staccato for some time: after you tapped a string you immediately lift the finger a bit and mute the string. This gives that interesting percussive sound.
  3. Same with pullofs. Wrist and fingers must be relaxed until the very moment of a pulloff. I tended to squize the whole thing first, then I started to control the tension. It’s like short impulses.
  4. For the formentioned reasons 1st part of exercise must be done slowly (more or less) to control the relaxatiton phase, while second (‘light touching’) may be much faster.
  5. Try to avoid wrist motion based ho/po. That’s what you naturally would want to do to sound louder, but that wouldn’t work on a high speed. You’ll need some time to find a good position for a hand that allows you to use fingers only. Though… since my pinky is not pretty controllable I use this incorrect way partially.

This is my snobby classical background coming out here. I agree with this 100% and think it should be taken a step further because almost no rock guitarists do pull offs correctly. Most people’s hammer ons are good. This was how my teacher taught pulloffs:

The important part is at 10:49 if for some reason my timestamp didn’t work.
Notice how the left hand finger pulls down and actually does a rest stroke on the string beneath it. On a nylon string guitar, the tonal/volume differences when doing it this way are night and day. Even on electric guitar you should be able to hear the difference. Big tone improvement and you won’t find your pulloffs fading off and being quieter if you do a series of them. I know, I know, someone will tell me to shut up and that a compressor can fix this. Yeah yeah lol. Either way also, better for wrist health :slight_smile:

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This is interesting. Can you post a clip of doing this on electric? It seems promising but I can’t get it to work very well on a quick try. The “mini-rest stroke” sounds like I’m hammering-on the adjacent string.

Sure. Guess I should make sure I don’t suck before I preach something and realize I’ve been only working on picking for the past 4 months lol

This should give you the idea that it’s possible though

Maybe try to hit the fretboard instead of the string underneath? The little rest stroke itself makes very brief contact with the string. The Batio left hand muting of the fretting index finger should help keep the string quiet after the contact too.

It is true that you can’t really develop a trill incrementally, ie. increasing the metronome by 1bpm over time until the trill is fast. To trill fast, you have to practice fast trills.

The real barrier here is tension. Most players have tension in the way they grip the neck, or they use too much pressure in fretting. The trill is really light, any heaviness in your touch slows it down.

Technique is important too. I only use hammers to play the trill, no pulloffs (as joebegly commented). The finger lifts off for the trill, plucking the string with the left hand is too inefficient for a fast trill.

None of these things necessarily come with playing for a long time, if you don’t dedicate special attention to them. You are what you eat.

That sounds nice and even. Just for the sake of clarity, could you demonstrate the naughty wrist version as I’m not sure what you mean?

Yep, I came up with the same idea after experimentations and watching different players. Though it doesn’t work well in high tempo if you need to reuse the finger quickly on the same string. So, basically I have 3 kinds of pullofs:

  • going down (I call it ‘slide the fret’)
  • going diagonally (down and away from fretboard)
  • hand pulloff (for pinky and sometimes ring finger)
    I have one more pulloff techinque actually:
  • pullof -I-don’t-need-at-the-moment-but-it-still-sounds, when I lift my finger inaccuratly during fast passages playing )

Yeah. Before I started to control tension I sometimes found myslef squizing the neck as if I wanted to break it with my fingers ) Though this went with pulloffs usually.

That’s how I do fast trills too. For example when I played Bach’s Badinerie with 130bpm there were these two trills in 32th (and 3 picked runs btw…) which were equivalent of 260bpm 16th. I used hammerons only.
Though in lower tempo I prefer to use pulloffs too since they aremore articulated and, basicaly, more loud.

I can, I can! )) You can use me as a nice example of wrong technique )) (at least when dealing with my pinky)
Oh… I can’t. I am at my job right now.

You don’t sound snobby at all. I think the forum in general needs more people focused on left hand technique; I’ve been really adamant about this. I’d go as far as to say the lack of left hand discussion in the Antigravity seminar necessitates an editing or addendum, at some point. On a longer timeline, I think the team will realize that swiping and other such picking errors are in some instances a direct result of poor left hand technique.

Your left hand looks textbook-level perfect to me in that video clip you posted. Thanks for demonstrating your technique.

Thanks man! This is the nicest thing anyone has said to me in the past couple months :slight_smile:

My ‘snobby’ comment was slightly tongue in cheek. I was a self taught rock guitarist before being classically trained. There is a wealth of knowledge in that realm…but sometimes they are just snobby!

Some of the stuff they preach seems to be just about tradition, but my takeaway from the experience is that good tone starts in the hands and we have a lot of control over this. Everything should at least start there. Tone is subjective, but to my ears pulling ‘down’ on a pulloff is rounder and fuller sounding than simply lifting it straight off. It is consistent in volume with the note that came before it, be it picked or hammered (or another ‘correctly’ done pulloff, if slurring a descending scale).

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Sure here it is.

I’ve intentionally exaggerated the motion. Basically the mechanic here is fretting hand forearm rotation, instead of the finger joints. Note the harsher sound created when I pull off from the highest note. If I were pulling straight down that little ‘rest stroke’ would round that out nicely.

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Gotcha, thanks! I’ll keep an eye out forbit!

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I think the forum in general needs more people focused on left hand technique; I’ve been really adamant about this. I’d go as far as to say the lack of left hand discussion in the Antigravity seminar necessitates an editing or addendum, at some point. On a longer timeline, I think the team will realize that swiping and other such picking errors are in some instances a direct result of poor left hand technique.

I agree! I’ve being following the course for 2 years, which has been awesome, but I had the same level of “bad technique” also in my fretting hand.
I just found out about many “classic things” that are done wrong usually (like the “flying pinky finger” or excessive pressure on the fretboard) that totally limit speed.
If I’d had learned something about that in this course, I could have also been improving that.
I can imagine really cool video animations about the mechanics of the left hand!

I would like more videos on feet habd

some codes are better left uncracked