First beginners always have this wrong. Your strumming hand is the most important hand. That is why you play with your dominant hand. The hand you write with. The strumming hand is where everything happens. Without precision with this hand anything you do with the other is meaningless. Always start with your picking hand. Get a bit comfortable with this hand. Then and only then should you start learning your fretting hand.
There are so many ways to hold a pick. Even weird arguments on what way is better. This will evolve over time for you. Hold it between the last joint of your first finger and the pad of your thumb. It's best to hold the pic so that it barely goes under the strings. Play with the tip only. Learning this quickly will keep you from digging in and breaking strings. Especially when you start strumming. Now to start.
What to do with your fretting hand. There are only two places on your fretting hand that touches the neck. First the first joint of your first finger is where the edge of the neck goes. Between that joint and the pad of your palm. The second point is the pad of your fretting thumb. Where should your thumb be? Where ever it's comfortable for you. That's how easy it actually is. This will also evolve over time for you. You will move your thumb as much as you move your fretting fingers. Your fingers should be pointing toward you at an angle and relaxed. For now use your fretting fingers to mute the strings lightly. That's all you need to do with this hand for now.
The feel of the pick. Never and I will repeat this again. Never hold the pick tightly. If you drop it your almost holding it tight enough.
Holding the pick lightly choose any string. Do a down up picking by moving your wrist only. One string. Feel the pick and how it presses against your fingers as you use it. it's going to move around a bit as you hold it lightly. Now start to lightly tighten your grip on the pic. Stop when the pick stops moving. This is all the pressure you need. And you will hold it lighter than this when you get more comfortable with it. Get used to holding the pick lightly.
Next. Relax. Never play tensed up. If you find yourself getting tense stop and start again.
Hold the neck like you did in the first exercise. Start with the top string. Play a four count of down up strokes. Feel each stroke. Keep the pressure you use with the pick the same for every down up stroke. Now move to the next string down and do the same. Then your lightest string. And go back up. Pick each string four times. With even pressure. Low string, mid string, high string, mid string. Slow enough to get every pick right. Speed is a result of doing this right slowly. Each stroke on each string. Moving your wrist only. Be very conscious on how your holding the pick. And how much pressure your using on the strings. This is boring, tedious and mind numbing. Only people who actually want to play are crazy enough to do this. Over and over again. And it's worth every moment you put into it. Because there is nothing like that final moment. That moment when you can pick up the guitar and do this without thinking about it.
Get to the point where you can do this several times through at an even pace. Now play without muting your strings. Each string should sound at an even volume. Clear and even. You are achieving precision.
This works for both fretted and unfretted CBGs. Make every slide note count.
Thanks I'll try your tips
Thanks Rat, I played around with a guitar(nothing serious) way back when Moses was parting the Red Sea. After surgery this is a relearning process for me!
Thanks folks. Really hoping to add to peoples fun and experience with these guitars.
Learning the feel of the pic is the communication point between you and the instrument. It's also where you can change the tone of what your playing. Not only in the distance between the bridge and neck your strumming. Closer to the bridge being brighter. Then darker as you move up towards the neck. But at what angle the pic is striking the string. Holding the pick parallel to the string as you play is called flat picking. It has an overall bright twangy sound. Angling the pic so your playing with more of the edge darkens the tone. Makes it mellower.
Once you get comfortable picking try this trick. First play with the pick parallel or flat to the strings. Now angle the pick by moving your thumb slightly forward. Your playing at the same distance between the neck and bridge but your tone darkens a bit. You control your tone with your right hand.
Don't cheat yourself on this. Your dominant hand technique is very important. Getting comfortable with will allow you to both pic and strum your guitar with ease.
So lets go on to the strum stroke. Hold your pic the same way you would for picking each string separately. Now using just your wrist strum down each string. You should feel the pic give slightly for each string struck. Now strum up. The feeling should be the same. As you strum make sure each string sounds at an equal volume. Both up and down strokes with the wrist movement only. Keep practicing this until you get a good even sound for both the down and up strum. Don't worry about speed. Concentrate on getting your strokes to sound even.
Make your own exercises for combining picking and strumming. Strum two strings together then pic two strings. Strum all your strings then pic one. You don't have to keep it all down up stroking either. Make any combination you can come up with. Make sure each string is struck evenly. Wether your playing your guitar muted or all the strings open.
This will help with both picking and slide guitar.
How long it takes you is totally up to you. When you get to the point where your comfortable picking slowly it's time to start getting the other hand into the mix. It is very important to get your picking down first. Please don't rush into this next part.
It should be noted that from hear on the CBG needed to learn this should be set up with the strings low. An 1/8 inch or lower all down the neck. This will not work if the guitar is set up for slide only. If the strings are two high you will always bend the note sharp and out of tune. No matter how good you play a set up like this will always sound bad.
Take your left hand and rest it over your fingerboard. Your fingers should be facing toward you. Now very lightly touch the third ( lowest sounding ) string with your first finger. Between any two frets on the neck. Start to pic that string. It should be muted with your first finger. As you pic lightly press down till you hear the note clearly. Lift your finger back up. Try to press it down with the same pressure and pic the string. If you find yourself pressing to hard start all over again. Do this with all four fingers on this hand. YES I said all four. Never tense this hand up. Keep each touch as light as needed to hear the notes.
Do this on all your strings. Up and down the neck. Start trying to press and pic at the same time. Both down and up strokes. Learn the timing it takes to touch the string, lightly press down and pic to hear a clear note. With all four fingers.
Things you should know.
It's not your finger that makes the note. It's the fret between your finger and your pic that's making that note. Your finger can be anywhere between those two frets. As long as your not touching either fret.
There is no 'one spot' on your finger that has to always contact the string. Keep your hand relaxed and let your reach with this hand determine where your finger and what part of your finger tip is needed. You'll eventually find your using different areas depending on where your hand is and what your playing.