Guitar Kinetics Fundamentals

The basics of movement mechanics on guitar.

Hey folks, let's get straight to it.

The basics of good form (ergonomics) and the study of movement (kinesiology) is a foundational building block of playing any instrument. If guitar is a tool to make music, let's look at the mechanics of correctly building speed, strength, and dexterity. Below is an overview of hand technique, body mechanics, and efficient conservation of motion and energy to play like you struck a deal with the devil.

Attention / Awareness

Pay attention. It sounds simple, but like a form of meditation it can take a lifetime to master. If you can focus your attention on something and notice all the details you're gold. "The devil is in the details."

β€œIt's not about the number of hours you practice, it's about the number of hours your mind is present during the practice.” β€” Kobe Bryant

If you're self learning record yourself (video & sound) to check your form. Review and correct during the practice session.

Muscle memory

The hand is one of the most complex movement machines ever made. Thousands of years of evolution have made it extraordinary good at fine motor skills, coordination, and flexibility. Repetition of an action creates physical changes in your nerves that help you to perform that action more accurately. This is called muscle memory.

*It can work for you or against you. It is extremely important that you practice the correct movement and not various combinations of correct/ incorrect or you will get inconsistent results.

  • Practice the movement slowly and accurately with no tension in the muscles. I'm talking ≀ 0.25 youtube playback speed slow. "Slow is smooth and smooth is fast."

Watch how a great player is producing a sound you like. Take inspiration from how efficient they are. This is a good move to learn a technique.

  • Pay attention to muscle tension. Relax.

During all movements pay attention to your muscle tension in your fingers, hand, and forearm. Practice keeping muscles relaxed. Tension in muscles can be a hard thing to grasp at first. Some tips: stretch exercises targeting correct muscle groups, read about biomechanics, smoke weed (for the perspective shift & increased body awareness), and meditate.

  • It's OK to look at your fingers move when you practice. The muscle memory you develop is not tied to your vision system.

Finger Independence

Finger independence is important factor in efficiency of movement. It influences your strength, speed, and dexterity. It is built with a deliberate practice routine and practiced using the above principles of muscle memory. You can build this with anything you practice on guitar: finger exercises, techniques, riffs, licks, chord changes, strumming patterns, finger picking, etc.

  • Break everything down into very small micro movements.

[ex] Notice how if you set down your ring finger to play a note and it results in your pinky moving involuntarily. Isolate that movement and work on getting the pinky finger to relax to develop finger independence.

  • Don't use both hands when doing finger exercises. Do it with complete attention, one finger at a time.
  • When practicing this to learn a technique, it's about the movement, not the timing. Don't use a metronome. Don't worry about tempo. Focus on the motions until you get the independence down, then bring it into a focused practice routine and see how it holds up when playing in time.

Placement & Movement Mechanics

Practice good form from top to bottom. Make it consistent. Seek out the details of the techniques. Pay attention to your efficiency of movement, relaxation, and synchronization.

[ex] Fret hand placement: correct finger tip placement, wrist angle, and thumb placement are critical to prevent future injury and get the best sound out of your guitar. It can change depending on what you're doing (i.e. playing scales vs. bending notes).

Economy of Motion

Take a logical look and apply the basic rules of physics to your advantage to play notes with force but at the same time the least amount of motion and effort. The goal is to make your guitar playing sound the way you want, while using the most efficient technique to achieve that goal.

  • Economy, alternative, sweep picking techniques.
  • Chord changes: have an anchor finger.

[ex] If you're changing between two chords and you can keep a finger on the same fret or string, keep it down.

  • Reference point: you learn the feel for where each string is in relation to a reference point.

[ex] Fingers resting on the pick guard or the edge of your palm resting on the bridge. The anchor point.


Patience. This is not a skill that develops quickly. This isn't going to be a 4, 8, or 16 week thing. It may feel like you hit a plateau at some point; keep going. That practice compounds and will eventually pay off with a breakthrough. You will develop better feel, tone, and timing.

Catch you on the flip side,
Uncle Mike