Writing fingerpicking songs for just right hand?

Guitar Tricks Forum > Songwriting > Writing fingerpicking songs for just right hand?

SusanMW

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Joined: 07/05/20

Posts: 219

I have been learning a lot about songwriting and lyrics via some great books lately...and songs with chords and lyrics are in the works. But I can't play those yet because of the carpal tunnel in my left hand. And I can't just put away my guitar for weeks and weeks! I mean, maybe some people could...but I just need to put fingers to strings and I have a mostly good right hand since I had carpal tunnel surgery on that 12 years ago. So...curious as to what I can write or come up with only using my right hand?

I've been playing around with some instrumentals on my ukulele using just the open strings and wanted to start doing the same for the guitar. Someone in the YouTube Live Guitar Tricks lesson made the suggestion to me that I could tune my guitar to Open G and give it a new sound when I just play those open strings. Interesting! I never thought about alternate tunings.

Are there any other things I can/should be thinking about when coming up with these? I'm trying to get a feel for the emotion/mood and rhythm of the piece based on what I play. And this might even be a good way to start memorizing songs, too.... seeing that I'm the one writing them.

I may be quite limited right now and can't play much at all but when I think about all the things I could create without fretting, I feel like there's a lot of possibilities. Focus on what you CAN do, right? (Story of my life!)

Can anyone give me any pointers? Everyone on the forums is so helpful so I figured it couldn't hurt to ask.

Also, do you know of any examples of songs like these? I have been looking but I'm not really finding what I'm looking for (no fretting).

Thank you!

Edited to Add: A night of searching YouTube has led to a few discoveries. I found some videos of others who can only play with their right hand. Some use percussive elements and practicing different rhythms, some flemenco type techniques, etc. And there's some hammer on's and pull off's you can do with just your right hand. And using a thumb pick, one can come up with some pretty solid playing. Open to any other suggestions or pointers, still. Thanks!

“Often, what seems like an impossible climb is just a staircase without the steps drawn in.” Robert Brault, American Operatic Tenor

#1

I have been learning a lot about songwriting and lyrics via some great books lately...and songs with chords and lyrics are in the works. But I can't play those yet because of the carpal tunnel in my left hand. And I can't just put away my guitar for weeks and weeks! I mean, maybe some people could...but I just need to put fingers to strings and I have a mostly good right hand since I had carpal tunnel surgery on that 12 years ago. So...curious as to what I can write or come up with only using my right hand?

I've been playing around with some instrumentals on my ukulele using just the open strings and wanted to start doing the same for the guitar. Someone in the YouTube Live Guitar Tricks lesson made the suggestion to me that I could tune my guitar to Open G and give it a new sound when I just play those open strings. Interesting! I never thought about alternate tunings.

Are there any other things I can/should be thinking about when coming up with these? I'm trying to get a feel for the emotion/mood and rhythm of the piece based on what I play. And this might even be a good way to start memorizing songs, too.... seeing that I'm the one writing them.

I may be quite limited right now and can't play much at all but when I think about all the things I could create without fretting, I feel like there's a lot of possibilities. Focus on what you CAN do, right? (Story of my life!)

Can anyone give me any pointers? Everyone on the forums is so helpful so I figured it couldn't hurt to ask.

Also, do you know of any examples of songs like these? I have been looking but I'm not really finding what I'm looking for (no fretting).

Thank you!

Edited to Add: A night of searching YouTube has led to a few discoveries. I found some videos of others who can only play with their right hand. Some use percussive elements and practicing different rhythms, some flemenco type techniques, etc. And there's some hammer on's and pull off's you can do with just your right hand. And using a thumb pick, one can come up with some pretty solid playing. Open to any other suggestions or pointers, still. Thanks!

“Often, what seems like an impossible climb is just a staircase without the steps drawn in.” Robert Brault, American Operatic Tenor

SusanMW

Full Access

Joined: 07/05/20

Posts: 219

I stumbled upon this Guitar Tricks tutorial by Anders, too... cool! Can't add in my left hand but I suppose I could still incorporate some of this...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zfm_RUupFW4

“Often, what seems like an impossible climb is just a staircase without the steps drawn in.” Robert Brault, American Operatic Tenor

#2

I stumbled upon this Guitar Tricks tutorial by Anders, too... cool! Can't add in my left hand but I suppose I could still incorporate some of this...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zfm_RUupFW4

“Often, what seems like an impossible climb is just a staircase without the steps drawn in.” Robert Brault, American Operatic Tenor

ChristopherSchlegel

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 08/09/05

Posts: 7356

Originally Posted by: SusanMW

So...curious as to what I can write or come up with only using my right hand?

You can work on right hand technique.

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=29208&s_id=2480

Or tune to an open tuning & play things like this.

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=29316&s_id=2494

Hope that helps!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

#3

Originally Posted by: SusanMW

So...curious as to what I can write or come up with only using my right hand?

You can work on right hand technique.

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=29208&s_id=2480

Or tune to an open tuning & play things like this.

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=29316&s_id=2494

Hope that helps!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

SusanMW

Full Access

Joined: 07/05/20

Posts: 219

Thanks! Doing some of both now. I just came across that second video. So I've tuned to open G and writing something in that. It's sort of a creative exercise in coming up with a song structure and overall mood and using the right fingers for the corresponding strings. Maybe if I can do things like this it will just prepare me for greater things to come..

“Often, what seems like an impossible climb is just a staircase without the steps drawn in.” Robert Brault, American Operatic Tenor

#4

Thanks! Doing some of both now. I just came across that second video. So I've tuned to open G and writing something in that. It's sort of a creative exercise in coming up with a song structure and overall mood and using the right fingers for the corresponding strings. Maybe if I can do things like this it will just prepare me for greater things to come..

“Often, what seems like an impossible climb is just a staircase without the steps drawn in.” Robert Brault, American Operatic Tenor

snojones

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Joined: 04/17/13

Posts: 517

Get a bottle neck for the open tuning! Put it on a finger and away your go. Probably best to put the bottle neck on either your ring finger or your middle finger. I have seen both. You will need to mute the strings behind the bottle neck so as to keep that noise from sounding.

You should be able to have some fun with that without hurting your self too much. Some people enjoy open tunings so much they never come back to standard tuning.

Captcha is a total pain in the........

#5

Get a bottle neck for the open tuning! Put it on a finger and away your go. Probably best to put the bottle neck on either your ring finger or your middle finger. I have seen both. You will need to mute the strings behind the bottle neck so as to keep that noise from sounding.

You should be able to have some fun with that without hurting your self too much. Some people enjoy open tunings so much they never come back to standard tuning.

Captcha is a total pain in the........

SusanMW

Full Access

Joined: 07/05/20

Posts: 219

Thanks!

I didn't end up experimenting too much with the guitar this weekend because it is too painful to tune with my hand being so painful. I need to reorient myself to do it with my good hand. So the ukulele is getting the attention now and tonight I put the finishing touches on my first etude in dropped F tuning, an alternate tuning. I even transcribed it in MuseScore. All open strings, like I plan to do with the guitar. It is simple, nice, relaxing, and now the start of a series I plan to make on Right Hand etudes for the uke, something good to take away from this bummer of a time right now.

I did tune to Open G on my guitar when I still could briefly and I really liked the sound of that. So my plan is to start coming up with some guitar etudes in Open G and maybe some other alternate tunings as well.

It was so rewarding writing that piece though!

“Often, what seems like an impossible climb is just a staircase without the steps drawn in.” Robert Brault, American Operatic Tenor

#6

Thanks!

I didn't end up experimenting too much with the guitar this weekend because it is too painful to tune with my hand being so painful. I need to reorient myself to do it with my good hand. So the ukulele is getting the attention now and tonight I put the finishing touches on my first etude in dropped F tuning, an alternate tuning. I even transcribed it in MuseScore. All open strings, like I plan to do with the guitar. It is simple, nice, relaxing, and now the start of a series I plan to make on Right Hand etudes for the uke, something good to take away from this bummer of a time right now.

I did tune to Open G on my guitar when I still could briefly and I really liked the sound of that. So my plan is to start coming up with some guitar etudes in Open G and maybe some other alternate tunings as well.

It was so rewarding writing that piece though!

“Often, what seems like an impossible climb is just a staircase without the steps drawn in.” Robert Brault, American Operatic Tenor