So, players of fretted string instruments, we meet again:

Does anyone really ever use their right hand to both pick and fret notes? (Besides lefties, I mean)

Like, I got this idea from kind of a combination of tapping and artificial harmonics, where one does the artificial harmonic thing, putting a Right Hand finger over a fret and picking with their Right thumb, but then instead of just placing the finger over the fretwire, actually frets the note, picks with the thumb, and holds the finger down to keep it sounding.

It's not a totally useless idea, for those wondering: It allows one to play the notes of harmonics that are lower than the lowest string's octave harmonic (for guitarists, the lowest D♯ one fret below the 12th on the low E string); it also frees up the left hand to do other things, like holding down and sustaining chords that are way below the note one just played with the right hand; and one can get a superfast vibrato out of it that sounds pretty sick. Also, it would theoretically give one an extra finger for playing chords, but in practice the thumb's strumming is awkward when doing this.

So: Does anyone else do this? Who? Is there a better name that I'm missing? Are there better uses for this strange technique?

  • If anyone does this, it'll be Yvette Young. Have a look e.g. at this video (it all happens too quickly for me to work out what she's actually doing, but maybe you can spot a right-hand fret-and-strum): youtube.com/watch?v=_Q1-ETuBg5A – Your Uncle Bob Sep 12 '18 at 4:43
  • I know a lot of more percussive acoustic guitarists make use of both hands for fretting. I personally have tried sometimes to hammer on with my first two fingers on my right hand and maybe strum with the third (right-hand ring) finger if ever I'm trying to write something a bit more unusual or complicated. it isn't very ergonomic compared to what I'm used to though, so it isn't something I do very often. – James Whiteley Sep 12 '18 at 10:34
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    Further to what James Whiteley said- there's a whole scene of tapping guitarists who routinely use right hand fretting and picking. Here's a classic example: Andy McKee's Drifting: youtube.com/watch?v=Ddn4MGaS3N4 – Scott Wallace Sep 12 '18 at 12:09
  • @Your Uncle Bob I watched the video and I think that's mostly tapping and sliding, as her thumb is (as far as I could tell) not plucking the string that she taps on.. I do like the song, though! – user45266 Sep 12 '18 at 22:11
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    @user45266- watching Andy McKee again, I also couldn't find any times where he plucked and fretted at the same time with just the right hand. He does tap with the right hand and immediately afterwards pluck with right thumb notes he's fretting with his left hand. – Scott Wallace Sep 14 '18 at 12:42

The technique you are describing is used in classical guitar for plucking harmonics where you use the index finger of your right hand to touch the harmonic (sort of fingering) and pluck the note using you right hand thumb. This can be extended to fretted notes but I think this would be rare, haven't seen it in music.

Since Stanley Jordan has made an appearance I'd point out Michael Batio (two hands on two different necks of a V shaped double neck guitar).

  • Okay, maybe I should have said on only one fretboard :) – user45266 Sep 12 '18 at 22:15

I use what I think you are describing particularly on bass. I might hold a note or two from a chord and while they sound, hammer a lower note, usually on B or E string with a finger of my right hand. That note is too far down the neck to be pressed by fretting fingers.

  • So after hammering it on, pluck that string with your thumb and you are doing what I meant. – user45266 Sep 12 '18 at 22:16
  • Why pluck it after? – Tim Sep 12 '18 at 22:19
  • For multiple sustains? For a sharper attack? For a louder note? Among other reasons – user45266 Sep 12 '18 at 22:21
  • No, it's not necessary, but also you can play the same note more than once without having to take your finger off of the string. Plus it sounds more like a normal note. – user45266 Sep 12 '18 at 22:24
  • Or I could hammer on again. – Tim Sep 13 '18 at 7:24

Probably the extreme example of "strumming-hand fretting" is Stanley Jordan. He doesn't fret-and-pluck (well, he does, but mostly not) but he sets up his guitars to be very sensitive to hammering-on (@ 9:00 for example in video). He also uses an all-fourths tuning which, in his words, better matches the piano.

He really is a sight to behold, especially when he plays piano and guitar simultaneously: (See 23:00)

  • Whoa! Yeah, that's definitely pretty crazy how he does that. But yeah mostly not fretting and picking with right hand. – user45266 Sep 12 '18 at 22:19

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