In Photo 4 I’m resting the outward edge of my palm on the bridge. This too provides stability while making it easy to damp strings as desired. The method’s disadvantage is that it can lock your hand near the bridge, when you could be varying your tones by picking at different locations between the bridge and soundhole.
Not that anyone asked, but I shift between all four positions on both electric and acoustic guitars.
A word about nails: Great fingerstyle guitarists have used fingernails, bare skin, and plastic or metal fingerpicks and thumbpicks. There’s no “best” method. I use nails myself, but I keep them short (Photo 5). That way I can shift my finger angle by a few centimeters for soft, nail-free tones.
Many players prefer to fingerpick while gripping a flatpick between thumb and index finger. That’s no reason not to attempt these exercises—just play picking-hand index finger notes with your middle finger, middle finger notes with your ring finger, and ring finger notes with your pinky. (That’s the goofy way I was taught to Travis pick as a kid. Instead of alternating my thumb between low and high strings, I’d park the pick on the low strings and play high notes with my middle, ring, and pinky fingers. I don’t recommend that technique, but it’s your call!)
Whichever road you take, consider efficiency. It’s usually a good idea to minimize unnecessary picking-hand motion. Sure, you might adjust your wrist angle for contrasting effects, but your wrist probably shouldn’t move much while playing. Try restricting the picking motion to the finger joints. (Having said that, there’s no doubt some guitarist out there far more skilled than any of us whose wrist bobs like mad.)
Opus 1 and Beyond
Let’s conclude with a few more Giuliani exercises—and more examples of how you might vary and modernize them.
Ex. 3 is the next Giuliani exercise in its original form. Notice how it resembles a banjo player’s or country picker’s three-finger roll, even though the exercise was written 200 years ago.
The same picking pattern appears in Ex. 4, but paired witha sequence of major 6/9 chords. I’ve also expanded the pattern from two measures to four measures. There’s no reason to restrict yourself to the original two-measure structure.
The next Giuliani study (Ex. 5) is what a banjo picker would call a reverse three-finger roll.
For the modern variation (Ex. 6), I’ve substituted a familiar chord progression with lots of pretty drone notes. Again, the new pattern is four measures in length. You can spin these out longer if you like. You might also alter the frequency of the chord changes. You could sustain a single chord for several bars, and then move between multiple chords within a single bar.
This is just the tip of the Giuliani iceberg—we’ve only looked at 1/40th of Opus 1. You could spend years on these exercises. (I certainly have.) And if you introduce creative modern variations, you can exercise both hands simultaneously, along with your brain. Good luck exploring!