Keith Richards Emphasizes the Crucial Element Every Guitarist Should Master

by Madonna

Renowned for his distinctive style, Keith Richards, legendary guitarist of The Rolling Stones, has identified a fundamental aspect he believes every guitarist should prioritize. Beyond the glitz of flashy fretwork, Richards underscores the paramount importance of mastering the right hand, attributing the true essence of great guitar playing to the seamless connection between both hands.

In a revealing interview, Richards, known for his signature anecdotes and effortless strumming, sheds light on his perspective. The man credited with inspiring Pete Townshend’s iconic windmill technique acknowledges that the real magic lies in the often-overlooked right hand. Dismissing the notion that greatness is solely defined by the left hand’s intricate fretwork, Richards asserts, “There’s two sides to every story.”


Elaborating on the critical relationship between the hands, he emphasizes, “If that one [the right hand] doesn’t connect with that one [the left hand], you’re getting what? One and a half stories?” This insight into his musical philosophy underscores the meticulous consideration Richards applies to his craft.


Rooted in the blues and a fervent believer in the power of rock ‘n’ roll done right, Richards values substance over showmanship. He expresses admiration for his fellow Stones, particularly Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman, highlighting the importance of their rhythm section in creating the perfect musical blend.


According to Richards, the starting point for every aspiring guitarist is the acoustic guitar. He advises mastering the feel and touch of the strings against the fret, asserting that this foundational understanding forms the basis for later embellishments with effects. In his characteristic philosophical manner, Richards compares this approach to an astronaut’s gradual progression, stating, “An astronaut doesn’t start in space, you know; somebody’s got to build a rocket.”

Richards credits his rhythmic right hand for earning him the title of “the riff master.” He reflects on the blessing of discovering countless riffs and admits to being unable to fathom their depths fully. Pointing to one of his finest creations, the iconic riff of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” Richards describes the elation and wicked glee that accompanies such musical achievements.

In the world of Keith Richards, the mastery of the right hand is not just a technique but a philosophy—a belief that resonates in every note of his timeless riffs and serves as a guiding principle for aspiring guitarists aiming to create enduring musical magic.


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