Right hand technique

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429
What is considered to be the proper right hand technique.
After 7 years of playing I'm still not fast enough t o play what I want to play and my instructor is blamimg it on my right hand.
I used to be a bass player so I naturally let my pinky or my pinky and third finger set on the guitar.
It's very awkward for me to play with my whole hand suspended.I also play mainly strats and see a lot of players rest their palm on the saddles.This also feels awkward to me.
I would like to just learn the correct way now before going any further with my bad habits no matter what it takes.
Any suggestions?
 

Guinness Lad

Member
Messages
15,864
Do you use a pick? If so having your hand suspended above the guitar will be a little strange because you will have no support. I used to use a pick for 15 years then switched to fingers for the last 10 and I still cannot play as fast with my fingers as I could when I played with a pick.

Practice slowly, making sure everything is perfect, before speeding up. If you want use your pinky finger as the base and move your hand from there. Personally I wouldn't worry much about the speed if you can play sixteenth notes cleanly at a 120 to 130 BPM clip. I can't even play that fast and nobody in my band say's I play too slow. You can accomplish a lot with pull offs which can give the illusion of quickly played notes by the right hand. Too bad you didn't live closer I'd be glad to meet with you.
 
Messages
429
Yes.I use a pick and use my pinky or sometimes three fingers as a rest.This is what my last teacher had a problem with.
I try to rest them very lightly an it's working out better.
I'm not trying to shred.I play blues and some jazz stuff but juat can't play a lot of the things I want because of the speed.I can't play clean 1/16th notes at 120bpm but that's what I working on.
I guess what I'm asking is using your fingers as a rest really wrong or bad technique?A lot of the good strat players that I see rest the fat part of their palm on the bridge or saddles as does my last teacher.This is very awkward for me and I like to play over the neck PU a lot for the tone.
Is my technique that bad or do I just need more practice?
If your ever down this way Harry stop in and play some Tone Zone amps.
 

Guinness Lad

Member
Messages
15,864
Your approaching it how a classical player would I never really hear people ripping classical guys. Some guys just aren't wired to play exceptionally fast, but I bet if you slowed down and really watched your picking making sure the "up" notes were "up" and the "down" notes were "down" you would find places that this is not happening. I play with my hand all over the place depending on what I want to do, I got over "this is the correct approach" thinking a long time ago. You probably learning something improperly a long time ago and it's coming back to haunt you now.

Play the 1st to the 4th frets on the low E using fingers 1 to 4 on the left hand. The picking strokes should be down, up, down, up. Just keep playing this over and over increasing the speed until you mess up. Then go back and watch to see what happened. Back the speed down a bit a keep practicing until you get past the breaking point.

Once you do this breakup the 4 note pattern by playing 2 to 4 on the low E and use the 1st finger to play the 1st fret on the A string. This will give you a string crossing obstacle to overcome. Start on the 2nd fret with a down stroke then play the 3rd and 4th fret low E string with the last note being the B flat with the 1st finger (this should be an up stroke on the 5th string)

There are many things you can try but this is a start. If you can read music playing a melody can uncover errors in technique, just choose a good one. One I used to use a lot "Straight no chaser" by Thelonius Monk. There are lots of long runs which require string skipping in order to be played.
 

ducmike

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,701
I read something in th Oct. 05 Guitar One mag. that really helped. There is an article on technique in that issue. In the article they ask you to look at how you pick. It says that if you try to play fast with the method of wiggling the pick back and forth with your finger and thumb (like writing in cursive), you lose control. The article says you have to play from the wrist. I have focused on this for aout 2 weeks now and it has really helped.

I used to rest a few fingers on the pickguard, but when I do that I start wiggling my fingers again. Now I kind of lightly rest the back of my palm on the strings, which also helps with my muting.

I have no interest in shredding or playing extremely fast, so it took me a few months to get around to reading this article. In fact if it were not the only mag. my wife pakced for me on recent weekend getaway, I would not have read it. I was pretty bored with the article until I stumbled on that paragraph. GC stores usually have seveal months of back issues still available, so if you can find it it might help.
 
Messages
429
That is pretty much my problem.I'm kind of in the middle between using my wrist and the wiggle.It's an old hablt and I'm trying hard to break it but I just can't find any position that feels as comfortable.I have lightened up the finger pressure on the pick gaurd a lot to where I'm just sweeping acrossed it.
 

Mullet Kingdom

Senior Member
Messages
2,442
The best thing you can do to improve your right hand is to keep it loose. Once it tenses up everything suddenly becomes a lot harder than it needs to and it seems to take twice as much effort.

Relax, Grasshopper.:)
 

ducmike

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,701
+1 on relaxing. I like to practice technique with my eyes closed, it helps me relax and concentrate. and I seem to not focus on one hand more than the other with my eyes cosed.

And remember, any type of muscle training feels uncomfortable and strange at first.
 

Guinness Lad

Member
Messages
15,864
The whole reason I stopped using a pick is because in order to use it you have to pinch your fingers together. Holding your fingers together creates tension. I tried circle picking, using your wrist, using your elbow etc... nothing ever did it for me. I used sit there and freak out about possibly losing the pick during a show.

Since I stopped using a pick my hand naturally stays relaxed and I never have to worry about switching to fingerpicking tune or part. I battled the relaxed hand thing for a long time and finally gave up. I'll tell you what though, it was well worth it.

I only have trouble with a couple things finger picking, and it usually relates to double stop type stuff. I can't figure out if I want to pluck the strings with two fingers or strum it with just one. It is getting better though.
 

Mullet Kingdom

Senior Member
Messages
2,442
Originally posted by harryjmic
The whole reason I stopped using a pick is because in order to use it you have to pinch your fingers together. Holding your fingers together creates tension. I tried circle picking, using your wrist, using your elbow etc... nothing ever did it for me. I used sit there and freak out about possibly losing the pick during a show.

Since I stopped using a pick my hand naturally stays relaxed and I never have to worry about switching to fingerpicking tune or part. I battled the relaxed hand thing for a long time and finally gave up. I'll tell you what though, it was well worth it.

I only have trouble with a couple things finger picking, and it usually relates to double stop type stuff. I can't figure out if I want to pluck the strings with two fingers or strum it with just one. It is getting better though.
You could always try a thumb pick.

I use hybrid picking techniques quite a bit--and have been for more than 12 years. But, my pinky is practically useless. So, for playing acoustic I'm going to have to learn how to start using my index finger in conjunction with a thumb pick, because my index finger is much more cooperative than my pinky is. I use the pinky for plucking chords in unison and that's about it.

:)
 

ducmike

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,701
I also use a hybrid technique. I have tryed to go pickless, but I just like the tone and attack of a pick when I play. I love the tone of finger style when I here others play, it just doesn't work for me right now.
 

al carmichael

Member
Messages
134
To anchor the hand or not? There are great players in both camps. I anchor my right hand with my pinky and use my wrist exclusively. Works for me. I have seen others who play with their right hand suspended above the strings--no anchor, and they played great too.

If you do anchor, try using just one finger. That way, you can move into using your second and third finger along with a pick, or using three fingers without a pick.

I think the key is to get the wrist going, using the minimum of movement possible. I agree with the idea of staying relaxed too.

Start with slow practice with a metronome and gradually increase the BPM by about 3BPM, while practicing scales and various passages of music you wish to master. If you can get it slow, gradually you can bump up the tempo until its easy to play what you want at the tempo required. If you start too fast, you never have a chance to correct the slop and mistakes.
 

DonW

Velocity Town Angel
Double Platinum Member
Messages
5,468
When I saw the George Lynch instructional video I about flipped. He doesn't anchor his right hand. I have to, it's how I've played for too long to remember. I play fast enough, not well enough. That's what I'm working on now. Hindsight being what it is I think I would have studied finger picking many moons ago.
 

Matt_Scogo

Senior Member
Messages
116
Hi,
If you wanna improve your picking speed, you need to practice. Practice does not make perfect... Perfect practice makes perfect. Use a metronome at first. Start slow with 1/4 notes... then 1/8's, then 1/16's. If you can't play slow cleanly then do not speed up.

Practice 35 min's to 1 hour everyday... good practice... no A.D.D. riffs. Just finger patterns, chromatic preferably. For instance label fingers 1-4 then create patterns.

1234 4321

2134 4312... etc...

Now invert these by moving all over the neck in any position that is challenging, but able to be done CLEANLY!

I assure you in 2 months, you'll be the fingers of fury, dude.
Good luck,
MW
 

AaeCee

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
18,278
Originally posted by harryjmic
The whole reason I stopped using a pick is because in order to use it you have to pinch your fingers together. Holding your fingers together creates tension. I tried circle picking, using your wrist, using your elbow etc... nothing ever did it for me. I used sit there and freak out about possibly losing the pick during a show.

Since I stopped using a pick my hand naturally stays relaxed and I never have to worry about switching to fingerpicking tune or part. I battled the relaxed hand thing for a long time and finally gave up. I'll tell you what though, it was well worth it.

I only have trouble with a couple things finger picking, and it usually relates to double stop type stuff. I can't figure out if I want to pluck the strings with two fingers or strum it with just one. It is getting better though.
OK...question from an obvious pick addict. When strumming, what part(s) of your finger(s) actually contact the strings? Ever get sore? Loose nails? Thanks, AC
 

Guinness Lad

Member
Messages
15,864
Originally posted by AaeCee
OK...question from an obvious pick addict. When strumming, what part(s) of your finger(s) actually contact the strings? Ever get sore? Loose nails? Thanks, AC

When I strum I brush my hands across the strings in kind of a sweeping motion almost like waving someone off. I usually strum so the back of my hand hits the strings almost like the Flamenco Rasqueado (spelling?). My fingers do not get sore nor do I lose any finger nails. Your right hand builds up calluses the same as your left so sore fingers are not an issue after about a month or so. The only time my fingers get a little sore is if I've been playing 5 or 6 hours doing some hard core right hand work. I will never go back to a pick anymore, there really is no upside to it.
 

Dave LaP

Member
Messages
3,324
Originally posted by ducmike
I read something in th Oct. 05 Guitar One mag. that really helped. There is an article on technique in that issue. In the article they ask you to look at how you pick. It says that if you try to play fast with the method of wiggling the pick back and forth with your finger and thumb (like writing in cursive), you lose control. The article says you have to play from the wrist. I have focused on this for aout 2 weeks now and it has really helped.

I used to rest a few fingers on the pickguard, but when I do that I start wiggling my fingers again. Now I kind of lightly rest the back of my palm on the strings, which also helps with my muting.

I have no interest in shredding or playing extremely fast, so it took me a few months to get around to reading this article. In fact if it were not the only mag. my wife pakced for me on recent weekend getaway, I would not have read it. I was pretty bored with the article until I stumbled on that paragraph. GC stores usually have seveal months of back issues still available, so if you can find it it might help.
Eric Johnson uses the method of "wiggling" the pick between forefinger and thumb and he does OK. :p I don't think there is a "right way"-just what works for you.
 

Dave LaP

Member
Messages
3,324
Another thing: Most guys who play really well fast barely contact the tip of the pick with the string. The deeper you dig in with your pick the harder it is to get it over the string for the next note.
 

lgehrig4

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,140
John Petrucci & Steve Morse both anchor their pinkies and are highly proficient pickers.

I'm can't pick as fast as you, but I do analyze everything. I've realized recently that the importance of keeping your hand relaxed cannot be overstated. It allows you to get that vibrating motion from the wrist similar to shading or coloring quickly with a pencil or marker. I am a lefty who plays righty so my right hand technique has always been a problem for me. That and lack of practice :)
 




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