Strange question about picking hand

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by rdwhitti, Apr 10, 2016.

  1. rdwhitti

    rdwhitti Tele-Holic

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    My guitar teacher thinks this is odd and has not seen it before. I have been playing for 6 months but still find that my picking hand tends to move back towards the bridge as my fretting hand moves down the neck. This has always been a problem for me and would like to know what I can do to break the habit. As I play down the neck my picking hand starts slowly gravitating towards the bridge. If I start out picking between the neck and middle pickups, before I know it I am at or below the middle pickup, then the bridge pickup, and the I hit the bridge. This is a real problem! Does anybody here have any suggestions?
     
  2. rdwhitti

    rdwhitti Tele-Holic

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    I do not anchor but I do use my Palm to mute the lower strings. I started out resting my hand on the bridge and then moved up as I learned to mute strings with my palm.
     
  3. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Nah, that's not a real problem, just something you need to refine a bit. My guess is that you watch your left hand while you're playing. You might try to learn some simple scales up and down the neck well enough that your left hand does it automatically, then watch your right hand, concentrating on keeping it still as you play your scales.

    Ultimately you want to learn to play with your eyes on the music, trusting your hands to do what they're supposed to.
     
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  4. rdwhitti

    rdwhitti Tele-Holic

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    That's good advice, thanks. I often try to close my eyes and just play by feel. Maybe I should be looking at my picking hand sometimes instead.
     
  5. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    My second lesson was that the heel of the picking hand needs to understand...meaning making light contact with...the bass side of the bridge. As noted by rdwhitti, one might want to mute with the picking hand, as this position places that hand in the proper orientation. The hand should not be hard anchored to thaart of the bridge, and there are many times when the hand will not be there. This position places the thumb and fingers in the best position from which to orient the hand to the strings. One picks in various places along the strong to achieve different pick attacks and tones. I call this position "home". It is where my hand goes to when I put a guitar in position to play.
    As a side note, this "home" is totally different for folk, classical, and flamenco playing. I consider contact of the inner forearm to the edge of the top/body join on the lower bass bout to be home for those styles. This position drops the hand right over the strings.
     
  6. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

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    It takes a good while to learn to move your hands independently.

    I was taught classical by a teacher taught by John Williams, taught by Segovia. A very long time ago now. My hand was all wrong. I later found Segovia had enormous hands with double jointed thumbs. My thumbs simply cannot move like that. How you pick a guitar depends very much on the shape of your hands. However, as a result of this training, my hand never touches the bridge nor anchors like a banjo, nor for that matter letting the arm rest against the soundboard (which mutes an acoustic), unless I want to mute the strings. There again I usually mute with the side of my thumb or a fingertip. Do you know what, I don't think about any of this when I'm playing, it just happens.

    A beginner will have some difficulty aiming the pick or fingers without anchoring, or looking for that matter (it's done by feel). Don't worry about that now, technique improves later. There is a tendency to drop the heel of the palm down, this cramps the movement of the wrist and fingers, the hand should form an open claw high above the strings for the freest movement. This is less easy to do if the guitar neck is horizontal, easier if it is raised, see below. Strumming should be done by the forearm not twisting the wrist, there are bigger muscles in use, less tiring. With practice it is quite possible to strum and pick or finger-pick all at the same time
    If you were playing Paris-swing (gypsy) jazz, the entire arm needs to be free because the strum is powered by the shoulder (la pompe) to get that driving rhythm and extra volume. My forearm usually does touch the top bout of the guitar but it is not glued there, the elbow and shoulder are very free, if you clamp your arm there it can be very tiring, keep everything loose.

    Also raise the guitar neck to the hand not drop the hand to the neck. Curling the wrist around the neck long term can cause tendinitis. Lift your fretting arm up elbow at your side, look at it. The hand should be straight with the forearm. I doubt the palm will be horizontal. That's where the neck goes, put the neck into the hand at that angle.

    Picking to the fretboard or the bridge is used to change the tone from the strings. It's another tool to learn.
    I finger pick between the pickups because there's more space there but it's not a fixed position. There'll be a plectrum somewhere but I use them less and less often unless it's a number that would grind my fingernails off. There's more volume from using a pick than fingers and a harsher attack.

    Don't rush it, let it happen in good time. Whilst it is important to learn good technique from the start, the most important thing at this stage is to enjoy playing.
     
  7. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire

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    Don't worry about it. As these guys said, there is no single correct way to anchor/not anchor, or position your picking hand; different tones and sounds can be had from various locations, positions, and angles. Focus on getting the sound you want, and stay loose, the hand will learn where it needs to be. There's no rule that says you need to stay in one spot.
     
  8. rdwhitti

    rdwhitti Tele-Holic

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    Thank you all for your kind replies and knowledge. I just don't want to develop bad habits that will be hard to break later. I am enjoying learning although I still feel like a rank beginner but I guess that is to be expected at 63 years of age. I am learning a LOT of theory that will be very useful for improvising as I learn more. Thanks again for all of the help, I won't worry about it too much for now and just let things develop.
     
  9. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Be more aware of what you're doing and learn to shape the tone by moving your hand intentionally. I dont anchor at all when playing, because there are parts where I will strum close to the bridge, pick near the neck, the middle, in front or behind a pickup. It will eventually become second nature and you'll be able to move your hand based on the sound you want to pull out from in your head, without even thinking about it.
    Get a feel for it. You will also learn that playing on different parts of the strings may require slightly different techniques depending on what you're playing and what sort of sound you're going for.
    Going out of your way to make sure your hand is in a position or anchored in a way which you perceive to be 'correct' is a mistake, IMO. Go by feel
     
  10. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    I wonder if you're doing this by ear? I do this, with awareness, when I'm on the bottom three strings in first position or so. This is to sort of roll off the bass if my amplified sound might be sort of full. I like a tighter bass in general, and it seems to have influenced my technique.
     
  11. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    This is what a teacher is for, to point out what you are doing and make you aware of it. It is a habit that will take time to change. Also, as you play more, you will hear the difference while strumming/plucking as you move from the neck to the bridge that you will use for subtle sonic changes, both acoustically and electric. Embrace the new knowledge.
     
  12. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Keep at it, you're in discovery mode.
    Hopefully, you'll stay in it!:)
    The first year or two are the hardest, and a test of your dedication.
    You'll develope bad habits, and learn to circumvent and prevent them.
    This is such a great time to be a beginner.
    I'd gently suggest you check out other learning opportunities, like tutorials on YouTube, videos, and other teachers.
    I've studied wth many teachers, but only three did me any good.
    Those three, over the course of 49 years, taught me things I apply every time a play.
    End of impassioned blather.:rolleyes:
     
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