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question about flatpicking

GUEST,goodbar 29 Jun 05 - 01:32 AM
s&r 29 Jun 05 - 03:56 AM
Mooh 29 Jun 05 - 06:17 AM
Midchuck 29 Jun 05 - 07:15 AM
John Hardly 29 Jun 05 - 07:21 AM
GUEST,leeneia 29 Jun 05 - 09:29 AM
Lowden Jameswright 29 Jun 05 - 12:04 PM
Mooh 29 Jun 05 - 02:25 PM
GUEST,Songster Bob 30 Jun 05 - 12:27 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 30 Jun 05 - 01:48 AM
Mark Cohen 30 Jun 05 - 03:33 AM
GUEST 23 Aug 10 - 06:30 PM
olddude 23 Aug 10 - 06:50 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 24 Aug 10 - 03:45 AM
greg stephens 24 Aug 10 - 05:44 AM
The Sandman 24 Aug 10 - 11:11 AM
olddude 24 Aug 10 - 01:36 PM
olddude 24 Aug 10 - 01:48 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 24 Aug 10 - 04:09 PM
greg stephens 24 Aug 10 - 04:48 PM
GUEST,Jim Jacj from Fourum 24 Aug 10 - 06:17 PM
Stringsinger 25 Aug 10 - 04:02 PM
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Subject: help: question about flatpicking
From: GUEST,goodbar
Date: 29 Jun 05 - 01:32 AM

so is it good to kind of anchor your pinky finger down? 'cause when i don't it's harder to pick individual notes but when i do it's harder to make my strumming sound noncrappy.


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: s&r
Date: 29 Jun 05 - 03:56 AM

So rest your finger when you pick; take it off when you strum. Easy

Stu


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: Mooh
Date: 29 Jun 05 - 06:17 AM

Do not press down on the top with your pinkie because it just creates muscle tension, limits range of motion, and may mute the instrument top. If you must use your pinkie in such a way, let it rest lightly on the top as if to guide or locate rather than anchor. Do not lock into one positon, you'll lock into one sound.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: Midchuck
Date: 29 Jun 05 - 07:15 AM

If you want to go to the archives of Flatpick-L, you can research this question through hundreds of post over years. But I can tell you right now, the result will be that you will find people who will state absolutely that every possible answer to the question is the only right one.

Like asking whether the picking action should come from the elbow or the wrist.

Or whether crosspicking should be done D-U-D U-D-U D-U or D-D-U D-D-U D-U.

Or whether the pick should be held between the finger and thumb tips or rested on the side of the curled first finger at the knuckle.

Or on and on and on....

Peter.


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: John Hardly
Date: 29 Jun 05 - 07:21 AM

I posted the following a few years ago...

I'm now able to do something I once thought impossible for me. I think that if you knew how impossible I once thought it, anyone else who has concluded the same thing about their own play might take encouragement from my breakthrough.

Anyway, this is about my latest guitar playing breakthrough. I'm now flatpicking without a pinky on the pickguard.

For those of you who never did use a pinky for a reference point, it is probably foreign for you to understand why this seems like such a breakthrough, but for me it's quite a change.

The reason I thought I'd share this is because often folks get too far advanced beyond these little breakthroughs to remember what playing was like before the breakthrough. Then it's hard for them to describe the changes. It's still new enough for me that I thought I'd try to talk about the journey from a perspective closer to the starting point.

I remember a few years ago we talked about playing without planting. I could easily understand the advantages, but when I tried it, I honestly just thought it would always be an impossibility for me. To do an upstroke felt (for lack of another, more musical simili) like doing a flip-turn while swimming, only to find the wall gone. No "push-off" point.

So it wasn't just the lack of reference point that was bothering me -- not knowing where I was on the strings, it was also an inability to execute an upstroke without that reference.

Late last winter I began to realize that I was develping a bad habit. I know that the point of having a pinky on the pickguard is to keep it there lightly, and that just as a reference point -- not a fulcrum. But I was no longer just brushing the top with my pinky. When the pace was really fast, I was realy dependent on the plant for speed. I'd tense up all the more. Eventually I noticed this because my pinky was hyperextending and, though it wasn't so much "painful", it was uncomfortable.

It also rendered the pinky useless when hybrid picking. The pinky would lock into the hyperextended mode and then it kinda "snapped" in and out. I couldn't pluck with it if I had been recently flatpicking.

So I forced myself.

I sat down daily with a handful of fiddle tunes and by slowing them WAY down and playing MUCH lighter I FINALLY found the feeling of playing while floating.

It took me about a week of tries -- not bad if you ask me. Sure, during jams I would at first revert to my comfort zone -- especially at really fast paced tunes. But slowly I've found that I now enjoy the same degree of inaccuracy that I had before the big change ;).

And the benefits are HUGE!

1. No more pinky discomfort, and I can again use the pinky when hybrid picking.

2. I have much greater control over tone --
A)I'm free to venture up the strings
B)I'm not dampening the top's vibration
C)I seem to hold the pick at a better angle for a cleaner sound.

3. Probably related to the better pick angle, I get less pick rotation. Because the pick rotates less I can hold it lighter. Because I can hold the pick lighter I have more volume control and am capable of greater speed.

4. I'm MUCH cleaner with runs on the bass strings. Some fiddle tunes played in the lower register were a challenge when my pinky was on the pickguard. Now I can have the same angle of attack on the bass strings that I have on the treble strings


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 29 Jun 05 - 09:29 AM

Flatpicking is hard on your hand. Do it for a while, then do something else. People who flatpick for long periods of time are asking for trouble.


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 29 Jun 05 - 12:04 PM

Resting your pinkie on the soundboard is bad practice - as is resting your arm across it (seriously mutes the sound of the guitar). Ultimately you'll develop aches and pains if you don't develop good technique. It might not bother you now - but after 40 years of constant playing you'll maybe regret not taking this advice now.
Good luck


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: Mooh
Date: 29 Jun 05 - 02:25 PM

leeneia...It need not be hard on the hand. With some basic technique coaching it won't be. Any physical activity (even the ones using small muscles in the hand) requires rest, but excessive muscle tension, arm/wrist/finger postures which are held at awkward angles, will hurt. Relax the digits/wrist/arm, hold rather than squeeze the pick, don't clench the hand or hold it open beyond its rest posture, relax the shoulders, and let the hand be free of top and bridge.

Pick strokes which have an ever so slight "circular" path instead of "back and forth" helps a bit to, so that muscles aren't stopping and starting continually. (Roy Buchanan was a master of this and was the first one I know of writing about it, though likely it's what good players have done for centuries.)

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: GUEST,Songster Bob
Date: 30 Jun 05 - 12:27 AM

I use the pinky as a "depth gauge," not a fulcrum. It keeps the pick-hand from digging into the strings too much. I do the same on mandolin. Your mileage may vary.

Bob Clayton


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 30 Jun 05 - 01:48 AM

I was watching '97 Winfield flatpicking winner Allen Shadd play at a festival about a month ago. He plays rhythm with no fingers touching, but lets his pinky rest on the pickguard when playing lead.


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 30 Jun 05 - 03:33 AM

I don't know why this should be so controversial. It's perfectly obvious to anyone who knows guitar playing that the very BEST flatpickers ALL play with their pinky fingers OFF the guitar.* End of story.

Aloha,
Mark

*Except, of course, for the ones that don't.


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Aug 10 - 06:30 PM

Doc Watson is the best and he uses his PINKY as a depth guide.


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: olddude
Date: 23 Aug 10 - 06:50 PM

I don't rest mine, it works for me the way I do it. I would say you have to fine a position that works for you best ... some people resting the pinky ... others like me no ... it is what works best for your style and hands ...


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 03:45 AM

What did Django do? That's what you should be asking!


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: greg stephens
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 05:44 AM

Well I'm not sure he counts as a flatpicker. He played with a flatpick, but that's not the same thing.


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 11:11 AM

im my experience the majority of people who flatpick a tenor banjo dont anchor the little finger, but I dont see why anchoring should stop a player from being good, the one disadvantage would be the player could not alter the tone by moving the hand.


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: olddude
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 01:36 PM

Little Hawk is one heck of a good flat picker

What do you do LH?


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: olddude
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 01:48 PM

I flat pick this version of "Blue Mountain"
blue mountain


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 04:09 PM

Django did everything that the greatest flatpickers do ( strumming, cross-picking, blistering lead work etc) - but better!, and so referring to him makes a great deal of sense


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: greg stephens
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 04:48 PM

I would say much the same about Eddie Lang: a consummate player with the flatpick, and one any aspiring flatpicker should study. But like Django, not what I'd call a flat picker.


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: GUEST,Jim Jacj from Fourum
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 06:17 PM

Not a response to flatpicking Greg but referring way back to posts re fOURUM and Gunnerside Gill. If still interested, info on Gunnerside Gill thread.. sorry it's taken so long to come across this..
    Greg Stephens and Bradfordian notified by personal message.
    -Joe Offer, Forum Moderator
    joe@mudcat.org-


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Subject: RE: question about flatpicking
From: Stringsinger
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 04:02 PM

I think the analogy would be the bow grip on the fiddle. There are different ways to grip the bow depending on the style of music you play. And you change to suit the music. There are different approaches to flat picking sometimes employing the pinkie and sometimes not as was stated above.

I'll tell you this, though, I think (it's hard to be objective about such things) that my picking has improved using Vinnie Smith's "V-Picks" which you can find out about online and I have no commercial interest in promoting them except that I like 'em.

I pick everyday. On gigs.


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