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  1. #1

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    I am switching from fingerstyle to learning how to play with a pick. Not surprisingly it is much easier to pick accurately if I plant my pinky somewhere on the body of the guitar. Is this a huge no-no like it is with classical guitar? I don't want to develop a really bad habit here if this is going to cause me problems later. Thoughts?

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  3. #2

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    If you watch the right hand of monster players, you will find that their approaches vary all over the place. This leaves one with the conclusion that many possible approaches are possible and can be successful.

    A very established and well-worked out "classical" technique is the gypsy jazz picking method which is based on rest-strokes. There, anchoring is a big no-no.

    Other approaches anchor the palm of the right hand on the bridge or the pickguard.

    If you don't mind a somewhat too flashy presentation, the videos of Troy Grady are fairly systematic and scientific about picking technique with emphasis on how to angle the pick and how to cross strings.

    Also, if you search here in the forum, you'll find many threads devoted to the subject.

  4. #3

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    plant the thumb on the top string if you want. Don't plant the pinky. ALso, your forearm should rest on the body, so you have enough anchor points. Also, depends on your style, i doubt you will need a right hand as developed as a classical musician, so you could be ok.

  5. #4

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    +1 to Troy Grady, but my two cents say Pasquale Grasso video tutorials at mymusicmasterclass.com.

  6. #5

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    I plant and don't plant my pinkie - depends on the what I'm playing. If I do plant, it's sometimes with the tip, sometimes the joint just below the tip. The latter helps with rest strokes with the plectrum. And sometimes I don't plant. I like the freedom not planting gives me, though I do find it hard to play fast scales with this technique. So, for me it's a varied approach.

    Also be aware that many people angle the pick to the string, instead of flat against it. This should give you a warmer sound.

  7. #6

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    When the guitar was invented, it didn't come with a manual. When they made jazz, nobody wrote a book of what was acceptable (that came later in schools and forums :-) ), and if your objective is to make music, you, your hands, your preferences in your musical ideas and your guitar will decide what is needed.
    Yes there are logical reasons why things work for people. You've got yours too. But you're going to have to find it yourself in the end.
    Why don't you try it the way it feels good, and really keep sound and comfort in mind while you learn the music. I think your style and technique will evolve and what you have in the end will be your own solution.

    From someone who plays fingerstyle sometimes resting my pinky on the first string, sometimes not, sometimes using lute style, sometimes classical, sometimes index finger like a pick and always trying to adapt my fingers for a good sound.
    Asking the obvious question though, what style of music do YOU play? You'll get a lot of advice based on whether your advisor plays Freddie Green, Ralph Towner, Pete Townsend or Mark Knofler... without stylistic context, you are setting yourself up for a very broad survey. Have fun.
    David
    Last edited by TH; 06-27-2017 at 02:31 PM.

  8. #7

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    I usually anchor palm's-edge to the bridge. I like where that puts the pick relating to the pickups on an electric, and it also allows me to use my right hand to mute unwanted strings.

  9. #8

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    Thoughts for the mix.

    If I'm Benson picking, I plant/anchor. I also prefer a small-bodied guitar for that.

    Otherwise I use the pick itself for reference, lightly touching/brushing the strings with the middle knuckles of my right hand.

    Or I use the thumb to pick.

  10. #9

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    Sometime I plant my pinkie, but most the time I don't. I got away from planting from switching between my Fenders and archtops, I had to take to pickguard off my archtop to solve a rattle and it broke me from planting on archtop. I find not planting makes it easier to change where I pick on the string to change my tone. I find planting tend to lock you into picking in one position.

  11. #10

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    Mark Knopfler is an interesting study in planting the picking hand, you would probably be interested in searching for some of his videos to see his technique.

    I do not anchor but I do use my two small fingers to help keep the pick at the right height off the strings. So when I pick I sort of tap the pick guard to judge my height above the strings but then release when I head for the next note (or group of notes). I find it helps me use my forearm more actively and to hold my pick more lightly.

  12. #11

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    There are no rules, whatever does the job, but you are wise to want to try and avoid instilling bad techniques that might sabotage your playing.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    There are no rules, whatever does the job, but you are wise to want to try and avoid instilling bad techniques that might sabotage your playing.
    Like Albert King, who played lefty with a right hand strung guitar upside down? When I began playing jazz, I was told by a teacher that playing fingerstyle was good for classical, bad for jazz. I was told it wasn't done and that must've been for good reason... you couldn't swing playing classical... nobody did it... Way down the road I crossed paths with a great teacher who played fingerstyle. Wasn't a problem for him and he voiced stuff that was unreal.

    Ha ha, one man's bad habit is another's path to individuality. It all comes out in the playing. Django.

    David

  14. #13

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    For the most stable precision, you need a reference point, or a "stabiliser" close to the pick. Pinky, ring finger, palm or whatever. There's no need to firmly anchor anything, but free floating from the elbow/under arm doesn't cut it with a plectrum.

    I use my pinky, and also slightly touch the bridge/strings with my palm (helps muting the lower strings).

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Runepune
    For the most stable precision, you need a reference point, or a "stabiliser" close to the pick. Pinky, ring finger, palm or whatever. There's no need to firmly anchor anything, but free floating from the elbow/under arm doesn't cut it with a plectrum.
    Not necessarily. Skip to 39:46 for a quick example. One advantage of floating technique is you can use the same hand position for picking, strumming, fingerstyle, hybrid etc.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 10-21-2019 at 01:11 PM.

  16. #15

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    Its not a no no to anchor your pinkie, But after you get use to useing a pick try and move away from doing it because it will limit your mobility from moving up beyound the neck pickup or down close to the bridge. I only anchor my hand down past the bridge if I am going to do fast lead runs.

  17. #16

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    The problem I have with resting palm on the bridge is, it makes you pick closer to the bridge. Where you pick has a huge effect on your tone. A good picking technique shouldn't dictate your picking area. Where you pick should be a choice of expression, not a limitation of the technique.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 10-22-2019 at 03:38 PM.

  18. #17

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    Thanks for the comments, much appreciated.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    Not necessarily. Skip to 39:46 for a quick example. One advantage of floating technique is you can use the same hand position for picking, strumming, fingerstyle, hybrid etc.
    He's not free floating from the arm. His reference/support is fingers on the strings rather than the pickguard.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Runepune
    He's not free floating from the arm. His reference/support is fingers on the strings rather than the pickguard.
    Yes. But he is not planting. He is glazing over the strings. There is no fix point he is using to plant his hand for reference. At times he is completely floating.
    There are always references. The brain even uses left hand holding the neck as a reference for the strings. But I think the comparison is with techniques where there is constant contact (planting) with an area on the pickguard or body.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 11-30-2019 at 08:43 PM.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    Yes. But he is not planting. He is glazing over strings. There is no fix point he is using to plant his hand for reference.
    There are always references. The brain even uses left hand holding the neck as a reference for the strings. But I think the comparison is with techniques where there is constant contact (planting) with an area on the pickguard or body.
    No, but I mentioned that in the post you cited. You can move that reference point around, but it needs to be close to the pick (some part of the hand). I'm guessing mostly for a consistent elevation from the strings. Elbow/arm won't cut it. Palm reference gives a very stable reference, but as you say it somewhat dictates playing near the bridge. I use a combination of fingers and palm myself, depending on instrument and sound, but I need something to keep my hand in a precise place. Especially since I tend to move that guitar around when i'm getting into it

  22. #21

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    I think the brain doesn't need constant reference to keep track of the strings. The nice thing about what I call the "floating" technique is every now and then you touch-base with the strings to update the reference. There are times when you're completely floating since the reference is still fresh in your mind. Then as you are playing there are inevitable light contacts with the strings which keep updating the reference and mute the open strings preventing sympathetic resonance as a bonus.

    I think George Benson technique also has this loose contact. Though it is a very different technique and contact is with the area below the strings and the back side of the lower right hand. The similarity is, the contact is loose and intermittent.

    In contrast, "planting techniques" in my opinion are ones with constant contact with a particular area of the guitar. Tip of the pinky on the pickguard/body or base of the palm on the bridge are examples. Here planting has dual purpose. It provides reference but it also acts as a pivot point to support the up down motion of the right hand. I used to use that technique. It actually helps with speed too as its easier to reverse the momentum of the hand as it changes directions. But I felt at some point that it was restricting my hand movement and causing tension, that's why I switched to a floating type technique.

  23. #22

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    I think that's an important distinction. Planting for string reference vs planting to facilitate alternate picking speed.

  24. #23

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    Another example of free floating right hand (Pasquale Grasso)

  25. #24

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    I’m finding this an interesting discussion. I’ve been playing since I was 9 (64 now) and I’ve always played fingerstyle. Finally picked up a plectrum last year and was concerned about losing my reference when when playing. Hasn’t happened. Sometimes I place the pinky and sometimes I don’t - I don’t seem to think about it. I’ve noticed occasionally my pinky is resting one the lower strings if I’m not striking them. Guess I’ve unconsciously developed habits over the years. Doesn’t bother me, as long as I get the results I want.

    Some good observations were made, about palm placement on the bridge - which I do when playing an archtop, unless I want the acoustic sound from playing further up on the strings. Playing a flattop, I tend to rest my pinky on the pickguard more often. Whatever works.

  26. #25

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    the following concerns the pick playing for those who use hybrid fingerpicking

    it's hard to have a religion on the subject, since so great players have put a finger on the table or pickguard that one would be ridiculous

    the question does not arise for me since I play 5 fingers right hand. However, I sometimes put my thumb on the low strings, or a finger to silence a string

    laying pinky tends to reduce the freedom of other fingers, especially the ring finger. It's a physiological question. I have the physiological demonstration available to the skeptics. Therefore, even if it is not used, it is best not to put it

    on the other hand, it requires an excellent position of the right hand, fingers always closest to the strings to play, which works with planting exercises (cf Pumping Nylon, Scott Tennant). The closer the fingers are from the strings, the faster you gain, it's like the left hand

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank67
    A very established and well-worked out "classical" technique is the gypsy jazz picking method which is based on rest-strokes. There, anchoring is a big no-no.

    I’ll get my coat.

  28. #27

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    You get get the benefit of planting.....without even planting. There's a reason a pick guard is often called a finger rest. Hold your pick between thumb and index and let your other fingers, perhaps guided by the longest/middle just barely touch and glide across the finger rest as you play. You're not attached/planted,so you can move and not have to stretch your fingers, and you hand will maintain the same shape always, whether playing on high or low string. It gives you a "constantly movable " anchor.

  29. #28

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    When I do plant, and usually I do not because I tend to hybrid pick a lot, I find that I anchor my rh ring finger instead of rh pinky. I am not sure why I do this, just feels better than anchoring my pinky.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by dwparker
    I am switching from fingerstyle to learning how to play with a pick. Not surprisingly it is much easier to pick accurately if I plant my pinky somewhere on the body of the guitar. Is this a huge no-no like it is with classical guitar? I don't want to develop a really bad habit here if this is going to cause me problems later. Thoughts?
    Depends.

    - I rest my hand or fingers, I don’t plant or anchor them, for instance.
    - other players are pure floating.
    - others anchor their hands at the wrist.

    You can find examples of all of these and more.... there isn’t a really effective standardised pedagogy. Gypsy and Benson picking are effective approaches for certain types of players, but not all. There are always compromises...

    As a Gypsy/quasi Benson picker, my right hand muting is basically non existent, for instance, but that might be unacceptable for other players. Also Benson grip makes it harder to hybrid pick, and so on.