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  1. #1

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    I have noticed that even while consciously trying to keep a relaxed technique in my right hand, that there is a stiffness in my technique when trying to increase speed. So even though I feel like my wrist and forearm are not playing with tension, there is a block at a certain tempo that I am never able to break. This has nothing to do with the left hand. It is a phenomena solely associated with the right. Anyone ever overcome this???

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  3. #2

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    You should post a short clip and demonstrate your problem since its very hard to talk about it without seeing you play.
    A lots of things might influence the stiffness like type of the guitar, your left/right hand coordination, picking technique, pick, strings, position etc.


    Sent from my SM-C7000 using Tapatalk

  4. #3
    I'm interested in this as well. As a used-to-be primarily fingerstyle guy, I've been addressing much of the same. My instinct, in working on this, has been to practice playing with a floating right hand more on everything for extended periods.

    For whatever reason, this seems to help me with right hand "freedom", even when I go back to placing a pinky on the pick guard.
    Last edited by matt.guitarteacher; 12-16-2018 at 11:33 AM.

  5. #4

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    My suggestion would be to focus your attention on how tight you are holding the pick, and work on maintaining an even pressure. I'm not much of a gambler but I'd wager a fair sum of money that you are simply squeezing the pick harder that you need to when you try to play faster.
    Ignorance is agony.



  6. #5

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    Loose and relaxed is good advice for a fast yet controlled right hand. But after a few years I decided I didn't like the sound it produces, even though it's a very common sound with Jazz guitarists. I found what I call the "plinkety plink" sound of weak attack to be unsatisfying to listen to, particularly after listening to say, a blistering horn solo, or crisp piano solo.

    So I went for a stubby type pick which I grasp quite firmly. Further, I developed some intentional stiffness from fingers, through to the wrist, to elbow and even shoulder. The hand still pivots from the wrist, but like a taut spring instead of a loose one. I find this creates maximum control for how I like to play, and creates far more dynamics where I can project unplugged. Django is a great example of someone who played with great force from both hands to create the most exciting "sound" in all Jazz guitar. Even CC had a more exciting tone than many players that followed. But I see no reason why exciting attack should be restricted to just Gypsy Jazz or Swing guitar ...

    Of course, playing hard also has it's downside - R.S.I. - So not recommending it! Just saying that there's no one way...

  7. #6

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    Perhaps 'consciously trying to keep a relaxed technique' is the problem. Trying to relax is counter-productive. You could leave your right hand to do its own thing, and see what happens. Somebody on another thread reported Bill Frisell saying he had forgotten about his right hand, which does not seem to have done him any harm.

  8. #7
    Hey all, Thx for taking the time to reply. It’s much appreciated.

    Robertkoa, I’m going to have to take some time to read over what you are saying. I got you I think on the first part on a leagato-like stroke and picking real shallow.

    I also followed what you said about finding a position where the up and down strokes are both articulated. All some great advice.

    As far as pick stroke, I’ve started to use a Kenny Burrell style oscillating move from the thumb, as I seem to be having less problems with tension and going too deep in the string. I think the main obstacle with it so far is getting a good upstroke. When I try and just do upstrokes to get better at them, I seem to lose control. Likely this part will get better with more practice.

    Another thing that have started is to to do speed bursts. It seems that I can play at a quicker tempo for a few notes before it falls apart. In the past I would try to work for a tremolo over a longer period of time, never gaining any speed at all in the right hand.

  9. #8
    Okay. I think I understand a little better. Regarding the stiffness...It always came unwanted. As I tried to speed up, it would come, and as a result slow me down and additionally cause bad tone.

  10. #9
    So yeah.....this is what I am trying to address in the OP.....ridding unwanted tension as an increase in speed is attempted.

  11. #10
    Haha....

    Alright, so got the part now to increase tension, so I know what to turn off in the first place.

    i find communicating via print over the net very tricky btw!

    Thx again for taking the time to try and help.

  12. #11
    This link here really resonates with me.


  13. #12
    No. I can’t play at all what the student is doing. I just like some of the general principals being taught for building speed.

    As far closing the eyes though, I still have uncontrolled tension in the body ...,meaning I don’t seem to be able to get rid of it.

    i start with slow strokes, and they seem even and relaxed enough. And I think it is shallow enough so the pick doesn’t get caught in the strings. But as I try to build speed, I feel tension and lack of control. I don’t seem to be able to rid this tension, and I’m not sure which comes first, the tension or lack of control. Sometimes I think the tension is being caused by lack of control instead of the other way around.

    So one of the things I’ve been trying to do is do smaller bursts, because it seems that I can get some increase in speed by just doing bursts. I also go back to slow strokes to get the best technique that I can.

  14. #13
    Yes. The index is curved underneath. These “push-up strokes” with the pick make sense. I assume this helps build up the strength and control of the fine muscles. Likely I I have trying to be too careful in order to get rid of tension. Why only every other day?

  15. #14
    I have some support on the guitar to get the best angle for the pick, but the palm is not anchored.

  16. #15
    Actually, it’s not always on the guitar. I often free float if I I recall correctly

  17. #16
    Ah....literal push-ups. Usually a pretty good ideas or a nice stretch too.

    ive taken some lessons here and there, but no one wants to talk about tremolo. Most seem to think it’s a bit Neanderthal or they don’t know how to explain it. It almost seems like most folks wake up being able to do it. Even all of the Troy Grady video seem to assume this is already in place and move into intricate moves. I don’t have a particularly difficult hard time playing bebop heads and such. But I don’t have the basic up down stroke , so I’m basically screwed if I want to play up tempo. I worked on tremolo many years ago, but completely didn’t get anywhere except some damage. I’m trying it again , but with a little more information.

  18. #17
    Speeding up a tremolo tends to increase tension. I notice in the Martin video he advices the student to speed up beyond his comfort zone. For me, I can only speed up with short bursts of notes. So that’s what I’ve been trying to do. I’ve yet to see if this is going to help increase overall speed for a tremolo.

    i notice that I start tilting my wrist back onto the body of the guitar when I can’t go any faster. I think it does help take the angle of the pick so that a little more speed can sometimes be attained.

  19. #18
    I’ll check out the index finger as you suggest. I notice the tone of the upstroke is not near as good as the downstroke.

  20. #19
    By the way, just as a reminder. I’m moving from the thumb a lot with some wrist.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by srlank View Post
    i notice that I start tilting my wrist back onto the body of the guitar when I can’t go any faster. I think it does help take the angle of the pick so that a little more speed can sometimes be attained.
    Why don't you play/practice that way, then? My right hand has changed positioning and movement along the way. Some times I've noticed that I, almost unconsciously, fight that change. Bad idea. Do not decide what's right or wrong for that hand when you practice. Your body knows way more about it than your intellect. Focus on making it sound good, without tension. Without thinking about it, really.

    I agree on what's been said about going past your limit. One needs to do that. But only for short periods, just to prepare the hand...to let the hand search for a path into faster movement. Then back down and practice cleanly just below the limit. Rinse, repeat. Take lots of small breaks, longer breaks. Many shorter sessions as opposed to few long ones. Don't focus too much on one thing only. That'll easily tense things.

    Actually, the single most damaging thing along the way to a good right hand technique for me, has been myself deciding upon what my right hand should do. Myself applying too much intellect to the process, overriding where my body naturally needed to go. I'm sure it cost me years

  22. #21

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    OP- I think you should do what Runeprune above says ...

    Remember that suggestions I made especially some eyes closed ( but still spatially aware ) practice -
    None were quick fixes - it's weeks and months of gradual stuff.

    [Speeding up a tremolo is one of the most basic ways to do what Miller said in the Video ] - but just practicing 'that way' -per Runeprune -
    Probably even better.


    A little support >always< at wrist or slightly above may give you a much more stable base to work from.












    And you have nothing to lose - you are sort of doing it anyway.

    Your hand can still float slightly (lower closer to strings )- but not from the elbow ...there's some wrist or forearm support..etc.

    Good luck .
    Last edited by Robertkoa; 01-02-2019 at 12:52 PM.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robertkoa View Post

    If you are actually Al DiMeola- you can pure float - otherwise I don't recommend it.
    You are having some issues so ...if you Float and have no problems - that would be different.
    DiMeola doesn't float. Never has.

  24. #23
    I think there’s been some really good thoughts on this thread, and on a topic that few wish to discuss.....mostly chalking it up to either you got it or you don’t. Thx for taking the time on the topic. And though it’s good to experiment, it’s good to know that the general consensus is to utilize what works best for you.

    Mr. Miller is booked until God knows when, buuuuut he had an opening in mid January (this year) at 4 in the morning.

  25. #24

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    Curious .How much does he charge ?
    Last edited by Robertkoa; 01-03-2019 at 11:05 PM.

  26. #25
    It’s around $80 for a 45 minute slot.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by srlank View Post
    I think there’s been some really good thoughts on this thread, and on a topic that few wish to discuss.....mostly chalking it up to either you got it or you don’t. Thx for taking the time on the topic. And though it’s good to experiment, it’s good to know that the general consensus is to utilize what works best for you.

    Mr. Miller is booked until God knows when, buuuuut he had an opening in mid January (this year) at 4 in the morning.

    Just get your mechanics corrected and you will be fine.

    Your ' road ahead ' is more uniform support for picking hand which you are starting to do already - but the ' evil you ' lol is resisting.

    Getting a good 'authority ' like Miller to correct it will over ride that conflict.

    AND he will be able to see your hand and you see his for the solution.

    If you see/ hear someone Play ( who's extremely proficient) that's much better than" Internet Hearsay" anyway.
    Last edited by Robertkoa; 01-05-2019 at 02:10 PM.

  28. #27
    A couple of observations:

    I caught a recent clip of Martin Miller that was done with Troy Grady, and he actually uses some thumb. I have to check more carefully when I have time; but his use of this motion might be for crossing strings.

    I’ve been experimenting with pushing harder on the strokes. I notice that there is some different muscles coming into play, including the elbow.

    I work in an unusual environment....a forensic/psychiatric hospital. I was working away at an etude yesterday on the guitar in the middle of the Dayhall, while some patients were working on some artwork that I had given them. A patient had come behind me and tapped me with a slight push on my arm to get my attention. It caught me completely off-guard, as I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the environment like I should have. Not only that, when I looked around I saw that the staff had all left to take patients out for a patio break. The patient tapping me just wanted to ask/comment about the guitar, but being surprised like that set my heart to racing. And I was majorly pissed off that the Shift-Lead had not left at least one staff inside with me. So I found the Shift-Lead, and gave him a bit of an earful. But when I sat down to play again, I noticed that the integrity of my technique had increased significantly. For example, all the string crossings felt really natural, and the time grooved much better. The speed I was at on the GarageBand looper had been a bit challenging prior to being tapped, but was of no issue afterwards. Maybe this is another reason for push-ups. Lol

  29. #28
    Just checking out Guthrie Govan’s clip where he tremolos. It looks like his third finger and pinky are raised and stiff, but it’s obviously not slowing him down.

  30. #29

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    To be honest those kind of alternate picking exercises do not really translate to jazz idiom.

    Very rarely do we play 3-note per string scales or 4 note per string semi-chromatic scales unless doing modal. For bop best thing is to get the arpeggios down cold and adding chromatics.

    Million dollar advice. Play Parker Omnibook. As slow as you can and make it clean. The speed will come later. Plus you get to read.

  31. #30
    The OP is focused on the basic movement of alternate picking and increasing speed without tension. It will transfer to any style. And yes, the Omnibook is a great book for a variety of reasons, but my speed is limited in all of it because of the basic right-hand stroke..

    in particular, right now my main focus is building a tremolo.

  32. #31

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    Don't know if it even relates here but I found that the majority of my right hand tension starts with my shoulder. Started to notice how it tenses when I "tried to do anything more challenging for me" Started just noticing my shoulder and relaxing it and it's made quite a difference in the overall tension in my right hand and arm. FWIW

  33. #32

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    Yea playing a solid body with low non responsive action etc.. with non articulation tone... generally is not the best way to get jazz chops.

    The general reason for tension is from having to many stiff connections between hand, wrist, arm etc... There are many possible picking styles that can get up to speed.

    Anyone can rehearse patterns and eventually get them up to speed. The next step is to be able to play at jazz tempos what you haven't practiced.... which is different problem. When you understand what your playing... your don't have mental blocks or short circuits.... How fast can you play chord solos... which generally is just playing a Lead Line with harmony voiced below. I'm bring this up to help you understand what jazz improv is.

    If your going to use the tremolo, at least use the technique playing arpeggios and patterns that require leaps... which requires organization of Pick direction.

    Maybe an analogy... why does sight reading become easy..... short answer... your recognize the notation and already have the possible performing techniques together. (fingerings and picking).

  34. #33

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    Julian Lage has spoken of using the Alexander Technique. He is very relaxed-looking when he plays and pick speed is certainly not a problem for him. This might be a way to reduce that "uncontrolled tension."

    Alexander Technique - Wikipedia
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by srlank View Post
    Hey all, Thx for taking the time to reply. It’s much appreciated.

    Robertkoa, I’m going to have to take some time to read over what you are saying. I got you I think on the first part on a leagato-like stroke and picking real shallow.

    I also followed what you said about finding a position where the up and down strokes are both articulated. All some great advice.

    As far as pick stroke, I’ve started to use a Kenny Burrell style oscillating move from the thumb, as I seem to be having less problems with tension and going too deep in the string. I think the main obstacle with it so far is getting a good upstroke. When I try and just do upstrokes to get better at them, I seem to lose control. Likely this part will get better with more practice.

    Another thing that have started is to to do speed bursts. It seems that I can play at a quicker tempo for a few notes before it falls apart. In the past I would try to work for a tremolo over a longer period of time, never gaining any speed at all in the right hand.
    No you really are not getting it you are taking isolated parts of what I am saying so they don't make sense.

    Which is probably what you are doing with your technique .

    Tremolo - slow and fast soft and hard and always even spaced to a metronome .

    Start with medium firm strokes -after a few weeks you can play with dynamics.

    When baking in a technique you want definite even spaced rather powerful or medium power NOT TIMID strokes.



    You need to go to a teacher and get a supported position near wrist , or on lower forearm - these corrections can NOT be done via texts without pics & videos.

  36. #35
    Thx for taking the time to reply. Can you recommend a teacher that knows how to address this, either off-lime or online? I’m from So Cal/Orange Coumty
    Quote Originally Posted by Robertkoa View Post
    No you really are not getting it you are taking isolated parts of what I am saying so they don't make sense.

    Which is probably what you are doing with your technique .

    Tremolo - slow and fast soft and hard and always even spaced to a metronome .

    Start with medium firm strokes -after a few weeks you can play with dynamics.

    When baking in a technique you want definite even spaced rather powerful or medium power NOT TIMID strokes.



    You need to go to a teacher and get a supported position near wrist , or on lower forearm - these corrections can NOT be done via texts without pics & videos.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by vashondan View Post
    Don't know if it even relates here but I found that the majority of my right hand tension starts with my shoulder. Started to notice how it tenses when I "tried to do anything more challenging for me" Started just noticing my shoulder and relaxing it and it's made quite a difference in the overall tension in my right hand and arm. FWIW
    I concur.

  38. #37

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    I float, but I use my palm and my knuckles to very lightly rest on the strings when I play double time and up tempos. I still find it to be the best technique for the sound and versatility that I want in my playing.

    On to tensing up. Correct me if I'm wrong, but hardly anyone mentioned the psychological aspect of playing fast.

    IE, when you play fast--count slow.

    Instead of counting quarter notes or even half notes, try counting the down beat of every measure (whole notes) or the down beat of every two measures, or every four measures.

    I noticed that when the rhythm section is really busy on up tempos--I can't play fluidly. But if the rhythm section is sparse, it's easier to feel the larger pulse of the tune.

    Feeling larger sections of time (marco time) helps your phrasing. I remember talking to Reg about this 5 years ago.