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  1. #51

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    Philco, thanks! I have been out traveling and found this post on my arrival home late last night. I think it is the best presented attempt I have seen on the subject, which at least for me has been rather elusive. I sat and tried it for a couple of hours and to my great delight found it worked, at times at least. Cant really portray fully my thanks! All the best, 0zoro

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  3. #52

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    Morning, guys. Another day, more practice, think it's getting better. Meanwhile, I have a question about the shoulder. How do you situate yours so there is no tension in it? Does your shoulder hang free when you play or is it pressed against the guitar somewhere?

  4. #53
    Quote Originally Posted by 0zoro
    Philco, thanks! I have been out traveling and found this post on my arrival home late last night. I think it is the best presented attempt I have seen on the subject, which at least for me has been rather elusive. I sat and tried it for a couple of hours and to my great delight found it worked, at times at least. Cant really portray fully my thanks! All the best, 0zoro
    Cool! I hope you get something out of it.

  5. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Thanks, Frank. That helps. It's good to see it from that angle, as that's the angle I see when I'm playing.
    I'm eager to hear what Philco and Mark C. have to say.

    I love your guitar tone.

    It looks right to me. Keeping in mind that there will be differences from player to player.

    Now comes a couple of months of patient practice.
    There will be breakthroughs and breakdowns.
    Eventually more of the former.

  6. #55

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    Quote Originally Posted by Philco

    Now comes a couple of months of patient practice.
    There will be breakthroughs and breakdowns.
    Eventually more of the former.
    I know this was addressed to Frank, but I'm wondering about the months of patient practice. I know they're required but, aside from slow exercises to start with, do you spend time going over licks you learned The Old Way and re-learn them, or learn new things the new way and gradually absorb the old stuff?

  7. #56

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    I know this was addressed to Frank, but I'm wondering about the months of patient practice. I know they're required but, aside from slow exercises to start with, do you spend time going over licks you learned The Old Way and re-learn them, or learn new things the new way and gradually absorb the old stuff?
    I video tape myself often and I still notice myself sometimes falling back towards my old way of picking. I think one needs to go cold turkey and adopt this as your technique and be vigilant and on the look out of falling back into old habits.

  8. #57
    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    I know this was addressed to Frank, but I'm wondering about the months of patient practice. I know they're required but, aside from slow exercises to start with, do you spend time going over licks you learned The Old Way and re-learn them, or learn new things the new way and gradually absorb the old stuff?
    Yeah I would definitely move everything over to this style.......eventually.
    Don't hammer yourself too much with the most complex things at first. Just take a few lines and work on them.
    Slowly is the way.

    I wasn't sure if I would be able to cover all the Pat Martino stuff I had learned over 20 years ago but it's actually easier with this style.

  9. #58

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    Quote Originally Posted by Philco
    Yeah I would definitely move everything over to this style.......eventually.
    Don't hammer yourself too much with the most complex things at first. Just take a few lines and work on them.
    Slowly is the way.

    I wasn't sure if I would be able to cover all the Pat Martino stuff I had learned over 20 years ago but it's actually easier with this style.
    Good to hear. I could always play fast...sometimes. But I was maddeningly inconsistent. If the Benson technique is just more reliable for me, that would be reason enough to change. Of course, I hope I get faster too....

  10. #59

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    I did a little bit of this slow picking from a players perspective camera angle. For evaluation, what do you guys think?

    And, to help folks trying to learn this.

    Note, based on my understanding, I made a mistake when playing the 3rd and 6th scale degree the first time, I shouldn't have lifted the pick. I should have just followed through. The second time with the alternating picking, I did it correctly on the 6th (the 3rd doesn't apply).

    Hey Frank,
    That looks great, and yes, the first time you played it through with only downstrokes you shouldn't lift your pick if you're going to play that string anyway. Wasted motion.

    Mark

  11. #60

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    We haven't talked about comping: does that present any challenges I should be on guard against?

  12. #61

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    I always liked Benson's style, it's exciting in the way Django's style is exciting, but I listen to Wes more than either player because I like his lines better. Then again, I like about 20 or so horn players more than I like listening to Wes, and my aim with the guitar is to play any horn like line I wish to. One of my first transcriptions many years ago was Parker's Koko. t's moderately fast at around 308 bpm, but the challenge was in how to articulate his lines, not just barely get the notes out. This taught me a lot about how to personalize a hybrid picking technique as it broke all the rules I was initially shown, ie, strict alternate picking with down strokes for downbeats etc. Even something as simple as starting a downbeat on an upstroke (to expediate certain aspects of eco picking) took ages to "get".

    Which brings me to this discussion. While I can see how GB picking ( the short go I had at it) can get me to 360 bpm for long flowing 8ths, it also does away with the nuances my usual picking allows. All those Bird lines forced me to use every combination of pick direction, alternation, eco gliding, sweeping, slurring etc. GB picking makes me feel like I'm regressing to a form of angled alternate picking. Not knocking it, I can see that if you spent a lifetime at it you'd do a lot with it. But for me, I can also see there may be a lot you can't do with it, eg sounding like Cannonball Adderley's phrasing, or Jackie Maclean....

    So my question is: Do you guys disagree that the GB technique closes doors on certain possible nuances regarding dynamics, expression, articulation etc? Can you point to a GB picker that phrases like a horn player? (Not that many conventional pickers do )......

  13. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by setemupjoe
    Hey Frank,
    That looks great, and yes, the first time you played it through with only downstrokes you shouldn't lift your pick if you're going to play that string anyway. Wasted motion.

    Mark
    Thanks for checking on this for me Mark (Cally). It's good that I did this and caught that I'm lifting the pick. I don't just down pick often, I think this is just a problem when I'm doing all down picks. Easy enough to fix.

  14. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    I always liked Benson's style, it's exciting in the way Django's style is exciting, but I listen to Wes more than either player because I like his lines better. Then again, I like about 20 or so horn players more than I like listening to Wes, and my aim with the guitar is to play any horn like line I wish to. One of my first transcriptions many years ago was Parker's Koko. t's moderately fast at around 308 bpm, but the challenge was in how to articulate his lines, not just barely get the notes out. This taught me a lot about how to personalize a hybrid picking technique as it broke all the rules I was initially shown, ie, strict alternate picking with down strokes for downbeats etc. Even something as simple as starting a downbeat on an upstroke (to expediate certain aspects of eco picking) took ages to "get".

    Which brings me to this discussion. While I can see how GB picking ( the short go I had at it) can get me to 360 bpm for long flowing 8ths, it also does away with the nuances my usual picking allows. All those Bird lines forced me to use every combination of pick direction, alternation, eco gliding, sweeping, slurring etc. GB picking makes me feel like I'm regressing to a form of angled alternate picking. Not knocking it, I can see that if you spent a lifetime at it you'd do a lot with it. But for me, I can also see there may be a lot you can't do with it, eg sounding like Cannonball Adderley's phrasing, or Jackie Maclean....

    So my question is: Do you guys disagree that the GB technique closes doors on certain possible nuances regarding dynamics, expression, articulation etc? Can you point to a GB picker that phrases like a horn player? (Not that many conventional pickers do )......
    I'm glad you asked this question because I was planning on it but haven't gotten around to it

    I've noticed with the little I have messed around with it (GBpicking) I could get going pretty quickly with no tension, but I couldn't articulate in anyway to get it to "sound right"...

    I've been doing a lot of transcribing of Jimmy Raney in the past month or so and have noticed I can't get anything close to tempo without employing everything under the sun also...(every combination of pick direction, alternation, eco gliding, sweeping, slurring etc.)

  15. #64

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    What is "eco gliding"? That phrase is new to me.

  16. #65

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    I play with horn players all the time... read through typical up tempo phrases with typical articulations referencing different instruments. I have no problem using different picking patterns... mixing and matching all types of picking, sweeps, ghost techniques. What ever's notated or implied. The only problems generally come from lack of technique more related with fingerings. Picking articulations should be able to be performed with either direction of picking.

    I would believe the lack of ability or technique to phrase how you want... would only be a problem if you don't have your picking technique developed... it's not instinctive. There's quite a difference between being able to phrase a line first time... as compared to being able to phrase a line with practice. If lots of practice is required... almost any technique can work, some need more practice time than others.

    Different technique is required when playing in different positions on the neck. That needs to be instinctive... you don't get to practice or rehearse when your playing.

    I kind of dig guitar phrasing. Philco's example was great, would dig hearing some tunes... more feel with longer examples to see his technique in real time... I would think it would work very well. As I've always said being able to play fast isn't just for playing burning lines... it gives feel to the slower lines.

  17. #66
    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    I always liked Benson's style, it's exciting in the way Django's style is exciting, but I listen to Wes more than either player because I like his lines better. Then again, I like about 20 or so horn players more than I like listening to Wes, and my aim with the guitar is to play any horn like line I wish to. One of my first transcriptions many years ago was Parker's Koko. t's moderately fast at around 308 bpm, but the challenge was in how to articulate his lines, not just barely get the notes out. This taught me a lot about how to personalize a hybrid picking technique as it broke all the rules I was initially shown, ie, strict alternate picking with down strokes for downbeats etc. Even something as simple as starting a downbeat on an upstroke (to expediate certain aspects of eco picking) took ages to "get".

    Which brings me to this discussion. While I can see how GB picking ( the short go I had at it) can get me to 360 bpm for long flowing 8ths, it also does away with the nuances my usual picking allows. All those Bird lines forced me to use every combination of pick direction, alternation, eco gliding, sweeping, slurring etc. GB picking makes me feel like I'm regressing to a form of angled alternate picking. Not knocking it, I can see that if you spent a lifetime at it you'd do a lot with it. But for me, I can also see there may be a lot you can't do with it, eg sounding like Cannonball Adderley's phrasing, or Jackie Maclean....

    So my question is: Do you guys disagree that the GB technique closes doors on certain possible nuances regarding dynamics, expression, articulation etc? Can you point to a GB picker that phrases like a horn player? (Not that many conventional pickers do )......

    We come from similar backgrounds. I spent much time working on Phil Woods solos, Cannonball Adderley, Dexter Gordon etc.
    When I started back playing a couple of years ago I immediately transcribed the 5 Parker takes of Billie's Bounce to get me back in the game so to speak. Plus I worked on the Benson version and an Andreas Oberg version. The Parker versions were technically the hardest to play.
    All that stuff is easier with this technique. Not to be glib or treat your concerns lightly but the technique is quite liberating and seems to only get stronger and stronger.

    But I have to reiterate that if anyone was having coordination problems with their old technique then this may help a little but it wont suddenly solve all those problems.
    I could play these lines before I changed over, but now I play them with ease and consistency. Something I always struggled with before.

  18. #67

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    hehe, just meant economy picking. When I do it right, it kinda feels like my pick is gliding, so...........

  19. #68

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    Quote Originally Posted by Philco
    We come from similar backgrounds. I spent much time working on Phil Woods solos, Cannonball Adderley, Dexter Gordon etc.
    When I started back playing a couple of years ago I immediately transcribed the 5 Parker takes of Billie's Bounce to get me back in the game so to speak. Plus I worked on the Benson version and an Andreas Oberg version. The Parker versions were technically the hardest to play.
    All that stuff is easier with this technique. Not to be glib or treat your concerns lightly but the technique is quite liberating and seems to only get stronger and stronger.

    But I have to reiterate that if anyone was having coordination problems with their old technique then this may help a little but it wont suddenly solve all those problems.
    I could play these lines before I changed over, but now I play them with ease and consistency. Something I always struggled with before.
    I'd be interested to hear your example of Parker lines using GB.

  20. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    While I can see how GB picking ( the short go I had at it) can get me to 360 bpm for long flowing 8ths,..
    Yikes... I could practice for the rest of my life and have spent a lot of time already... I don't think I could close to that. All I can think is we are wired differently.

  21. #70
    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    I'd be interested to hear your example of Parker lines using GB.
    Sure thing. I'll include some in the next video. I seem to remember them being more of a challenge for the left hand than the right.

  22. #71

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    Yikes... I could practice for the rest of my life and have spent a lot of time already... I don't think I could close to that. All I can think is we are wired differently.
    Pretty sure Philco's examples are up around there. There are plenty cats who like burning at that tempo, I suppose if you can play consecutive notes just on the one string that fast then you have the "twitch reflex" or whatever it is, to play across all the strings at that tempo. It's definitely easier to do with GB, and I kinda like the clicky sound, but with my conventional method, my pick angles every which way according to what I need it to do, so it would take me too long to undo all that I think.... Besides, 300 - 320 is plenty for me! If anything I'm trying to sound better at slower tempos, my left hand finds slower tempos harder because of the different muscles required for things like slow slurs, and my right hand tends to rush things like sweeps. Too much practicing at quick tempos!

  23. #72

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    PP ever tried playing at tempos under 50/40bpm? without doing double-time? It's a trip! Drink a pot of coffee and give it a whirl. I heard Brad Mehldau will, as an exercise, run through tunes at 10bpm.

  24. #73

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    Quote Originally Posted by JakeAcci
    PP ever tried playing at tempos under 50/40bpm? without doing double-time? It's a trip! Drink a pot of coffee and give it a whirl. I heard Brad Mehldau will, as an exercise, run through tunes at 10bpm.
    Yeah Jake, I have and it's m-u-r-d-e-r ...... dunno if coffee is gonna help, makes me too impatient!

  25. #74
    I did a little slow mo of this. Check out how much pick is hanging out beyond his thumb.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/4g1dtmu3ly...ick%20Hand.mov

    You can also see that the pick angle isn't that acute.

  26. #75
    Check out the "overhang"

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-imoviescreensnapz004-jpg

    Angle shot. Fairly acute but it seems to change a lot.
    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-imoviescreensnapz005-jpg

  27. #76
    Great shot of JC Stylles Right hand. The angle is clear.


  28. #77

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    Does anyone here play with Benson picking on a Tele? I'm trying to learn it but by my pickup selector gets in the way when set on the neck pickup, which it pretty much always is.

  29. #78
    Quote Originally Posted by kofblz
    Does anyone here play with Benson picking on a Tele? I'm trying to learn it but by my pickup selector gets in the way when set on the neck pickup, which it pretty much always is.
    Yes I had the exact same problem when I had a Tele.
    Solution… Have your tech rewire the switch in reverse so the back position selects the front pickup.
    This puts the switch out of the way of the picking hand.

    I had to change it back when I sold the guitar.

  30. #79

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    Quote Originally Posted by Philco
    Yes I had the exact same problem when I had a Tele.
    Solution… Have your tech rewire the switch in reverse so the back position selects the front pickup.
    This puts the switch out of the way of the picking hand.

    I had to change it back when I sold the guitar.
    Thanks, I wonder if I could do this myself. I think I'll open it up and have a look.

  31. #80

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    When I'm using this technique my pick contacts the strings on the side of the pick, more of a brush stoke. To get an even fatter sound more of the side of the pick is "brushed" on the string. It sounds pretty good to my ear and definitely fattens the tone tremendously. Is that how you guys see it?

    One thing about this technique that I am convinced of, if you look at Wes's thumb technique and compare it to Benson's, there are some striking similarities. Basically I believe the tecniques Benson has allows him to achieve a similar tone using a pick, but if you actually look at their hands in action you will see what I mean. What do I mean? Remove the pick from you hand while you are using the Benson technique. Now play with your thumb. Of course you no longer have to have the first finger touching your thumb, but if you do you can still achieve the fat Wes tone. If you try to do this same technique with "normal" pick technique your thumb is no longer in the optimal position for "fattness". I believe this is not a coincidence.

  32. #81

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    Quote Originally Posted by callouscallus
    When I'm using this technique my pick contacts the strings on the side of the pick, more of a brush stoke. To get an even fatter sound more of the side of the pick is "brushed" on the string. It sounds pretty good to my ear and definitely fattens the tone tremendously. Is that how you guys see it?

    One thing about this technique that I am convinced of, if you look at Wes's thumb technique and compare it to Benson's, there are some striking similarities. Basically I believe the tecniques Benson has allows him to achieve a similar tone using a pick, but if you actually look at their hands in action you will see what I mean. What do I mean? Remove the pick from you hand while you are using the Benson technique. Now play with your thumb. Of course you no longer have to have the first finger touching your thumb, but if you do you can still achieve the fat Wes tone. If you try to do this same technique with "normal" pick technique your thumb is no longer in the optimal position for "fattness". I believe this is not a coincidence.
    Benson's left hand system is pretty similar to Montgomery's, too. Basically, he plays as though his pick is a thumb. It gives him the ability to crank up the speed to the ridiculous levels he does, while retaining the feel. The upstrokes are also stronger and more pronounced.

    That's probably why it's so easy for Benson to go between thumb and pick.

    I think one of the things everyone misses in that Tuck Andress post from years ago is that he never said Benson was the fastest player. He said Benson had the fastest technique without sacrificing feel. Spend 10 minutes listening to "shredders" on YouTube, and you'll understand exactly what he meant.

  33. #82
    Yeah I remember Tuck said something like "Benson has solved the picking thing".
    That thought stuck with me and the more I develop this technique the more I think he's right.
    It's not just about the speed. That's a side effect. It's the effortless ability to try new things and not be hindered by the picking hand.
    More and more I find myself honing in on the "feel" and the tone and clarity of articulation.

  34. #83
    destinytot Guest
    Hi! I just want to say thanks for this excellent thread, especially to Philco for explaining the grip.

    At the risk of going off-topic, I'd like to add that the 'tremor thing' is something Sean Levitt used to practise away from the instrument with pick - extremely thick à la gypsy jazz (at least 2mm) and lightly held - in hand.

    Again, I really just wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who's posted here.

  35. #84

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    Just some curious history material...

    This guy here show renaissance lute picking technique, which was reconstructed in the mid 20th century.
    It orgins also from using pick primarily (often feather pick - lutes are for angels))), and the in the renaissance when music became more complex and they needed to use all fingers they developed fingerstyle that imitated plectrum technique.. usually lines are played in this style, it allows to play it really fast, and with a kind of bounce good for dancing music especially... later they changed the angle - more basses added..
    But I know that some use this aproach for modern ukes also...

    What I am talking about is that hand positin is practically the same with Benson's, the only difference is he holds the pick and they use flesh..

    It is really interesting, this is a kind of historic background. They actually held lutes like Benson holds guitar embracing it from right side a little, and I think that earlier period when lutes were smaller it was very natural and they naturally held their feather pick like Benson does.



    And here is the combined technique in a piece of music
    Last edited by Jonah; 05-29-2014 at 09:53 PM.

  36. #85

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    Good post - I agree, in essence it's the same position. I also briefly played Viola Da Gamba (renaissance precursor to the violin/cello family) and the bow grip Gamba players use is also similar.

    The concept of having the palm facing slightly upwards with all these techniques seems to be a common factor. In terms of bio-mechanics it feels a lot more comfortable to me, in terms of the alignment of tendons all the way up the arm to the shoulder and neck.

  37. #86

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    I've been working on this (again) for the past month or so. Bought the J C Stylles tutorial, which cleared up some things that had confused me. I feel better about the grip. But I'm still not wholly sure about how the arm goes.

    I haven't seen Stylles play sitting but that's how I always play. I use a cushion (a Dynarette; got the idea from Mimi Fox and I love the thing; no longer use a strap at all) and was planting it on my left leg. That's the norm, I think. But lately I've moved it to the right thigh, which raises the guitar a bit. But I'm unsure about my upper arm and the upper rear bout. Is the upper arm supposed to a) rest on the top rear edge of the guitar or b) hang over it, not putting any weight there at all?

    Somehow I feel like a guest on a phone-in self-help show. "Thanks for taking my call--I'll hang up and listen!"

  38. #87

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    I've been working on this (again) for the past month or so. Bought the J C Stylles tutorial, which cleared up some things that had confused me. I feel better about the grip. But I'm still not wholly sure about how the arm goes.

    I haven't seen Stylles play sitting but that's how I always play. I use a cushion (a Dynarette; got the idea from Mimi Fox and I love the thing; no longer use a strap at all) and was planting it on my left leg. That's the norm, I think. But lately I've moved it to the right thigh, which raises the guitar a bit. But I'm unsure about my upper arm and the upper rear bout. Is the upper arm supposed to a) rest on the top rear edge of the guitar or b) hang over it, not putting any weight there at all?

    Somehow I feel like a guest on a phone-in self-help show. "Thanks for taking my call--I'll hang up and listen!"
    Most guys who are doing it let their right elbow actually hang over the bout of the guitar, so that their elbow is laying against the instrument's face. It kind of feels like you're hugging the guitar to your body, and creates great stability.

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-russell_lamar_malone-jpg
    Russell Malone

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-rodney_jones-jpg
    Rodney Jones

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-jc-stylles-studio-cropped-jpg
    JC Stylles

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-hqdefault-jpg
    Henry Johnson

    ...all look suspiciously like...

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-wes_montgomery-png
    The Man

    More and more I just consider "Benson picking" to mean "trying to play like Wes but with a pick".

  39. #88

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecj
    Most guys who are doing it let their right elbow actually hang over the bout of the guitar, so that their elbow is laying against the instrument's face. It kind of feels like you're hugging the guitar to your body, and creates great stability.


    Russell Malone


    Rodney Jones


    JC Stylles


    Henry Johnson

    ...all look suspiciously like...


    The Man

    More and more I just consider "Benson picking" to mean "trying to play like Wes but with a pick".

    Thanks! I needed this. Of those pictures, the thing that leaps out at me is Henry Johnson's hand. When I try 'elbow over the edge' it puts my hand real close to the neck pickup. Heck, I've been known to click-click the fretboard with my pick! Anyway, I'll work from these shapshots until I settle into something that works for me. Thanks again!

    And I love that line, "trying to play like Wes but with a pick!"

  40. #89

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Thanks! I needed this. Of those pictures, the thing that leaps out at me is Henry Johnson's hand. When I try 'elbow over the edge' it puts my hand real close to the neck pickup. Heck, I've been known to click-click the fretboard with my pick! Anyway, I'll work from these shapshots until I settle into something that works for me. Thanks again!

    And I love that line, "trying to play like Wes but with a pick!"
    I met Henry at a concert. Super nice guy and killer player. He was not a large man. I'm terrible at judging height, but he was much shorter than me and I'm 6'. I can't really get my arm to mirror his position that well, either.

    One interesting thing I've noticed is that Henry's playing position looks a lot more like young George Benson than JC Stylles who looks more like contemporary George Benson. Probably because Henry learned from George way back when, and JC Stylles was studying videos of later performances.

    Henry's hand is almost anchored near the bridge.

  41. #90

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    [QUOTE=ecj;435201 Henry's hand is almost anchored near the bridge.[/QUOTE]

    They all seem to be that way, but Henry's (and Wes's) fingers are closer to the neck than the other players seem to be. Guess that's just hand size. I'm 5'11" and broad shouldered---my arms and hands are pretty big. (I used to play an Epiphone Dot and after a gig once a guy told, "That looks like a kid's guitar." Meaning that it seemed too small a guitar for such a big man, I guess.)

    I find myself banging into the bridge a lot as I adjust to this grip. Sometimes I move it a bit (-I hate it when that happens.) O, and sometimes the tailpiece bites my hand... Nobody knows the troubles I've seen... ;o)

  42. #91

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    Okay, here's a picture I just took holding my guitar. I'm sitting, the guitar is on a Dynarette cushion (which rests atop my right thigh).

    Attachment 12834

    What do you see?
    Is there another position you need to see?

    It seems to me that my guitar is less tilted than Wes's guitar in the picture of him (above).

  43. #92

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    It all starts with getting the hand in the right place. If you get that the arm will follow. I remember when I started with this technique I felt I had to reach around the guitar much more than I was used to but now it feels very natural. My armpit is usually on top of the lower bout of the guitar.
    Looking at your photo I'd question your hand position. I prefer to have my hand lower down with the palm facing up more instead of facing the guitar.
    Ed Cherry is another great player to check out for this hand position.

    Keep working at it. It does take a while to get it right but at least in my case it was well worth the effort.

    Mark Cally

  44. #93

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Okay, here's a picture I just took holding my guitar. I'm sitting, the guitar is on a Dynarette cushion (which rests atop my right thigh).

    Attachment 12834

    What do you see?
    Is there another position you need to see?

    It seems to me that my guitar is less tilted than Wes's guitar in the picture of him (above).
    Just as an opinion . . in response to "What do you see" . . two things glare out at me. Firstly . . the guitar seems to be too high up on your knee. Both of your hands and arms seem to be scrunched up and uncomfortable. I'm not sure I could ever play with my left arm locked in to my body like that. Also look at your right arm and how much more it's folded at the elbow . . rather than hanging a little lower and looser. Compare your elbow bend/angle with any of the pictures above.

    The second thing that glares out at me . . is the shirt. Seems to be the same blue shirt you wore for the photo in your avatar.

  45. #94

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Okay, here's a picture I just took holding my guitar. I'm sitting, the guitar is on a Dynarette cushion (which rests atop my right thigh).

    Attachment 12834

    What do you see?
    Is there another position you need to see?

    It seems to me that my guitar is less tilted than Wes's guitar in the picture of him (above).
    Mark, I'm playing the high E string. This first picture is me trying to imitate your hand position:

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-snapshot_20140619_1-jpg

    This is more like the Benson position:

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-snapshot_20140619-jpg

    In your position if you have the hinged wrist movement it will just go up and down perpendicular to the face of the guitar, your pick would just be tapping the face of the guitar. You can't pick the strings from that position with that movement. You have to use the more common wrist movement.

    In the second picture I posted, you can pick the string with a wrist hinge movement... a movement like tapping your finger on a table.

    I don't think there is anything wrong with your position, you just can't use the Benson technique from that position (if that's what you're trying to do). (I use both techniques, depending on what I'm trying to do).
    Last edited by fep; 06-19-2014 at 11:56 PM.

  46. #95

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    Thanks, Fep.
    Here's what I'm trying to do. The Benson thing as taught by J C Stylles. I've spent a lot of time working on the grip---even carrying a pick in my pocket to practice the grip when away from the guitar; I fall asleep with a pick in my hand---but I realize that my arm position must change. Somehow, it seems to be working against itself. So in that picture I'm thinking more about where I place my arm than with how I'm picking. (I wasn't actually picking, just positioning my arm.)

    The latest thing (-between last evening and this morning) is this: I place / sense the inner bone of my elbow on the upper rear face of the guitar. This brings my hand down close to the frets. In fact, I often click the highest fret, which bugs me, so I inch my arm backward a bit.

    (I will make a short video of this tonight, so you'll have a better sense of what I mean and can 'see for yourself.')

    What I like about that is that it seems a natural way for my arm to be. Things feel more fluid. What I don't like is the pick clicking... I think that before, I held my arm in a way that forced it to work against itself sometimes.

    Well, as I said, I'll post a video later and that will give you (and others) more to work with in answering the musical question 'what the heck is he doing?' ;o)

    Thanks for the feedback.

  47. #96

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecj
    Most guys who are doing it let their right elbow actually hang over the bout of the guitar, so that their elbow is laying against the instrument's face. It kind of feels like you're hugging the guitar to your body, and creates great stability.

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-russell_lamar_malone-jpg
    Russell Malone

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-rodney_jones-jpg
    Rodney Jones

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-jc-stylles-studio-cropped-jpg
    JC Stylles

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-hqdefault-jpg
    Henry Johnson

    ...all look suspiciously like...

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-wes_montgomery-png
    The Man

    More and more I just consider "Benson picking" to mean "trying to play like Wes but with a pick".
    This is one of the most helpful posts I have every seen on this, or any other, forum!

  48. #97

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Thanks, Fep.
    Here's what I'm trying to do. The Benson thing as taught by J C Stylles. I've spent a lot of time working on the grip---even carrying a pick in my pocket to practice the grip when away from the guitar; I fall asleep with a pick in my hand---but I realize that my arm position must change. Somehow, it seems to be working against itself. So in that picture I'm thinking more about where I place my arm than with how I'm picking. (I wasn't actually picking, just positioning my arm.)

    The latest thing (-between last evening and this morning) is this: I place / sense the inner bone of my elbow on the upper rear face of the guitar. This brings my hand down close to the frets. In fact, I often click the highest fret, which bugs me, so I inch my arm backward a bit.

    (I will make a short video of this tonight, so you'll have a better sense of what I mean and can 'see for yourself.')

    What I like about that is that it seems a natural way for my arm to be. Things feel more fluid. What I don't like is the pick clicking... I think that before, I held my arm in a way that forced it to work against itself sometimes.

    Well, as I said, I'll post a video later and that will give you (and others) more to work with in answering the musical question 'what the heck is he doing?' ;o)

    Thanks for the feedback.
    Hey Mark - I'll get on the computer this afternoon and do a quick vid to try to help.

    A few things that jump out at me from the pic:

    - Your guitar is too high up. You're scrunching your right arm up, which looks uncomfortable to me. The big benefit of the Benson picking this is that it's a more relaxed position. I'll try to demo later (just making some notes for myself while I'm at work this morning).
    - Your hand position. I'd start with the pick literally at 90 degrees to the string, then move forward from there. Right now your hand position looks more like the standard grip than JC Stylles' demo, and you are curling your fingers in, which is a no-no. I'll try to address that later.
    - setemupjoe is right that you've got to start with the hand and work backwards. It looks like you're starting from the elbow and working in. One thing to consider is that the size of your guitar is going to play a big part in this. You're a big guy, with what looks like a 16" bout. I had to go up to a 17"er to get comfortable with the position.

    Check out Benson with two different guitars:

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-mccoytyner3_89_georgebenson_02cs-jpg
    17"er

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-1mpisch_7782466_george_benson_6-jpg
    his smaller GB model (can't remember the size)

    Look at how his elbow hangs over on the first one like the pics of all the guys playing big 17" archtops, then is actually back behind the bout like in standard playing position on the second. You aren't going to shrink the length of your forearm, so you'll have to adjust to the size of the guitar.

    As for the tilt, I don't think it matters at all if you are ever going to stand while you're playing. Wes tilted his, but he was always sitting. His position is great, but I stand too much to ever use it.

    Rodney Jones made a compromise by going with a thinline 335 style body shape, which I can actually appreciate probably being the most comfortable shape for this style of playing. You gotta keep loose.

    Will make a vid later.

  49. #98

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    Quote Originally Posted by dingusmingus
    This is one of the most helpful posts I have every seen on this, or any other, forum!
    Thanks, Dingus. I've spent a ton of time thinking about this. It's really helped me improve as a player over the last year and I feel like it finally solved the picking problem for me, although I still have a really long way to go in terms of my overall playing.

  50. #99

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecj
    Hey Mark - I'll get on the computer this afternoon and do a quick vid to try to help.

    A few things that jump out at me from the pic:


    Will make a vid later.
    Thanks, man.
    I'll make another one within the hour, to make clear what I'm doing today. (I may show what I was doing recently as well, so you can compare and contrast the two.)

    I appreciate the help, guys! It means a lot to me, both as a player and as a person.

  51. #100

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    Haha, it took forever but here it is. Sorry the sound quality is so bad, I should've plugged in. It's kind of hard to hear the guitar sometimes.

    Check it out and see if that helps:



    Couple things I noticed from your vids:

    - I think you have the shape right, but you need to not let your fingers move while you play until you figure out the wrist motion. Just focus on the wrist movement at first.
    - I'd try getting your guitar off of the left leg and onto a strap.

    I'm going to be out and about for the evening, but I'll try to check back this weekend if you have more questions.