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  1. #151

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    Quote Originally Posted by edh
    Quick question - do any of you folks lose any volume using this style of picking. When I pick this way my volume is way way down. I can't seem to get a nice attack on the strings.


    Thanks guys.

    edh
    Are you picking with a rest stroke? This should allow you to pick quite forcefully without the pick moving too far beyond the initial stroke. I find I can get a stronger tone with this technique than when I played with a traditional grip.

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  3. #152

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    Yes I have had online coaching from JC, when he first started the project, and will say that he is very attentive to the emails that he receives. It's very useful if you can send him video clips of your playing from various angles and, in my case, he responded very quickly with detailed suggestions and often with supporting video clips of his own. My tip of the day would be to make sure that you can prioritize the technical aspects of your playing whilst signed up with JC, and perhaps get some double time licks under your fingers so you can actually demonstrate where your technique starts to break down. Guitar time is at a premium for me at the moment but when I get to the stage where I can justify the time spent on fine tuning my technique, JC is the man who I will contact. I think that he is a good teacher in that he genuinely wants you to 'get it'.

  4. #153

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    Quote Originally Posted by edh
    Quick question - do any of you folks lose any volume using this style of picking. When I pick this way my volume is way way down. I can't seem to get a nice attack on the strings.
    It seemed that way to me at first but not so much now. There are ways to hold a pick that yield less volume but the more I get closer to 'right' with this, the more I'm getting the volume back. So my take (-provisional, of course, from one far from the mountaintop) is that when you get it right (or one of the few right ways) the attack is good and the volume is there.

  5. #154

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stu Foley
    Yes I have had online coaching from JC, when he first started the project, and will say that he is very attentive to the emails that he receives. It's very useful if you can send him video clips of your playing from various angles and, in my case, he responded very quickly with detailed suggestions and often with supporting video clips of his own. My tip of the day would be to make sure that you can prioritize the technical aspects of your playing whilst signed up with JC, and perhaps get some double time licks under your fingers so you can actually demonstrate where your technique starts to break down. Guitar time is at a premium for me at the moment but when I get to the stage where I can justify the time spent on fine tuning my technique, JC is the man who I will contact. I think that he is a good teacher in that he genuinely wants you to 'get it'.
    Thanks, Stu. I'm happy to hear that. It looks like August will be my first chance to do a members-only month. I'm looking forward to it. Meanwhile, the company's not so bad here! ;o) We've got quite a little club started....

  6. #155

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    Quote Originally Posted by monk
    To All,
    I've been following this thread in increments as it has grown over the past year and a half. Having decided to ask some questions, I went back and re-read the entire thread and watched the videos. Thanks to all of you who posted videos. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. You guys represent the spirit of the forum at its best.


    Although I am called upon at times to accompany singers performing standards, I also find myself having to cover blues, country and R&B also. With that in mind, I would like to know:


    1. While it appears that the Benson Technique translates best to flat wound strings, do any of you (philco, setemupjoe,ecj, 3625) think that using round wounds is completely out of the question?


    2. What gauge strings are you all using and what, in your estimation, is the lightest gauge that one could use successfully?


    3. Telecasters were mentioned briefly in regard to the pick-up selector. Have any of you successfully emploted the BT on a Tele or do you feel that an archtop is the best way to go? George seemed to do O.K. with a Les Paul the video that was posted earlier today but the LP has more in common with an archtop fingerboard and string arc-wise than a Tele.


    4. Most of you that have purchased J.C. Stylles tutorial have said good things about it. Is the video itself enough or does the coaching package justify the extra cost?


    Thanks,
    Jerome
    I held back from giving a reply, as I knew the others were bound to be more knowledgeable than me on most of those points. Regarding question 4 though, I'd opt for the coaching package for two reasons: first you get to ask questions via email or video exchange with JC, and second, the coaching package allows you to access JC's 'member's area' website which has a couple of short close up videos of JC demonstrating the technique at different camera angles that aren't covered in the main tutorial video, as well as extras such as close up photos, written faq's, etc.

    To be honest, the main video tutorial is excellent, but it's a bit lacking in terms of camera angles and close ups at times (IMO), so the 'member's area' section makes up for this & more.

    Cheers

  7. #156

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    3625 and Stu Foley,
    Thanks for chiming in. I appreciate the responses and advice.
    Regards,
    Jerome

    PS @3625...That was a very enjoyable video.

  8. #157

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    I think I'm getting the hang of it. I seem to pick faster with a little more ease, and I'm getting the feeling that after some practice, I will really rip the benefits from that technique. I just ordered a pack of medium fender picks, just to be sure .

  9. #158

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    Quote Originally Posted by Professor Jones
    I think I'm getting the hang of it. I seem to pick faster with a little more ease, and I'm getting the feeling that after some practice, I will really rip the benefits from that technique. I just ordered a pack of medium fender picks, just to be sure .
    Yes, without those picks, you could never get it right! ;o) It's funny how sold on them I now am. When I was a kid, they were what every music shop sold and there wasn't much choice. I think I've tried at least 50 different shapes/ brands / thicknesses of pick and now here am I back where I started, with the cheapest pick around. The difference is, now I know what to do with it!

  10. #159

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    Hey guys; some new cool footage surfaced on youtube: Benson in 1966 in Newport with Dr. Lonnie Smith & Ronnie Cuber.




    Enjoy
    Last edited by nunocpinto; 06-26-2014 at 08:08 PM.

  11. #160

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    That's hot stuff!

  12. #161

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    By the way, could I see a show of hands of those who have bought and used the JC Stylles tutorial on Benson picking? I've talked with a few of you but wonder if there are others here too.

  13. #162

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    Quick question: when using the Benson grip, where does your thumb press against your index finger? (Where would the two meet if the pick were not between them?)

  14. #163
    Quote Originally Posted by nunocpinto
    Hey guys; some new cool footage surfaced on youtube: Benson in 1966 in Newport with Dr. Lonnie Smith & Ronnie Cuber.




    Enjoy
    I see no 90 degree pick angle here at all. Lots of pick hanging out though. Interesting.
    Of course GB may have changed his technique over the years but I'm hearing some trade mark licks here played with trade mark speed and precision. But no 90 degree angle.

    After watching the video I can't help but wonder why that 18' guitar is not feeding back. I see the tape over the F holes and Im guessing the Bass on the amp is on zero but still the instrument sounds full.
    It's also obvious how hard he is driving the amp…it's really breaking up. It takes him quite some time to find the sweet spot with the vol control at the start……and yet no sign of feedback. Perhaps the guitar is stuffed with something?
    He seems to be competing volume wise with the organ and drums. Great clip!!

  15. #164
    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Quick question: when using the Benson grip, where does your thumb press against your index finger? (Where would the two meet if the pick were not between them?)
    My grip. Not necessarily the Benson Grip. Just what I have arrived at after much experimentation.
    But after watching the JC Styles clips and many GB clips I'm sure that one of the corner stones of the technique (and a real game changer) is having the thumb tip pressed into the index and NEVER protruding over with the index behind it.


  16. #165

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    Thanks for posting that GB video, nunocpinto. GB plays a Super 400CES Florentine!

    Now, GB, if you're reading this, please please please, good sir, cut a few straightahead albums please, sir. Please.

    This video brings tears to my eyes. Man, GB was and is always good-looking.

  17. #166
    destinytot Guest
    Hi Mr Beaumont!

    Yes, the switch has been worth it.

    Far from taking away from them, I'm finding that working on right-hand/picking consolidates those areas. I'm beginning to make choices based purely on preference and taste, thanks to increased range of expression on the instrument.

    It's perhaps ironic but, on the couple of occasions where I've played with a straight-ahead rhythm section, I've had fun experimenting and thinking, "What would Barney Kessel do?" But, while it's certainly exhilarating to discover chops - and while I'm truly delighted to able to execute ideas that were previously beyond me - I consider it essential that the ideas one takes the trouble to express be worth the effort.

    For me, switching has actually contributed to creativity. That was my main concern, but I needn't have worried. I even use the same technique to get precision in playing standards and originals in Marty Grosz/Carl Kress chordal style on acoustic archtop using extremely heavy-guage roundwound strings (and without string noise), as well as both a 7-string solid body and a nylon-strung acoustic.

    I'm now getting really ambitious: I'm trying to make something of beauty, writing arrangements for my dream band (soon to be a reality - "Gather ye rose-buds while ye may").

  18. #167

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    Quote Originally Posted by Philco
    My grip. Not necessarily the Benson Grip. Just what I have arrived at after much experimentation.
    But after watching the JC Styles clips and many GB clips I'm sure that one of the corner stones of the technique (and a real game changer) is having the thumb tip pressed into the index and NEVER protruding over with the index behind it.
    Thanks, Phil. I think you're right about that. I'm finding that when the tip of the index points slightly away / back, it allows clearance for the pick to strike the string without the index touching it. (Sometimes my thumb still does but that doesn't bother me as much.)

    I notice you do something I tend to do, which is point the pick across the index finger. JC seems to come more out of (or near) the tip.

    It's almost maddening how just a slight re-positioning can change the tone. But when you get it right (-well, you normally do now, but I'm still like a 'hunt and peck' typist, hit and miss) the change in volume and tone is like a bell. Very nice. And I go, "There, that's got it. Just do it that way every time." But next time I pick up the guitar, 'that way' doesn't come immediately. I think JC is right that what is happening is that you have to train your hand to make this shape just so, and that takes discipline and time.

  19. #168

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Thanks, Phil. I think you're right about that. I'm finding that when the tip of the index points slightly away / back, it allows clearance for the pick to strike the string without the index touching it. (Sometimes my thumb still does but that doesn't bother me as much.)

    I notice you do something I tend to do, which is point the pick across the index finger. JC seems to come more out of (or near) the tip.

    It's almost maddening how just a slight re-positioning can change the tone. But when you get it right (-well, you normally do now, but I'm still like a 'hunt and peck' typist, hit and miss) the change in volume and tone is like a bell. Very nice. And I go, "There, that's got it. Just do it that way every time." But next time I pick up the guitar, 'that way' doesn't come immediately. I think JC is right that what is happening is that you have to train your hand to make this shape just so, and that takes discipline and time.
    I think it's really important not to experiment too much. You have to make slight adjustments over time, but just pick one shape for a while and do it exactly the same every day for a few months. Then start messing around.

    My hand looks pretty much like Philco's (my thumb doesn't backbend, either), but I have less pick hanging out, and the tip of the pick points almost straight out from my index finger. I think that's because I rotate my hand in more than he does, so in the end the pick itself is pointing the same way in relation to the guitar, but my hand is more internally rotated. It looks to me like that's what JC is doing on his vids.

    Philco is much better than me, though

  20. #169

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecj
    This concert vid has some great footage of Benson's picking:

    I think you can really see the rotation I'm talking about, especially when he's doing octave licks.

    He's so freakishly good on that vid. He seems like he has absolutely no technical limitations at all. One of the very few guitarists who kind of reminds me of a good sax or piano in his ability to just rip off lines at will.
    Good stuff. He's flowin', alright! I wonder what his hand looks like from his perspective..

  21. #170

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    Another question.

    (Q: "God, will this guy ever stop yammering about this?"
    A: "Yeah, about fifteen minutes after he dies.")

    The thumb. It can either point the way one's arm is pointing (-parallel to the index finger) or it can "V" out the left.
    Mine tends to "V" to the left but I've experimented with keeping my thumb in close to the palm. Makes a difference, but then, almost any change would.

    I'm wondering how it is for the rest of you who Benson pick (-or do something like that): is your thumb in close to the palm or does it "V"out to the left. "Close" is a relative term, of course. But I think the (rough) distinction between running parallel to the index or veering out to one side is clear enough (-or 'close enough for rock'n'roll.')

    Perhaps some do it one way while others fare just as well doing it the other way.

    When I picked with a normal grip, my thumb tended to stay 'in.' I'm not quite sure when it started pointing out to the side.

    Curiouser and curiouser....

  22. #171

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    Man, I hope this minutiae is all worth it, learning to pick like one of oh, a thousand players who can play as fast...

  23. #172

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Man, I hope this minutiae is all worth it, learning to pick like one of oh, a thousand players who can play as fast...
    Thank you for your support.

  24. #173

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    Wow, sorry I said anything.


    I've chased a lot if dragons in learning jazz. A lot. This sounds like one to me. But have fun. Forgive me for being concerned and not wanting to see someone else waste time on stuff that works for others but maybe not you or me personally.

    Enjoy. Let me know if you ever want to hear about the dead ends I chased that set me back years.

  25. #174

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Thank you for your support.
    Mark> I haven't contributed much to this thread because frankly, I just don't get it.?.? I'm kinda with Mr.B on this one. You seem to be struggling with trying to switch to "The Benson Picking Technique" and yet you still have not yet even figured out how to hold the pick. Are you really sure it's going to be worth the trouble? There seem to be many players trying to get the hang of this technique just so that they can play very fast 8th note or 16th note runs. Yet many of them still have not yet learned where their fingers actually need to go. So, they'll be able to hit clams at a much faster speed?

    Ya gotta keep your right elbow over the guitar so your arm pit is touching the rim
    ya gotta hold the pick with the point leading straight off of your index finger
    ya gotts keep your thumb directly behind the index finger
    ya can't let too much of the tip stick out or it will get hung up inside the strings
    ya need to get this special pick with a special tip that makes it impossible to dig in too deep
    ya gotta keep your palm facing upward
    ya gotta use more of your wrist
    No . . ya gotta create the motion from the elbow

    and on, and on, and on . . . .

    I'm certainly not trying to dis any of you guys wanting to learn this technique so that you can play faster and faster and faster. I just don't get why anyone would make learning this technique . . which actually means forgetting the technique that you've spent years becoming comfortable with an re learning how to actually hold a pick then actually execute an effective pick attack . . make that a priority over learning and applying the music theiry to the guitar and making music with it.?.?

    It seems very apparent that all the guys who have adopted this method really like it. But, I'm pretty sure it's safe to assume they were all "players" before making the transition. I suppose it can all be incorporated to be learned together with everything else one needs to learn along the way . . and learn it all together. But . . as Mr. B said . . "Man I hope this minutiae is worth it".
    Last edited by Patrick2; 07-01-2014 at 10:06 PM.

  26. #175

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    Pretty much everytime I play with the group I play with, a horn player, or the drummer, or the percusionist will call a tune at around 300 bpm. Usually maybe 1/4th of the tunes are uptempo. If you play latin (mambos) tunes will get called at this tempo. If you play bebop tunes will get called at this tempo. I would think anyone playing jazz in ensembles would find themselves needing to be able to play real uptempo.

    I can't hang and just pass on playing solos for those tunes which is pretty lame. For that matter I struggle at 200bpm. Even if I can make the changes at 300bpm, I don't have the picking technique to execute it, I don't have the picking technique to even practice it.

    If you don't find yourself in those situations or if you do and you can hang at those tempos then no need to spend time experimenting with different picking techniques.

    I've spent a lot of time and a lot of work and have hit the wall on trying to increase my picking speed using a "traditional" technique, just like a lot of others have mentioned here. I wouldn't try to change my picking technique just for laughs, there is a very immediate and pressing need for me to be able to solo at 300 bpm. I really would rather not play at that tempo, but I want to play with the ensemble that I'm playing with.

    Also, I'm not abandoning my previous picking techniques, I'm just adding this one for when I have to play faster than my other techniques can handle.
    Last edited by fep; 07-02-2014 at 12:16 AM.

  27. #176

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    I dig the minutae of how to hold a pick and how to strike a string as best as I can - I'm totally fascinated by it. Instead other guys obsess over handwound pickups, amps, wood grade on a spruce top (Patrick!) etc.

    When I got the JC Stylles package, I felt a sense of relief that I found someone who was clearly even more obsessive than I was about picking on an archtop.

    All too many archtop players have a shitty weak right hand technique - it's what holds so many players back. The Benson picking path is one of a few ways that works well, however, it's particularly well suited towards archtop players who use flatwounds. The whole issue of gains in speed can be a bit misleading - to me the real issue is how well can you hit a note, a single note - how accurate and in time can you hit it - especially over a slow tempo. Without having a consistent pick technique you won't be able to play well in the pocket, or focus on musical ideas - because as soon as you try and get something happening- if you can't execute what you're hearing in your head, it'll just sound like a clumsy struggle, which is incredibly frustrating.

    I can understand a sense of antipathy towards tasteless shredding, but that's a completely different issue to what constitutes effective technique. An example is Jim Hall, he wasn't a great player with bad technique, he was a great player with great technique - just not a fast player. But he knew how to hit a note properly and cleanly in time. That's what I'm trying to go for, plus be able to handle whatever tempo I actually feel like playing.

    Me and Mark have exchanged private vids over thumb and finger placement - tons of fun. You cats are missing out! lol

  28. #177

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    I think the most important thing is getting the essential elements down. But I understand people who want to really adress all the details. After all, it's a personality trait, and people who don't think that way will not understand the obsession. It's all fine, to each their own ! We all have our personal goals, and they are all different.

    Now I also understand the comments about how it's silly to want to learn to play fast when you don't even have the ability to make the changes at high tempos. But to me, Benson picking is not only about speed : it's about using mechanics that allow you to be relaxed, using the optimal amount of energy to pick. And this is where the speed comes from (that is just what I deducted from the different testimonies, I'm not quite there yet). So why should one wait to learn that ? As long as we keep developing the other areas, it's all fine. Horn players work on their sound everyday. As guitarists, our sound is greatly affected by the way we pick. It's an important subject, that is worth digging into.


    Mark :

    This is what I tried at first, since I read Tuck Andress's article and it said that the thumb nail should be touching the index tip if the pick weren't there. It didn't feel right for me.


    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-img_2299-jpg


    I'm now using that grip, wich feels very nice :

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-img_2300-jpg


    I'm also using fender mediums now instead of heavy ones, and it's a real improvement : there is less resistance when I pick, and the sound is warmer, which was an unexpected plus !

    I don't know if someone posted this link here, but just in case : http://www.sherylbailey.com/pdfs/gp061999.pdf . It's a very intersting interview where Sheryl Bailey talks about her picking technique.

  29. #178

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3625
    I dig the minutae of how to hold a pick and how to strike a string as best as I can - I'm totally fascinated by it. Instead other guys obsess over handwound pickups, amps, wood grade on a spruce top (Patrick!) etc.

    When I got the JC Stylles package, I felt a sense of relief that I found someone who was clearly even more obsessive than I was about picking on an archtop.

    All too many archtop players have a shitty weak right hand technique - it's what holds so many players back. The Benson picking path is one of a few ways that works well, however, it's particularly well suited towards archtop players who use flatwounds. The whole issue of gains in speed can be a bit misleading - to me the real issue is how well can you hit a note, a single note - how accurate and in time can you hit it - especially over a slow tempo. Without having a consistent pick technique you won't be able to play well in the pocket, or focus on musical ideas - because as soon as you try and get something happening- if you can't execute what you're hearing in your head, it'll just sound like a clumsy struggle, which is incredibly frustrating.

    I can understand a sense of antipathy towards tasteless shredding, but that's a completely different issue to what constitutes effective technique. An example is Jim Hall, he wasn't a great player with bad technique, he was a great player with great technique - just not a fast player. But he knew how to hit a note properly and cleanly in time. That's what I'm trying to go for, plus be able to handle whatever tempo I actually feel like playing.

    Me and Mark have exchanged private vids over thumb and finger placement - tons of fun. You cats are missing out! lol
    BIG difference in preferring the look of a specific type and grade of wood and having to re learn a technique which has been ingrained in one's self for over 3 decades. I've learned to be very comfortable in the way I hold and play a guitar . . including my method and technique for picking. It's what works for me and I rally don't care to have to re learn that. There are just way too many other things I'm not proficient at to have to worry about hanging with cats who call out tunes at 300 BPM. However, if that were to be the case . . I can probably hang with them (speed wise, anyway) at 300BPM unless I tried to blow steady 8th notes and pick each and every one of them at that tempo. I really don't care to become another John McLaughlin . . . who, by the way . . does not utilize the Benson method but more of a traditional method . . and articulates with more of a wrist hinge than an elbow hinge. Is John McLaughlin's picking speed inadequate to hang with cats blowing at 300 BPM while he's running his non stop 8th notes?

    Whe this whole subject first came up, I actually did a self check on my own picking technique. It's very much like McLaughlin's and at times also like Tal's. If I never get any faster than those two cats . . I'm pretty much OK with that. I also like to alter the orientation of my pick angle and my attack to achieve different tone and mood. One of the things I dislike about Benson's tone . . is that I find it to be boringly consistent. I much much prefer Benson's tone when he's not using his pick.

    fep> I don't wish to speak for anyone but myself. But, in that your comments were aimed specifically at Jeff and me . . I didn't see where either of us were taking exception with anyone wanting to learn this method. All I ever said . . and all I ever heard Jeff say was that we just didn't quite get it. Most especially (IMO) the way MarkRhodes seems to be obsessing over it. As for yourself being able to hang with your current ensemble when they call out tunes at hyper speeds . . how about playing quarter notes? Breathing between lines? Half notes? Shorter bursts of 8th note runs? I've heard your clips. I know you can do that. Hey, listen man . . if learning the Benson method is what you want to do and you feel as though your playing will benefit by doing so . . . then, that's definitely the right thing for you to do. Same sentiments go out to MarkRhodes and anyone else who chooses to do so.

    Who knows? Maybe one day Jeff and I will get it. But, for right now . . I still don't. But, that's just me.

  30. #179

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick2
    BIG difference in preferring the look of a specific type and grade of wood and having to re learn a technique which has been ingrained in one's self for over 3 decades.
    Yep, the latter is a lot cheaper just kidding!

  31. #180

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    All I'm saying is, are you positive that your current technique couldn't be worked on to achieve the same results?

    All of this holding the pick differently, holding the guitar differently, switching to a thin pick (that's a big one, because chances are your old technique will sound like crap)

    This is a commitment. And trust me, I've tried it...and I saw in an hour how "square one" it all is.

    I can't play 8ths at 300. Not particularly important to me, because I still struggle to come up with good ideas (and not resort to too many licks) at where I do max out (somewhere around 260-270, or
    --and I might not be picking every note, there's slurs)

    I fully understand the need for speed. But I also see how with work, and my current technique,; I can get the results I need. So my question stands--is all of this worth it? Was your previous picking technique so bad you needed to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater?

  32. #181

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    Quote Originally Posted by Professor Jones
    I think the most important thing is getting the essential elements down. But I understand people who want to really adress all the details. After all, it's a personality trait, and people who don't think that way will not understand the obsession. It's all fine, to each their own ! We all have our personal goals, and they are all different.


    Mark :

    This is what I tried at first, since I read Tuck Andress's article and it said that the thumb nail should be touching the index tip if the pick weren't there. It didn't feel right for me.


    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-img_2299-jpg


    I'm now using that grip, wich feels very nice :

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-img_2300-jpg


    I'm also using fender mediums now instead of heavy ones, and it's a real improvement : there is less resistance when I pick, and the sound is warmer, which was an unexpected plus !

    I don't know if someone posted this link here, but just in case : http://www.sherylbailey.com/pdfs/gp061999.pdf . It's a very intersting interview where Sheryl Bailey talks about her picking technique.
    Thanks, Prof Jones. Sheryl Bailey was the first person I read about using this technique. It was a short piece in Guitar Player. (The Internet may have been around but I didn't have it.) I hadn't heard her play. There wasn't even a picture of her hand showing the grip. But I started fooling around with it, seeing what I could see. One thing I quickly realized was is that there is more than one way to press the thumb against the index finger! I soon went back to what I had been doing, which let me down at high tempos.

    As for your picture, the first one is pretty much how I started out (except my thumb had more of a banana shape. I'm not double jointed but my thumb has a 'bendy' look to it.)
    The second picture looks similar to another thing I do, when the pick tip seems to come across the index. My hand seems to rotate more when I hold it like that and it feels very comfortable but isn't---for me yet---as articulate. If comfort was all that mattered, I would hold it that way all the time.)

    I appreciate both pictures but need to ask a further question about them. Is your thumb more or less pointing the same direction as your index would be (-if you were to say, "I want THAT one there" and point at something) or is it veered out? It's not easy for me to tell from this camera angle.

    JC Stylles talks about the shape being a "loop". On that note----and I will post this somewhere else on the Forum today---I heard from JC Stylles this morning and he is willing to work a deal with those who want either a) the tutorial (a long video), b) a month of coaching, or c) both. I'm going to get the month of coaching, so I'll be asking him these questions later today. To get the deal, though, you have to talk to me (privately) because a certain code must be used and I'm not posting that here. This is only for people who are serious about this.

    Thanks again for the pics. I'll save the Sheryl Bailey interview and read it later this morning. Thanks!

  33. #182

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    I fully understand the need for speed. But I also see how with work, and my current technique,; I can get the results I need. So my question stands--is all of this worth it? Was your previous picking technique so bad you needed to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater?
    That's a fair question and the answer for me is yes. However, I want to echo what fep (Frank) said so well: it's not like if you learn to do this you can never do anything else. For example, I still play with a thumbpick sometimes. Wholly different deal. And sometimes I sing and comp four-to-the-bar swing tunes at moderate tempos---"Mean To Me" was the first standard I learned and I don't do anything fancy with it but I suppose I'll always have days when I want to play it. I just love that tune.

    No, my previous technique would not get me where I wanted to go. It was inherently limiting to me. (I think so much is involved--the natural shape of one's hand, how one holds the guitar, how one holds the pick, how one moves the pick---finger motion, wrist motion, elbow motion, or some combination of these.)

    Much of the talk here is about speed, and I like speed too, but what I want more than anything else is consistency. My old technique was spotty---some days I amazed myself but more often I humiliated myself. "Damn it, I KNOW how this goes---why is it so clunky?" Something about the way I played---had learned to play and had played for years as a kid who didn't know I was developing bad habits because I was playing three-chord rock and blues, which don't make the demands of a player that jazz does. When I wanted to play jazz, I realized my technique needed an overhaul. I tried several. I hope this is the last one needed!)

    That said, from all I've heard from people who have nailed this technique (and are glad they did) it took a lot of discipline and time. It is a major change and there's no sugarcoating that. It's not the work of a day or week. For many, it's closer to the work of a year or two. Huge commitment, no doubt. Real "opportunity cost" there (-time spent learning this is time not spent learning something else) but I haven't met anyone, or even heard of anyone, who got this down and then said it wasn't worth the trouble.

  34. #183

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    @ Mark

    I actually have three ways of holding a pick. I'm able to quickly move from one to the other without really thinking about it. My techniques are 1) finger-style, 2) hybrid picking, 3) "traditional" picking (mine is most similar to Larry Carlton's picking technique), and 3) the Benson picking technique.

    Of those, I use the Benson technique the least and for me it is the easiest and most natural motion and the easiest to develop speed with. I use it for speed. For me it's not good for hybrid picking, and not is good as coloring the tones (like Larry Carlton does).

    My left hand is faster than my right hand for all my techniques except the Benson technique. With the Benson technique, my right hand is actually faster than my left hand.

    My thumb bends back a lot and easily. I've found I can adjust the angle of my arm and the amount of bend in my thumb to adjust the angle that the pick attacks the strings. This way I can adjust to play flat rounds vs. round rounds. I even use the Benson technique with the acoustic guitar.

    Here is how I hold a pick when using the Benson technique:

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-img_1148-2-jpg
    Last edited by fep; 07-02-2014 at 10:00 AM.

  35. #184

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    To all those following this thread: I heard from JC Stylles this morning (Wed, 2 July).
    I asked him last week (-at the behest of another member here) if he could work a "bulk deal" for some of us who are interested in coaching but don't have much extra cash on hand.
    JC said yes.
    In order to do this, you have to contact me via PM and I'll let you know how to contact him in order to get a deal reserved for members of this Forum who are serious about this stuff. (Obsession is not required, but may help...)
    This also goes for those who have not yet bought the tutorial. You can get it at a greatly reduced price this way. Definitely worth the dough, as many here will gladly attest.

  36. #185

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    @ Mark
    I actually have three ways of holding a pick. I'm able to quickly move from one to the other without really thinking about it. My techniques are 1) finger-style, 2) hybrid picking, 3) "traditional" picking (mine is most similar to Larry Carlton's picking technique), and 3) the Benson picking technique.
    Hey, Fep, you have two number 3s in that list! ;o)
    Thanks for the pictures. Your thumb seems to veer out a bit. Mine does too. Perhaps everyone's does. But since you also use a traditional pick grip, the thumb is closer to the palm for that, right? (I'm not saying one way is better or worse, just noticing a difference and wondering what, if any, difference it makes!) When I was using a traditional grip, my pick always "turned around" while I was playing. I took to using a Jazz III with the tip pointing out over the tip of my index (and in the same direction as the index.) That's when my thumb started to veer out... Now I'm used to that but thinking, "it might be better off close in..."

  37. #186

    User Info Menu

    I don't think my thumb is closer to my palm using the traditional technique.

    I'd like to add re: the Benson technique. If you forget about guitar playing for a moment... Just relax your hand and create a tremor like seen sometimes in old people. If you're like me there will be a wrist movement that is just like the movement when using the Benson picking technique. That's a natural movement, your hand just wants to move that way. That's why this technique is so natural and easy to use.

    If I just take that relaxed hand and touch my thumb to my index finger... that is how I hold the pick. I don't need to think of angles and such, my hand just goes there. Nice and relaxed.
    Last edited by fep; 07-02-2014 at 10:03 AM.

  38. #187

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    I fully understand the need for speed. But I also see how with work, and my current technique,; I can get the results I need. So my question stands--is all of this worth it? Was your previous picking technique so bad you needed to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater?
    Just a couple things in response, Jeff, because I respect you and want to give my perspective. I know you're not just trying to troll us.

    Was my previous technique so bad I need to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater? Yes.

    Was this a "dead end" for me that I chased? No. I can pick as fast as I need to now. Scales, licks, arps (somewhat, still struggling a bit with string skipping) at 8ths at 300 bpm. I showed it in my vid. Now I'm working my ass off on my vocabulary.

    Before I had tons and tons of vocabulary that didn't work at fast tempos. I tried slurry stuff. I had shortcuts. I did not sound like a bebop player, like I wanted. I wanted to sound like Joe Pass not Jim Hall. This technique is getting me there.

    It might not be a big deal for you to be able to play jazz lines at 300bpm. That's cool. There are plenty of great players who can't hang at that tempo. I've never heard Frisell even try it, for example.

    But I want to, and this is a great way to do it. And more importantly, it's not a red herring because you can come into this thread and hear from guys who are great players (Philco, Setemupjoe) that are using it and are sharing what works for them. Then you have guys like me that can at least show the chops part is down, if not the whole package of the licks and tunes yet.

    Reg has been a big influence on my thinking over the last year. He keeps talking about, "Can you cover". I want to be able to cover, and I know that I need to get my shit together with picking as well as reading, hearing, knowing tunes. This is one piece of the puzzle, but it's a big one.

    This shit works. I'm a guy who can't play 8s at 300 with standard grip (I show it on the vid I did for Mark) but can do it relaxed and fun with Benson picking, even though I played standard grip for 10 years and having been using the Benson grip for maybe 2 at this point. Things that didn't used to work now do. Totally, 100% worth the time investment.

  39. #188
    destinytot Guest
    Personally, I have always found George Benson’s playing to be the height of joy and exuberance in the various musical contexts in which I’ve heard it over the years. I have always delighted in his trademark super-fast blues-inflected licks – double stops, octaves, bends et al. I will always be a fan.

    However, most of the bluesy stuff he expresses so convincingly will always be a foreign language to me – not just because I’ve become so bourgeois (!), but because it doesn’t articulate my own experience. Pretty lines and lyrical playing is more my bag. (Of course, George Benson playing ‘pretty’ at speed is simply wonderful... (e.g. this uncredited solo @3:40
    )

    But my point is that the definition of my aspirations must come from my own visceral needs – i.e., from within (never from without). I now believe that a ‘growth mindset’ (rather than a ‘fixed mindset’) is all that’s needed to learn new skills.

    I once asked a fellow strummer – one whom I knew to have spent time jamming with Marty Grosz himself - about Marty's tuning and technique. I was told, "You and I have been playing for too long to learn to play that way now." A decade later, when I set out to "learn to play that way" – partly out of sheer defiance of having been told what is (or isn't) within my capabilities – it was not only easier than I’d expected, but is the best musical education (and fun) I’ve ever had.

    How ironic that I should eventually find the ‘Benson picking technique’ so helpful on an acoustic archtop with extremely heavy roundwounds. Mind you, my nylon strings of choice are flatwounds (La Bella 900B).

    No regrets whatsover. I can still only play - convincingly - what I can hear clearly and/or sing correcly. That's how it 'should' be. But he improved articulation alone makes the change worthwhile.

    And, of course, I can still use fingers and/or thumb when required...
    Last edited by destinytot; 07-03-2014 at 04:14 PM. Reason: to add start time of guitar solo

  40. #189

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by 3625
    Yep, the latter is a lot cheaper just kidding!
    I guess that really depends upon the value you put on your time . . . and where the time you'll need to devote to re learning a technique fits into your own personal list of priorities in life.

  41. #190

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    I appreciate both pictures but need to ask a further question about them. Is your thumb more or less pointing the same direction as your index would be (-if you were to say, "I want THAT one there" and point at something) or is it veered out? It's not easy for me to tell from this camera angle.
    My thumb is not pointing in the same direction as my index. It is almost perpendicular to the first phalange of my index. I hope that makes sense


    Edit : here's a nice pic of the master himself

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-georgebensonbluetone2013-14-jpg

    Full resolution : http://smoothjazzphoto.com/content/2...one2013-14.jpg
    Last edited by Nabil B; 07-02-2014 at 05:16 PM.

  42. #191

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Professor Jones
    My thumb is not pointing in the same direction as my index. It is almost perpendicular to the first phalange of my index. I hope that makes sense


    Edit : here's a nice pic of the master himself
    I do know what perpendicular means; if "first phalange" refers to the one nearest the palm, then it makes perfect sense to me.

    Now in that picture of George, it looks to me like his thumb is close to his index finger and pointing the same way his index would if it were pointing. (How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if...) But as JC points out in his tutorial, pictures can be deceptive. For example here, George's index looks fairly straight but I don't think it actually is because it doesn't jut out much past the end of his thumb.

    I wrote to JC today and told him this was something I needed coaching in. Perhaps he can shed more light on this. (I'm hoping he's dealt with this question several times before.)

  43. #192

    User Info Menu

    Thanks to all who have been in touch with me about JC's offer. I expected to hear from some of you and was delighted that many people who have not posted in this thread are interested. Some already have the tutorial. There are more of us than I knew! And each of us a sterling lad, no doubt.

  44. #193
    destinytot Guest
    Hi Mr Beaumont.

    You make an important point, but fast lines like these are no fool's errand (completely free of GB-mimicry):


    PS. I find the fast lines that JC Stylles plays over Cherokee to demonstrate BT to be equally compelling.
    Last edited by destinytot; 07-03-2014 at 05:25 PM. Reason: Add PS

  45. #194

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    Quote Originally Posted by destinytot
    Hi Mr Beaumont. You make an important point, but fast lines like these are no fool's errand (completely free of GB-mimicry):
    Nice. I really enjoyed that.

  46. #195

    User Info Menu

    Thought you guys might find this guy's picking technique interesting. Speaking of "interesting" . . so too are some of his note choices . . .
    Also, that's a pretty nice Heritage H555 . . . similar to the ES355.

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=873698779314188

  47. #196

    User Info Menu

    I like this thread. I began working on the "Benson Technique" after a lesson with Rodney J a couple of years ago. I find that it has improved my touch and accuracy when I revert to my more regular grip, as well as when I use a heavier pick, or when I'm working on Eric Johnson lines, Allen Hinds, Peter Bernstein, etc. These are all dissimilar techniques, different pick and string gauges, etc. But the finesse and accuracy that the Benson approach helps develop seems to carry over, even into a more legato style, like Allen Hinds, or punishing light gauge strings on bluesy stuff like Matt Schofield or Joe Bonamassa.

    For me, it has become an exercise, rather than a commitment. I think it has made my picking more fluid and accurate, even when I veer away from the strict Benson approach.

    And, FWIW, I've learned an awful lot from dead ends, and often times some surprising answers that I didn't expect. Raise a glass to dead ends!

  48. #197

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    All I'm saying is, are you positive that your current technique couldn't be worked on to achieve the same results?

    I fully understand the need for speed. But I also see how with work, and my current technique,; I can get the results I need. So my question stands--is all of this worth it? Was your previous picking technique so bad you needed to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater?
    all good points by everybody IMHO.

    For myself I can positively say "yes, the right hand technique that I have/had is/was so bad (long swinging arm motions with stiff wrist) that it is not possible to go to any higher speed" (and I am not even strting to talk about 300 bpm). Yet, I agree with fep that it sometimes is necessary to be able to play fast - and not to win shredder awards. So, it is clear to me that I need to change something. I am also of the opinion that whatever it is in the end, it should feel comfortable and natural. This excludes Benson picking for me, which (to me!) feels incredibly awkward and unnatural (to me!). For example that picure that fep put up about his right hand position and pick grip - that obviously feels natural and comfortable to him - would absolutely not work for me. Watching the people pick who have it down (and foremost the man himself) is a pleasure though.

    Instead I asked myself how my arm and right hand would be positioned if I just completely relax and work from there. That worked. For me, it does imply a somewhatmore accute pick angle (previously I had wrongly assumed the pick needs to be parallel to the strings). The rest, I guess, is continous dedicated right hand practice which I have put in over a few month and the results are encouraging (metronome, slow, focus on precision, right/left coordination etc). I guess the economy of motion and the precision of the attack is important. The Benson technique may help one to get there but there are certainly many other ways one can achieve that too. I spent some time watching YouTube videos of fast players and their techniques are all over the map in terms of pick angle, hand position, anchoring on the bridge, anchoring the pinky etc etc.

    For different reasons I also got started on gypsy picking technique (on accoustic guitar). At first it felt quite strange but after a little while it started to make sense. I'm still slower than with standard technique though. I like the strong attack one gets from these reststrokes and the control it gives over downwards sweep/economy. The motion of an angled wrist is stronger, maybe a bit harder to control but it can become insanely fast while staying very clean. Again, watching the greats like Stochello Rosenberg, Birelli Lagrene or Joscho Stephan is a pleasure. I guess one could play an archtop this way. On a solidbody I don't think it would work though.

    Whether I will ever be able to think fast enough to play at 300 bpm is open to debate regardless of technique :-)

    Anyways, just my 0.02$

    Cheers,
    Frank
    Last edited by Frank67; 07-04-2014 at 02:29 AM.

  49. #198

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    Quote Originally Posted by yebdox
    For me, it has become an exercise, rather than a commitment. I think it has made my picking more fluid and accurate, even when I veer away from the strict Benson approach.
    For me, that's the main thing. Speed is nice but the fluidity and accuracy are more important. (Some shredders are fast and accurate but there's no fluidity there. Eddie Van Halen is fluid, but he is the exception among hyper-fast rock players.) My 'traditional' playing was despairingly inconsistent. I had to find another way to hold a pick or move my hand (or both) just so that I could be consistent. Now I'm getting that and I'm thrilled!

  50. #199

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    Quote Originally Posted by destinytot
    Thanks, Mark. But Mr Beaumont is absolutely right. The best advice I've heard was to read Emerson's SELF-RELIANCE, in which he writes, "Imitation is suicide.".
    If holding a pick like Benson does is "imitation" and "imitation is suicide," then what is holding a pick the way Charlie Christian did? Or Herb Ellis or Barney Kessel? Surely, using the conventional grip is the more widespread "imitation" and would have to be the more common form of gutiaristic suicide than the Benson grip.

  51. #200

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankLearns
    all good points by everybody IMHO.

    For myself I can positively say "yes, the right hand technique that I have/had is/was so bad (long swinging arm motions with stiff wrist) that it is not possible to go to any higher speed" (and I am not even strting to talk about 300 bpm). Yet, I agree with fep that it sometimes is necessary to be able to play fast - and not to win shredder awards. So, it is clear to me that I need to change something. I am also of the opinion that whatever it is in the end, it should feel comfortable and natural. This excludes Benson picking for me, which (to me!) feels incredibly awkward and unnatural (to me!). For example that picure that fep put up about his right hand position and pick grip - that obviously feels natural and comfortable to him - would absolutely not work for me. Watching the people pick who have it down (and foremost the man himself) is a pleasure though.

    Instead I asked myself how my arm and right hand would be positioned if I just completely relax and work from there. That worked. For me, it does imply a somewhatmore accute pick angle (previously I had wrongly assumed the pick needs to be parallel to the strings). The rest, I guess, is continous dedicated right hand practice which I have put in over a few month and the results are encouraging (metronome, slow, focus on precision, right/left coordination etc). I guess the economy of motion and the precision of the attack is important. The Benson technique may help one to get there but there are certainly many other ways one can achieve that too. I spent some time watching YouTube videos of fast players and their techniques are all over the map in terms of pick angle, hand position, anchoring on the bridge, anchoring the pinky etc etc.

    For different reasons I also got started on gypsy picking technique (on accoustic guitar). At first it felt quite strange but after a little while it started to make sense. I'm still slower than with standard technique though. I like the strong attack one gets from these reststrokes and the control it gives over downwards sweep/economy. The motion of an angled wrist is stronger, maybe a bit harder to control but it can become insanely fast while staying very clean. Again, watching the greats like Stochello Rosenberg, Birelli Lagrene or Joscho Stephan is a pleasure. I guess one could play an archtop this way. On a solidbody I don't think it would work though.

    Whether I will ever be able to think fast enough to play at 300 bpm is open to debate regardless of technique :-)

    Anyways, just my 0.02$

    Cheers,
    Frank
    Frank . . you very tactfully and diplomatically hit upon so many great points within this thread it would be difficult for me to pick out which of them I agree with the most. But suffice to say . . I agree with the entire post.
    Last edited by Patrick2; 07-04-2014 at 10:51 AM.