Reply to Thread Bookmark Thread
Page 1 of 43 12311 ... LastLast
Posts 1 to 50 of 2146
  1. #1
    I've been on this list for some time now and haven't contributed anything in the way of videos so I thought I'd weigh in on the Benson picking subject. I'm certainly no expert and have only recently got comfortable enough to show where I'm up to.
    I changed to this technique about 18 months ago I think and only recently (in the last month) had a break through on the "relaxed wrist" part of the technique. Up until then I was using my forearm way to much.

    I still have quite a way to go and you will hear that I bash a few open strings here and there. I am getting much better at muting with the left hand but I'm not quite there yet.
    Anyway I hope you get something out of it.......if you're interested in this subject.

    I'm pretty much just blazing away with no attempt at being musical. Just playing fast cliche's etc. But I hope you can see how relaxed the speed can be when you get that wrist and pick angle working for you.

    Excuse my attire....it's hot in Australia right now.

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

    User Info Menu

    Great demo.

    I really like how relaxed your right hand and wrist are even when picking very fast.
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  4. #3

    User Info Menu

    Very nice!
    Thanks

  5. #4

    User Info Menu

    Nice demonstration, thanks, Philco. How heavy or light a pick are you using? (I understand Benson uses a Fender medium or equivalent?)

    How long did it take you to resist bailing on the technique during jams or performances?

    On what exercises did you initially concentrate to cement the new picking movement?

    Thanks for any additional information you'd care to share.

  6. #5

    User Info Menu

    Beautiful playing, sound, articulation. Thanks for sharing. I'm probably not making the switch any time soon but it still was a treat to watch. Seems to really be working for you!
    Oh, hi - if interested, I post a lot of playing/practice clips at www.instagram.com/JakeEstner

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by M-ster View Post
    Nice demonstration, thanks, Philco. How heavy or light a pick are you using? (I understand Benson uses a Fender medium or equivalent?)

    How long did it take you to resist bailing on the technique during jams or performances?

    On what exercises did you initially concentrate to cement the new picking movement?

    Thanks for any additional information you'd care to share.
    Hi M-ster. On the demo I'm using a Blue Chip BC Jazz LG (large) .35 and it's .89 thick.
    And actually it's too thick. BUT the point or shape of the sides is just perfect.
    The nature of Blue Chip picks is that they slide off the string.
    It's great for this technique but not perfect. A little too thick when you get down to the bass strings. When you want to be articulate down there then you don't want the pick to be making a noise and this pick does have a bit of that noise.

    There is no advantage to having a thick pick when you use this technique.
    Think about it. You are holding the pick slightly sideways.....that's about the thickest pick in the world!!
    So having a thick pick is a disadvantage because of the tip and shape of the sides.

    GB used a Fender Med for years and they work well for me also. Although I can't use the same amount of angle when I use that pick. It gets muffled.
    In fact I don't think GB uses such an acute angle and if you watch closely you can see his pick really flexing and moving A LOT!
    So I don't think a thick pick works for this technique. It's not about being rigid at all. It's about a fluid and relaxed motion and that includes the plectrums motion between the fingers.

    Right after finishing this clip I changed back to a V Pick "Ruby Red Tradition Ultra Thin" which is shaped like those larger Fender picks and is .75 thick and flexes quite a bit. It has a really nice point and sounds good as well. It's actually easier to use than the Blue Chip. I should have used it on the demo. Here it is
    V-picks pick : Ruby Red Traditon Ultra Lite

    It has a little more area to hang on to.

    Having said all that let me also say that I can use almost any pick and make the technique work to a degree but thinner is better as a rule (for me)

    You asked how long it took to resist baling on the technique.
    In fact I never went back once I changed.
    But it was very frustrating because I was trying to figure out all the components and you really need someone sitting in the room with you to show you all the angles.
    At the very beginning I was doing this thing where I really bent my wrist around and cupped my hand facing upwards.
    I immediately could feel the power of the technique but my wrist really hurt from being bent so much. I did that for quite some months.
    Then I noticed that my index finger was almost straight. No curve at all. So I worried about that because GB's is definitely bent.
    I was also curving my wrist right around the bridge because for some misguided reason I thought this was part of the method.

    Then about 3 months ago I bought the JC Styles video and sent him some photos of my pick grip.
    He quickly sorted me out and was a great help. (I've never had a guitar lesson in my life so it was nice to interact with some one even if only by email)

    THEN I really started watching GB videos. There are a couple of beauties out there that clearly show his pick grip.
    I realised a few very important things.
    1 His hand and body are so relaxed.
    2 His hand goes over the bridge not underneath it (doh....what was I thinking?)
    3 His wrist is not bent into some contorted position.
    4 MOST IMPORTANT POINT his wrist is like rubber and the whole technique is PART OF THE GROOVE of the music.
    It's the driving point of the groove. He can strum, pick and move that hand over the bridge and it's all part of a fluid movement......grooving with the music.
    Connected all the way to the pick.

    So I stopped thinking about this RIGID position that I had to maintain. I allowed my hand to move over the bridge and up and down and back and forth.
    THEN I saw I big step forward.

    So to answer your question......I don't play with other people yet so there was no "jam session" where I wanted to switch back.
    I found to much improvement to ever want to go back.
    I've never performed playing jazz. I'm not sure if I ever will. I just love to play and write.

    You asked "what exercises did I concentrate on"
    To answer accurately I would say....no particular exercise but just ONLY playing with this technique.

    I thoroughly worked through the Pat Martino solo on "Along Came Betty" and made sure to pick every note thet he picked and keep to tempo and swing as he did. I would have worked on that for 6 months (I get fanatical)
    He is very precise and accurate and his staccato is truly super human.
    That intense practice really helped.
    I then moved on to only playing in Melodic Minor and working out what our list member Reg was doing and how he was thinking. I wrote a lot of songs in MM and am learning to impro through them. This has taken almost a year of my practice. I think I played a couple off MM things in the video.
    This also helped with the picking because I was looking at the sweeping positions available in MM and there are a lot.

    But I didn't just sit there are and noodle with my plectrum. Although I was always looking at the hand and seeing what I was doing. Always trying to solve some stroke problem.
    I worked on some Birelli rest stroke licks, some Oberg arpeggios.
    I found that this technique can work on all of them.
    I should have also demoed some hybrid picking.....using some fingers of the right hand to pluck as well. This is also doable.
    I worked on that Jess Van Ruller tune "Circles" which has a lot of that hybrid picking (even though he palms the pick.....for this exercise I did not)

    Clearly you don't have to change to this technique. There are thousands of great players using their own style of grip.
    And I'm certain I'm not doing it exactly as GB is. But whatever convoluted position I have arrived at is very comfortable for me now and I'm really glad I made the switch.

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by JakeAcci View Post
    Beautiful playing, sound, articulation. Thanks for sharing. I'm probably not making the switch any time soon but it still was a treat to watch. Seems to really be working for you!
    Hey thanks Jake, that means a lot coming from you. I know how closely you attend to detail.

  9. #8

    User Info Menu

    This is a really good video with lots of helpful video angles and patient explanations. You sound great! Your left hand is keeping up with that rapid picking, which is most impressive!

    But... Everything you play is fast. How about slow notes with a solid, punchy attack? I find that traditional picking is far better for that kind of playing, which I want to have as more or less my bread and butter. It's the main reason I've tried Benson style a few times and I've always given it up. It always sounds clicky and less solid when you can really hear the isolated individual notes.

    How about your experience?
    Permanent favorites: 2016 Gibson L-5 WesMo, 1999 Gibson L-5CESN, 1928 Gibson L-5
    Play more, buy less

  10. #9
    Thanks for the kind words RP.
    I would argue that single slow notes are much warmer and fatter using this technique. You can hear the difference in the video when I used normal grip and then changed to the other.

    BUT and it's a big BUT.......you have to use flat wound strings.
    Striking round wound strings sideways sounds horrid using this technique. Just way too scratchy.

    You might remember from another post you started about acoustic arch top playing, that I have no interest in doing so.
    Just not my thing.
    The only style of Jazz guitar I like is bop based and electric. From Wes to Rosenwinkle.
    Chord soloing? No thanks. Maybe 5 minutes of Ted Greene and then I'm tuned out.

    I have quite an unsophisticated and limited palate.
    But what I like....I love with a passion.

  11. #10

    User Info Menu

    Philco,

    That's a very interesting point about the strings! I'll bet you are 100% right about it, too. The worst offender is the low E string, which has the widest windings, so it's quite clear.

    Your palate is far from limited - you are simply focused. So your instrument setup and technique are aligned accordingly. Much to be admired there! Anyway I will keep experimenting, as I want to develop the technique for use on instruments where it's appropriate (even with roundwounds; I don't use flats at all).

    Thanks for your thoughtful feedback.
    Permanent favorites: 2016 Gibson L-5 WesMo, 1999 Gibson L-5CESN, 1928 Gibson L-5
    Play more, buy less

  12. #11

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Philco View Post
    There is no advantage to having a thick pick when you use this technique.
    Think about it. You are holding the pick slightly sideways.....that's about the thickest pick in the world!!
    So having a thick pick is a disadvantage because of the tip and shape of the sides.
    Hi Philco,

    You may remember that I'm trying to develop this technique. I don't have it anywhere near to the level that you have developed it. This video is inspiring to me. This was taught me some new points and the emphasis on relaxation is a good reminder to me. I need to get to work. Thank you for the video.

    I have been using a thick pick. I don't understand how it is a disadvantage but I will do some experimenting to see if I can feel/hear the difference.

    I've taken the approach of having the 'Benson' technique be my main picking technique but I'll use a couple of other techniques also. The main other technique I use is hybrid picking which I do by rotating my hand to a more traditional position. This is where I prefer the thicker pick. I'll try to do a short video to show everyone what I'm doing for hybrid picking.
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  13. #12

    User Info Menu

    Great information and discourse, Philco. Thanks for sharing.

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by fep View Post
    Hi Philco,

    You may remember that I'm trying to develop this technique. I don't have it anywhere near to the level that you have developed it. This video is inspiring to me. This was taught me some new points and the emphasis on relaxation is a good reminder to me. I need to get to work. Thank you for the video.

    I have been using a thick pick. I don't understand how it is a disadvantage but I will do some experimenting to see if I can feel/hear the difference.

    I've taken the approach of having the 'Benson' technique be my main picking technique but I'll use a couple of other techniques also. The main other technique I use is hybrid picking which I do by rotating my hand to a more traditional position. This is where I prefer the thicker pick. I'll try to do a short video to show everyone what I'm doing for hybrid picking.
    Hi Frank, I remember seeing a little video of you when you played a phrase using the BT. I thought the actual sound of you striking the string was fat and warm and I really liked it.

    Can I just say that at any time in this discussion......if I start sounding like some expert in any way......please shoot me down.
    I am at the beginning of a long journey and my comments should be taken in the spirit of one traveller to another.
    I can only tell you what's working for me at this point in time.

    Ok the thick pick thing:
    Two points......IMHO.
    1 Fluid movement.
    From your shoulder to your forearm to your wrist to the point where you hold your plectrum should all be fluid and relaxed. Shall we say.....a slave to the groove?

    So why have a stiff and thick immovable object at the very end of this chain?
    (but Gypsy players do!!!.....ah yes but THAT is a whole different story)

    Warning.....I'm gonna keep referencing George.
    Watch This....
    I can't post it on YouTube because it's Copyright.
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/o175bdzdjp...0Hand%20HQ.mov

    OK......see how his arm to his wrist AND the plectrum are ALL flexing.
    Everything is moving! Even his thumb and index finger move slightly independently.
    All part of one motion.
    I mean look at the flexing and movement of the plectrum. It's moving all over the place!!
    Like a shock absorber.
    Now...........you wanna put a thick plectrum in there???
    The plectrum has to move with you. It's part of the groove....part of your hand.

    Our very own list member Reg is a good point of reference. His right hand is fluid and his groove drives his single lines. His hand is always moving with the groove. All part of the one organic thing.

    2 The POINT of the plectrum.
    Small foot print.
    The tip of the plectrum is the next concern.
    It's the very thing that touches the string. Point of contact. The end and final statement of the transaction.....right there.
    Do you want a big stubby point?
    No.
    Do you want a really thin little point?
    No
    Somewhere in between?
    Probably.

    The pick has to be "nimble" not brutish and tough.

    Final point.
    Thick plectrums (and I have an obscene collection) make way too much noise when used at an angle.
    Especially on the bass strings. You have to be able to navigate down there without elbowing your way through those beautiful thick ribbons. Dainty is the touch.
    The footprint must be as small as possible to let the note speak.
    Every time you strike a note you don't want your plectrum to shout "HEY ME"

    Nothing in the chain should be rigid.....is my point.
    Last edited by Philco; 01-13-2013 at 06:52 PM.

  15. #14

    User Info Menu

    Thanks Philco,

    That is a really well analyzed and detailed explanation. The Benson video does really show the movement of the pick and everything else. That's a great video.

    I'm thinking of your words "shaking", "groove", "relaxation", and Reg and your motion (Benson too). I've experienced that "shaking" but only when I tense up and move from the elbow. So I think I know the sensation I'm after, now just to get it dialed in from the wrist and completely relaxed.

    I'm using a Gibson light right now, maybe it's too light but I'm understanding/feeling the benefit of a light pick as you described. It's probably 30 years old and hasn't been used much. I don't think they're made anymore. (I've been using heavy picks for a long time.)
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  16. #15

    User Info Menu

    Great vid, Philco. Thanks for posting this. I've flirted with this technique a couple times but I now realize I wasn't working my wrist right.

    I have a question, if you don't mind. When you turn your hand to play this way, how does that change (if any) the way your right arm rests on the guitar?
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  17. #16

    User Info Menu

    Hi Phil,

    I don't think that you'll be troubled by any single note run from now on, and I'm very jealous. I can hear the confidence/relaxation in your playing. May I ask, to what extent have you rotated the pick relative to the orientation of your index finger? For example, if your index finger was pointing skywards, is the point of the pick pointing towards the guitar? I imagine that if the pick is rotated, then this would allow for the palm facing upward position and hence the 'wristier' action.

    Stu.

  18. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Stu Foley View Post
    Hi Phil,

    I don't think that you'll be troubled by any single note run from now on, and I'm very jealous. I can hear the confidence/relaxation in your playing. May I ask, to what extent have you rotated the pick relative to the orientation of your index finger? For example, if your index finger was pointing skywards, is the point of the pick pointing towards the guitar? I imagine that if the pick is rotated, then this would allow for the palm facing upward position and hence the 'wristier' action.

    Stu.
    Thanks Stu, the pick's orientation to the point of the index finger is a little mysterious in that I've seen pictures where George and JC Styles seem to have the point of the pick aiming almost exactly to the point of the index.
    I simply can't do that. My picks point would be facing my eyes instead of aiming at the strings.

    The point of my pick is aiming at the strings. My index is as per the following photos.

    Am I right? Am I wrong? Is there a right or wrong?

    This is how far my thumb is behind the index. This is very important and is one feature of the way GB grips.
    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-photo-3-jpg

    Now with the pick inserted. Check out the "overhang". This gives me the flex and movement.....and allows fast strumming.
    You can vary this and it will also change the sound.
    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-photo-6-jpg

    Different angles so you can see the index.
    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-photo-8-jpgBenson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-photo-4-jpgBenson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo-photo-7-jpg

    The middle shot is pretty much how I see my hand when playing.....although a little less rotated and my fingers are tucked in more in the photo.
    I can't quite tuck my fingers in as much as GB. It tends to raise my hand to high from the scratch plate.

    I always rest the side of the top of my pinky on the guard. Sometimes I'm also resting on the bridge.

  19. #18

    User Info Menu

    Hi Philco,

    It's amazing how such a small thing can make a difference. My grip is very similar to yours except my thumb wasn't pulled back like that. I changed my thumb by pulling it back. That and the thin pick really do change things, the way this let's the pick bend a little really makes a difference.

    I was able to get that 'shaking' feeling with the wrist. (I remember Reg describing it as if there was a magnetic field pushing the pick back and forth, if I'm remembering correctly.) It's interesting that it seems this can't be learned or felt by practicing slowly. I was really able to feel it at 16th notes around 145 bpm. I'm really sloppy, no, really really sloppy at that tempo. It's unusable at that tempo for now, but I think this may be a breakthrough.

    Thanks for those photos.
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  20. #19

    User Info Menu

    Interesting thread. I just joined the forum because of this. First, thank you Philco, and thank you for your great selfless attitude. I've been playing for over 35 years and my picking technique has always been traditional, inspired by John McLaughlin and Al DiMeola, but my style is inspired more by the modern jazz guys: Metheny, Scofield, Martino etc.. I can pick very fast using the traditional technique if the pattern of inside/outside picking is consistently the same. John McLaughlin shows this "guitaristic" approach on his video using 3 unique notes per string (but playing 4 notes on the string by playing one note twice; i.e. starting on 6th string with a downstroke GAB-DCDE-GFGA-CBCD-EDEF-AG-EFED-CDCB-GAGF-DEDC-ABAG changing strings at each"-" up and down all strings etc.) For some reason, outside picking going up and inside picking going down as this creates, works form me.

    The problem with this approach is that as a jazz improvisor and playing at faster tempos while truely improvising. This confronts you with any variety of notes per string or melodic lines per se and you have to be able to approach any situation with a downstroke or upstroke as a starting point. You made the point to me with the pentatonic/McLaughlin lines on your video. I can come close to your speed, but I'm tense and struggling, even when fully warmed up.

    I'll try this GB picking out and see if I can develop this into my playing as it may be a breakthrough change for me. Some concerns:

    * I'm not sure I want to switch to flat wounds, how about the Newtone Double Wound Nickel Electric Archtop strings. Are those close enough or do you really need to switch to flat wounds? Adam Rogers appears to pick this way and it states he uses round wounds on his website.
    * I'll try a thinner pick, because trying this last night with a heavy Dunlop Jazztone didn't workfor me, of course I have no idea what I'm doing yet.
    * It looks like you are slicing the string with the pick at a 90 degree angle rather than hitting it parallel as one does with traditional picking?
    * For playing a variety of advanced concepts (triads, shapes, melodic minor, 2 notes per string etc.) that don't always involve fast lines, it sounds like from what you said that this shouldn't affect that aspect of a persons' playing? What are your thoughts.

    Thanks again,

    Dave
    Last edited by dking; 01-15-2013 at 08:47 PM.

  21. #20

    User Info Menu

    I've heard of Benson picking for years but have never tried it before now. Man, it feels weird! I can sort of see it for amplified jazz but when I tried to play Cattle in the Cane on my acoustic it felt like all the power was gone from the pick stroke. I'll play around with this some more but it feels completely alien right now. similar to the way some players I admire rest their pinky on the pickguard when they play fingerstyle but my whole hand hurts when I try it. How long didi it take folks to become comfortable with this approach?

  22. #21

    User Info Menu

    Hi Phil and everyone,
    I came to this posting late but I thought I'd throw my hat into the ring and post a quick and dirty video to show you how I'm using the Benson grip over the changes to Slow Boat to China.


  23. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by dking View Post
    Interesting thread. I just joined the forum because of this. First, thank you Philco, and thank you for your great selfless attitude. I've been playing for over 35 years and my picking technique has always been traditional, inspired by John McLaughlin and Al DiMeola, but my style is inspired more by the modern jazz guys: Metheny, Scofield, Martino etc.. I can pick very fast using the traditional technique if the pattern of inside/outside picking is consistently the same. John McLaughlin shows this "guitaristic" approach on his video using 3 unique notes per string (but playing 4 notes on the string by playing one note twice; i.e. starting on 5th string with an upstroke DCDE-GFGA-CBCD-EDEF-etc.) For some reason, outside picking going up and inside picking going down as this creates, works form me.

    The problem with this approach is that as a jazz improvisor and playing at faster tempos while truely improvising. This confronts you with any variety of notes per string or melodic lines per se and you have to be able to approach any situation with a downstroke or upstroke as a starting point. You made the point to me with the pentatonic/McLaughlin lines on your video. I can come close to your speed, but I'm tense and struggling, even when fully warmed up.

    I'll try this GB picking out and see if I can develop this into my playing as it may be a breakthrough change for me. Some concerns:

    * I'm not sure I want to switch to flat wounds, how about the Newtone Double Wound Nickel Electric Archtop strings. Are those close enough or do you really need to switch to flat wounds? Adam Rogers appears to pick this way and it states he uses round wounds on his website.
    * I'll try a thinner pick, because trying this last night with a heavy Dunlop Jazztone didn't workfor me, of course I have no idea what I'm doing yet.
    * It looks like you are slicing the string with the pick at a 90 degree angle rather than hitting it parallel as one does with traditional picking?
    * For playing a variety of advanced concepts (triads, shapes, melodic minor, 2 notes per string etc.) that don't always involve fast lines, it sounds like from what you said that this shouldn't affect that aspect of a persons' playing? What are your thoughts.

    Thanks again,

    Dave
    As an opener can I just say that the hardest thing about this whole technique is the change over period.
    You will go slightly nuts. People around you will wonder what's happening with you.
    And the the basic reason you are going nuts is because ....once you could play and now you can't!

    The changeover period is brutal because for a time there is no way back. Your old tried and true technique will fall apart.
    Clearly it's not impossible to get back but it takes some time and much frustration ensues.

    Not trying to scare you off but it's probably a good time to evaluate just what you want to achieve.

    Dave, you seem to be in a similar situation to me.
    I could play the fast passages on a good day but I was not in control 100%. I always had to think about it. It was not easy and it was not fun. I don't like having a brick wall in front of me. I want the throttle to be there when it's needed and I want it to flow. I want to think about music, not technique.
    I had nothing to lose. I had just started practicing again after a 20 year lay off. I wasn't playing live and I didn't have a great deal of respect for my current technique.
    I read the Tuck Adreas article and watched Benson play "Affirmation" on YouTube.
    From then on I was on a mission.
    It took 18 months.
    Many break throughs and many break downs. I would "get it" and the next day it was gone.

    The upside is that when everything clicks into place it's so ridiculously easy. Just a piece of cake.
    Rule #1. Don't play your most complex and fastest licks straight up and try to compare the new style with the old. You are bound to fail.

    Take it slow. Go back to the basics of forming a note and making a good sound.

    Strings. You're right, Adam Rogers sounds great on Round Wounds. Is he using an acute angle with the pick? I don't think so.....well I've never seen a close up shot.
    Do YOU have to use an acute angle? Maybe not. There are a number of aspects to this technique. If I was to list the most important one I would say without a doubt it was the relaxed wrist.
    The grip of the pick simply ALLOWS you to use the loose wrist "shaking" method. (shaking isn't the best word really.....I think Fep knows what I mean now)

    So there are a couple of variables. If you look at Marks grip below you can see that his angle isn't as acute as mine and yet he can rip some blistering lines as an afterthought. So relaxed.
    I'm also thinking that he could use round wound strings without too much noise.

    So I think you could find a way around the noise thing. Vary the angle of the pick but keep the relaxed wrist.
    Remember my technique is purely based on bop lines played on an arch top with Flat Wound strings.
    There is no reason why changes can't be made to work in other styles. Just keep the loose wrist.
    You could be the first guy to do it. Why not?

    Yes I am "slicing" the string. My angle is around 45 not 90. I think you could have even less angle and make it work. But the flatter you go the more resistance you will get. Rock shredders angle their picks.....but usually the other way.
    Experiment and be prepared for some frustration.....BUT every now and then you will have a break through......and it's so damn exciting when it happens.

    Re triads etc, this technique is perfect for crossing strings with control. I can do things now that I could never do before. I can now play an arpeggio across strings and make it sound like a single line......because I can control the timing. Before it would sound like a sweep or a triplet.
    I'm still working on that because a few doors have opened in that area.......and I'm running in!

    Good luck!

  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by setemupjoe View Post
    Hi Phil and everyone,
    I came to this posting late but I thought I'd throw my hat into the ring and post a quick and dirty video to show you how I'm using the Benson grip over the changes to Slow Boat to China.


    Hey Mark.....so relaxed. I think you could have made a cup of coffee at the same time you were playing!
    Oh to be at a stage where all I think about is how good it feels to make music. That's my goal...(I do have moments)

    Your initial video was great help to me and this one is a great example of little forearm movement and relaxed wrist motion.
    Thanks for your contribution.

  25. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by fep View Post
    Hi Philco,

    It's amazing how such a small thing can make a difference. My grip is very similar to yours except my thumb wasn't pulled back like that. I changed my thumb by pulling it back. That and the thin pick really do change things, the way this let's the pick bend a little really makes a difference.

    I was able to get that 'shaking' feeling with the wrist. (I remember Reg describing it as if there was a magnetic field pushing the pick back and forth, if I'm remembering correctly.) It's interesting that it seems this can't be learned or felt by practicing slowly. I was really able to feel it at 16th notes around 145 bpm. I'm really sloppy, no, really really sloppy at that tempo. It's unusable at that tempo for now, but I think this may be a breakthrough.

    Thanks for those photos.

    Hey Frank, another step along the way! It goes without saying.....but I'm gonna say it......speed, speed, speed.....it's really boring to listen to when that's all your getting. I can't imagine just how boring it is for a non guitar player to endure.
    It's just part of a palate isn't it......and actually a small part.

    Just enough chilli to leave a glowing after taste............don't you think?
    But not all chilli.

    I love a mid tempo buttery line. Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, Adam Rogers, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Martjin Van Iterson.......
    Timing and tone to serve the melody is most important to me.

    Now if you can execute a little surprise change of gravity when I least expect it then that would be just wonderful.

    Just saying Frank, your tone is already great. Why not practise at a medium tempo until you gain command of the beast and then give it a spanking later on?

    You know the thumb behind the index was a game changer for me......and the most damn awkward thing at first. JC Styles really helped me with this.
    Frank when you get a chance, try a Fender Medium. It's the right size, the right tip.......and cheap!!
    Last edited by Philco; 01-15-2013 at 09:31 PM.

  26. #25

    User Info Menu

    Another short vid seeking enlightenment about this...

    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  27. #26

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    Another short vid seeking enlightenment about this...


    Hi Mark,
    There are a few problems I see. First, don't put your guitar into the classical position onto your left knee, it actually makes it harder to get the Benson position.
    The pick shouldn't be pointing in the same direction as your index finger. It's more at a 10 o'clock position if your index finger is pointing at 12 o'clock. Does that make sense?
    If you haven't checked my original video out regarding this, please do. I try to make the steps for this as clear as possible.

    Good luck,
    Mark

  28. #27

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    Another short vid seeking enlightenment about this...

    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  29. #28

    User Info Menu

    I just tracked down setemupjoe's video. This is a great video:

    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  30. #29

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by fep View Post
    That's totally it Frank. You've nicely summed up the concept. The problem most people have when changing over to this style is that it feels so foreign and because it uses a different muscle group it takes a while to build up any skill or speed. As Phil mentioned earlier, the hardest period is the few months when you initially change over. You lose any skill you previously had and it feels like starting over. The good thing is as you rebuild your technique it feels stronger and more in control.

    Mark

  31. #30

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by fep View Post
    Thanks, Fep. Yes, that helps a lot. I'll spend the afternoon working on this. It looks as if your thumb and index are pointing in the same direction. Is that right? (I normally point my thumb toward the index and in the index toward the strings.)

    By the way, is your guitar resting on your right thigh or suspended (via strap) above it?
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  32. #31

    User Info Menu

    [QUOTE=fep;286333]I just tracked down setemupjoe's video. This is a great video:

    Yeah, that is a great video. Thanks for posting it, Frank.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  33. #32

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by setemupjoe View Post
    Hi Mark,
    There are a few problems I see. First, don't put your guitar into the classical position onto your left knee, it actually makes it harder to get the Benson position.
    The pick shouldn't be pointing in the same direction as your index finger. It's more at a 10 o'clock position if your index finger is pointing at 12 o'clock. Does that make sense?
    If you haven't checked my original video out regarding this, please do. I try to make the steps for this as clear as possible.

    Good luck,
    Mark
    Thanks, Mark. Yes, 10 o'clock position makes sense. Frank posted the original video here so now I've seen that. Great stuff. I think light has dawned.... Thanks!
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  34. #33

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    Thanks, Fep. Yes, that helps a lot. I'll spend the afternoon working on this. It looks as if your thumb and index are pointing in the same direction. Is that right? (I normally point my thumb toward the index and in the index toward the strings.)

    By the way, is your guitar resting on your right thigh or suspended (via strap) above it?
    My thumb and finger are sometimes nearly pointed in the same direction. Most of the time they are a little bit off from that. In the playing position my thumb is pointed more towards my forehead and the index finger is more towards my left shoulder or towards the area on the guitar just above the neck pickup. There is a bit of variance from player to player that I have noticed. Keep your attention on having your thumb pointing upwards and the goal of working your wrist as a hinge.

    I use a strap and the guitar sits above my leg, it's pretty much in the same area as if it was sitting on my right thigh, just a little higher than that.
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  35. #34

    User Info Menu

    Cool Mark, Keep posting videos, this is something were folks have to see your technique to give you feed back.

    I originally thought that this was the "Benson Grip" as some folks will refer to it. It's really not the "Benson Grip", it's the "Benson Technique".

    Just like with a golf swing there is a proper way to grip a club to get a sound golf swing. But there is so much more to getting a good swing than just having the proper grip.

    With this "Benson Technique", holding the pick is definitely part of it, but just as important is the way the palm is facing, the hinge of the wrist, the relaxed hand, wrist, arm, etc. There is more to this than just the grip.
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  36. #35

    User Info Menu

    Third attempt. Think I'm getting there---what do you think?

    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  37. #36

    User Info Menu

    I have nothing intelligent to add, but this is a great thread. I've been working the Benson picking thing for about a year now, and am seeing the benefits, for sure.

  38. #37

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by fep View Post
    I originally thought that this was the "Benson Grip" as some folks will refer to it. It's really not the "Benson Grip", it's the "Benson Technique".


    With this "Benson Technique", holding the pick is definitely part of it, but just as important is the way the palm is facing, the hinge of the wrist, the relaxed hand, wrist, arm, etc. There is more to this than just the grip.
    Great point, Frank. I never had any trouble holding my thumb that way and I thought that WAS the grip, but I was still a million miles away from where I wanted to be. Feels a bit weird but so much more relaxed it's ridiculous. I realize I have to begin a new search for the right pick----I think Philco is right that a heavy pick isn't doesn't provide the same benefit here it would with a conventional grip. Just what we need, another pick thread, right? (Actually, I enjoy pick threads.)
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  39. #38

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    Third attempt. Think I'm getting there---what do you think?

    Hi Mark,
    That is looking way better than your last video. I would try playing slow even quarter note lines, maybe just scales and arpeggios from the 6th string to the 1st string so you can start to get a feel for the movement across the neck. Don't try to play fast yet, that comes with time. Work on your tone and flexibility with the right hand.
    Now that the pick is striking the string at an angle it changes the tone and the feel of picking a string. Concentrate on making your downstrokes pick "through" the string and come to rest on the next string. This is what classical players would call a "rest stroke." This is an important aspect to the technique.
    Keep an easy relaxed grip of the pick, the key is to stay as relaxed as possible. Don't try to crush that pick between your fingers, keep it loose.
    Good luck,
    Mark

  40. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    Third attempt. Think I'm getting there---what do you think?


    I think you are in the ballpark now Mark. So now you have to spend some time practicing. Some days will be good, some days not so. But very shortly it will become natural.....and you will begin to feel some control. Then it builds.

    There are a couple of things you can adjust.
    1 How much pick is hanging out the side (toward the fretboard)
    2 How much pick is hanging down (toward the pick guard)

    I think this is a matter of taste and not a mandatory adjustment.

    Remember what Frank said re the grip only being one element. Once you get comfortable with the grip then start thinking about the loose wrist and it not being totally controlled by the forearm.

    This technique is really hard to put into words.
    If you persist then you will have little "ah"moments as things come together.

    You are trying to change something that you have been comfortable with for years!

    Also I should mention that if you are looking for a guide on how your thumb should look then don't take my video as a good example.
    The very first knuckle of my thumb (at the base) was broken in a bike accident in my teens. They never set it correctly and now I can't bend my thumb back.
    Some of you guys can really get that thumb bent back like a banana!
    I envy you!

  41. #40

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by setemupjoe View Post
    Hi Mark,
    That is looking way better than your last video. I would try playing slow even quarter note lines, maybe just scales and arpeggios from the 6th string to the 1st string so you can start to get a feel for the movement across the neck. Don't try to play fast yet, that comes with time. Work on your tone and flexibility with the right hand.
    Now that the pick is striking the string at an angle it changes the tone and the feel of picking a string. Concentrate on making your downstrokes pick "through" the string and come to rest on the next string. This is what classical players would call a "rest stroke." This is an important aspect to the technique.
    Keep an easy relaxed grip of the pick, the key is to stay as relaxed as possible. Don't try to crush that pick between your fingers, keep it loose.
    Good luck,
    Mark
    Thanks, Mark. You're right, playing slow would be best now. I think I'll take out my old Mel Bay "Technic" book and play those familiar exercises slow and even. As for the relaxed grip, I see the purpose of that; my struggle is keeping the pick from shifting back to pointing the same way my index is. That should take care of itself in a few days.

    Rest stroke, eh? I'm familiar with the concept but I never developed it. I'll try that too. If nothing else, it will take my mind off trying to play fast when I'm not ready for that with this grip.

    As for tone, that's completely different. I figure once I get the grip down, I'll start looking for the right pick. Right now, I'm using the short supply of regular sized picks that I have.

    Relax, relax, relax, and make sure you can see your palm! <<< That's my mantra now. Thanks, man!
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  42. #41

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Philco View Post
    I think you are in the ballpark now Mark. So now you have to spend some time practicing. Some days will be good, some days not so. But very shortly it will become natural.....and you will begin to feel some control. Then it builds.

    There are a couple of things you can adjust.
    1 How much pick is hanging out the side (toward the fretboard)
    2 How much pick is hanging down (toward the pick guard)

    I think this is a matter of taste and not a mandatory adjustment.

    Remember what Frank said re the grip only being one element. Once you get comfortable with the grip then start thinking about the loose wrist and it not being totally controlled by the forearm.

    This technique is really hard to put into words.
    If you persist then you will have little "ah"moments as things come together.

    You are trying to change something that you have been comfortable with for years!
    Thanks, Philco. You're right that I've spent years picking another way but I was never really comfortable with it! I've always struggled with the conventional grip. It's hard to describe but I often felt like the pick was getting in my way sometimes. I was crushingly inconsistent. Many times I thought of just quitting but I'm too stubborn. (And really, nothing else interests as much as the guitar does!)

    Once the grip feels normal and I don't have to keep checking to see whether I've slipped back to the old way, I'll refine the new grip. I'm thrilled finally to be in the ballpark! Thanks!
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  43. #42

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    Great point, Frank. I never had any trouble holding my thumb that way and I thought that WAS the grip, but I was still a million miles away from where I wanted to be. Feels a bit weird but so much more relaxed it's ridiculous. I realize I have to begin a new search for the right pick----I think Philco is right that a heavy pick isn't doesn't provide the same benefit here it would with a conventional grip. Just what we need, another pick thread, right? (Actually, I enjoy pick threads.)
    Hi Mark,

    Good progress, you are getting yourself in the right position. It looks to me that now your wrist does have that hinge type motion. Try opening and relaxing the hand a bit. It's good that you have the side of your pinky on the pick guard. It just looks a little bit firm. Don't worry if it slides around a bit on the pick guard.

    Regarding picks. For me, the small picks don't work as quite a bit of the tip of the pick sticks out from my finger. More so than when I use a traditional picking method. I'm using a regular fender 351 pick, now I'm experimenting with a thin and a medium.
    Last edited by fep; 01-16-2013 at 08:16 PM.
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  44. #43
    Hello guy's; sorry for getting on latte on this topic but i have been studying this technique for some time now; and there something i would like to clarify: rest picking in every downstroke is not what George does; that is what Rodney Jones, or Sheryl Bailey does and it's their interpretation of this particular technique.

    I am not saying that one shouldn't do this but doing it on every downstroke will be detrimental for the development of this technique. I also don't think Philco is doing that on is video but i guess he can answer that question himself.

    Anyway, just trying to clarify this issue.

  45. #44
    Re rest stroke: only sometimes for me....and there doesn't seem to be a reason.
    Well perhaps if I'm economy picking (different from sweeping).
    I was working on some Bireli and Stochelo Rosenberg and played it so much that it has become a part of how I pick.
    If I'm playing a down stroke on a string I will cross to the next string on a down and the first stroke would have been a rest stroke.
    Only sometimes though.
    Everyone is different on this I think.

  46. #45
    The subject of another Benson Technique thread was focused on muting and it's something I work on all the time.
    Left hand muting.

    I am not referring to quickly laying your fingers across the strings to stop a blooper.

    I think there is a technique or style that we are not quite hip to.....especially if you have come from a rock background like me.

    It's the fundamental way we form a note.

    The way I learned was:
    1 Pick note
    2 Pick next note.

    The way I think GB plays is this:
    1 Pick note
    2 Raise finger enough to kill note
    3 Play next note.

    Not when you are playing fast of course....you can't do this with every note.
    BUT you can do this if the first note was on a string below the next note.

    For example (I have a video of GB doing this)
    Play a 4 note phrase like this:
    6th st 8th fret
    6th st 11th fret
    5th st 10th fret
    4th st 8th fret

    I would start this on an up stroke and end on a down.
    Play with a little speed.

    So? Are your 5th and 6th string completely dead when the phrase is finished?
    Every time?

    When GB does this, whatever string he left is completely dead.
    He mutes them before he leaves.

    This is very different for me and I have to work on it......and I think it is a part of the whole technique we are discussing.

    How are your basic muting skills?

  47. #46

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by nunocpinto View Post
    Hello guy's; sorry for getting on latte on this topic but i have been studying this technique for some time now; and there something i would like to clarify: rest picking in every downstroke is not what George does; that is what Rodney Jones, or Sheryl Bailey does and it's their interpretation of this particular technique.

    I am not saying that one shouldn't do this but doing it on every downstroke will be detrimental for the development of this technique. I also don't think Philco is doing that on is video but i guess he can answer that question himself.

    Anyway, just trying to clarify this issue.
    Okay, the deal with the rest stroke is this, and this is why I mention it to people who are switching over from a more standard method.
    When we pick in a standard way the pick moves like a pendulum swinging back and forth over a string. But like a pendulum it starts it's swing from above the plane of the string, swoops down into the plane of the strings to strike the string and then swoops back up the other side to avoid the string directly below it.
    With the Benson technique the pick is now staying within the plane of the strings and moving "through" the strings. There is no lifting the pick out of the plane of the strings. This is one of the strong points of this technique and is what makes it easier to use. I find I don't have that problem I always had of missing strings all the time.
    This concept is explained more fully in the Tuck Andress article and if you have any questions about it, that would be a good place to look for further explanations.
    As far as I know, George Benson does use economy picking on downstrokes which means he is resting his pick on the next string if he's going to pick that string next. Whether or not he uses it in other instances, I think it's a great way to start practicing this method as it reinforces the concept that I explained above.

    Mark

  48. #47

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by fep View Post
    Hi Mark,

    Good progress, you are getting yourself in the right position. It looks to me that now your wrist does have that hinge type motion. Try opening and relaxing the hand a bit. It's good that you have the side of your pinky on the pick guard. It just looks a little bit firm. Don't worry if it slides around a bit on the pick guard.

    Regarding picks. For me, the small picks don't work as quite a bit of the tip of the pick sticks out from my finger. More so than when I use a traditional picking method. I'm using a regular fender 351 pick, now I'm experimenting with a thin and a medium.
    Thanks, Frank. (And to clarify for any who might need it, as there are two Marks in this discussion, I'm the one in need of help while the other Mark, aka setemupjoe, is the one dispensing it.) This morning I was practicing and tried using a small pick now that I have my wrist turned. Seemed to work. I'll post a vid of that this evening as I'm elsewhere now.) I will go to a guitar store today or tomorrow and get some Fender Thins and Mediums to see how that goes.

    It thrills me to receive such good advice from people who are good at this---how long would I have kept going wrong on my own????? Scary thought....
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  49. #48

    User Info Menu

    [QUOTE=Philco;286509]The subject of another Benson Technique thread was focused on muting and it's something I work on all the time.
    Left hand muting.
    How are your left hand muting skills?/QUOTE]

    This is easy to answer. In the words of Lorenz Hart, "It Never Entered My Mind." Well, aside from deadening an un-fretted string in a chord voicing or while playing octaves.
    Indeed, one picking exercise I ran across years ago urged the player to keep each finger down until it had to be moved, which is the opposite of raising each finger (-or at least relaxing the pressure sufficiently) to kill the note just played before playing the next one.

    I get the point, though, and see how it gives each note more punch / definition. One more thing to work on.... (Reminds me of the old saying: "History is not one damned thing after another; it's one damned thing over and over and over.")
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  50. #49

    User Info Menu

    Question 4, concerning sharp pick tips, tip thicknesses, and pick size.

    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  51. #50

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by nunocpinto View Post
    Hello guy's; sorry for getting on latte on this topic but i have been studying this technique for some time now; and there something i would like to clarify: rest picking in every downstroke is not what George does; that is what Rodney Jones, or Sheryl Bailey does and it's their interpretation of this particular technique.

    I am not saying that one shouldn't do this but doing it on every downstroke will be detrimental for the development of this technique. I also don't think Philco is doing that on is video but i guess he can answer that question himself.

    Anyway, just trying to clarify this issue.
    This is just not correct, nunocpinto. Benson absolutely uses a rest-stroke technique that is very similar to what the gypsy jazz guys do. He mentions both Django and Joe Pass frequently as inspirations, and both guys use that technique as well.

    I feel like this conversation happens a lot where people want to insist that Benson is a pure alternate picking player. In the first book of his jazz guitar series Jody Fisher (who got the chance to sit down and play with Benson) even makes note of Benson's technique being "very similar to gypsy jazz" or something similar.

    Anyone who thinks rest-stroke style doesn't work for bop needs to listen to more Joe Pass, IMO.