View Full Version : Picking Hand

Michael Gowell
Jan-02-2006, 12:21pm
I've been learning, very slowly, for many years. #Little inherent talent, just a love for the sound & a stubborn refusal to quit no matter how slow the progress.

I've always used a loose closed fist on my picking hand since that was recommended in nearly all my instructional books. #I've noticed that as I pick faster and more complex licks it's not unusual to brush a knuckle or the back of a finger against a lower string. It's physically irritating and with extended picking a fingerback or two can become sore. #I've tried curling those fingers closer to my palm but once again as the speed increases the problem returns.

In learning some new tab I'll frequently find that I've unconciously opened my fingers and braced my middle and ring fingers on the pickguard. #It always produces a faster string of notes and a much stronger tremelo, but when I become aware of it I go back to the closed fist since that's what I'm "supposed" to do.

Then I was watching an AKUS concert video & noticed that Dan Tyminski picks with an open hand and shamelessly braces a finger or two on the pickguard on occassion. #I'm sure there are other professionals that do that too, I just never noticed - the possibility of changing from the recommended closed fist has just occurred to me.

So whaddaya think? #And is/can/should there be a difference between your picking hand's form when flatpicking guitar instead of mando? #I wonder if I change my picking hand's form for mando maybe I should do it for guitar as well. I use the loose fist for guitar but read a comment that one advantage of extended fingers for guitar flatpicking can be that on an upstroke your little finger can touch the high E string (closest to the floor) and thus provide a reference which will improve accuracy. #I have noticed that a lot of guitar pickers extend their fingers.

Clyde Clevenger
Jan-02-2006, 1:58pm
Everything I know tells me a lose fist, no post is the right way to play and I practice and practice and practice and I can do it on everything right up to almost full speed, almost. Then my hand flattens out, I flop my fingers around like a dead fish and I drill a hole in the top of my mandolin with my little finger. Turns out I can play fast and clean with the floppy finger post method, but I know it's wrong. It may well be too late for me, but I'm not giving up, I'm going practice right now, keep them fingers curled.

Jan-02-2006, 4:26pm
Whatever you feel is working the best I would stick with it. Whether it be a loose fist or fingers dangling down. Two things you want to stray away from is a tight fist and a firm plant with fingers. Brushing your pickgaurd or top of mandolin or a loose plant is alright I feel. But I feel if you have a firm plant with one or two fingers than you start loosing your range of motion in your hand. You will see many pros do a light plant when they get into some tough passages and such.

Personally my fingers dangle down while playing rhythm and lightly brush and sometime lightly plant on my pickgaurd.I usually will do the light plant when I get into a long run of cross picking or such to give me a little more accuarcy.

James Sanford
Jan-02-2006, 5:50pm
Another word from an old picker. I have always used the finger open or extended method. I don't know if its better or worse as a rule but it has worked for me.

Old habits are hard to break and I have experimented with the closed fist style but can't make it work. I do not plant a finger although I will brush the top with my little finger occasionally. I do not use a pick guard at all.

Good luck with your pickin.

Pickin&Grinning 35 years http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

John S
Jan-05-2006, 10:52am
IMO whatever position you're more relaxed in, use that one. My fingers naturally curl in to a loose fist, so I use the loose fist. The mechanical engineer in me wanted to use the open hand instead, since I figured that the extended fingers might help in attaining a steady back-n-forth picking rhythm (think of a pendulum), but that position just isn't natural for me.