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Persistence…sometimes it does pay off.

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In my previous blog, I was bemoaning the fact that my right hand seemed to be failing to keep up. Some times it would work, and sometimes not. Well, I think I may have hit upon something that has improved my right hand technique drastically.

At one point I was asking myself, "Why can't I play fast anymore?" And as I gave this some thought, I began to realize...I actually can play fast. When I play tremolo, it's basically extremely fast picking. So, I wondered why I could do that, but not on single-string playing.

Turns out, I was using a slightly different right hand position with tremolo than on individual string picking. When I needed tremolo, my right hand would turn the pick upwards, in a position most people refer to as a left hand tilt. Thile actually uses a right hand tilt, where the pick is tilted down. Then, at some point, I heard that John Reischman uses a left hand tilt, so I figured, if it's good enough for him...

So I decided that I need to to try and pick all my notes the same way I was doing my tremolo, rather than switching between a square pick strike, and a tilted pick. Easier said than done. My square pick stroke involved some squirming fingers, which facilitated some of the pick movement. This is fine when your fingers are young and strong, but as I aged, and developed some joint pain, the movement became impossible to do. So, another part of my new goal was to eliminate using my fingers to move the pick, and use only the wrist, which I had observed most of the good players do.

Some experimenting with different picks was in order to find the best pick to accomplish this, as if I hadn't already tried every pick in the world already. But, I had never tried a pick with a left hand bevel. Instead of reviewing all the picks I went through, I'll just say that I settled on a Blue Chip TAD 80 with a left hand bevel. Trying to pick individual notes with a left hand tilt was a bit like like starting over...okay it was just like starting over. If you have read my previous post, you'll notice it was written in 2012. So it has been a couple of years in the making, but I'm telling you, there seems to be no limit to how fast my right hand can go.

Now, I need to educate my left hand.

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  1. LongBlackVeil's Avatar
    I'm also taking a closer look at my right hand technique, specifically how I attack the strings .Coming from guitar I didn't really adjust anything when I started playing mandolin, I already held the pick like most mandolin pickers do, so I kind of just winged it.

    There's a lady at my jam who can just pull so much cutting volume out of any mandolin she plays. I think I'll talk to her and try and get some pointers

    Keep on persisting! It's easy to persist with that excellent Red diamond you have though isn't it!
  2. fredfrank's Avatar
    Having a great mandolin makes it more tempting to stay with it. I know my right hand technique for guitar is pretty different from my mandolin technique. It might be string spacing or playing double strings versus single...whatever it is, one style doesn't fit both.
  3. Sevelos's Avatar
    Lately it started happening to me much more frequently that my hands "forget" what to play (while performing), and I try to hide my embarassment by improvising something and then getting back to the tune. Maybe age? I'm just 44...
    As to tilting the pick - I mostly use alternate picking, doing tremolo-like movement when playing fast. When moving from one string to another, I tilt the pick slightly down when I need to strike the "new" string from below (i.e., an upward stroke) and slightly tilt up when striking a string from above.
    Updated Jul-08-2015 at 6:57pm by Sevelos