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Thread: Right Hand Technique

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    Default Right Hand Technique

    Recently I decided to try a Thile tune called Hop the Fence and what I discovered was how poor my right hand technique is. It's been said over and over how important the right hand is and a tune like this will expose all my weaknesses. So I'm looking for help and advice on what works. I've watched John Reischman, for example, but his style is somewhat personal. Then there's Mike Marshall, Joe K Walsh, and so many of the Mandolin Monday players. What most of these players have in common is a closed hand, some tighter than others. I keep working that method but have found it hard to learn. I'm not sure how much pick tip to expose between fingers, how loose to allow my wrist to be, and how much, if any, lower arm movement to allow. I'd like to hear how others have solved these issues.

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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    There are so many aspects to right hand technique, and I feel like I'm always working on all of them. Playing with a closed fist has become automatic for me, but one ongoing challenge is to try and hold the pick as loosely as possible. Looseness of the pick hold seems to lead to less tension in the arm and wrist, which leads to smoother picking. I've also migrated towards having half or more of the pick sticking out. I used to grip the pick with my thumb pretty near the center of the pick and only the point exposed, but I find I can get more finesse and wrist action if I shift my hold to expose more pick. Kinda hard to explain, but like you I noticed that the players whose technique I admire have a loose hold with a lot of pick exposed.

    One other change I'm working on is experimenting with a pointier pick. I've used rounded picks for a decade (BC 60 TAD-3R being the main one), but I see players whose tone I like using pointier ones. I'm currently working with an EML large triangle (PEEK - essentially the same size and shape as a BC CT55), and I'm finding that by angling it more across the strings (like so, but not so extreme - =\=) I can get a tone that I like, and also get good volume with less effort.
    Mitch Russell

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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    Quote Originally Posted by dorenac View Post
    I'm not sure how much pick tip to expose between fingers, how loose to allow my wrist to be, and how much, if any, lower arm movement to allow. I'd like to hear how others have solved these issues.
    For me, the slow climb toward faster playing has dictated what my right hand needs. At slower tempos I can play pretty well with about any configuration.

    As I increase speed above 100 I need less tip, more support under the pick. Curling my index finger back to support the pick more on the upstroke causes my hand to close more. Also my forearm takes over where my thumb and index finger used to help out the pick stroke.

    Efficiency is the key imo. Practice being efficient on the upstroke as well as the downstroke and it may help you feel your way to a more optimum technique

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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    Well the pick I am using, and really like, have settled on, is the BC CT55 with no bevel. So there's a good point, and I like the tone (slightly warmer) with a round bevel rather than a speed bevel. Speed isn't priority here, I'm striving for accuracy and tone mostly. This Hop the Fence, for me, is a good skill building exercise if played in 2nd position. I don't know if I'll ever get it to flow smoothly, it's difficult for me to "find the strings" sometimes when working with it. By that I mean there are aspects of cross-picking to it as well as tricky up/down stroke picking and my right hand almost gets tangled up sometimes. I vacillate between a loose grip and tight grip. As I recall somewhere Thile recommended a loose grip on this particular tune. And for that matter I believe Mike Marshall is a proponent of loose grip also.

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    Registered User KGreene's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    I'd really like to hear more ideas for improvement regarding right hand as well. I'm fairly comfortable with almost any song that may come up in a jam, even taking breaks on songs I don't really know (once I've heard the melody and progression)...But I often find myself lacking the finesse and playing it somewhat like a guitar (for lack of a better example) during these unfamiliar tunes.

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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    The finest explanation of 'how to do it correctly',means nothing unless you practice !. So,cut out the explanation bit,& just 'practice' until ''you get it right for you''. Like many others on here,i'm 100% self-taught, & that's how we did it. Others ''coming down the pike'' will do the same.

    When i kicked off,i could hardly hold a pick !. It took weeks to get to the point where me & the pick were in the same place for more than 5 minutes at a time. I got there !!.

    Even with the almost supernatural talent of Chris Thile - i'd like a /$ for every hour he's put into his practicing. Despite having a few good teachers - he did all the work.

    Also - don't take what others do as 'Gospel' - it ain't. What works for others might not work for you,so try 'what others do' - & if it doesn't work for you,do it your way,
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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    Quote Originally Posted by dorenac View Post
    Mike Marshall is a proponent of loose grip also.
    To get a flowing, easy and pleasant-sounding picking technique, a loose pick grip is key, to the point of almost falling out of your hand.

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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    If you can play three consecutive stings in a row, constantly alternating down/up, you can do about anything with a pick. Be relaxed and swing wide.

    D A E D A E D A E D A E, etc

    This pattern is good too, again, always down/up:
    A A E A A E A A E A A E, etc

    Andy

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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    As a subscriber to Peghead Nation(NFI)--Joe K Walsh's lessons--I went back to re-listen to his comments about the right hand. His metaphor for the right hand "fist" is to pretend to be holding dice. Not a tight, but relaxed slightly open fist. And then place the pick between the index finger and thumb loosely.

    Ivan I've been playing mandolin for going on 30 years and still question my right hand. Maybe I'm just an extremely slow learner. It seems though that more than 50% of the "good" players close their right hand to some degree or another. Without question the big key is still PRACTICE ---no argument.

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    Registered User Drew Egerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    I am a big fan of Mike Marshall's Finger Busters book available at Elderly. The open string exercises are awesome for right hand work no matter what your playing level!
    Drew
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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    I've been playing for a little over 2 years. I have the closed hand thing down okay, but literally nothing else is right about my right hand. I hold the pick way too tight, and double stops and tremolo just don't flow. As a result, I tend to avoid them.

    Then there is the whole left hand thing, which I'm not so great at either. But that is another thread.

    I appreciate you bringing this up, and I appreciate all the people who gave advice. There are probably a bunch of us out here who can use it.

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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique


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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    One Sunday morning I woke up early and snuck down to the basement to practice. Had to play really quietly to keep from waking anyone up. At a certain point I realized I was playing with a very relaxed right hand, with a loose grip on the pick, and with more precision than usual. Now I try to mimic that while bringing up the volume. Try playing really quietly and see if that helps.

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