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Thread: Really need to work on my right hand

  1. #1
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Really need to work on my right hand

    Last night while sitting in at a gig, we had to play for a dance contest. By the end, our group had to play as fast as possible for the dancers that were left. My right hand started to give out. Had earlier switched from a somewhat open hand to a closed hand to keep up. Even that wasn't working well enough.

    Definitely not fun, but at least as not bad as the guitarist who was really shaking his hand after that.

    So, any suggestions on what I could do to help in situations like this? Now, it could be this was a once a decade situation, but want to be better prepared for the future.

    Thanks.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Really need to work on my right hand

    I'm still pretty new at the mando myself (just 14 months in), but I recently read something that might be apropos:

    Someone asked Bill Monroe how he played so fast.
    "I'm not fast; I'm quick," he replied.

    That cryptic quote from the master has often been interpreted to mean that he did several things in his technique that "quickened" his lead playing and enabled him to drive tunes at high speed -- among them were:

    1)Using closed positions and playing from his chop-chord shapes,

    2)Simplifying the notes of tunes to maximize efficiency of finger movements AND make the most of the distinctive sound of the mandolin (i.e., not trying to literally play the mandolin like a sideways fiddle). The elegance and simplicity of how he did this is a big part of his genius, I think -- knowing just what notes to leave out or approach in a quicker and easier way, and,

    3) An amazingly relaxed right hand with a super-floppy flexible pick grip.

    Just my two cents, but I'd say Monroe is worth some close study if anyone wants to learn to play faster.

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  4. #3
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Really need to work on my right hand

    Good advice above. Eric, are you the prime melody instrument or is there at least one other. I play quite a bit for dances but mostly on fiddle or guitar and have little problem playing up to fairly quick tempi. OTOH do you regularly have to play for a dance contest. I would definitely simplify or alternate playing melody with the other melodic instruments. And also tell the producers of this event that you now charge by the note and if that you played about 50% more notes for that contest and your fees will reflect that next time.
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    Default Re: Really need to work on my right hand

    Playing fast is 95% mental. When we have to play fast we tend to tighten up and fight it. Try to relax and roll with the beat enjoy and quit fighting it,you are capable of playing faster than dance tunes.

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    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Really need to work on my right hand

    This may only apply to me but I was noticing I wasn't playing as fast as I thought I could or had in the past. My pick kept getting caught in the strings or I would miss a string. Oddly enough I felt like I had to much sewing machine in my right hand. Digging in too deep and pulling out too far, so I started practicing over the fretboard which made me slow down and focus on pick accuracy and the depth with which I was digging in. I have noticed I am picking faster and more accurately now. I ink working over the board made me slow down to work on accuracy and pick technique because when I was off the clicking was horrible. I still hit the board but not even half as much as I was. Maybe this could work for you.
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  10. #6
    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Really need to work on my right hand

    This is not an uncommon phenomenon ,at least for me. When I was gigging,jamming and in a band,this kind of stuff always happened,usually started by inebriated guitar players,who at the end of a gig mostly start a 1 lV V strum jam because that seems to be what inebriated guitar players can strum at super speed,,now as a good mandolinist ,playing at hyper speed shouldn't be a problem,,but how long can you keep it up? The guitarists do it as a macho rite of acceptance,I don't know,as a manolinist I can burn,but after 20 min my right joint at the elbow is sore,sometimes like tendonitis sore,,,so my answer is after playing at super speed what do expect? Of course your going to be sore,,

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  12. #7
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Really need to work on my right hand

    Thanks for all the advice so far. No, I'm not the lead instrument in that group. In fact, I was just hired to play that show. There is a lead fiddle. I just double the melody.

    Was trying to loosen up, which I'm pretty good at on guitar. It wasn't working in this case. Maybe the circumstances.

    To put it in perspective, have played numerous square and contra dances on guitar. By the end, speed was about double what a fast dance would be.

    One thing it has done - made me shift from using an open hand with fingers on the pick guard/finger rest to a closed hand.

    Any other suggestions, please keep them coming.
    1935 Gibson A50, 2018 Collings MT, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 1941 Strad-O-Lin, 2018 Eastman MDO-305, 1950's Californian, 2015 Ashbury Style E OM
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    Default Re: Really need to work on my right hand

    Let your hand shake your wrist - Frank Wakefield
    Like flinging water off a dishrag - Ron McCoury
    There are plenty of guys who pick faster than me - Butch Baldassari

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