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Thread: Elbow or wrist...

  1. #1

    Default Elbow or wrist...

    I spent part of today watching some "Mandolin Mondays" for inspiration.

    There seem to be players whose strumming and picking motion come mostly from the wrist (David Grisman) -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHhHtm5N3CU

    or elbow (David Benedict) -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jpa0UHrcaBQ

    Obviously, both great players. I recently noticed that I was mostly a wrist player but I've been working a lot on double-stops and it causing me to add more of an elbow motion.

    I'm guessing it's a "choose your own adventure" for us mandolin players but I was wondering if anyone else had thoughts on the advantages/disadvantages/trade offs for both methods.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Elbow or wrist...

    When broaching this subject with students I use the analogy of "thinking of your wrist as a CV joint". Now I sometimes need to digress into a bit of automotive theory in the process, but a CV joint moves fluidly in three axes (that is the correct plural of axis I'm not suggesting you take an axe to your mando)
    1. Rotationally spinning the wheels
    2. Horizontally allowing wheels to be steered
    3. Vertically allowing for bumps in the road

    As you develop the same sort of fluidity in your wrist and to a slight degree in your elbow, you'll gradually achieve the same sort of nuances that the artist has in his brush hand. Hope that's not to esoteric an answer?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Elbow or wrist...

    Ive found i can do one, and not the other.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Elbow or wrist...

    David B. is clearly resting his mando on something...first time I’ve seen that. Must try it myself. I think that seems to stabilize his mando and promotes more of the elbow, tomahawk action. Interesting...I’ve seen him close up, standing and using a strap, and it’s much more fluid and wristy, a beautiful, relaxed thang that I wish to emulate at some point...

  5. #5

    Default Re: Elbow or wrist...

    Wrist all the way. For most people swinging from the elbow will result in hitting a speed wall at about 105-110 BPM with 4 notes per beat. Elbow swing is just much harder to aim and control where the pick is relative to the strings, it expends a lot of energy unnecessarily, it causes the instrument move about, etc.. With a lot of practice Dave B can probably get past the wall when using the elbow swing... but how far past? How much more could he get by keeping the forearm fixed?

    Check out Emory's efficient/accurate technique : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FY3aURBM0Og

    Have fun with it.

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  7. #6
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    Default Re: Elbow or wrist...

    Benedict jumped “the wall” long ago.

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  9. #7

    Default Re: Elbow or wrist...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Findley View Post
    Benedict jumped “the wall” long ago.
    So are you advocating swinging from the elbow?

  10. #8
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    Default Re: Elbow or wrist...

    No. In general, I advocate doing what most players do, a little more elbow when playing chords, more wrist when picking. Check out David Benedict’s website or watch him on utoob. I just thought it was cool that in this clip posted above, he seemed to be resting his elbow. (And now I want to build me an “elbow stand”).

  11. #9

    Default Re: Elbow or wrist...

    Quote Originally Posted by OldMandoMan View Post
    When broaching this subject with students I use the analogy of "thinking of your wrist as a CV joint". Now I sometimes need to digress into a bit of automotive theory in the process, but a CV joint moves fluidly in three axes (that is the correct plural of axis I'm not suggesting you take an axe to your mando)
    1. Rotationally spinning the wheels
    2. Horizontally allowing wheels to be steered
    3. Vertically allowing for bumps in the road

    As you develop the same sort of fluidity in your wrist and to a slight degree in your elbow, you'll gradually achieve the same sort of nuances that the artist has in his brush hand. Hope that's not to esoteric an answer?
    I think this is about the best description I've ever heard (well, read). I wish I was better at DOING it, though.

  12. #10

    Default Re: Elbow or wrist...

    As with bowing anything in the violin family, any style of guitar playing, or even bass playing, the most difficult skill is not required of the hand on the neck. I laughingly refer to that hand as the "Big Dummy Hand" like the go-fer on the job site? "Here, hold this till I tell you to let go!" I don't usually say that to beginning students however.

  13. #11

    Default Re: Elbow or wrist...

    I've always been a fan of Tim O'Brien's right hand example - like this, for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62db5rMc2ns
    Girouard A5
    Gibson A3 - 1917
    Harmony H8017
    Eastwood Mandocaster
    Collings O1A
    Martin OOO17-SM
    Martin DJr
    G+L ASAT Classic

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  15. #12
    Registered User grassrootphilosopher's Avatar
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    Default Re: Elbow or wrist...

    The most prominent "ellbow" musician is Sam Bush. The reason seems to be that he broke his wrist (car door accident if I´m not mistaken) which rules out the wrist approach.

    I would advocate the wrist approach all the way. Think of Norman Blake (shaking off raindrops off your hand - Homespun guitar instruction video). The ellbow approach will eventually lead to "tennis ellbow". Also the fluidity of motion is lacking when playing from the ellbow. In guitar playing you can even hear the difference when you listen to the CD "Star of the County Down" by Steve Kaufman and Robin Kessinger. Kessinger plays from the ellbow while Kaufman (even though he advocates a firmly planted finger on the pickguard and tension on the arm) plays from the wrist. It is extremely noticable to my ear.
    Olaf

  16. #13

    Default Re: Elbow or wrist...

    I'd say it's elbow AND wrist. What emphasis, when, why, how?

    It's up to every player to decide and that's a beautiful part of music.

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  18. #14
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    Default Re: Elbow or wrist...

    Quote Originally Posted by dadsaster View Post
    I spent part of today watching some "Mandolin Mondays" for inspiration.
    tThere seem to be players whose strumming and picking motion come mostly from the wrist (David Grisman) -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?Tv=NHhHtm5N3CU

    or elbow (David Benedict) -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jpa0UHrcaBQObviously, both great players. I recently noticed that I was mostly a wrist player but I've been working a lot on double-stops and it causing me to add more of an elbow motion.

    I'm guessing it's a "choose your own adventure" for us mandolin players but I was wondering if anyone else had thoughts on the advantages/disadvantages/trade offs for both methods.
    You have answered your own question whatever suits the player. I think you noticed that neither joint is locked, that would be almost impossible to play with any speed but which joint is predominant is whatevery comes easiest for you.

  19. #15
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Elbow or wrist...

    Here's an example that answers the OP's question. Today's 'Mandolin Mondays'
    Do what she does.
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” “Accidentals”

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