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Thread: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

  1. #1
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    Default Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    I've played many years using my pinky and pick guard for an "elevation guide" but have been wanting to transition to a closed fist. I find it very awkward to play a mandolin that does not have a pick guard. Any advice? Thanks
    -Newtonamic

  2. #2

    Default Re: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    I'm working on a similar transition myself. Have you tried resting your wrist behind the bridge?

    As far as the "elevation guide" goes, I think it's a matter of slowing things down and relearning the positions of the strings relative to the new hand placement.
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    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    I did this in the last year or so, hard road for sure... I do feel I am a better player now.

    I would say be really cautious with a Ďfistí... I was doing more of a fist and ended up with a kind of open C-shape with my index finger fully supported by stacking the next 3 fingers. I donít do it all the time but most of the time I can. The 4 hr gigs my form fails at some point and my right fingers are out, but not planted. Mostly on intense rhythm stuff. I am much more conscious of my right hand and how I hold it- I have noticed at least 3 distinct shapes I use and there is some fluidity in switching between them.

    When I started all this the fist kind of made my wrist move differently and I seemed to have issues with wrist pain. I went back and looked real closely at the right hand and how I was using it and changed to the C-shape.

    When I am doing fast rhythm my fingers seem to extend in a comfortable way to a balance of some sort and I can get a nice loose pivot

    When I am doing my fast lead picking I am in the C-shape

    Go slow and do the string changing exercises, some cross picking, itíll really open up your abilities if you stick with it!

    Just my experience, ymmv, hand health is a priority!
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    Default Re: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    It may depend on what sort of music and style of playing is the goal. I use different grips during the course of playing, depending on the approach to both the music and the physical mandolin. It also varies for me from one instrument to the next. Flat-top instruments for me can be more comfortably be played in a variety of styles. In part it is the relation between the edge of the mandolin body, position of the bridge and location of the sweet-spot - of which there are many, not just one. The physical geometry and dimensions of the instrument can vary considerably, so I don't think one single technique is going to suit all situations.

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    Default Re: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    Iīve been working on the same transition. Two things have really helped me in improving my right hand posture and technique. I put an armrest on my mandolin and I started lessons on Peghiead nation (intermediate course by Sharon Gilchrist). It's still far from perfect, but I am more aware of what I'm doing and find it easier to remain a closed or half closed hand.

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    Default Re: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    It's all good.



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    Default Re: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    Quote Originally Posted by standing.wav View Post
    I'm working on a similar transition myself. Have you tried resting your wrist behind the bridge?

    As far as the "elevation guide" goes, I think it's a matter of slowing things down and relearning the positions of the strings relative to the new hand placement.
    Not a good idea. Don't rest your wrist anywhere, but allow it to touch the strings behind the bridge. Check Mike Marshall's d'Addario video on YouTube.

    I have a modern small pickguard, with spikes glued into the fretboard. Lately it has been somewhat unreliable so I decided to simply tear it out. So I've had to adjust my technique a littl, e.g., switching from loosely curled fingers (brushing the guard) on the right hand to a slightly tighter fist

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    Default Re: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    Watch Thileís recent Mandolin Monday video, he doesnít hold to a closed hand all the time. I saw him in solo concert a year ago and his hand did the same as the video.

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    Default Re: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    The more limiting thing may be the pinky planting, more than the open hand.
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    Registered User Keith Johnston's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    I started out playing banjo and learned to plant my pinky when I got my new mando I did not want to mar the finish so I am constantly battling the dreaded plant. I might have to start taping my pinky to the palm of my hand.

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    Default Re: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    Keith, I feel your concern! I got this mandolin 12 years ago I think and it didn't have any mark there when I got it. I've played the hell out of this thing and I'm definitely doing a number on the top. I think it looks kinda badass, but I'll probably end up sealing it up something just in case!

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Default Re: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    I thought that as long as I didn't plant everything would be great, but I am noticing a big improvement with the fingers curled both in tone and fluidity. Curled vs open and lighly brushing the top. It is still a little awkward but I think that will go away with repetition.

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    Default Re: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    Put a pick between your pinky and ring finger,this will ensure your hand is in a "fist" position. Make sure the main part of the pick is inside the fist and not outside scratching on the instrument!

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    Default Re: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    What helped me make the transition away from habitual pinky planting was the purchase of a resonator mandolin, the National RM-1. The instrument has a nice little piece over the bridge that one can wrest or brush the hand against. And of course you don't want to damp the rez.

    After playing that thing, my right hand technique was changed, and it carried over to other mandolins as well.
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    Default Re: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Simonson View Post
    I've played many years using my pinky and pick guard for an "elevation guide" but have been wanting to transition to a closed fist. I find it very awkward to play a mandolin that does not have a pick guard. Any advice? Thanks
    My anchor-point is my arm (just below elbow), kind of lightly perched at an angle on the edge of the instrument near the tailpiece. The contact area is small, and I haven't noticed any problems with dampening or volume loss. (That doesn't mean such problems don't exist, only that if they do exist I haven't noticed them, and nowadays I use pickups or mics anyway so slight volume differences wouldn't really matter much.) I suppose an armrest would cure any possibility of dampening, but most of my instruments have not had armrests.

    I do not use pickguards. Pickguard removal is the first thing that happens anytime I get a new instrument. Don't need it, don't want it, take it off lol.

    The arm anchor-point seems natural to me, because that's the way I was taught when I was first starting out.

    I didn't know there was any other way, until years later when I saw someone playing guitar with an open hand, and I was like "Why is he holding his hand so weirdly?" I'd never seen that before and hadn't realized it was an option (grew up around fiddlers and oldtime banjo players and mandolinists and dulcimer players, but there was seldom anyone around who played guitar, in our area).

    One time I tried the open-hand idea, just out of curiosity, but (with or without pinky-plant etc) it just seemed awkward and inefficient and not well-suited to ultra-fast highly-accurate picking. That was my impression. I haven't tried open-hand playing since then, as I see no advantage to it and I'm still mystified as to why is seems to be kind of the standard among guitar players. Maybe open-hand playing is easier to start out with? But it seems a liability after a certain point. Obviously though, millions of guitarists are able to make it work just fine, so maybe it's all in what a person is used to and how they started out.

    Anyway, the arm anchor-point thing is how I get my point of reference as to where the strings are.

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    Default Re: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    Optimally, go slowly and play with a floating hand. I’ve been working on that with mando and guitar, and it’s awkward at first. Not quite as bad as trying to write with your non-dominant hand, but it’s tough at first. The muscle memory does come, and when you get there, it’s so much more fluid, especially on faster passages.

    In reality, I still catch myself brushing just behind the bridge as a point of reference when I’m playing faster songs that are newer to me. And, when I’m strumming, I often relax into a more open hand position. No idea why, but it’s comfortable. I also have given 5 string a shot (and still do occasionally), so when I’m finger picking guitar and it’s a song that I can get away with just using 3 finger, the pinky heads to the pick guard, but I’m working on that, too.

    I know there are a lot of pickers who like the look and function of a pick guard. I like the look on some mandos, but tend to prefer them without. I took it off my Rigel CT-110, and am happy to have it out of the way of my loose strumming fingers and pick, though I didn’t realize it was bugging me until I took it off.

    Dylanferris, your mando does look badass. I appreciate honest play wear like that!

    And, I forget what a monster picker Mr. Steffey is. Man, he can flat rip it!!
    Chuck

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    Default Re: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    Thanks to all of you responders, I never imagined there was an easy one day fix. I'll be working on it for some time.
    -Newtonamic

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    Default Re: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Simonson View Post
    Thanks to all of you responders, I never imagined there was an easy one day fix. I'll be working on it for some time.
    That is the fun of it. Once this particular improvement is conquered some other irritating sub-optimal technique will become evident and be the next challenge. I hope always to be learning stuff and struggling with improvement. Some day I hope to be incompetent at a very high level.
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    Default Re: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    Try holding something comfortable like a wine bottle cork with the last three fingers while you practice.

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    Default Re: Open right hand to closed fist transition help

    Doesn't directly address the OP issue but I thought Wayne's point of not ever being too old to change was great. I totally changed my grip about 20 years ago after holding the pick by my finger tips but I've also been working to keep my hand in a more closed position. I've found, as others have said, to occassionaly holding a small object in my right palm while picking has helped.
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