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Thread: Beginning question:right hand

  1. #1
    Boomslang
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    Default Beginning question:right hand

    (It is actually a left hand question from a lefty) As an accomblished bluegrass banjo player in the 70's and 80's- Without doubt, the (right) ring and pinky were placed on the head. If you were vamping, etc, you simply slide them as a datum reference along the head as well. End of discussion- Insofar as mandolin goes, I'm hearing "do as I say, not as I do". Keep your (ring and pinkie) fingers off the the body of the mando. Hey- what the deal here?

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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beginning question:right hand

    Not in complete seriousness I'll suggest that banjo can afford a little bit of sound damping, and there is no varnish to protect, either.

    Add in that the main job of 5-string is the rolling finger picking so there is no technical penalty for remaining fixed in place. Mandolin benefits from picking in a variety of locations, needs more sweep in the movement, and could use all the help it can get for projection.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Beginning question:right hand

    a pick guard will protect your finish ,so do what you want . though it is not a common technique for mando. rules are meant to be broken

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    I may be old but I'm ugly billhay4's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beginning question:right hand

    The mandolin stroke comes from the wrist. Not planting the pinkie frees the wrist up.
    Bill

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    Registered User Pete Summers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beginning question:right hand

    Being attached to the hand, the pinkie naturally moves with wrist stroke, even if the tip rests on the top or pick guard - mine does anyway. Doesn't hinder my picking -- it improves it when picking melody lines. That's just me, of course, and I'm sure others do it differently.

    I'm strictly an amateur and have no idea what the "proper" method of playing any instrument is, and frankly don't care. If it makes music, I figure I'm doing it right. Whatever minuscule effect on the sound of the mandolin the tip of my pinkie has is more than compensated for by helping me play more accurately.

    Do what works for you. Rules should only be guides. In fact, I seem to remember reading in some Classical Mandolin Method where it is recommended to plant the pinkie --was it Bickford maybe?? Or Wm. Place. I can remember. Oh well.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Beginning question:right hand

    In Rich DelGrosso's Mandolin Method book for Beginners one of the first things talked about is using "your little finger supporting the weight of your hand on the pickguard" I can't for the live of me get it to feel comfortable though, so I haven't tried it to much.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Beginning question:right hand

    I picked a little banjo and know what you're feeling. Hand lost in space.

    Fist good news is, it doesn't take long to get used to less refence point (I always keep my palm grazing around behind the bridge, lightly)

    Second thing, some do use their pinky slightly..a bunch, actually...

    right hand techniques

    I noticed Sierra Hull dragging her pinky along the top, and the worn spots on her Weber from it.

    But there's no anchoring. Too much wrist movement to do and different hand positions to be dropping anchor.

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    Registered User DogHouseMando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beginning question:right hand

    I also have had this "conflict" between banjo and mandolin. I have noticed that the "freeing up of the wrist" when keeping the pinky (and sometimes ring finger for me) off the body of the instrument helps a lot with picking.

    It definitely comes with discipline and slow-and-steady practice if you want to get the technique down. I've sounded just fine prior to re-visiting this fundamental technique, but decided to when I noticed I wasn't progressing in cross-picking and tremolo.

    I completely understand the "banjo-pinky-tendancy" as with Scruggs style banjo picking you get better control of your picking fingers with these stabilizing fingers in place.

  9. #9
    Boomslang
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    Default Re: Beginning question:right hand

    Well- That settles it...It is one way or the other.That "Right hand techniques" survey is really kinda' neat. I guess I was looking for something definitive, (as just beginning mandolin) and know well about forming bad habits. For me, it is all about having some fun and remembering we're only here alittle while...(Mandolin players too).

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Beginning question:right hand

    It is an unorthodox style, but not unheard of ... You'll find an exception to almost every technique somewhere, if you look hard enough. In fact, I've noticed several mandolin legends doing it occasionally.

    For instance ... study these photos I took of Bobby Osborne at Bean Blossom in June! Note the worn spot where the pinky goes ...
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Beginning question:right hand

    I posted this in another thread...

    Do you guys know why Stafford plants his fingers (on guitar)? Because he was a banjo player first and that is the way he played banjo. It was a technique he was "comfortable" with and it worked for him. "Comfortable" being a very, very important word.

    Take some GREAT mandolin players like Thile, Andy Leftwitch, Sierra Hull and Adam Steffey. Chris Thile and Andy Leftwitch generally put their wrist lightly on the bridge and attack from there. Sierra Hull and Adam Steffey more-so either plant their pinky finger on the mandolin or brush against it. All four of them have a perfect tone and cleanness to their playing, but they achieve it with whatever way THEY are comfortable with.
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Beginning question:right hand

    Don't. By default you don't plant on a guard, you brush. You might brace one finger against the guard on passages with minimal pick motion. Baldassari used to extend one finger when tremulating, The Lone Arranger plants sideways on tremolos. Both use(d) guars.

    Wonder who wrote that book. The suggested left hand position (palming the neck) is criminally wrong, destined to cause slowdown, fatigue, or even injury

  13. #13

    Default Re: Beginning question:right hand

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    Wonder who wrote that book. The suggested left hand position (palming the neck) is criminally wrong, destined to cause slowdown, fatigue, or even injury
    After a few weeks of figuring out on my own how to play the mandolin I signed up for lessons. Most things my teacher has indicated I should change take the form of suggestions. Try such-and-such for a while and see if you like it. Getting the neck out of my palm was the first thing on the agenda and so far it's the only one that took the form of a directive rather than a suggestion. I'm pretty sure there's nothing good in it at all, unlike some other things that are a matter of personal taste.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Beginning question:right hand

    I went to a mando workshop that was part of a bluegrass festival. The instructors included a really talented local player, and John Reischmann. The local player basically took charge of the workshop, and did most of the talking. During the workshop, several
    questions were raised regarding right hand technique, such as resting the right hand on the bridge. The local player made comments such as "You should never" or "You should always". However, Reischmann discussed that there really is no right or wrong way of doing things. For instance, he lightly rests his wrist on the bridge. We are all built slightly different, and so we have to work with what we have. The mandolin player in my band doesn't even touch the mando at all with his left arm/wrist/hand. He simply hovers his arm over the mand, and rotates his wrist. I think he's a freak of nature, but it work incredibly well for him.

  15. #15
    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beginning question:right hand

    Quote Originally Posted by banjoboy View Post
    He simply hovers his arm over the mand, and rotates his wrist. I think he's a freak of nature, but it work incredibly well for him.
    The good ones are .... Thus our problems imitating their idiosyncratic methods.

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