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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: New to Flatpicking


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.flatpickerhangout.com/archive/5401

pick117 - Posted - 10/16/2008:  13:20:05


I have played finger style since I first started guitar thinking that I'd just pick up a pick some day and off I'd go. Boy was I wrong. I have a good ear and timing but my pick seems to get stuck between every string; especially on upstrokes. I never imagined I'd be such a klutz. Any of you that have struggled and overcome please feel free to give me advice.

kentucky blaise - Posted - 10/16/2008:  15:18:10


I'm kind of in the same boat. I started off playing rock guitar and used mostly down strokes with a pick. Going back and forcing myself to alternate (DOWN UP DOWN UP) has been somewhat of a challenge so far. However, I'm finding it similar to my experience learning banjo rolls.

At first it was really hard, but then I would just isolate the right hand part and play it over and over and over and over again. I'd play it very slowly in the beginning and then build up speed. Last night I did the same thing with my crosspicking and I was amazed how much cleaner I was playing (with the proper technique) after only 15 minutes or so. To me, that's what learning something new is all about. Breaking out, bulldozing the hard stuff, and having a good time doing it!




Edited by - kentucky blaise on 10/16/2008 15:18:48

pick117 - Posted - 10/16/2008:  15:34:02


I know that practice will eventually win the day I just thought that some of you might have had a tip or two on how they overcame the clumsiness. I can get things smoothed out for a while but the next day it is like someone put gum all over my pick again. Thanks very much for your response..

slowhand - Posted - 10/16/2008:  20:09:33


quote:
Originally posted by pick117

I have played finger style since I first started guitar thinking that I'd just pick up a pick some day and off I'd go. Boy was I wrong. I have a good ear and timing but my pick seems to get stuck between every string; especially on upstrokes. I never imagined I'd be such a klutz. Any of you that have struggled and overcome please feel free to give me advice.



The best advice I can give is to get a copy of Steve Kaufman's DVD, Picking Up Speed, from Homespun tapes:

homespuntapes.com/shop/product.aspx?ID=933

I got that recently and the impact on my playing, especially the right hand, was almost immediate. Basically I had been doing everything wrong, in both hands, but particularly the right.

The gist of Steve's approach to the right hand is to not grip the pick too tightly, and to swing wide and dig deep when you're practicing slowly. The wide arc you're swinging makes the pick move at a relatively high velocity even when you're picking slow, and it's the velocity of the pick that makes it cleanly strike and move through the string (so to speak), even on the upstroke. Think of a golf club hitting a golf ball. It's the speed and momentum of the club head, and the follow through, that get the job done.

As you build speed, your pick depth and arc width will decrease but you'll still have the velocity and momentum in your pick.

And for those who might feel led to inform me of this fact, I'm quite aware that there are many outstanding pickers who use an entirely different approach. Tony Rice, for instance, has a very economical, you might even say subtle, right hand movement. A lot of his pick motion comes from flexing his thumb and index finger, rather than swinging his hand in an arc. There are numerous different right hand techniques, and I tried a number of them, but it was Steve Kaufman's that got me over the hump.

There is a lot of other good information in that DVD. I can't recommend it strongly enough. I wish I had gotten it back when I first started learning to flatpick. If I had, I'd be a whole lot farther along today.

pick117 - Posted - 10/16/2008:  20:35:49


I ordered it tonight. I live in San antonio and there are few players here. Some in Austin of course and some in Wemberly. Thanks

Piotr - Posted - 10/17/2008:  00:04:02


I haven't seen the Kaufman video, so I won't comment on his method. Ultimately you strive for economy of motion, of course, with minimal pick dip.

How do you position your right hand? If, as a finger stylist, you're used to bracing one or two fingers against the top you may have to reconsider. Some people, like David Grier and Barney Kessel, clench their right hands and play without any support (although it seems that Grier often touches the bridge with his wrist). I prefer a loosely curled, half-open right hand, with one or two fingers lightly brushing against the top or the higher strings when playing on the lower ones. That certainly gets my hand away from the bridge and my forearm away from the top (I've seen examples of newbies bracing their forearms against the top. Shudder!)

That seems to be the most common approach. You can get some ideas from watching videos of your favorite players.

Mastering the rest stroke is essential to down-stroke-dominated stuff and comping.


slowhand - Posted - 10/17/2008:  07:40:58


quote:
Originally posted by Piotr

I haven't seen the Kaufman video, so I won't comment on his method. Ultimately you strive for economy of motion, of course, with minimal pick dip.



Ultimately, you strive for the elusive combination of speed and a nice clear tone. If you can get that, then however you're doing it is the correct way, at least for you.

As for me, economy of motion once seemed intuitively to be the right approach. As soon as my downstroke finished picking the string, I wanted to reverse direction into the upstroke. It only made sense that the pick could travel a shorter distance faster than a longer one, so economy of motion would bring greater speed. That might be true for some, but for me it wasn't. As soon as I started to build speed, I would crash a lot, particularly on upstrokes. When I started swinging the pick through the string like a hammer driving a nail or a golf club hitting a ball, it made all the difference in the world. And as I speed up, the range of motion naturally decreases. So for me, it's the speed that causes the economy of motion, not the reverse.

fpeay - Posted - 10/17/2008:  21:28:22


quote:
economy of motion once seemed intuitively to be the right approach. As soon as my downstroke finished picking the string, I wanted to reverse direction into the upstroke. It only made sense that the pick could travel a shorter distance faster than a longer one, so economy of motion would bring greater speed. That might be true for some, but for me it wasn't. As soon as I started to build speed, I would crash a lot, particularly on upstrokes. When I started swinging the pick through the string like a hammer driving a nail or a golf club hitting a ball, it made all the difference in the world. And as I speed up, the range of motion naturally decreases. So for me, it's the speed that causes the economy of motion, not the reverse.


I've been through this same thing; it seemed like I was only able to get better economy of motion by focusing on the entire 'pick swing' and grip/arm technique rather than trying to isolate how far I was moving the pick. My economy of motion seems to be improving as a result of working on the other things.

Frank


Edited by - fpeay on 10/17/2008 21:33:06

Piotr - Posted - 10/18/2008:  07:15:05


As I said, I don't comment on methodology here; I've been playing the guitar for 50 years and I can't possibly account for the process that led me to where I am today, or
suggest possible shortcuts.

However, one thing to attend to right away is to not dip the pick too low. Pick grip and positioning of the right hand are essential here, although there are several schools.

I've noticed that my phrases almost invariably end with a rest stroke (yes my phrases end!),
i.e., with the pick coming to rest on the next higher string. Mastering the rest stroke may aid in achieving optimum angle between the pick and the string.



musekatcher - Posted - 10/18/2008:  07:53:32


I guess I'm in the opposite boat. I always played with a flatpick, and later started trying to fingerpick, and its a struggle. I can hear what needs to happen, but things have to happen faster than you can *think*, so I've relegated it to just work on it a little at a time as it suits me, and let time work its magic. Its working, just slowly, which is ok, because I don't plan to replace my style, just supplement it.

Jim Holland
Athens, AL

Debby - Posted - 10/19/2008:  07:51:53


I have gone from finger style to learning to flat pick, and finding out how hard it is to not be able to feel my strings with my fingers. Seems to be getting better though. And like my teacher told me all the time, "PRACTICE and you can do it", and I can't argue with that....lol. Glad to be here, cause I will have lots of questions for you guys.

"When I hear the music, all my troubles just fade away"

fpeay - Posted - 10/19/2008:  12:05:22


pick117 - make sure you only have a small amount (1/4" or so) of the pick tip exposed below your grip.

Frank

pick117 - Posted - 10/19/2008:  12:31:12


Thanks for all your replies. I am trying many of your tips. Pick117

mrbook - Posted - 11/15/2008:  06:13:42


I learned a long time ago (40 years), but the few lessons I had were all from fingerpickers who hated flat picks. One said, "Despite cave drawings showing men playing with stone picks, they started with their fingers..." Once I got away from them, and after I saw Doc Watson, I was determined to learn. I sat down and practiced... and practiced... and practiced... and practiced...and practiced...

Eventually, I got it a bit. Keep at it.

Bill

MitchellB - Posted - 11/16/2008:  13:39:18


I understand where you are coming from as I began fingerpicking a banjo before trying to learn flatpicking. Being self taugh, my technique has me holding the pick between the tips of my thumb and forefinger and moving my fingers back and forth, unlike most people who seem to use more wrist or arm movement. Wayne Henderson does an excellent job of playing with fingerpicks, but getting a flatpick sound you might experiment with also.

Mitchell

robin jones - Posted - 11/16/2008:  14:56:43


IMHO the right hand. like with the banjo, is the whole ball of wax. It's impossible to progress until the picking hand becomes second nature. Play slow, keep your strokes short. It'll come.

RJ''s Banjo Hangout Home Page

"I find your lack of faith disturbing." Darth Vader

slowhand - Posted - 11/16/2008:  20:42:17


quote:
Originally posted by pick117

I ordered it tonight. I live in San antonio and there are few players here. Some in Austin of course and some in Wemberly. Thanks



Hey pick117, it should be about three weeks since you got your DVD. What do yo think of it?

rookie_davis - Posted - 11/17/2008:  21:31:05


Right-hand technique can be frustrating. I've only been playing for a couple years, and I went on a quest to find the answer to the RH question. I bought books, DVDs, had many lessons with many different teachers, went to workshops, and I got a different answer virtually everywhere I went. Frustrated, I decided to listen to my ear. Thanks to all the great guitar players I have on recordings, I had a very good idea of what kind of TONE I wanted. I started developing my own technique, based partly on what I'd heard from all of my sources and partly (mostly, rather) on what sounded best. Subtle changes in RH technique can yield significant results in tone, projection, and yes, speed. I was lucky enough to have a few teachers tell me that tone is always the most important thing...if beautiful tone isn't your top priority from minute one, you might as well leave it in the case. Try lots of different things and trust yourself. Watch and listen to others, of course.


Edited by - rookie_davis on 11/17/2008 21:32:10

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