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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Open or closed RH?


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/6131

tfaux - Posted - 12/06/2008:  07:44:32


Do you hold your pick in a fist, or keep your right hand fingers open when you pick?

I've always kept an open hand with a flatpick, but I'm training myself to use a thumb pick and it seems more efficient to keep those three extra fingers tucked up into a fist.

Tom



MitchellB - Posted - 12/06/2008:  09:43:44


I've always used an open hand, holding the flatpickbetween the tips of my thumb and forefinger. It sticks out much like I was wearing a thumbpick. Sometimes I'll anchor my pinky behind the saddle like I do when I play banjo. Sometimes it will ride along the edge on the bottom string if I'm not playing it. Often I'll pick an extra note here and there with the middle finger and other times the three loose fingers just stick out in the air for balance.

Mitchell

fpeay - Posted - 12/06/2008:  11:07:46


I used an open hand with a flatpick for years playing an electric, but when I started playing bluegrass & fiddle tunes I switched to a closed fist. I still open up my hand a little when I strum.

I was suprised how quickly I adapted to the closed hand and it seems to have been very helpful.

Frank

imapicker2 - Posted - 12/06/2008:  12:11:48


Open hand here.I like to brush the right pinky along the pick guard for orientation. I think that it is a banjo thing.

imapicker2


Have you hugged your guitar today?
profiles.yahoo.com/jopicker2

musekatcher - Posted - 12/07/2008:  06:38:17


I do both. I'm a rhythm junky too, interested in different styles of backup. You'll find you need to work the location, hold, and attack of your picking hand to achieve certain sounds, depending on who, or which era you want to emulate.

Jim Holland
Athens, AL

trickymicky - Posted - 12/07/2008:  07:09:35


Hi Guys
Firstly can I say what a fantastic site,!!!
I pick with a closed hand, got into this habit due to my country electric guitar hybrid picking style.

quote:
PICK IT, AND PICK IT HARD


d18dude - Posted - 12/07/2008:  07:30:44


Grier: closed
Cody Kilby: closed
Doc: open
Sutton: open
TR: open
Stafford: other (LOL)

I think it's a case of whatever works best for YOU.
Same thing with picks, strings, capos, guitars, straps, beer, politics.....

RC

bali - Posted - 12/07/2008:  12:27:03


Closed, puts them in a good position to add a bit of fingerpicking when desired.

martinboy - Posted - 12/08/2008:  08:22:31


closed when i'm doing rythm
open when doing lead

JonT - Posted - 12/09/2008:  11:15:45


Open hand, bottom three fangers flared just a bit. I don't 'xaktly anchor, but I don't not anchor, either. Those fangers, 'specially the pinky, just kind of brush the pick guard. Same for me with mando, to the distress of the finish on my Collings. Don't know or much care if that's right or wrong, it's just what works, and makes sense, for me. This is such an individual thing, I think it's more of matter of what works for you.

Best - JFT
jfthompson.typepad.com/californiafiles

JonT - Posted - 12/09/2008:  11:19:45


I use a 1.5 mil medium triangle that I clamp against the side of my forefinger, just below the top knuckle, with the upper part of the ball of my thumb. I don't grip with too much pressure. It's taken me a very long time to get to this point, mind you, but I can't remember the last time (he knocks on wood) that I lost a pick.

Best - JFT
jfthompson.typepad.com/californiafiles

rookie_davis - Posted - 12/10/2008:  19:00:22


Open here. I can feel the muscles in my forearm tense when I close my fist and it definitely slows me down and hurts my articulation.

Dave_E - Posted - 12/10/2008:  19:05:09


Again, this topic is one of personal choice. Yes, you can apply laws of physics here (try it, it really works), or just do what feels comfortable to you. I don't want my $3K Martin getting fingernail marks all over it because I wag 3 fingers all over the place, besides that it slows down your strumming and picking (nother physics lesson).

God, Family, Career... in that order!

Chadtheguru - Posted - 12/12/2008:  08:39:28


Does it slow down Steve Kaufman? He wags a couple fingers.

tfaux - Posted - 12/12/2008:  09:16:19


I'm thinking that 3k Martin was built to handle a bit of finger wag.

D18dude, thanks for posting the list of hand preferences of the flatpicking dieties. Guess it's not so much physics as anatomy.

Thanks to all for the replies.
Tom

biznork - Posted - 12/12/2008:  21:02:11


I think playing with a closed fist slows you down. It feels unnatural.

Stringnut - Posted - 12/13/2008:  06:25:49


I have a tendency to mix it up depending on what and how fast or slow I am playing. I use my fingers more than a pick and a lot of the time I anchor my pinky for stability. I find I can strike a string more accurately if I have an anchor point to shoot from. However, like Tom mentions above, I think it is a matter of anatomy. The bone structure of your hands, the thickness of your fingers and muscle strength determines what is most comfortable for anyone. I don't think there is a right or a wrong way to hold a pick. There is only your way grasshopper. Now, snatch this pick from my hand if you can:-)

Things are more like today than they have ever been before. - Spiro T. Agnew

Flatpicker - Posted - 12/13/2008:  08:50:38


Both.

Austin
{:o)==:::

JohnTheGrey - Posted - 12/19/2008:  09:58:18


I keep 2 fingers down banjo style with a light touch on all instruments; except when I play my Tele Bigsby I wrap the little finger around the bar. Three fingers down, for me, causes scratches at the edge of the sound hole, so I keep the middle finger on top of the index finger which also lets me hold the pick with a lighter grip. Sometimes I do hybrid picking with the middle finger, but that’s not a style I favor too much - maybe on Creole Bell or something. I mostly like the sound of single notes and cross picking. My mahogany Guild sounds a little dissonant when strummed.

"We have the stars to guide us.
Guitars here beside us
To play as we go" - Three Caballeros

Dave_E - Posted - 12/22/2008:  15:46:50


Just goes to prove that 10 guys will play 10 different ways. Whatever YOU like and what feels best or works for you...then do it. Don't try and play guitar like someone else because they do that way (chances are good it won't help anyway).

God, Family, Career... in that order!

lwmguy - Posted - 12/23/2008:  11:23:59


The only problem I encounter with an open anchored fingers, I tend to rap the top of the guitar with those fingers.


flatpixsix - Posted - 12/30/2008:  07:47:57


I have recently switched to a closed fist. I found that my BOOM CHUCK rythum has improved, especially when hitting the B and high E strings. I found with an open hand, my hanging fingers anchored to the pick guard, would impede my downward motion across those strings.


Tango_grass - Posted - 12/30/2008:  10:58:28


I'm constantly on myself to keep it closed. Because since I've been keeping it closed, I get more cleanliness, and pick strength. But I actually have found that I lost a bit of speed, so I've got to work on it a bit more.

Chris,

Visit Tango_grass on Mypace! Click here!
----
The VZ Valley Boys

Piotr - Posted - 01/01/2009:  08:57:11


Obviously, there are several ways that work, and they may depend on your anatomy. But there are also a great number of wrong ways. Therefore I've always felt it's a bit irresponsbile to say "do whatever works for you" as
a beginner may be a poor judge of that. Learning is not immediate, and the effects of poor technique (poor time, lack of speed, fatigue, etc.) may not be apparent or immediate to the beginner. I've seen YouTube videos of beginners asking advice and was horrified to see their contorted RH techniques.

What I would advise against is bracing fingers against the top the way finger stylists and banjo players sometimes do. Also against bracing your wrist against the bridge. I've noticed that some people who try to play with a closed fist tend to anchor their wrists on the bridge. I would advise them to use an open hand brushing ever so lightly against the top. Or, perhaps, study a video of Barney Kessel!

As for myself, I use a lot of connecting runs and figures in comping, and a very strong rest stroke whenever applicable, and I've found that a light brushing technique supports that habit very well. At my advanced age I'm not interested in very fast tempos, like 160 bpm (in 2/2) , anymore, as I feel I can phrase freer in slower tempos (rarely exceeding 120 bpm). I avoid picking every single note.


Edited by - Piotr on 01/01/2009 10:13:24

Steven B - Posted - 01/01/2009:  11:01:15


I tend to play both ways on occasion. I do find myself often anchoring the "pinkie" to the top of the instrument.

Great Site----1st time poster. I'm looking forward to being a part of this forum. Happy New Year!

ain''t no need to go see if it''s raining....just whistle in the dog and see if he''s wet!

Pete S - Posted - 01/02/2009:  11:24:04


Just started to work awn this "closed" hand thing. My pickin' partner, has got me werkin' awn this and it's coming along. The strumming is the hardest to "relearn"

....but got to thinking,........we [he and I] talked about the lightweght tuners to avoid bulk on the headstock,........then one should avoid placing "electronic tuners", and Capos on there which only add bulk.

SO,..............by learning to avoid "hand contact" with the top "tonal wood" that should be free to vibrate, and sustain,........."we should" improve the way "our" guitars sound?!?!

Just some thinkin's............

First time poster.

Thanks!
Pete

Practice, practice, and still just bangin'' and groanin''!

JohnTheGrey - Posted - 01/02/2009:  12:49:30


quote:
Originally posted by MitchellB

I've always used an open hand, holding the flatpickbetween the tips of my thumb and forefinger. It sticks out much like I was wearing a thumbpick. Sometimes I'll anchor my pinky behind the saddle like I do when I play banjo. Sometimes it will ride along the edge on the bottom string if I'm not playing it. Often I'll pick an extra note here and there with the middle finger and other times the three loose fingers just stick out in the air for balance.

Mitchell


What you say about riding along the edge of the bottom (1st) string, I think is an important point. I do this, but I had always thought it was an error in my technique. Then someone on another FH forum posted a video of Clarence playing acoustic. He for sure touches that first string when he is playing those signature bass runs. It gives good stability and serves to mute the sympathetic vibrations induced by the bass strings. I also believe that he is probably palm muting the bass strings when he plays the high strings. I try to do that, because I learned to flat pick on a Tele where the sympathetic vibrations will cause feedback. Still, on a flat top I think I can hear cleaner, less sustaining G and B strings with a slight palm mute.

I think this argues for an open style. If anyone thinks this causes a loss of speed check out Clarence White "Barefoot Nellie" on the "Livin' in the Past" album. I have to slow it down just to hear there are individual notes, but there they are, every one picked clean and honest. The only reason I ever gave half a thought to closed picking is the late great Jerry Reed.

To embellish D18Dude's list:
Grier: closed
Cody Kilby: closed
Doc: open
Sutton: open
TR: open
Stafford: other (LOL)
Clarence: open
Jerry Reed: closed


"We have the stars to guide us.
Guitars here beside us
To play as we go" - Three Caballeros

Piotr - Posted - 01/03/2009:  08:28:27


quote:
Originally posted by Pete S

Just started to work awn this "closed" hand thing. My pickin' partner, has got me werkin' awn this and it's coming along. The strumming is the hardest to "relearn"

....but got to thinking,........we [he and I] talked about the lightweght tuners to avoid bulk on the headstock,........then one should avoid placing "electronic tuners", and Capos on there which only add bulk.

SO,..............by learning to avoid "hand contact" with the top "tonal wood" that should be free to vibrate, and sustain,........."we should" improve the way "our" guitars sound?!?!





Why not check? With the very light pressure involved the answer should be obvious anyway. Besides,
by far the most important area is in the lower part of the X, behind the bridge.
Pressing your palm, or even forearm against that area of the top will make it clear.

I know of one builder, however, who maintains that the pickguard itself is detrimental to the tone, volume, and sustain of the guitar. I'm not going to check that.

tfaux - Posted - 01/03/2009:  08:43:13


quote:

I know of one builder, however, who maintains that the pickguard itself is detrimental to the tone, volume, and sustain of the guitar. I'm not going to check that.



There was a recent thread in the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum by a poster who was in the process of replacing a pickguard on his old D-18. He took the opportunity to check out whether the pickguard made any difference in sound and his conclusion was that it didn't.




JohnTheGrey - Posted - 01/03/2009:  13:00:35


quote:
Originally posted by tfaux

quote:

I know of one builder, however, who maintains that the pick guard itself is detrimental to the tone, volume, and sustain of the guitar. I'm not going to check that.


There was a recent thread in the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum by a poster who was in the process of replacing a pickguard on his old D-18. He took the opportunity to check out whether the pickguard made any difference in sound and his conclusion was that it didn't.


The effect will depend on the year (if it ever is important enough that you hear the difference). In 1944 Martin went from scalloped bracing to heavy bracing, possibly in anticipation of the transition from Adirondack spruce to Sitka starting in 1945. Heavy bracing makes the top stiffer, favoring midrange treble response. Sitka is not quite as stiff as Adirondack, so it sort of cancels out. Assuming that no one is "experimenting" with a pre-1944 Martin D-18 we're probably taking about a Sitka top with heavy bracing. It probably won't be affected by the slight stiffening caused by the pick guard. If the thing is set up so that it has pretty good bass response and weaker highs, it would probably benefit from a pick guard to stiffen it up.

Newer guitars are being made with scalloped bracing and Adirondack spruce. One particularly nice model called the "Georgia Dreadnought", made by Bourgeois for Rutland Music, has scalloped bracing only on the bass side. This kind of argues that Adirondack top D-18 type dreadnoughts would benefit from having a pick guard in terms of having cleaner highs with good strong bass response.

"We have the stars to guide us.
Guitars here beside us
To play as we go" - Three Caballeros

Guitarplr1975 - Posted - 01/04/2009:  12:53:53


I play with my hand closed. I think you loose some control, but it does not mute the top....

Larry Jackson "Bunky"
SouthernStarBluegrass
Florida

1951 CF Martin D-28
1970 CF Martin D-28
2008 CF Martin D-18GE

tfaux - Posted - 01/05/2009:  12:58:33


quote:
Originally posted by JohnTheGrey

quote:
Originally posted by tfaux

quote:

I know of one builder, however, who maintains that the pick guard itself is detrimental to the tone, volume, and sustain of the guitar. I'm not going to check that.


There was a recent thread in the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum by a poster who was in the process of replacing a pickguard on his old D-18. He took the opportunity to check out whether the pickguard made any difference in sound and his conclusion was that it didn't.


The effect will depend on the year (if it ever is important enough that you hear the difference). In 1944 Martin went from scalloped bracing to heavy bracing, possibly in anticipation of the transition from Adirondack spruce to Sitka starting in 1945. Heavy bracing makes the top stiffer, favoring midrange treble response. Sitka is not quite as stiff as Adirondack, so it sort of cancels out. Assuming that no one is "experimenting" with a pre-1944 Martin D-18 we're probably taking about a Sitka top with heavy bracing. It probably won't be affected by the slight stiffening caused by the pick guard. If the thing is set up so that it has pretty good bass response and weaker highs, it would probably benefit from a pick guard to stiffen it up.



I remembered wrong. It was a '56 D-21, not a D-18. And the pickguard in question was one of those Lester Flatt double batwing jobs.
Here's the thread:
theunofficialmartinguitarforum...ml?page=1

The comment about sound is post #32.

ok...sorry to hijack my own thread. Now, back to our regularly scheduled program...


Edited by - tfaux on 02/17/2009 10:01:44

Piotr - Posted - 01/05/2009:  22:38:01


quote:
Originally posted by Guitarplr1975

I play with my hand closed.

but it does not mute the top....

Larry Jackson "Bunky"
SouthernStarBluegrass
Florida

1951 CF Martin D-28
1970 CF Martin D-28
2008 CF Martin D-18GE



But the same is true for the open-hand brushing technique!


Edited by - Piotr on 01/05/2009 22:38:37

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