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Old 04-23-2013, 11:26 PM   #1
Rawshik
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Beginner guitarist - Right Hand Technique

So I'm a bassist looking to get into guitar playing. I already know many chords and the general idea of how to play it (my left hand is solid). What my problem is, I always play bass with fingers and so now that I want to use a pick for a guitar, I have no idea how to properly do it.

I've seen guitarists do it many different ways, but I'd like to learn the "most common" way, I suppose, of how to properly pick. Specifically, where should my hand go? Should my wrist be perfectly straight? Should my wrist levitate above the guitar or should it rest on the front of the body? How do I palm mute? Where does my "palm" go? Can you palm mute while up-picking? How should I hold the pick properly? Etc etc.

I've looked for videos and tutorials on this, but none of them are really clear enough or the position they show is super uncomfortable. Can someone help me out here? With a detailed description? Thanks!
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Old 04-24-2013, 12:49 AM   #2
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I don't know if you're just a metal guy, but don't underestimate the ability to manipulate tone that comes with finger picking. It's taken me 20 years of playing to figure that out.

That being said, shredding and chugguing metal rhythms are near impossible without the attack that a pick provides. I hold the pick with my thumb crossed over my forefinger and leave my palm rested on the bridge just behin the low E.

That being said, that just a standard position. You'll need to move it around depending on how you want to play. For example Stevie Ray Vaughan would chug along with his palm unanchored and his entire forearm thumping like a piston to get those big powerful rhythms. Then you can strum up on the neck to get more delicate warmer tones, down right close to the bridge for an almost sitar like tone, with your palm muting the EAB strings for heavily distorted metal chugs.

Really the world of pick holding is your oyster, there really isn't a 'right' way to do anything on a guitar, just what suits you the most. If you find it's not working for you down the track when your skills develop, change it.

Like I said, I started playing metal in the 90's and thought finger plucking was a bit gay, now I play blues and rarely even use a pick these days. My picking style is unrecognisable from where I started out.

Last edited by Battery Chicken : 04-24-2013 at 12:52 AM.
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Old 04-24-2013, 01:58 AM   #3
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Yeah, I understand all that. I know how to move around and play the strings in different ways to get the tones I want, but what I don't know how to do is just the "standard" way of playing.
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Old 04-24-2013, 02:02 AM   #4
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There is no answer to this. There's no "standard" way of playing, just a level of comfort for each player with different techniques and positions.
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Old 04-24-2013, 02:19 AM   #5
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Okay, what's a proper way to be able to play chords, lead parts, and palm mute? I understand that there's many ways to do things, but I'm looking for what is the way taught to beginners. Beginners aren't just told "do what you want, as long as it's comfortable and sounds good." Beginners are told "do it this way, so later on you won't have bad technique."
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Old 04-24-2013, 03:40 AM   #6
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I am in the same boat as you... extensive experience as a fingerstyle prog metal bassist, new to guitar. On bass I've been developing my RH for the last 10 years, and continue to! It scares me to think guitar is the same thing.

I am way better off now than a year ago when I picked up guitar. It's just time. There are tons of different techniques people use! I think you just find your own based on the tones and stuff.

Here are some stupid mistakes/discoveries of mine in my process of stumbling through this stuff:

-Fresh picks matter *a lot* I was using the same few pics for like 6 months straight even though I had box of new ones and when I used a new one I felt ******ed because it enabled my playing so much.
-Left Hand mutes
-If you are playing super tight machine gun rhythms and such, you can use the pick itself as a measure of control where muting/note separation/accents are concerned.
-Wrist movement or Finger movement? Your choice! I've seen great metal players use both.

My "girlfriend" barely uses wrist motions, looks like 95% thumb/index-

This guy with an awesome pink guitar is all wrist-

I am curious about palm muted upstrokes too... mine come out a little dead but I probably really need to work on upstrokes too.
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Old 04-24-2013, 03:52 AM   #7
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That girl uses her wrist a lot. See how it's turning along the length of the arm?
I think it might be the fact that she sorta loosely anchors her other fingers to the strings/pups that makes you think she isn't using her wrist much.
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Old 04-24-2013, 04:34 AM   #8
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Okay, the guy in the second video. See where/how he's positioned? What are the specifics on that? That seems to be the more common way of playing but I don't get it at all.
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Old 04-24-2013, 06:24 AM   #9
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Lots of opinions on this, but the most important thing is to anchor yourself onto the body of the guitar somewhere when picking notes (not for strumming). Most guys do this on the bridge, some on the body near the strings!
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Old 04-24-2013, 06:34 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by bondmorkret
Lots of opinions on this, but the most important thing is to anchor yourself onto the body of the guitar somewhere when picking notes (not for strumming). Most guys do this on the bridge, some on the body near the strings!

It's not important at all, in fact arguably it's a habit you want to avoid getting into altogether.
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Old 04-24-2013, 06:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rawshik
Okay, the guy in the second video. See where/how he's positioned? What are the specifics on that? That seems to be the more common way of playing but I don't get it at all.



I think you may be overthinking it. Just put your guitar on on, let your arm fall on top of it in RELAXED position, usually meaning the arm rests slightly on the guitar (not press against as that locks you in place and limits your motions, but not levitate above either as that creates tension), your hand floats free on top of strings (I dont like anchoring my pinky anywhere) and start picking using your wrist muscles. Avoid awkward angles and stay as relaxed as possible. How to hold the pick, there are many ways but look at Freepowers youtube channel, link is in the sticky here. He does also have good vids about posture.
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Old 04-24-2013, 10:50 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battery Chicken
Really the world of pick holding is your oyster, there really isn't a 'right' way to do anything on a guitar, just what suits you the most. If you find it's not working for you down the track when your skills develop, change it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveHOC
There is no answer to this. There's no "standard" way of playing, just a level of comfort for each player with different techniques and positions.


Wrong and wrong. There is a pretty easily identifiable standard among those who have the most expressive freedom with the instrument and maybe 2 or 3 things that actually vary. The shape of the hand tends to vary but that doesn't actually make any difference. The exact angle of the pick to the strings varies a bit but that's more of a tonal choice than a technical issue; a small period of adjustment and most good players can change the pick angle they use. Finally the exact nature of the picking motion (rotation, translation, oscillation) sometimes changes but most people tend to use a pretty standard mix of translation and rotation for just picking, there are maybe 3 or 4 people I can think of whose picking motion is not mainly based on the translatory movement.
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Old 04-24-2013, 01:39 PM   #13
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I have tried 30 ways to pick and most work good but I seriously believe there is one that is best. One Ring to rule them all. Keep your fingers off the guitar and in a loose fist, rest your palm lightly on the strings near the bridge, and only move the wrist. Its like turning a key in a lock but with the hand slightly angled to the right. Its not my favorite tone because I would prefer to not have my hand on the strings but it works REALLY good for everything.
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Old 04-24-2013, 02:24 PM   #14
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I guess I'll just improv then.
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Old 04-24-2013, 02:32 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Wrong and wrong. There is a pretty easily identifiable standard among those who have the most expressive freedom with the instrument and maybe 2 or 3 things that actually vary. The shape of the hand tends to vary but that doesn't actually make any difference. The exact angle of the pick to the strings varies a bit but that's more of a tonal choice than a technical issue; a small period of adjustment and most good players can change the pick angle they use. Finally the exact nature of the picking motion (rotation, translation, oscillation) sometimes changes but most people tend to use a pretty standard mix of translation and rotation for just picking, there are maybe 3 or 4 people I can think of whose picking motion is not mainly based on the translatory movement.


Zaphod I agree with you a 100%.

When in doubt, I say go with an orthodox method. While it is true there are some unique players out there with unorthodox methods of playing, I would venture to say that the ones that do play well to an advantage are far and few between.

I will say that when I changed to the "right" way of doing things, everything improved about my playing. Thanks to this forum I got rid of my pinkie anchor and my right hand technique improved substantially. The right hand, to me, is the more difficult piece of playing.
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Old 04-25-2013, 03:06 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by sweetdude3000
Zaphod I agree with you a 100%.

When in doubt, I say go with an orthodox method. While it is true there are some unique players out there with unorthodox methods of playing, I would venture to say that the ones that do play well to an advantage are far and few between.

I will say that when I changed to the "right" way of doing things, everything improved about my playing. Thanks to this forum I got rid of my pinkie anchor and my right hand technique improved substantially. The right hand, to me, is the more difficult piece of playing.


So what IS the right way of doing things?
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Old 04-25-2013, 05:10 AM   #17
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This is imo the standard way of holding the pick -

Sorry for underwater audio.

As goes arm position, it varies a little depending on body type and guitar shape but you do want the wrist roughly straight.

Finally, don't press into the guitar, but making contact with it is fine.
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Old 04-25-2013, 09:09 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freepower
This is imo the standard way of holding the pick -

Sorry for underwater audio.

As goes arm position, it varies a little depending on body type and guitar shape but you do want the wrist roughly straight.

Finally, don't press into the guitar, but making contact with it is fine.


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