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Old 01-23-2013, 04:38 PM   #1
nugiboy
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Finally correcting my picking - Arm or Wrist?

Hey guys,

A couple of months ago I decided to finally get rid of my bad wrist anchoring habit and relearn to pick with a floating hand. It's been slow but I'm finally getting comfortable playing most of the things I could play before. The only thing is that I still feel a bit unsteady, especially when playing quite complex pieces which involve lots of strange string skipping patterns. My timing often goes out and I can't quite reach the speed and accuracy that I used to be able to.

One thing which I think might be causing this barrier is my lack of certainty over using my wrist or arm to pick. At the moment, I'm using a sort of hybrid where I use my wrist to pick single strings (as when I used to anchor but without touching the guitar) and my arm to move up and down to different strings. Is this a good technique to be using or am I limiting myself by using my arm as well? The reason I'm ended up using this hybrid technique is because a lot of the material I play involves chords with fast runs and sweeps mixed in all over the place, in quite a sporadic way. Id describe it as math rock/metal.

I feel like I was definitely more comfortable with my picking before when I was anchoring, but without anchoring and by using my wrist and arm to pick, I can easily transition between chords and runs without changing my right hand playing style.

Does anyone have some advice?

Thanks guys
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:02 PM   #2
derek8520
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Do what you feel most comfortable doing.
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:27 PM   #3
nugiboy
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I appreciate your advice but I'm looking for something more informative. The thing is I can't even find what's comfortable apart from my old anchoring technique.
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:37 PM   #4
Jet Penguin
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Definitely wrist, IMO.

Your arm will probably be faster first but in the long run it's somewhat inefficient compared to the wrist. Minimal effort & movement and whatnot.

As a teacher of mine once said, musicians are athletes of the small muscles, not the big ones.

Also, floating hand is definitely the way to go. Just shed it until it becomes second nature.
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:40 PM   #5
Anon17
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Use your wrist.

As a former elbow (what you call arm picking is probably using your elbow) picker, I honestly implore your to keep using your wrist. It makes life so much easier in the long run.

For crossing strings, you should lead with your wrist (i.e. your wrist makes most of the motion) and move your elbow sympathetically so your hand stays in a relatively neutral position. For example, alternate picking a lick across two strings doesn't really need your elbow to move but alternating picking a lick that moves from the 6th string to the 1st will require you to move your elbow/arm somewhat to keep your hand in a nice, relaxed and comfortable position.

It will feel weird at first, but you should be able to gain a relatively relaxed and economical wrist picking technique within maybe a month or two of slow, focused practice on picking from your wrist for maybe 30 minutes to an hour a day. This doesn't seem like much time, but I mean 30 minutes to an hour of actual practice with the wrist moving slowly, not counting breaks or anything else. Don't stress yourself about it and it'll come to you a lot quicker than you think, as you tend to plateau for a while and then suddenly break through one day.
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:49 PM   #6
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Thanks for the advice guys.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anon17
Use your wrist.

For crossing strings, you should lead with your wrist (i.e. your wrist makes most of the motion) and move your elbow sympathetically so your hand stays in a relatively neutral position. For example, alternate picking a lick across two strings doesn't really need your elbow to move but alternating picking a lick that moves from the 6th string to the 1st will require you to move your elbow/arm somewhat to keep your hand in a nice, relaxed and comfortable position.

one day.


This makes sense to me. I think what I'm doing at the moment is being too mechanical and using my elbow to change strings all the time, even if they are right next to each other.

I will try this more relaxed technique and see if that helps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jet Penguin
Also, floating hand is definitely the way to go. Just shed it until it becomes second nature.


As for anchoring, one thing I've noticed is that actually actively trying to stop my hand touching the guitar is less natural and taking more effort than letting it rest on the bridge. Is it still anchoring if I let my wrist lay on the bridge but allow it to move up and down as I move my elbow?
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nugiboy
As for anchoring, one thing I've noticed is that actually actively trying to stop my hand touching the guitar is less natural and taking more effort than letting it rest on the bridge. Is it still anchoring if I let my wrist lay on the bridge but allow it to move up and down as I move my elbow?


Anchoring is specifically touching the guitar in such a way that:
1 - You generate extra tension in your hand or arm.
2 - You restrict your range of motion.

If either of those is true then you're anchoring. I personally wouldn't recommend fully floating the hand if it doesn't come to you very naturally; I've tried it and know many other people who have and those who didn't do it naturally found it very uncomfortable, especially when playing for any real length of time.
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Old 01-23-2013, 07:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Anchoring is specifically touching the guitar in such a way that:
1 - You generate extra tension in your hand or arm.
2 - You restrict your range of motion.

If either of those is true then you're anchoring. I personally wouldn't recommend fully floating the hand if it doesn't come to you very naturally; I've tried it and know many other people who have and those who didn't do it naturally found it very uncomfortable, especially when playing for any real length of time.


Thanks, I've heard that before somewhere but just wanted to reconfirm.

I guess it's all about the payoff between increased stability or increase in tension. I don't think the way I'm doing it now is anchoring because I literally only need a light touch of my wrist on the bridge for my picking to go back to normal. It's almost like a psychological effect because I'm really not pressing down at all.
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Old 01-23-2013, 07:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nugiboy
I guess it's all about the payoff between increased stability or increase in tension.


You don't actually gain anything by either anchoring or not anchoring, floating or not floating. You do, however, stand to lose out by creating discomfort for yourself by completely floating or creating extra tension and losing mobility by anchoring.

So really I would very much recommend keeping an eye on what you're doing so you don't end up having an anchor point and also don't fully float your hand. There's no reason to do either really.
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Old 01-23-2013, 07:32 PM   #10
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That makes intuitive sense. Thanks
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Old 01-24-2013, 11:32 AM   #11
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I played free floating for over 20 years.
I decided to try "glide-fingering" the guitar just to evaluate it and form my own opinion on the popular alternate technique.
(i.e. "glide-fingering" is where your pinky and/or middle finger is lightly gliding along the pick-guard and maintaining contact with the guitar - not the F'd version of pushing into said contact point)

What you are used to will always seem easier (whether or not it is correct/superior) simply because you have developed the supporting muscles and muscle memory for it Versus the new technique you have not.

It took me about 2-3 weeks of playing in this style before it felt "natural" and I could truly compare it.

So my advice to you is: Pick an (approved) technique/style and just stick with it.
There is SO much more in guitar-land that is more beneficial to study and change than a technique that is already working for you.

Change for the sake of change is counter-productive. Make sure you are doing it for a Good reason and then Commit to and own it.

P.S. After playing "glide fingering" for 2 months (of feeling natural), I went back to fully free floating. To me, it complies more fully with the principles of economy of motion (and muscle memory reinforcement) - you don't need the training wheels. Use the force, Luke!

Happy Jammin!

Last edited by InfiniStudent : 01-24-2013 at 11:36 AM.
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