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Post new topic Jeff Newman's 'Guitar Techniques/Right Hand Alpha' query
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Author Topic:  Jeff Newman's 'Guitar Techniques/Right Hand Alpha' query
Hans Penner


From:
Manitoba, Canada
Post Posted 20 Nov 2011 8:44 am     Reply with quote

I'm working on the lesson material in Jeff Newman's "Pedal Steel Guitar Techniques and Right Hand Alpha."

He really only has me using my thumb and middle finger.

When/what lesson does the index finger come into the picture?
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John McClung


From:
Olympia WA, USA
Post Posted 22 Nov 2011 10:11 pm     Reply with quote

Jeff used only thumb and middle for single note picking. Index was used just for chords.

I followed his example for years, but eventually grew to regret it, as
my index finger became almost useless. The majority of fast pick blockers these days seem to favor thumb-index. Most anything can work, but I now don't believe throwing away a finger is such a great idea.
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Jerome Hawkes


From:
Fayetteville, North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 23 Nov 2011 5:24 am     Reply with quote

John McClung wrote:

I followed his example for years, but eventually grew to regret it, as
my index finger became almost useless.


John - i see your point, but i think, esp as a steel teacher, having a comment like that to a beginner is off the mark to what Jeff was trying to establish - ie, good solid RH technique. i think as far as getting the beginning player up to speed with solid fundamental technique, Jeff was unequaled - his "do it this way or its wrong" approach is often criticized and debated, but i think he understood that SPECIFIC step by step instruction to the beginner was more important than just do it however it feels best or how you see X player doing it.

- over time, you begin to bring in the index along with other means of blocking and subtle changes that are so subconscious its hard to clarify - ie, its automatic, the main point being to mute unwanted strings and produce the clearest note with the BEST tone and to me, his approach works, yes it might not produce the fastest picker and there are clumsy fingerings that dont make sense or could be done more effeciently with 3 finger pick blocking, but i feel its best to start with a specific approach and expand from there.

there are basically two schools on this - both legit - you have Jeffs RH Alpha and Joe Wrights Wright Hand - i would say both are excellent and both are eventually used, but i would not want to be a beginner trying to mix both - pick the one you think works best and allow the teacher to teach it to you.

i am a BIG fan of Buddy Charleton, one of THE classic palm blockers (and a textbook case of Jeffs RH Alpha method), yet i was surprised when i asked a good friend/student of his to show me something he learned from Buddy in which he proceeded to show me a classic PICK blocking move Buddy would practice regularly! so it all comes into play eventually.
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Karen Sarkisian


From:
Boston, MA, USA
Post Posted 23 Nov 2011 10:59 am     Reply with quote

Check out Jeff's No Speed Limit course where he includes index finger in a few exercises. The difficult thing for me is palm blocking when using both index and second at the same time (picking 2 strings).
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Declan Byrne


From:
Southern Ireland
Post Posted 23 Nov 2011 1:46 pm     Reply with quote

Im presently on jeff's Right hand alpha,i get quite fustrated at times and think im playing worse than i used to.Maybe im just ...................... Oh Well
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John McClung


From:
Olympia WA, USA
Post Posted 23 Nov 2011 2:07 pm     Reply with quote

Jerome, I tell every one of my students right off the bat: "almost nothing is written in stone for pedal steel, what I ask you to do is try my suggested method of doing things (fingering, blocking, etc.), which comes from my experience and observing dozens of pro players...but in the end, if you find a different way that works well for you, that's the way you should do it."

I teach a mix of palm and pick blocking, starting with palm blocking which IMHO is more important and fundamental than pick blocking...but all students do get exposed to both methods (and others!), cause you need both, I believe.

All I was trying to say was: I followed the great examples of Jeff and Emmons in becoming a thumb-middle picker. That style works well and does simplify picking patterns. That's perfectly appropriate and helpful for beginner or intermediate players. But I now wish I'd kept the index finger more active, there are many things I do or want to do now that require all 3 fingers. So I have to do remedial practice to bring that finger back into good use. I recommend students lean on 2 fingers for most picking, but keep all 3 active for greater future flexibility.
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Bo Legg


Post Posted 23 Nov 2011 2:22 pm     Reply with quote

I still remember when I was learning PSG I tuned everything 440hz. They said Oh no get Jeff's tuning method. Then a couple of years later OH no get Jeff's New tuning method. Now they say Oh no forget about Jeff's tuning method and just tune everything 440hz. Seems I'm right back where I started.
I think you should save your money and wait for “Right Hand Omega”
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Hans Penner


From:
Manitoba, Canada
Post Posted 23 Nov 2011 6:31 pm     Reply with quote

Like so many, I want to play in the way Buddy Cage and Paul Franklin play.
Having seen videos of them playing I realize that I can never really hope to emulate them.

I thank you all for your input and hope to see you on another post.
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Last edited by Hans Penner on 16 Dec 2011 3:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Roger Francis


From:
kokomo,Indiana, USA
Post Posted 24 Nov 2011 8:42 am     Reply with quote

Hans, is this a beginner, intermediate, or avanced lesson? just curious, Thanks
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Hans Penner


From:
Manitoba, Canada
Post Posted 24 Nov 2011 12:17 pm     Reply with quote

Its for a beginner.
It assumes you know how to set up, tune and that you have a bar and picks.
It then takes you through simple exercises that involve developing right hand picking/coordination.
I've spent several hundred dollars on lessons and instructors and this, for me, was money well spent.
As with all these on-line lessons, or personal instruction, it can be a disappointing, expensive crap shoot.
It would be nice if you could have a short demo to examine, before committing yourself to purchasing.
In a nutshell, Jeff Newman, I think, will get you playing the more traditional country, gospel style of music.

Hope this helps and best of luck.
Send me an email if you need anything else.
Hans

ps. Just because someone is a great player does not mean he'll be a great teacher. I know, I was a teacher.
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At long last, July 14, 2011 and I have a musical instrument I CAN play.
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Last edited by Hans Penner on 16 Dec 2011 3:52 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Rick Winfield


From:
Pickin' beneath the Palmettos
Post Posted 25 Nov 2011 4:38 am     Reply with quote

In the beginning, it helped a lot, with my palm blocking, as did Winnie Winstons bible, but....
Now that I use 4 picks, I've come to devise my own thing,to accomodate that.
Don't overlook "left hand" blocking,(thumb, middle)etc., which I believe Jeff doesn't discuss on that DVD.
As stated above, whatever works for you, keep it.
Good luck & ENJOY
Rick
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Bryan Daste


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 25 Nov 2011 12:57 pm     Reply with quote

I like Right Hand Alpha, but I don't believe everything is set in stone. I hold my RH slightly differently than Jeff said to, and I modified the exercises by using both thumb-middle and thumb-index (doing each exercise twice). It's a great course, but I think it's ok to modify pretty much anything on PSG to work better for you.
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Christopher Woitach


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 25 Nov 2011 3:52 pm     Reply with quote

um... There sure seem to be a lot of ways to pick a guitar. How is one "right"?
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Emmett Roch


From:
Texas Hill Country
Post Posted 25 Nov 2011 5:54 pm     Reply with quote

The method that pulls the most purty music from your guitar is the best method.
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Drew Taubenfeld


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 2 Dec 2011 7:52 pm     Reply with quote

Here's my 2 cents on right hand alpha.

John Mclung gave me my first steel lesson. For homework I was required to check out "right hand alpha" and practice pick blocking. Now I had just started a new instrument with a bunch of cool foot pedals and levers, so practicing right hand palm blocking didn't sound like a lot of fun. But I did it anyway.

looking back, I'm really happy that John got me started with proper technique. It was frustrating to practice at first, but it really paid off. Thanks John!

Not everyone HAS to start this way. And there are certainly a lot of professionals that don't use this technique. I just think it was a decent place to start for me just a half hour a day and then work on some things that are more fun.
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Rick Winfield


From:
Pickin' beneath the Palmettos
Post Posted 2 Dec 2011 11:15 pm     Newman Reply with quote

While we ALL have learned much from Jeff,his pickin' and playing, he was also a "master at marketing". His sisyem of "palm blockng" involved using picks that were only available thru him, or National.
A musical, as well as merchandising genius,
his memorry will live on,and he will be missed
I personally use Nationals,(NP2- 25's)and have borrowed "some" of his technique from him, making it my own.
Respectfully
Rick

PS: the "right way" is the way that works for YOU ! Razz
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Mike Wheeler


From:
Delaware, Ohio, USA
Post Posted 3 Dec 2011 7:35 am     Reply with quote

Not exactly accurate, Rick. Metal finger picks were around for a long time. Jeff had custom made picks manufactured because he wanted the scooped blade, and the others were flat. He believed they were better for steel players...provided a better, and more controllable tone, better adhesion to the finger, and more comfort.

I think he was right. And palm blocking was not a new technique. His teaching of it is what was new.
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Fred Glave


From:
McHenry, Illinois, USA
Post Posted 3 Dec 2011 8:27 am     Reply with quote

I feel as though I'm firmly in the intermediate level. I began with thumb and middle, and have recently been intensifying dexterity drills that include index finger. I can play many things quickly with thumb and index, but it will take some time to become proficient with all 3. As far as palm blocking goes, I believe it is something that only gets better when you have good dexterity, articulation and accuracy of string attack. In other wordss my best palm blocking happens when I don't worry about hitting the wrong string. Practice my accuracy drills, and palm blocking gets better. Pick blocking (to me anyway) seems a little easier for some reason.
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Rick Winfield


From:
Pickin' beneath the Palmettos
Post Posted 3 Dec 2011 3:35 pm     Nationals Reply with quote

I must admit:
It's because of Jeff, that I switched to National picks, and I have avoided getting the "ring" stuck in adjacent strings, as well as getting an improved tone. He also influenced me into using my thumb and middle, increasing my speed by avoiding the index finger in certain fast runs. However, I'm a firm believer of whatever works for you, keep it !
These days I use a combination of his style and my own, my ring finger being the weakest. If I don't use it for a short while, I lose lose it, so I must work on it constantly.
Rick
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Tony Williamson


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 3 Dec 2011 4:19 pm     right hand Reply with quote

i have thankfully avoided any right hand problems so far, because of playing banjo for 43 years. if you want strength in the right hand, practice on a banjo. dont limit your rolls. when you get one down, then do it backwards. emphasize the beat with different fingers. smoothness on a steel takes a lot of practice, but the speedy stuff is easy for banjo players. it can help your steel guitar picking.
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Tony Williamson


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 3 Dec 2011 4:24 pm     Reply with quote

let me emphasize, its not about speed, its about control of your fingers, and them doing what you want them to do and you not having to think about it. practice. practice, till you cant anymore. when you sit around, do rolls on your knee. i'm serious. put memory in your fingers. then you can concentrate on the music coming out of your head, and dont even have to think about what your fingers are doing. keep pickin!
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Tony Williamson


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 3 Dec 2011 5:04 pm     right hand Reply with quote

well i figured i would have struck a nerve somewhere guys...lol. ya'll are probably thinking, oh no not another cussed banjer picker who thinks he's a steel player.... Laughing Very Happy
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Rick Winfield


From:
Pickin' beneath the Palmettos
Post Posted 4 Dec 2011 12:55 pm     banjo Reply with quote

Banjo picker, or not !
The issue is "Control" of the fingers, with clean precise execution.
Easier said than done....
hence the introduction of "re-entrant notes", placed away from the triad.
Now, if I could just avoid that F# string, when necessary ! Laughing
Rick
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Tony Williamson


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 4 Dec 2011 2:13 pm     control Reply with quote

steel guitars are capable of more subtle expression than the banjo, and i didnt say the banjo is incapable of expression. i just think the steel can do it better. that means that something is going to have to convey that feeling, and its got to go thru the fingers to the instrument. what an intrument that can have such expression. awesome!!! of course, if you want happy music.....cant beat a banjo....
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 8 Dec 2011 5:54 am     Re: right hand Reply with quote

Tony Williamson wrote:
well i figured i would have struck a nerve somewhere guys...lol. ya'll are probably thinking, oh no not another cussed banjer picker who thinks he's a steel player.... Laughing Very Happy


Hey Tony, remember that, while Buddy, Lloyd and Jimmy FIGURATIVELY "wrote the book" on how to play the "plugged-in coffee table", it took a coupla banjer pickers to LITERALLY write the book.

As to your last point: Ben Eldridge can play downright SAD banjo (so what, I'm biased...), not to mention that bluesy intro to Working on a Building.

Now if only there were some banjo players that played today with that Honky-tonk intensity that Don used to. (Check out Don getting all Honky AND Tonky on E.T. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jfgCEAIP98&feature=youtube_gdata_player )
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