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Author Topic:  Back to Palm Muting Right Hand Alpha?
John Goux


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 9 Jul 2018 8:53 pm     Reply with quote

I started on steel about 3 years ago with Jeff Newman’s Right Hand Alpha.
It’s palm blocking with very clear directions on hand position.
From my first week I was gigging and enjoying the fruits of Jeff Newman’s instruction.

Then I discovered I could not play fast, and strong, like Paul Franklin. Regardless of how much I practiced, the best I could do was play featherly light and fast. On a good day.

Then I learned that many of my pedal steel favs are pick blockers. PF, JayDee, Greg Leisz, etc. Since that time I have attempted to change my right hand technique to pick blocking.

Sometimes it works for me. Other times not.

My live gigging has fallen off, so I’m playing less in public and more often at home.

Yesterday I learned some Ralph Mooney solos and was struggling with his right hand lines, many seem derived from banjo roll arpegioos. I remembered how easy it used to be to do the alternating crossover technique with thumb and middle finger. Like Buddy. Like Jeff Newman teaches.

Tonight I rewatched Jeff’s video for the first time in 3 years.

So my question is, have any of you been down this path of attempting to become pick blockers, and eventually gone back to the “palm blocking” technique you started with?

What is your advice?

John
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, Northern California
Post Posted 9 Jul 2018 9:45 pm     Reply with quote

I believe that everything you can do with your hands is fair game. Whichever works best at the moment is right. You can't argue that what Jeff Newman taught is wrong, because it's simply great. Nor can you argue that Joe Wright's method is wrong, because it's great too.

Listen to Lloyd Green's right hand and then Paul Franklin's. You'd be a fool to call either technique better than the other. If you learn both, you'll discover that some musical parts are easier for you with one vs. the other. After a while it becomes second nature.

Pick blocking is hardest when you're changing string groupings a lot. That's when I tend to use palm blocking more. Rhythmic chord grips also feel right with palm blocking. Lines that are moving up and down the neck on the same 3 strings are very natural for pick blocking. If you've learned Joe Wright's method, moving across the strings with pick blocking can be very fast. But that alternating crossover technique is equally fast, and if it's there in your muscle memory why not use it?

Even picking up the bar (gasp!) is okay in certain situations. Sometimes I brush across chords with my pinky instead of picking. Everything you can do with your hands is fair game. What matters is the sound that you make, not how you made it.

That's my theory anyway.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post Posted 9 Jul 2018 11:17 pm     Reply with quote

My initial reaction was "You need to have both" - b0b's rundown looks like all you'll ever need.
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Jeffrey McFadden


From:
Missouri, USA
Post Posted 10 Jul 2018 6:12 am     Reply with quote

Quoth b0b:
"Everything you can do with your hands is fair game."
Friends, that statement cannot be improved on. Make music.
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Mathew Peluso


From:
Oregon, USA
Post Posted 10 Jul 2018 7:45 am     Reply with quote

John,

I started playing a little over two years ago. I was exclusively palm blocking and making quick progress but I had the same limitations with speed and attack that you describe. Somewhere over the course of the last year, I started integrating pick blocking into my palm blocking. I realized over the last six months or so that I needed to commit to one as there were a lot of times I felt the combination was creating more problems than solutions. I sided with pick blocking and I'm really glad I did. The last month has largely consisted of running drill after drill to really burn in the muscle memory and make certain fingerings more confident. I don't palm block anymore and don't feel that I need to. Paul Franklin's course really helped with this. I signed up a few weeks ago and I have not been disappointed.

We met a few times at Lawrence's, by the way. I used to work for him. Small world!
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 10 Jul 2018 10:39 am     Reply with quote

Mathew Peluso wrote:
I realized over the last six months or so that I needed to commit to one as there were a lot of times I felt the combination was creating more problems than solutions.

Same here. I am determined to learn how to get all the sounds I want from a single right hand technique. In combination with left hand finger muting, “following” with the bar, and lifting the butt end of the bar for single note string crossing, pick (or fingertip) blocking is kinda winning it for me.
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Franklin


Post Posted 10 Jul 2018 2:36 pm     Reply with quote

John,

https://paulfranklinmethod.com/tackling-blocking/

Blocking strength requires muscle memory. Find the single right hand positioning technique that works easiest for you and stick with it. Once your knowledge and confidence increases it will provide the touch and attack you seek.......How I block is explained on my blog....

Paul
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gary pierce


From:
Rossville TN
Post Posted 10 Jul 2018 3:30 pm     Reply with quote

Thank you Paul for posting this great info on blocking.
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, Northern California
Post Posted 10 Jul 2018 7:44 pm     Reply with quote

Great page and videos, Paul. Thanks.
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John Goux


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 11 Jul 2018 1:40 pm     Reply with quote

Thanks Paul! Great blog and video.
John
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John Goux


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 11 Jul 2018 2:14 pm     Reply with quote

Thanks everyone who has posted.

Looks like we have 2 schools of thought on this right hand stuff.
Bob and Ian, that a hybrid is fine.
Fred and Matt, that a single unified technique is the way to go.

I think it is less about your method of muting notes, and more about the challenge of changing string sets(if you pick block), or crossing over with the thumb(if you palm block).

Especially when it is necessary in the middle of a phrase.

These early Ralph Mooney lines are harmonically simple, but with his stacking of 4 note arpeggios, it requires you to move your string set in the middle of a passage.
With pick blocking, a slur is usually the place to move your right hand. With a shuffle feel the second 8th note is very close to the next downbeat.
I don’t see a convenient place to move your grip.

Crossing over with the thumb and 2nd finger does seem easier to me.
Do any of you Mooney experts know if he was a palm or pick blocker?

I’ll post the tab. This is from the Above and Beyond, the original Buck Owens version.
I’ve written possible fingerings for both Pick Blocking and Palm Blocking at the bottom of the tab.

I’d sure welcome any suggestions on right hand fingering.
The track is a shuffle and moves along at a good clip. 150 bpm. For ease I’ve written the tab in G instead of Ab.
Solo bar 2 and 3.
Intro bar 3 and 4.
The second bar of each tab is an example of 4 note arpeggios that need a right hand move or crossover.

Cheers, John

YouTube.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_nGGHf63Zqc





Last edited by John Goux on 11 Jul 2018 3:26 pm; edited 2 times in total
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gary pierce


From:
Rossville TN
Post Posted 11 Jul 2018 2:36 pm     Reply with quote

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPtnDjXLkjs
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, Northern California
Post Posted 11 Jul 2018 4:58 pm     Reply with quote

On reading Paul's explanation of his technique, I don't think it's very different from mine, except that I have a pick on my ring finger and he's about 3 times faster. I don't see us as "2 schools" at all.

As I understand it, Paul actually only blocks with his picks 1/3 of the time, same as me. His "fingertip blocking" (another 1/3) uses his ring and little fingers as a unit. That's very similar to, and easier than, "palm blocking" which uses the edge of the hand including the little finger. My own "palm blocking" uses mostly the side of the little finger.

The final 1/3 of Paul's technique is thumb blocking. I started doing this sort of automatically as worked through Joe Wright's exercises.

Of course, I'm nowhere near the speed and cleanliness of Paul Franklin or Joe Wright. And fingering issues will always remain (I do thumb crossovers a lot). But I still think that anything you can do with your hands is fair game. I even use parts of my left hand to block sometimes.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 11 Jul 2018 9:39 pm     Reply with quote

John- I don’t double thumb or double finger anything. That’s about the only rule I have. I always look for a way to use an alternate pick, regardless of direction or string-skipping.

With the technique Paul describes, I am finding that T-M does the trick for a heck of a lot of single note stuff. Index finger is mainly a blocker, but I use it to pick for rolls, of course, and the occasional T-1-T-2 repeating pattern. Raising the butt end of the bar, and “following” helps clean things up a lot too.

I should probably add that I am still very clumsy with all this... But progress happens when you know what to practice, right?
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