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Author Topic:  Can one change from palm to pick blocking?
Chris Sattler

 

From:
Hunter Valley, Australia
Post  Posted 21 Jun 2022 1:26 am    
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I have been palm blocker for 40 years. I am happy with my blocking but may still stumble over some difficult passages. I'm wondering if I may be better off pick blocking? I think in general pick blockers are cleaner and faster. I'm not all too concerned about pace, but to pick cleanly should be everyone goal, surely.

SO, has anyone changed to become a pick blocker? Can it even be done? Is it worth it? How long do you think it may take? I have tried a little and find the index finger will take the most work. Joe Wright has good tuition on this. And, in the transition period can one still be a palm blocker at band jobs and a pick blocker at home? I cant imagine just going out and trying to pick block straight up. It would be a disaster.

In this pursuit I have experimented, also, in changing the way I pick regardless, and use the index finger more. I play thumb and middle alternating a lot and have now included the index finger. The jury is still out on this one.

Any experiences shared or opinions will be welcomed.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 21 Jun 2022 3:13 am    
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Short answer, yes.
I started out palm blocking but discovered that not everything can be done that way, so now I use a mixture.
Look at some Joe Wright videos and introduce it a little a time when you think it might help.
Neither is cleaner if they're done properly.
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Last edited by Ian Rae on 21 Jun 2022 6:25 am; edited 1 time in total
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Richard Sinkler


From:
aka: Rusty Strings -- Missoula, Montana
Post  Posted 21 Jun 2022 6:14 am    
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Of course, but don't "change". ADD pick blocking to you tool box.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 21 Jun 2022 6:26 am    
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That's what I meant but Richard said it more concisely!
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Ron Hogan

 

From:
Nashville, TN, usa
Post  Posted 21 Jun 2022 6:33 am    
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Buck Reid once told me he does both. For pretty slow tunes he palm blocks as he feels it's a better tone.

I do both, but not an expert at pick blocking.


https://www.facebook.com/ron.hogan.319/videos/727509508273331
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Ricky Davis


From:
Buda, Texas USA
Post  Posted 21 Jun 2022 7:22 am    
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Here's just the live solo I played back late 90's with Dale Watson on a song he wrote "Nashville Rash">

https://youtu.be/WParxip-RJM

Starts off with palm blocking; then I do pick blocking going up the neck; then back to palm blocking then back to pick blocking on twin part; and towards the end of the twin part; I do a 1st string pull behind bar; so palm block is preferred to technique. So YES; learn them both; I started palm; but learned pick block when I saw the easier way of muting strings while picking others back and forth(thanks paul franklin); so there is great stylings and dynamics from both techniques within.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 21 Jun 2022 9:03 am    
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I first needed to pick block when I needed to play consecutive notes on adjacent strings while sustaining another. I guess that's what Ricky's referring to.

Also, it occurs to me that if you repeat the same chord (as you might when playing rhythm) at the end of each one you drop you hand on to the strings and return your picks to their starting position - so who's to say which you're doing? Both!
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Mike Vallandigham

 

From:
Martinez, CA
Post  Posted 21 Jun 2022 9:36 am    
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I'm surprised to hear some think it's one or the other.

I definitely use both all the time.

Playing say a three note run and palm blocking seems like a waste, as you can just put you pick down on the string that was just played. In position and everything, no hand movement needed.
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Chris Sattler

 

From:
Hunter Valley, Australia
Post  Posted 21 Jun 2022 9:19 pm    
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After I started this thread it occurred to me that I had previously read a piece by Paul Franklin about this very topic. Apparently Hal Rugg tried to change his technique but struggled with it. He got it sorted but only after some help from Paul Franklin. But the odd thing is that both Buddy and Paul agreed that it was not really possible to do both at the same time. So I'm guessing you guys who do both must quickly readjust your hand for either Pick blocking or palm blocking, whether you realize it or not?

Anyway, now I know that the change can be made. My right hand is pretty well established in it's ways so I will have to ponder upon this before committing.

I did some digging and found the reference to the piece by PF https://www.paulfranklinmethod.com/post/tackling-blocking
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Gary Newcomb


From:
AustinTexas, USA
Post  Posted 22 Jun 2022 1:03 pm    
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I think you can for sure! My story is the opposite: learned to play by pick blocking and started learning palming blocking during the first Covid lockdown. It’s taken awhile to soak in especially at gigs but lately it’s been sounding much better. I had always mistakenly thought you could only do one or the other but hey why not have it all?
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Richard Sinkler


From:
aka: Rusty Strings -- Missoula, Montana
Post  Posted 22 Jun 2022 1:53 pm    
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I first learned to pick block in the early 1970's because I didn't know there was palm, or any other type of blocking (there are several). Back then I was told by a famous player (to remain un-named) that pick blocking was a bad habit and palm blocking is the "right way to block". So, I spent my time practicing palm blocking and not pick blocking. Guess what? Paul Franklin comes along with his awesome pick blocking. So, I added pick blocking back to my toolbox. Then there is also dropping my right ring finger on strings after picking, pulling the bar hand back to let my middle finger block the highest string picked, and even tipping the bar up on it's nose to only make contact with 1 or 2 strings and follow the right hand as it moves up and down the different strings.

The moral of my story is, there really is no absolute only one way to block. When I was teaching, I taught ALL of these blocking techniques. I wouldn't want to give up any of them.
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Last edited by Richard Sinkler on 23 Jun 2022 4:18 am; edited 1 time in total
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Greg Cutshaw


From:
Corry, PA, USA
Post  Posted 22 Jun 2022 3:24 pm    
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I've used both a lot and to me they can sound a lot different on the same run.

Here's an mp3 of a simple run played first with palm blocking then 2nd and 3rd times with pick blocking:

Blocking example
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John McClung


From:
Olympia WA, USA
Post  Posted 22 Jun 2022 3:46 pm    
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What Rick Sinkler said.

I blend both, but had to get a lesson from LA pal Marty Rifkin to get started. I'm still not as intricate or clean as PF or Travis Toy, but what I play suits me fine.

There's no reason be make blocking an either/or proposition. Why not both? They both serve different purposes. I change the method without even thinking about it these days.
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Scott Denniston


From:
Hahns Peak, Colorado, USA
Post  Posted 22 Jun 2022 3:57 pm    
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I was always palm blocking because I was taught that was the "correct" way. I do like that bumpin poppin sound it makes. Anyway I noticed a while back that I wasn't blocking "properly" maybe from lack of playing regularly. I was pick blocking a lot and kind of fell into it without realizing. I thought I needed some remedial work on my rudiments. Now I see it's not all wrong I'm just combining them a little. I do prefer palm blocking though. I probably won't be breaking any sound barriers with my speed.
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Dave Grafe


From:
Cortlandt Manor NY
Post  Posted 23 Jun 2022 2:47 am    
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Richard Sinkler wrote:
Of course, but don't "change". ADD pick blocking to you tool box.


I started life as a pick blocker, but there are limitations, especially at speed, so have added palm blocking to the mix, and occasionally my left thumb gets into the act. Gotta do what ya gotta do.
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Richard Sinkler


From:
aka: Rusty Strings -- Missoula, Montana
Post  Posted 23 Jun 2022 4:17 am    
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Right Dave. I forgot about the left thumb. I use it too, to block strings going from lower strings to strings above the one I picked, similar to using the left middle finger to block upper strings as I move the bar down to a string under them. It's amazing how many things you develop over the years that you don't even think about, it's all automatic.
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