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Author Topic:  My terrible right hand technique
Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 16 Dec 2014 7:11 am     Reply with quote

One other thing that will cause problems if uncorrected. I just noticed you have your wrist seriously supinated (bent backwards), made possible by that outflung elbow. Your finger tendons are having to bend to transition from arm to hand; if you were to start playing a 4 hour night, you'd be in agony in a month or so.
That's a major reason why most players have the base of the thumb more on top than to the left.
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Kevin Hatton


From:
Buffalo, N.Y.
Post Posted 16 Dec 2014 9:43 am     Reply with quote

What Johan said. Excellent right hand form Johan.
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Asa Brosius


From:
Nova Scotia
Post Posted 16 Dec 2014 9:52 am     Reply with quote

Great question. I watch Paul Franklin clips, and compare my form. I recently adjusted my finger picks- added a few mm's to the length beyond my finger tips - blocking is easier, string/pick noise is reduced, and the hand looks more like Paul's. That said, as I'm sure you've noticed, many accomplished players have different styles.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post Posted 16 Dec 2014 10:44 am     Reply with quote

In the interests of long and uninterrupted service of the tendons in the wrist, I would not copy anyone however talented who bends it. At the moment I'm trying to learn the Jeff Newman way; although the hand is very curled, the wrist is pretty straight and I feel safe with it. It's hard to argue that someone as brilliant as Joe Wright is doing it all wrong, but I'm into my sixties - damage takes longer to heal and prevention is everything.
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Johan Jansen


From:
Europe
Post Posted 16 Dec 2014 10:57 am     Reply with quote

Both Joe Wright and Jeff Newmann made very good points about the right hand technique. Both are right. Joe has another approach then Jeff. Franklin has another approach too. Pick what suits you, as long as you are comfortable with it, dont build up tension and wrist and CTS problems. If you are not sure about if you do it right, visit a fysiotherapist and show him what you are doing. But always, do it right and slow!
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James Wolf


From:
Georgia
Post Posted 16 Dec 2014 4:57 pm     Re: A question about 'posturing'............ Reply with quote

Ray Montee wrote:
Is all of this controversy about how to sit, how to tuck your right arm, how to hold your hand flat, how to 'claw' your notes, how to hold your pinky out straight, etc......... REALLY, REALLY Necessary????

This stuff was never really a controversial issue during the many years I've been playing. Joaquin Murphy, Noel Boggs, Leon McAuliff, Roy Wiggens and the rest of them were never observed with these grotesque hand configurations. That is, until I first attended a Jeff Newman seminar.

All this 'wrist cramping', finger cramping, sore shoulders, etc., seem to be such a waste. I've never used pliers or any other mechanism to bend, twist or distort my finger picks. As suggested above, my merely place the picks into my thigh and with regular playing, they will ultimately form the shape you desire. After about twenty years, I found that my two finger picks were worn toward the right side of the pick and were FLAT..............


WHY NOT just sit down at your pedal steel, and forget all of this jazz about how to sit?

Put your bar hand on the 5th fret. NOW,.....simply rest your right hand on the strings nearest you. Be relaxed! Let your right forearm freely cross your body at about an approximately 45 degree angle. Leave the right arm hang loose, so you're free to make quick movements in order to deliver a different picking stance.......from palm to finger harmonics.

Let your hand RELAX and curl under the rest of your fingers. Instead of grasping or clawing at the strings, gently allow your thumb and index or middle finger to roll the strings as you pick.

Don't expect a miracle overnight but with time it will come to you. Give it a try. You might possibly find success.


I'm really glad you said this. The reason I play steel guitar is because I grew tired of formal instruction. I have a degree in trombone. Playing trombone in college was so grueling it took all of my enjoyment away. Constantly being told what to do and how to do it started bringing me down. I ended up shutting down creatively just to make a grade. It was constant do it like this guy or that guy and my opinion is irrelevant of how the music should sound. Do I have chops on trombone? Hell yes. I haven't taken a job on it since about a year after college.....my point of this rant is that I got into steel guitar because of its scarcity and that there would be fewer critics to "box me in" on what I'm supposed to sound like. Also I carry with me the 15 years of intonation work that I put into learning trombone. So that helped. I do however have the respect toward any instrument to put in the proper fundamental work to set me up for success.... Which is why I asked about my terrible looking right hand. The way it looks may not be the issue. You guys pointed out that I needed to relax more. I can't thank you all enough for that advice. It was exactly what I was looking to hear.
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Dennis Detweiler


From:
Solon, Iowa, US
Post Posted 16 Dec 2014 6:23 pm     Reply with quote

I started out with fingers curled and got along pretty good until I got into a band in Springfield Missouri and with a fiddle player that played at warp speed. At that point I had to convert to pinky out to be able to palm block along with pick block. Pinky out also lowered my fingers closer to the strings which also caused me to curl the picks a little more. Eventually, nearly 90 degrees. I also keep my right elbow against my side. Another improper technique is to pluck the string by flexing at the wrist. The only plucking parts moving should be the three knuckles on each finger and thumb. The wrist stays put. My experience anyway.
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 16 Dec 2014 7:09 pm     Reply with quote

In light of your last post, James, here's a rewording and rethinking of my comments:
1) that looks WAYYY tense, relax. If you watch videos of Buddy, his right hand displays an abundance of relaxation and precision.
2) that supinated wrist looks worrisome on two accounts.

A) it'll bind the tendons, causing pain and cramping over time.
B) it will probably reduce the power of the strike, and a tentative finger yields a weak tone. I'm not gonna tell you which way to correct that bad ergonomics. There's several postures that work.
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Joseph Napolitano


From:
New Jersey, USA
Post Posted 16 Dec 2014 7:38 pm     Reply with quote

I'm a Physical Therapist. I'm also concerned that this wrist posture will cause you elbow problems eventually ( lateral epicondylitis,aka tennis elbow)
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James Wolf


From:
Georgia
Post Posted 16 Dec 2014 8:13 pm     Reply with quote

Joseph Napolitano wrote:
I'm a Physical Therapist. I'm also concerned that this wrist posture will cause you elbow problems eventually ( lateral epicondylitis,aka tennis elbow)


These issues plague my family. I will surely keep this in mind.... For good reason I always assumed my arm pain came from carrying the dang 70lb thing around. I see now my theory may be a little off


Last edited by James Wolf on 16 Dec 2014 8:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
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James Wolf


From:
Georgia
Post Posted 16 Dec 2014 8:28 pm     Reply with quote

Lane Gray wrote:
In light of your last post, James, here's a rewording and rethinking of my comments:
1) that looks WAYYY tense, relax. If you watch videos of Buddy, his right hand displays an abundance of relaxation and precision.
2) that supinated wrist looks worrisome on two accounts.

A) it'll bind the tendons, causing pain and cramping over time.
B) it will probably reduce the power of the strike, and a tentative finger yields a weak tone. I'm not gonna tell you which way to correct that bad ergonomics. There's several postures that work.


Thank you lane. I ran into issues playing piano years back as well with this tense posture. Once I fixed it my wrist pain vanished. While I was playing piano just today I was looking at my wrist and thinking "why can't I relax like this while playing steel?" I placed my hands on the keys and imagined it was a steel guitar and realized that on steel my elbow had been sticking out while on piano it is tucked into my body. I think that's going to be my key thing here. I'm fairly certain that was my issue with piano years ago as well. Elbow popped out and binding up tendons in my wrist. It really used to hurt too. (My 9 to 5 job is an elementary school music teacher so I play a lot of piano)
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 16 Dec 2014 8:44 pm     Reply with quote

I let my wings flap a little, but here's a decent shot of my right hand
Mutron phaser demo: http://youtu.be/tivsay3qohQ
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Johan Jansen


From:
Europe
Post Posted 16 Dec 2014 10:10 pm     Reply with quote

Quote:
I would like to mention that I have fixed far worse long term habits on other instruments. What can I do to fix my right hand?


Well, you got a lot of answers here, good luck with it!

Johan
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John McClung


From:
Olympia WA, USA
Post Posted 16 Dec 2014 11:20 pm     Reply with quote

James, I'm a longtime pro teacher, if you're interested, I can help you out via Skype lessons with some personal guidance on your technique and how to improve it; done that with dozens of students. I always tell students: nothing is written in stone for pedal steel, I'll show you several ways to approach right hand technique and both palm and pick blocking, my personal approach is similar to Jeff Newman's, but not exactly like it, it just wouldn't work for me for some reason. Lots of good suggestions already here in this thread from some fine players. Send me an email and we'll talk.
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post Posted 17 Dec 2014 5:44 am     Reply with quote

The right hand of Buddy Emmons:
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Jim Reynolds


From:
Franklin, Pennsylvania
Post Posted 17 Dec 2014 4:23 pm     Right hand Reply with quote

You need to get the Jeff Newman, "Right Hand Alpha" It is excellent, then just work with it. It is a lot harder to break a bad habit, then it is to learn it the correct way. The sooner you learn it the faster you will go from there. If Fran doesn't have it, I do. I would loan it to you.
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Lynn Kasdorf


From:
Waterford Virginia, USA
Post Posted 17 Dec 2014 8:04 pm     Reply with quote

I started with Jeff Newman's instruction in the late 1970s. It seems to me that initially he was not teaching the pink-out approach. That is how I learned- lay your hand out like a karate chop, with your lifeline on the 4th string. Then curl your fingers like you are holding a tennis ball.

As some point, he switched to the pinky-out style. I recall asking him about pinky out, and he said "all the good players do it". I didn't have the gumption to ask him when he changed. probably around the same time he swapped the high G on his C6 neck to a D.

Alas, nearly all photos of me performing reveal the same flat knuckles as the OP. Gotta work on that...
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post Posted 18 Dec 2014 1:46 am     Reply with quote

This is a truly fascinating thread. The minute James mentioned trombone it all fell into place for me. That's my first instrument too, and when I came to the steel the left hand looked after itself - it's the right that's concerned me. From playing and teaching trombone (and trumpet and clarinet where the same applies for slightly different reasons) I have it ingrained that the right elbow must never drop; so for me tucking it in as advised on the steel is alien. Also I've never played piano. But now I see that if I concentrate on keeping the elbow in, then the rest follows - with a straight wrist and the crease of the palm at the top of the grip, the fingers have to assume the right shape.

What is mathematically satisfying about the Newman approach is that the fingers are formed into semicircles; so it doesn't matter whether yours are long, short, thick or thin - it should work for anybody.
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Mike Wheeler


From:
Delaware, Ohio, USA
Post Posted 18 Dec 2014 9:56 am     Reply with quote

IMHO, one of the most critical things a new player succumbs to is tense muscles. All the muscles from picking hand through to the shoulder should be relaxed except when used to pick a string. The "flying" elbow is an example the result of unneeded tension in the shoulder caused by the attempt to pick the strings just right. It's a normal mental reaction to performing an action when we are unsure of the result...we tense up.

Let the fingers do the work, regardless of the hand position you choose to use. When one finger picks a string, the others should remain relaxed and in position to pick a string when called upon. That's a lot harder than one might expect, and takes a lot of practice to accomplish.

If you watch any of the great pros carefully, you'll see how relaxed their arms and hands are, but their fingers are working like crazy. The Big E is my favorite example...he can be playing a blazing fast passage while his right hand looks like it's practically asleep.

So, does your elbow have to be pointed straight down to the floor? Maybe. What's important is that it's relaxed and not trying to help you pick notes...the hand has that job.

From that relaxed position, coupled with good back posture, one can determine other things...like guitar height to allow a straight forearm-through-wrist alignment, best seat height to allow good pedal and knee movement, etc.

If one practices being relaxed, as described above, you will find that the finger muscles will have to learn to do the majority of the work with the rest of the arm providing only a supporting role.

Try it, you'll like it. Smile

Of course, all the above is just my opinion and if you find a better way, go for it.
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Mike Vallandigham


From:
Martinez, CA
Post Posted 18 Dec 2014 11:59 am     Reply with quote

I HIGHLY reccomend "Right Hand Alpha" also.

Another thing that helped me when I was trying to figure all this out was to bend the tips of the fingerpicks way up. so the tip is higher than your fingernail.

Look at that pic of E's picks. It made a HUGE improvement in the was I held my hand and arm, and also in speed and accuracy.

I LOVE the metal pick that Fran Newman sells. They're the best!
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Jim Reynolds


From:
Franklin, Pennsylvania
Post Posted 18 Dec 2014 6:46 pm     Right Hand Reply with quote

I really don't think Jeff was teaching a little finger in or out, it was more of the general shape of the right hand in relation to the string. It really didn't seem to hurt his playing either way. He was a wonderful man to know. I to started early with him, but I have about everyone else's lessons too. Good luck and just keep picking you'll get it.

Jim
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post Posted 19 Dec 2014 12:35 am     Reply with quote

I forget his exact words, but in Right Hand Alpha he says to do much as you please with the little finger - only proviso is not to tuck it in so far that it hampers the others.
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Paul Sutherland


From:
Placerville, California
Post Posted 20 Dec 2014 1:08 pm     Reply with quote


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Richard Sinkler


From:
Oakdale, California
Post Posted 20 Dec 2014 2:54 pm     Reply with quote





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Ray Montee


From:
Portland, Oregon
Post Posted 20 Dec 2014 3:25 pm     Most interesting to ME! Reply with quote

Opened the JERRY BYRD FAN CLUB and visited the Jerry Byrd Music page.

I'd never noticed that JERRY did what he did in the opening video.
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