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Post new topic My terrible right hand technique
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Author Topic:  My terrible right hand technique
Paul Sutherland


From:
Placerville, California
Post Posted 20 Dec 2014 3:52 pm     Reply with quote

Ray: Do you mean palm block, which is, of course, what he's doing?
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Ray Montee


From:
Portland, Oregon
Post Posted 20 Dec 2014 3:54 pm     Paul.............. Reply with quote

What I saw/noticed for the first time, was how JERRY had his pinky finger straightened out while doing harmonics.........

However, he was quick to revert back to the curled under finger stance of old.

I've always used the latter.
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RC Antolina


From:
Dunkirk NY
Post Posted 20 Dec 2014 6:30 pm     Reply with quote

What I get from this thread is what's my next Jeffran course. I will be ordering the Right Hand Alpha befpre I pick up some bad habits.
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John Alexander


Post Posted 21 Dec 2014 12:22 am     Reply with quote

Ian Rae wrote:
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.


This reference to Joe Wright surprises me. Starting on PSG again at age sixty something after a 28-year break, I adopted Joe Wright's picking and blocking techniques (in place of my former palm blocking method) precisely because they are so much easier on my hand than any position that involved getting the side of the palm down to the strings for blocking. Once I turned my hand over with the palm facing down (but relaxed, not tense and flattened out to get the side of the palm down to the strings) I felt the sigh of relief that was emitted by my hand, and there was no going back.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post Posted 21 Dec 2014 4:32 am     Reply with quote

I tried to choose my words carefully so as not to suggest any criticism of Joe Wright - who am I and who is anyone else to do that? It's just that comparing video footage of him and Jeff Newman, the latter's wrist is marginally straighter. I may be unduly paranoid about repetitive strain, but I've avoided it so far (I'm 63). When I taught clarinet and trumpet I was most insistent - a bent wrist is inefficient in the short term and may be storing up trouble for later. I guess I've brought this obsession to the steel. My ambition is to be able to pick-block like Wright in the Newman position. Is this feasible?
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Earnest Bovine


From:
Los Angeles CA USA
Post Posted 21 Dec 2014 11:34 am     Reply with quote

John Alexander wrote:
.. I adopted Joe Wright's picking and blocking techniques (in place of my former palm blocking method) ... there was no going back.


Surely you block with the palm sometimes?
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John Alexander


Post Posted 21 Dec 2014 3:04 pm     Reply with quote

Earnest Bovine wrote:
John Alexander wrote:
.. I adopted Joe Wright's picking and blocking techniques (in place of my former palm blocking method) ... there was no going back.


Surely you block with the palm sometimes?


I begrudgingly still use the palm for (1) some chord grips, and (2) some right hand position changes, particularly when, after picking a note with the thumb, the hand moves forward (toward high strings) by two or more strings so that blocking with the back of the thumb is not possible.
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John Alexander


Post Posted 21 Dec 2014 4:19 pm     Reply with quote

Ian Rae wrote:
It's just that comparing video footage of him and Jeff Newman, the latter's wrist is marginally straighter. I may be unduly paranoid about repetitive strain, but I've avoided it so far (I'm 63).


I share your paranoia. Other potentially crippling habits include opposing muscular pulls (co-contraction) and repetitive movement in the extreme range of motion - both to consider in connection with highly peaked knuckles, extended pinky, or ring finger tucked under.

At least steel guitar has the virtue of requiring only very small movements of the fingers. I have not heard much of steel players developing hand problems from playing, though such problems are rampant among pianists for example.

You could adopt Wright's picking and blocking techniques without bending your wrist at all, even if he bends his slightly. Whether it could be done in the Newman hand position - probably. If you use a pick on the ring finger, you might not have much room to do anything with it. But once you are blocking with the picks there may not seem to be much point in forcing the side of the hand down close to the strings. That's the sequence I went through.

In Wright's method, when fingers are not moving to pick the strings, they are at rest in position against the strings, and playing involves very little motion of the whole hand. There's enough stability that there is no reason to anchor the elbow against the side of the body (unless of course you like to keep your sheet music tucked under your upper arm).

I've studied quite a few of Joe's videos. The one I found most helpful is his December 19, 2009 webcast on picking and blocking concepts, which he makes available on his web site. Some of the others are very good too, and cover a lot of the same ground.
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Mark Hershey


From:
New York, USA
Post Posted 22 Dec 2014 7:50 am     Reply with quote

Johan Jansen wrote:
1.
Buy a big mirror, put your steelguitar in front of that, against the mirror.

2 Put your hand and body in the position you think is right, or what you learned from a video, a course, a picture or whatever and mark that position very good.

Only look into the mirror at your hand, as if it would be someone else playing that you need to teach it right.

3 Play slow, when it is ok, play slower and slower,not faster! This way you will train your muscle-memory.Be aware of every little move you make with your fingers and watch it! Make small, ergonomic movements.

4 Only play songs and riffs, licks, songs , scales slow. That slow, that you can master it easy with your technique. When you get it, play it slower. Avoid all situations where you fall back in the wrong, old habits, like a band. A stage-performance with the nerves and tension can bring back old habits and once played wrong for a few songs, you can start from the beginning! Sorry to say, maybe you need to quit your band for a few months...

The word is discipline...

5 You can buy every lesson you want, but you are the one that needs to play by yourself. Now and then film yourself and watch it. When you do that once a week, you will see progress. One person goes fast, one slower. Take your time!

5 You will see, if you can play slow, (very relaxed without paying attention to your hand and without having tension in arms, shoulders and wrist) you will see that you can play fast too!

Yes, I also studied with Jeff Newmann.
I don't bend my picks, just a little plying where it hurts my cuticle.

Good luck with it! Johan




Also, see this:
To me Buddy C had a very nice smooth technique

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViY2WXvVXYU


Question, so I started up the Newman course Techniques and Right Hand Alpha.

So far I'm good at planting the crease of the hand on the first string and curling my second finger around and getting the muted spitting sound he recommends. His arm is straight in the video and resting just ahead of the pickup. Okay, so far this is my challenge...when I get my thumb involved the angle of my wrist goes off the position. I'm getting the correct sounds in the video and I'm moving at the knuckle like he says. Basically when I'm adding the thumb my wrist isn't straight like his.

What fret location of the fret board should I be trying to sit in front of to land the arm/wrist properly. I think that's the issue.
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chris ivey


From:
california - r.i.p.
Post Posted 22 Dec 2014 9:55 am     Reply with quote

i went to a great little jam at the 1-4-5 Club in rio linda yesterday afternoon. rio linda is the live country music capital of the valley. as much as rush limbaugh memorialized rio linda as a joke of a hick town, i have played more heartfelt country music with great talented players there than any other one place over the last 40 years.
two steel players...me on the old beat up emmons and 'brownie' on his pro 1 sho~bud.
i was sitting out, watching him at first. i remarked to myself how little movement his right hand actually made. no unnecessary jumping around. just lightly planted near his pickup and moving just enough to pick out his beautiful big sound.
i thought, gee brownie, my sound is thin and wimpy compared to yours.
i can assure you that neither of us gave even one thought to how our hands were shaped. we just came to play.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post Posted 22 Dec 2014 11:44 am     Reply with quote

Quote:

i can assure you that neither of us gave even one thought to how our hands were shaped. we just came to play.


You don't know how much work the guy who sounds good put into learning how to get a full, rich tone over the years. You do know how much focus and work you did not put into your technique and you don't like how you sound in comparison. Seems like another vote for study, experimentation and focused practice to me.
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Stuart Legg


Post Posted 22 Dec 2014 11:58 am     Reply with quote

“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.” - Albert Einstein

Unfortunately, the reality is something a little less magical. Or maybe that’s a fortunate thing.

Back before Internet it used to be advertized you could in around 30 days time frame master something.

Since the Net it seems to be shrinking rapidly.
In the early part of the net you could be shown how to master things in 10 days then it was 3 days now it's down to hours and pretty soon we’ll be demanding to know how to do something in seconds.
Instant mastery of skills and knowledge! Presto!Laughing

Also "this is the only way" has been debunked on so many levels of all things Steel Guitar that the phrase has become laughable!

I only know about this from a pick blocking stand point and I can say like Ray without reservation that just be comfortable and be able to freely pick every string with ease and find your own sweet spot where you place your right hand for the tone you want.
Study how to pick block (the entire concept) then:
practice, practice, practice, practice. practice, practice, practice. practice, practice. practice, practice practice, and practice some more and you'll develop your own "another this is the only way" method.

You'll be taken seriously when you discuss it in about 10 years from now!


Last edited by Stuart Legg on 22 Dec 2014 12:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Johan Jansen


From:
Europe
Post Posted 22 Dec 2014 12:03 pm     Reply with quote

What I teach my students:

Start with laying down your hand as if you were holding a pencil in a comfortable way. Where your middlefinger touches the strings, is the position to start. Instead of thinking in 'blocking', you can also think in 'ringing, letting sound'the strings.

There where your middlefinger is, adapt your thumb and index finger. A good way of starting is on strings 5,6, 8. Make arpeggio's there, try to let tones through, and the whole time the hand and picks are down on the strings (blocking them) Where you lay down your hand, depends on the tone, deep or bright, you like to have.
Don't twist the hand or wrist, but move your hand up and down, from thin to thick strings and vice versa.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post Posted 22 Dec 2014 12:09 pm     Reply with quote

Great idea Johan ! I usually have new guys pretend they are holding a ball like Jeff Newman showed me. The pencil idea is much better !

Thanks

Also:

Quote:
What fret location of the fret board should I be trying to sit in front of to land the arm/wrist properly. I think that's the issue.


Try belly button at fret 15 and see how that feels. It seems to be the most common place to sit. And stay aware that it can take years of playing for hours daily to burn off the old crap and grow new muscle memory. It's a fun ride along the way and way better than TV anyway.
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Last edited by Bob Hoffnar on 22 Dec 2014 12:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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James Wolf


From:
Georgia
Post Posted 22 Dec 2014 12:16 pm     Reply with quote

Bob Hoffnar wrote:
Great idea Johan ! I usually have new guys pretend they are holding a ball like Jeff Newman showed me. The pencil idea is much better !

Thanks


I agree. I could never get the "imagine a ball in your hand" to work for me. When I approached it like this it worked.
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Tom Gorr


From:
Three Hills, Alberta
Post Posted 22 Dec 2014 1:03 pm     Reply with quote

The pencil is a far better analogy...it creates a comfortable grip...the ball analogy creates an awkward stress.

This said...with pick blocking dominating technique with four picks could be a totally different shape. The piano posture or ergonomic keyboard posture.
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Stuart Legg


Post Posted 22 Dec 2014 1:45 pm     Reply with quote

I've looked at a lot of steel players live, in videos and pictures and the players that look the most comfortable have the front of their steel elevated with their arm by their side and if they flatten their hand out palm down level with the strings the line would be straight from the elbow to the tip of their fingers.
They also seem to be almost with the 12th fret marker in alined with the center of the body.
similar to this.

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John Alexander


Post Posted 22 Dec 2014 3:16 pm     Reply with quote

Tom Gorr wrote:
The pencil is a far better analogy...


It would be an even better analogy if one were using a pencil to play!

Tom Gorr wrote:
This said...with pick blocking dominating technique with four picks could be a totally different shape. The piano posture or ergonomic keyboard posture.


As a pianist, I agree completely. As you probably know, it took piano pedagogy a while, maybe a century or more, to come around to recognizing the need for an ergonomic approach. Meanwhile, piano students were subjected to various Procrustean rigors and dogmas worthy of my worst Newmanesque nightmare.

An excellent resource for those who take this sort of thing seriously is What Every Pianist Needs to Know About the Body, by Thomas Mark. It contains much that would be relevant to a steel guitarist plus it's plain interesting.
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Tom Gorr


From:
Three Hills, Alberta
Post Posted 22 Dec 2014 3:38 pm     Reply with quote

Indeed....my four year old daughter started lessons and the very highly trained teacher has spent a few months now with a fun book that is mostly built around posture. I have zero objections to where the science of piano posture has landed.

As for steel...while I do believe that piano ish posture and dominant pick blocking will be the future...my limited issue...particularly on my 12 string...is that hand floats above the neck and i have noted that without feeling the 12th string against my hand i can lose that anchoring perception. So i invariably default to something that is between the piano hand and the pencil grip. My picking touch improves in one direction...accuracy improves in the other.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post Posted 22 Dec 2014 5:17 pm     Reply with quote

Quote:
My picking touch improves in one direction...accuracy improves in the other.


Your accuracy will improve over time anyway. If you anchor your hand on the 12th string you may have a harder time improving your touch. The pick angle will be different as you move across the strings. This is often the cause of thin tone on the high strings.
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Johan Jansen


From:
Europe
Post Posted 23 Dec 2014 8:23 am     Reply with quote

A lot of players think that they can learn it fast by buying video's and other lessonmaterial. They pay lots of money for that.
The way to go is practise, practise , practise. Years!!!!!
JJ
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John Alexander


Post Posted 23 Dec 2014 11:29 pm     Reply with quote

True, but sometimes gaining even one or two new ideas can be transformative. I remember when, after 30 years of playing the piano, I started to learned some of the technique developed by Dorothy Taubman - it was as if the sun had come out!
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Johan Jansen


From:
Europe
Post Posted 23 Dec 2014 11:43 pm     Reply with quote

Hello John, there is realy nothing wrong with learning new techniques, I encourage that.
I developed my pencil method after having trouble with my hand and wrist and if I find a better and more 'friendly' method, that gives me the tone , accuracy and speed that I longin' for, I will be the first to learn that. But all things will go by a long time pracise, without falling back in 'bad old habits'. Again, I don't believe in wrong posture of your hand, as long as it comforts you.
Merry Xmas!
Johan
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Justin Emmert


From:
Martinsville, VA
Post Posted 24 Dec 2014 7:55 am     Reply with quote

Here's a couple shots of my right hand. I gotta say this position is very comfortable for me. I just started Newmans No Speed Limit which begins with blocking and the right hand. I'm having to work on extending my pinky to get my palm closer to the neck which is proving a bit difficult to me. It's easy on the higher strings because my pinky curls past and below the top string which allows my hand to drop bringing my palm closer to the strings. It is more difficult as I move down playing on lower strings. I tend to naturally curl my pinky in too much, which keeps my palm further from the strings.

Any pointers or opinions are welcome.


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Bill Moore


From:
Manchester, Michigan
Post Posted 24 Dec 2014 8:00 am     Reply with quote

Justin, if you just pull your right elbow in more, your hand will naturally rotate toward the right and be in the best position for good tone and blocking. Pull it in and keep it in. Smile

Last edited by Bill Moore on 24 Dec 2014 11:29 am; edited 1 time in total
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