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Post new topic Buddy Emmons' Right Hand: Using Ring Finger to Anchor & Mute
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Author Topic:  Buddy Emmons' Right Hand: Using Ring Finger to Anchor & Mute
Casey Saulpaugh


From:
Asheville, NC
Post Posted 8 Nov 2017 2:55 pm     Reply with quote

Buddy Emmons often used his right hand's ring finger to mute a string when going from a higher string down to a lower string. He mentioned the benefits of doing this for single-string technique, especially for faster speed.

After learning this, and looking at pictures of his right hand technique, I began to do the same. It was challenging at first, and I felt like I was having to retrain the finger completely Devil It has helped immensely though, not only for muting/blocking strings, but also for relaxing my picking fingers and developing overall right hand technique.

Here is an article I wrote that goes more in-depth about this technique: http://playpedalsteel.com/right-hand-technique-using-the-ring-finger-as-an-anchor/

I now think of this finger as an "anchor" that allows me to mute strings, find string positions, and relax my picking fingers. It has definitely helped with my single-string picking technique - a skill of Buddy's that I always admired Cool

Does anyone else use the ring finger in this manner? Just to mute, or also as part of overall right hand technique?

-Casey
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John Scanlon


From:
Jackson, Mississippi, USA
Post Posted 8 Nov 2017 3:42 pm     Reply with quote

What a great site. Today is the first time I've discovered it. And thanks for linking to my sticky post on Mickey Adams video index!

Keep up the good work, sir.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post Posted 8 Nov 2017 4:20 pm     Reply with quote

Casey, I seem to recall in a discussion some while back on the use of a third finger pick, that someone said Buddy would use that finger to pick with sometimes (without a pick). Might be worth looking out for.
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Jerry Jones


From:
Nashville, Tenn.
Post Posted 8 Nov 2017 5:04 pm     Reply with quote

Not so much as an anchor but definitely for blocking. When you use your third finger along with your middle finger, you can achieve something similar to "pinch harmonics" and influence the harmonic content of a picked string.
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Jack Stoner


From:
Inverness, Fl
Post Posted 9 Nov 2017 3:29 am     Reply with quote

I've always done something similar. Don't know how or when I started it but its been years ago. May have even been a carryover from my lap steel days.

Here is a picture.



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Mike Scaggs


From:
Nashville, TN
Post Posted 9 Nov 2017 4:54 am     Reply with quote

Been playing that way for years and had some tell me it was wrong.



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Roy Carroll


From:
North of a Round Rock
Post Posted 9 Nov 2017 5:52 am     Reply with quote

Here is a classic example of the ring finger technique.
Doug is one of the fastest and the cleanest on the planet. Lots of expression in all of his playing.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksolpINLywo
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Sonny Jenkins


From:
New Braunfels, Tx. 78130
Post Posted 9 Nov 2017 7:15 am     Reply with quote

I couldn't really tell Doug was "blocking" with ring finger??? Looked like he was using it for anchor out past the 1st string??

I think Buddy said he tucked his ring finger under, using the second joint to block?
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Damir Besic


From:
Nashville,TN.
Post Posted 9 Nov 2017 7:32 am     Reply with quote

Buddys C6 Basic Course was done all with thumb and 3 fingers if I remember correctly ....
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David Mason


From:
Cambridge, MD, USA
Post Posted 9 Nov 2017 9:05 am     Reply with quote

Sonny Landreth's six strings are further apart, and held in the underarm slide guitar position. But he often just CRAMS some right-hand fingers in between strings, anchoring the tips between two pickups on the pickguard of his strats. He has some pretty fancy Atkins-type picking patterns and he'll mix up open strings with fretted notes way up the neck.

Sonny's playing through a quite revv'd-up Dumble (like, kinda HOWLING ) or Demeter amp, so muting is critical. But you cram one finger in, there's two strings you don't need to mute any other way, cram two fingers in and four of his six strings can't feed back, and he can pick with any or all fingers through this ripsnortin' tube amp. He has some pretty elaborate picking patterns and sly shifts from one position to another, his right hand looks sort of like... a spider crab, tapdancing. On PCP. (?) Sort of? Shocked It's a VERY idiosyncratic style, I've never heard of anyone seriously "stealing Landeth licks."
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Gary Cooper


From:
Atmore, Alabama
Post Posted 9 Nov 2017 2:29 pm     Reply with quote

Casey, this is the best article I have seen on the right hand. Congratulations, well done.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post Posted 9 Nov 2017 3:35 pm     Reply with quote

Damir Besic wrote:
Buddys C6 Basic Course was done all with thumb and 3 fingers if I remember correctly ....

Not quite. It doesn't appear in the text, but on one of the audio tracks Buddy describes the technique of playing the top two notes of a four- or five-part chord with the first and second fingers, and raking the remainder with the thumb. Jeff Newman demonstrates the same thing on his C6 Workshop video.

(I have yet to master this and I do what Damir describes Smile)
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John Goux


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 9 Nov 2017 11:30 pm     Reply with quote

If you go to You Tube and watch the Paul Franklin video for his signature Eminence speaker, there are really nice shots of his right hand in action.
It appears that he is anchoring and muting with his ring finger and pinky.
J
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John Goux


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 9 Nov 2017 11:57 pm     Reply with quote

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9sFVbgU3TqE

Last edited by John Goux on 10 Nov 2017 9:23 am; edited 1 time in total
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Norman Evans


From:
Tennessee
Post Posted 10 Nov 2017 6:03 am     Reply with quote

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PepSao2lmEA
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Casey Saulpaugh


From:
Asheville, NC
Post Posted 11 Nov 2017 6:51 am     Reply with quote

Great feedback and insights! Really enjoying the pics/videos too, thanks for the responses.

Regarding using a third pick on the ring finger...I think that if a player trains their ring finger (with or without a pick) to always land on the string immediately higher than the middle finger's string position, it will be much easier to utilize the ring finger to pick if a player decides to use a fingerpick. Also, the player has the beneficial option of resting this fingerpick on that string for muting and pick blocking too Very Happy

Quote:
on one of the audio tracks Buddy describes the technique of playing the top two notes of a four- or five-part chord with the first and second fingers, and raking the remainder with the thumb. Jeff Newman demonstrates the same thing on his C6 Workshop video.


I like this technique a lot Ian, thanks for sharing. I learned it from some of Buddy's courses. I actually wrote an article about this a little while ago, and describe the rake as sort of a "thumb strum." Here is the article: http://playpedalsteel.com/thumb-strum-chordal-picking-technique/

It also includes a diagram/tab to demonstrate and help for practicing.
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Dave Magram


From:
San Jose, California, USA
Post Posted 17 Nov 2017 6:02 pm     Reply with quote

Casey,

I am also a huge fan of Buddy Emmons—and, like you, very interested in Buddy’s picking technique (as well as that of other great players).

I have a somewhat different understanding of how Buddy Emmons did his blocking (“muting”) and anchoring, based originally on a column that Mr. Emmons wrote in Guitar Player magazine many years ago, and later reinforced by seeing him play live--and especially in close-ups on YouTube. In his GP column, Buddy said that he used the tip of his right hand ring-finger to block notes played with his middle finger as he descended to a lower string, and used the edge of his hand to block his thumb notes as he ascended to a higher string.

Here is a quote from Buddy Emmons (that I believe came from his GP column) on how he utilizes his palm and third finger to mute the strings: "I use (pick with) the thumb and second finger, muting with the palm edge and third finger. There are two occasions for using the palm edge. One, when picking with the thumb, and the other when going from a lower string to one higher. When going from a high string down to a lower string always use the third finger to mute."

Ernie Renn (a very good steel guitarist and personal friend of Buddy’s) described it this way on the SGF in 2001: “Buddy does use the tip of his ring finger to block notes played by his middle finger and the fleshy part of the side of his hand for the other ones.” https://steelguitarforum.com/Archives/Archive-000005/HTML/20041212-5-001997.html

The photo below (from what appears to be an old Jeff Newman instruction manual) is of Buddy’s hand position…

http://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=222631&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0
And in the same thread, there’s this quote from Mike Cass, (who played steel guitar for Ray Price and was a personal friend of Buddy’s): “Buddy gets the middle finger notes blocked with the tip of his right ring finger. It trails along with his middle finger and also gives him a nice popping/compressed sound. Another thing, when Buddy plays a triad with the strings laying next to each other (ex. 4, 5 & 6) he doesn’t usually pick all three notes. Instead, he brushes the lower 2 notes with his thumb and picks the highest with his middle finger. This thumb brushing is a technique I’ve also seen JD Maness use a number of times.”

Here are some YouTube clips with close-ups of Buddy's right hand:
---------------------------------------------------
Buddy Emmons on his best - SS Cool
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55W8kMDm6_w
Close-ups start at 3:02. (And the crazy bar-spinning trick starts at 5:29.) Very Happy
------------------------------------------------------
Buddy Emmons - Johnny Bush - Darrel McCall - Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPh39y0UrPY
------------------------------------------------------
Laney Hicks & Buddy Emmons (A Love Like This/Nameless Shuffle)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0wgqAS8xD0
------------------------------------------------------
NASHVILLE STUDIO MUSICIAN(s) BUDDY EMMONS
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flXaj4GWam8
------------------------------------------------------
As you can see in the photo and the YouTube clips, Buddy used his little finger as a loose “anchor” on the first string to stabilize his hand and locate the strings more accurately—a light touch “anchor”, the way a lot of flat-pickers touch their little finger on the face of their standard guitar.

Buddy’s hand-position was very high in the air-- higher than most palm-blockers--so he could easily swing his thumb and middle finger back and forth—as can be seen on the YouTube clips. Two other players using a picking technique very similar to Buddy Emmons' technique: Buddy Charleton and Tommy White.

As I recall, the way he described it in the magazine—and what it looks like on YouTube—could be described as a hybrid combination of pick-blocking and palm-blocking. It’s important to note that Buddy would typically play fast passages with just his thumb and middle finger—as if they were the “two sides” of a flat-pick. Herb Steiner wrote on the SGF in 2016: “Years back, I wrote BE an email asking his fingering for his solo on "Liberty" from the "Western Strings" album. His reply, verbatim, was as follows: ‘T M T M T M T M’.” http://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=308480&sid=0c34bb1ad65622a03c62299c19b36373

Emmons’ hybrid picking style is different from classic palm-blocking as done by Lloyd Green, Tom Brumley, Jeff Newman, etc. When you watch these great players on YouTube, you can see their hand bounce to block the just-played notes with the “karate-chop” edge of their hand. Some palm-blockers like Hal Rugg tucked their ring-finger under their palm to augment their palm-blocking—and the “bounce” is a bit less noticeable. Doug Jernigan evolved an unusual “palm-blocking” approach; he anchors his ring finger and blocks with his extended little finger.

Emmons’ hybrid picking style is also different from pick-blocking as done by Paul Franklin, Joe Wright, Barbara Mandrell, etc. When you watch these great players on YouTube, there is zero hand-bouncing or hand-swinging to block the notes, because most of their blocking (when ascending or descending to other strings) is done with the fingertips or side of the thumb. As Paul Franklin explains in one of his teaser videos, he trails the tip of his ring finger after his middle finger to block just-played notes as he descends to a lower string—as did Buddy: https://modernmusicmasters.com/pfm-news-two-clips/

I hope this is helpful.

Dave
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Jack Stanton


From:
Somewhere in the swamps of Jersey
Post Posted 18 Nov 2017 5:01 am     Reply with quote

Dave,
You nailed it...I also once asked Buddy about muting and your description is pretty much what he said verbatim.
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Casey Saulpaugh


From:
Asheville, NC
Post Posted 20 Nov 2017 6:08 pm     Reply with quote

Dave - thanks for all the useful information and insights into Buddy's right hand technique!

This research really helps in building this thread/topic, thanks for spending the time to write these valuable details...they are a treasure trove of information for players interested in right hand technique. The videos, picture, and article references are really helpful too Very Happy

I'd love to have a framed poster of that pic of Buddy's right hand, it'd be an interesting conversation piece Laughing
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John McClung


From:
Olympia WA, USA
Post Posted 20 Nov 2017 9:06 pm     Reply with quote

Really enjoying this educational thread. What's the best youtube video that really zeroes in on Big E's right hand? You can slow video down on youtube to several speeds, that's what I want to do to better observe and study his technique.
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Dave Magram


From:
San Jose, California, USA
Post Posted 20 Nov 2017 10:12 pm     Reply with quote

Hi John,

There are many videos of Buddy Emmons on YouTube.
I picked these four because they had great close-ups of Buddy's right hand from different angles--and had something else special going on:
---------------------------------------------------
Buddy Emmons on his best - SS Cool
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55W8kMDm6_w

The first part of this tune is very fast, and then at about 2:51, Buddy slows it way down and the camera moves in for closeups at around 3:02. Then you can see Buddy using a lot of unusual techniques (Travis-picking, etc.)
...And then the crazy bar-spinning trick starts at 5:29. You have to see this--Buddy doing the impossible! Very Happy
------------------------------------------------------
Buddy Emmons - Johnny Bush - Darrel McCall - Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPh39y0UrPY

This one has some unusual camera angles, but I just love what Buddy does to make this "standard" anything but standard!
------------------------------------------------------
Laney Hicks & Buddy Emmons (A Love Like This/Nameless Shuffle)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0wgqAS8xD0

A slow ballad with some different camera angles and gorgeous playing.
Laney wrote the lovely words "A Love Like This" to Buddy's melody, and this live performance is one of the most beautiful I've ever heard of a vocalist and an instrumentalist intertwining musically and emotionally as if as they are one.
Notice the other steel players crowding onto the stage to watch this amazing and stunning musical moment. Buddy's technique is impeccable, and Laney knocks the vocals out of the park.
Truly a masterpiece!
------------------------------------------------------
NASHVILLE STUDIO MUSICIAN(s) BUDDY EMMONS
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flXaj4GWam8

This one also has several different camera angles and closeups at 1:02, a great interview with Buddy, and then about a full minute of Buddy playing in a recording studio starting at 4:06.
------------------------------------------------------

Which clips of Buddy do you like?

-Dave
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Chris Templeton


From:
The Green Mountain State
Post Posted 21 Nov 2017 5:49 pm     Reply with quote

I love Sonny Landreth's technique of fretting in front of or behind the slide.
Jerry Byrd sometimes used a forward and back stroke with his thumb. He used National thumb picks so that technique is easier to use than with a Herco blue pick.
I like your article on blocking, especially the last line: "...to keep from drifting into the rough seas of abysmal right hand technique". Very Happy
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Casey Saulpaugh


From:
Asheville, NC
Post Posted 27 Nov 2017 2:17 pm     Reply with quote

Chris Templeton wrote:
I love Sonny Landreth's technique of fretting in front of or behind the slide.
Jerry Byrd sometimes used a forward and back stroke with his thumb. He used National thumb picks so that technique is easier to use than with a Herco blue pick.
I like your article on blocking, especially the last line: "...to keep from drifting into the rough seas of abysmal right hand technique". Very Happy


Thanks Chris, I appreciate it. I know we've all drifted into the seas of abysmal right hand technique at some point or another Laughing

I love Sonny Landreth's playing...haven't listened to him in awhile, definitely time to queue his music up for some inspiration.
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Greg Lambert


From:
Illinois, USA
Post Posted 27 Nov 2017 5:52 pm     Reply with quote

Norman Evans wrote:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PepSao2lmEA


I would love to learn some of those licks..
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Ron Funk


From:
Missouri, USA
Post Posted 5 Dec 2017 8:55 pm     Reply with quote

Found this video showing Buddy's right hand.

Of course, the other fellahs no slouch.....



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bpoke1wt0cU
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