Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Picking arm placement

Hey @BanjoBen and @Jake,

I have the most basic of questions which is bothering the heck outta me. How should your right arm rest on the guitar? In Ben’s most recent banjo guest lesson, he plays guitar and it seems his picking arm rests somewhere in the upper forearm, and not at the elbow. His pick lands between the bridge and the sound hole. I’m a 6’ guy with along forearm, probably more like Ben. I checked out a superstar video like this too:

Doc’s Guitar Jam - Doc, Jack, Tony, Steve, Dan

It seems that players with a smaller body frame and shorter arm might rest at the elbow, like Doc, Jack or Steve. Tony obviously has longer arms but almost reaches around the back side of the guitar.

I’m trying to figure out how to have a relaxed range of motion that’s comfortable and am just not sure where to put my arm for best positioning. Am I short-changing my playing by resting on my upper forearm and not having the full swing from my elbow? Should I think more like Tony Rice and put my arm further around the back side of the guitar? Or is it more about where the pick hits the strings? The angle of my wrist?

Help me out here. What would you focus on for finding the best arm placement on your guitar?

Thanks for all your help!


I’ve always just thought about where the pick is hitting the strings or where my fingers are on the pickguard area. Everything else just kind of falls into place. If you want to have a set place for your arm, you could attach an armrest to the guitar and use that as a point of reference.

Tony’s arm placement is really interesting to me. It’s like he angles his hand almost parallel to the strings. I should try that…


I know I’m not @BanjoBen or @Jake, but I want the corner of my arm and elbow to rest on the body of the guitar and not entirely on the forearm. That is how I learned it from Jake Workman. He has a great way of doing it that is relaxed and comfortable at the same time


I’m not @BanjoBen or @Jake either. But I should pay more attention to arm placement also.


Thanks so much @Timothy_L. That’s helpful!