Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Picking faster?

So, I know this question has probably been asked before (probably several times) but… like any energetic musical youth, I like to play fast. Very fast. But I just learned fire on the mountain on fiddle, and that’s a whole new level of fast. I can play it pretty clean at 140bpm on fiddle, but only at 120 on mandolin. When I try 140 it cramps my arm. So, is there an accepted technique for the fastest picking? If so, what is it? If not, how can I pick faster? I plant my pinky on the top between the edge and the treble F hole, and I hold the pick as suggested, between thumb and index finger, pointing opposite directions, with the rest of my hand relaxed. I don’t touch the bridge, but when I’ve tried, it gets me slightly faster temporarily, and then about the same. Any suggestions?

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Is planting the pinky recomeded? I thought your hand should be mostly free with the heel of the pinky touching the bridge for reference. But then again,
I am not a fast player either.

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Not sure, but Adam Steffey does it… what’s the heel of your pinky?

Oh sorry
The heel of your palm on the pinky side.

I guess if Steffey does it that way it must work.

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Oh, ok. I’ve tried that and it doesn’t seem any better

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I’d like to hear @BanjoBen’s take on this? I’m gonna try to get some video also

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Hi Gunnar, Are you using TableEdit/TefView ? That is a great aid to building speed. If your playing by ear which I suspect you are a metronome should help. I can only speak from personal experience and I build speed in small increments using TablEdit usually over several weeks. Sometimes I’ll include a click track to help with timing.

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I’m not using tef, I don’t have a tab for the song. Neither do I have a tefview program. On mandocafe where I also asked, they’ve said that pinky planting may be the problem, in which case I’d need to stop, but I’d like to get Ben’s opinion first. I’m going to keep trying to build speed the same way I usually do in the meantime; lots of practice

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That seems the best way forward,

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Have you looked at the Pick Foundation series of lessons? Seems to me to be pretty comprehensive.

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No, but I’ll check it out thanks

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Nice to see you posting…

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Thanks Will. I’ve been on a long hiatus. And my band broke up. But I also retired just 3 weeks ago and have started practicing 2-3 hours every day since then. I can’t believe how quickly I forget everything that I learned. But it’s also coming back to me quickly.

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@Jim_G1,

Sounds like this is an exciting time for you. Practicing so much must help a great deal.

I have also returned from a break… A span of unemployment took its’ toll on me… But I am back working and posting. :wink:

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