Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Picking Hand Position When strumming

@theChristiancowgirl I would highly recommend that you put the time and effort into building the habit of a free floating right hand. It will allow you to build speed and technique without tension. Plus, when you get your wrist off the guitar, your tone will really open up. I used to anchor my wrist down and it wasn’t an easy habit to break, but I’m glad now that I did.

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Ya gotta watch out for that bad habit stuff! start with the good ones ! it’s way easier all around! (take it from a self taught bad habit king) :wink:

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Thanks @Flatpickin_Libby! I actually already started to work on free floating my picking hand a few weeks ago, but wasn’t sure if it was actually a habit I needed to break. It’s one of those things where you just know deep down inside that it’s a bad habit, even though no one has told you yet! I’ll be the first to admit… I’ve played like that for 3 years, so breaking this habit is proving to be hard!

Thanks for the video too, @raymondbyron66. It helped as well!

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@theChristiancowgirl, I was much the same way, but when some top level players told me it was a bad habit for my playing I knew they were right! If your experience is anything like mine was, expect to not be able to play for maybe weeks when you change your picking hand! It’ll feel like you’re starting over. :sob: But don’t let that discourage you. Keep building the new habit, and it’ll all come back quickly and you’ll be a stronger, more precise flatpicker than ever before.

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@Flatpickin_Libby I know what you mean! I was finally getting up to 160 bpm on some of my songs by planting my wrist down, but now I’m back to barely making 120 bpm. It is super frustrating, especially when I want to play for friends and family, but I know it’s better for me in the end!

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160 that’s great! That’s about my max speed these days too, so we might be around the same level. Would love to see a video of you playing.

You’ll be back up there in no time! When I changed my picking hand I felt like I had lost ALL control and was nervous to even try G runs for fear of landing on the wrong string. Haha. It just takes time like any habit. Keep it up!

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What about pinky planting? I notice Tony Rice sometimes lightly plants his pinky and ring fingers. I have a habit of anchoring firmly since I’m a banjo player, so I need to stop really locking in my fingers and not moving them more.

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I’ve experimented with planting my pinky, @Michael_Mark, but it seems to have the same limiting-motion effect. I guess I’ll just have to keep working on playing free handed. And I am understanding what you mean by “lose total control” @Flatpickin_Libby. Playing free handed feels like I’m floundering across the strings! Anybody care to share their favorite pick accuracy exercises?:joy:

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https://banjobenclark.com/lessons/pick-accuracy-exercise-guitar

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I’ve used that one quite a bit recently!

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Hello Taryn, welcome back! How is the new little one at home if guessed it correctly??

Great suggestions from everyone. I use hybrid learning technique. Meaning, plant the little finger to get accuracy in the beginning stages of learning. The reference is needed as otherwise it will frustrating to focus on too many things - sheeting music reading, catching notes, picking the right string. Once you are past the beginning stages and are in a reasonable shape with accuracy, close fingers and freely move with little bit resting on the bridge/strings here and there to improve upon speed. The switch can come easily. I guess I don’t even feel the need to plant the finger any longer. :slight_smile:

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Thanks @JohnM! And my new baby sister is doing very well. I can’t believe she’s already five months old! They grow so fast!

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I’m so glad to hear that. Enjoy every moment while she is still a baby!

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@BanjoBen, have you ever considered doing a video about some of the common mistakes and bad habits that guitar (or banjo or mandolin) players usually make? For instance, I’ve seen a lot of people rest their wrists down on the bridge, but never understood how negatively it would affect my playing speed until now. Or, like @Lefty70 mentioned in his thread, tilting the guitar when sitting (I’m guilty of this one too!).

Stand up and Play……Uh Oh!

Knowing what I know now would’ve been really helpful from the beginning! Of course, that applies to all life. Anyway, it’s just an idea.

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Personally, I flatpick Jerry’s Breakdown for a picking exercise

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Also, Welcome back to the forum!!

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Thanks @Dragonslayer Gunnar! And thanks for the picking exercise too. I have a couple that I run through, but always like to ask for more. You can never have too many exercises!:smiley:

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@theChristiancowgirl I tried to message you but it said your messaging was turned off. Let me know if you turn that on :slight_smile:

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I’ve chosen not to turn that feature on for certain reasons. Is there something you needed?

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Not a big deal! Just wanted to mention something I thought might help you but didn’t want to post it public - no worries though!

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