Right hand position


hi guys, i was wondering if anyone alters their right hand position when they want a little less volume from the guitar. i have a very loud dreadnought style guitar, and it’s great for ryhthm playing, but i kinda drown myself out when i want to accompany myself singing ballads etc. so, should i move my right hand further up/down the neck (i’m playing just hehind the sound hole now) or should i stay put, and learn to play with a softer touch. or!!! should i buy a martin 00- 18 (i wish!!)



I’m definitely not an expert, but when I want a softer/mellow-er tone, I move my hand to the middle of the sound hole. It works for me, and I have a very loud dread as well. Hope that helps a bit. :slight_smile:


The tone is definitely brighter near the bridge, but I am much better at adjusting my pick grip than my picking location on the guitar. I tend to get locked into one spot (what I consider the sweet spot), but I’m always impressed when good pickers control their dynamics by moving around.


moving your picking position will change the tone.

Being able to play dynamically would have to do more with angle of attack and the power behind the stroke.

When I flatpick at the same distance from the bridge I will normally accent the one beat a bit more than others unless I am pulling off something with some syncopation in which case I may accent the off=beats in that section.


I simply do not attack with any force when I want a lighter strum but instead let the pick glide across. With a “loud strum” I am really attacking at an agle where it’s almost like I am trying to drive my hand or the pick into the sound hole and that really drives the pick through the strings, with a “light strum” I am gliding across the strings straight down and kind of flipping my wrist away from the guitar about half-way or 2/3 the way through the strum.

I also like skipping up-strokes and some down strokes from time to time and mixing it up, if you ad up strokes all the time in your strumming there is never any chance to get any “empty space” in the rhythm, I think if you skip some beats here or there and get rid of some up-strokes here and there then it will mellow it out a bit and sound like it is not as loud.


Hey Ron,
Great question, and great responses. For what it’s worth, I do migrate around and it causes me some problems sometimes, but I still do it. I generally play rhythm further from the bridge and pick things out closer to the bridge for tonal reasons. As far as dynamics goes… the more you can control it, the better off you are. I have played with people that can strum very fast and very lightly and that’s a cool trick to have in your bag. Altering the pressure on the pick (less), the angle it meets the strings (less) and the amount the pick digs in (less) can all be used to get a very light sound on a loud guitar. You could also grab a very light pick (but I don’t do that). In my experience, strumming well softly is more difficult to master than playing loud.


Right hand position… sigh.

For the last few years, I have completely changed my right hand flat picking technique so that I could play with (much) more power. For 40+ years I used to keep my right hand lightly anchored to the top of the bridge when flat-picking single note lines. That made for a bright attack and a lighter touch.

To build a more powerful stroke, I moved my right hand to a place (floating) just short of the end of the fingerboard (near the center of the sound hole). What a difference this made in tone and volume. Notes are much fuller (more piano like) plus the attack of each note is sharper and more energetic. Another advantage with this over the old (bridge as an anchor) technique is that I can go directly from strumming to flat picking without any right hand change of position.

Now to your question. As you have already heard from everyone here, you need to soften your right hand grip on the pick to get a quieter sound. You may have to change your choice of pick gauge for a while as you learn this technique. Different pick materials and gauges sound differently. Experiment and have fun!


Speaking of thinner picks… as far as a good sounding medium pick, I got some freebie delrin picks with some Martin strings. They have a nice sound for strumming. I got like two dozen of them, but since I don’t use them, I have been giving them away. I think I am down to single digits.


Good question and something I’ve experimented with.

I video taped myself playing not too long ago to see what my playing style looked like, and to see if anything looked out of place or anything I could improve on. The main thing I noticed was the angle of my right hand across the strings. It almost looks like my hand is in a bind at such a steep angle coming down across the strings. That’s got to be robbing me of some speed.

I’ve noticed a lot of Bluegrass guys seem to reach around the bottom of the guitar (by the end pin) and their arm and hand is more in-line with the strings rather than coming down at an angle. I tried this and I could not get any power in my picking hand at all. I also have to have some bend in my wrist to get any power. I’ve tried to flatten out my wrist to rest my palm/wrist on the bridge and get the same result, no power. It’s all finger power, no wrist or arm. Everything I played was very soft. So, you might try to change the angle of your attack to soften your playing some.