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What is the best right hand position for flatpicking

i rest my hand on the bridge but then its hard to reach different strings

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I've seen Grier play both workshops and shows and while his playing was very clear (and amazing!), loud is the antonym of the adjective I would use to describe his playing. In fact, almost all of the famous flatpickers I've seen haven't been that loud. Notable exceptions would be Russ Barenberg, Robert Shafer, and Tony Rice, although as previously mentioned, Tony doesn't seem to be near as loud as he was in the past.
stephanie,i'm glad you mentioned the fingers tucked in.with all the right-hand technique i've discussed here i had forgotten to mention that i play with my fingers tucked in and i always recommend that to other flatpickers.that to me is simple physics.
Bryan Sutton did an instructional dvd ( Secrets for successful flatpicking ) and in it he addresses this , his idea is that resting your hand on the bridge increases tension and also can decrease the power to the strings . His hand seems to float or pivot above the bridge depending on where he is addressing the strings .. worth watching this DVD ..as to my way of thinking Bryan Sutton is among one of the best flat pickers out there ..
paul, i would agree that Bryan Sutton is one of the best flatpickers in the world.i listen to him quite often these days.i will have to check out that dvd soon.though i would have to disagree with him about the tension,since i've been flatpicking 37 years with my hand on the bridge.i think alot of the difference of opinion has to do with style of phrasing.i phrase more like tony rice than anybody else with the only difference being i tend to play more notes.kind of like a cross between tony and mark o'conner,back when mark flatpicked.bryan and tonys' phrasing is totally different from each other.i feel like tonys' demands more control in movement.tony does some amazing changes in pick direction like nobody else i know of.i know this by learning songs of other great flatpickers.i have taught some of tonys' licks to guys who are accomplished at other styles like crary or doc or sutton and they look at me and say youve got to be kidding me,does tony really do his pick that way it seems impossible.i've always played his style from day one so it seems natural to me.it does take alot of control and efficiency of movement which is why tony anchors his pinky.his phrases dictate pick direction and therefore his pick does some major acrobatics.where as other flatpickers tend to stay more with back and forth and let that dictate their phrasing instead of the other way around.
Hi Ronny ..Bryan will rest his pinky on either the pick gaurd or sometimes the E string but very seldom will you see him rest his hand on the bridge and that could stem from his Classical guitar training, both Tony and Bryan have their own style and I know one thing for sure , both have forgoten more than I will probably ever learn ...have great day ..
Hi All Again,

Just got my "primer" DVD from Orrin Starr and he says the same thing about hand on the bridge and tension as does Brian Sutton. This being said, I tried to emulate Orrin's hand position. Here's the final question for those of us who have been at it for many to months to many years: Is my speed, clarity and volume OK? Do I feel it is neccessary to almost start over just to be able to do it like the other guy. possibly without the same success as I enjoy now? My answer is "no". My speed is WAY up from where it was 4 months ago when I was picking from free air and the attack is so good, my Epi (with a cedar top) can't handle it and I have to back off. Now that being said I have paid attention to others input. My RH does not exlusively rest on the saddle, sometimes it is for ripping speed when range of motion is 1 -3 strings next to each other, but most times it's "just" touching the saddle or very near and I pay attenton to any stress I notice in my RH wrist and elbow (that's mostly mental I think).

Dave,thank you for hitting the nail on the head so to speak.I'm usually long winded about anything to do with flatpicking,if youve read any of my other replies you know that but i couldnt have said it better.
I've been a subscriber to Flatpicking Guitar for some time now (running out of room on the bookshelf) and just discovered this forum and am attempting my first post.

I've been thrashing away at flatpicking since I was about fifteen, am largely self taught and am firmly rooted in all kinds of bad playing habits.

Since getting into bluegrass almost ten years ago, I've seen the errors of my ways and spend a huge mount of time and effort trying to unlearn and correct what I believe to be limiting habits, right hand in particular.
As most of us are aware, any contact with the guitar, kills tone and volume whether that be squeezing it to hard with your arm and body or planting a heel on the bridge. Keeping the heel of my hand off the pins is a constant focus. I find it hard to maintain a consistent attack if my hand isn't allowed to "traverse" vertically across the strings. In a perfect world, my forearm is parallel to the fretboard allowing free articulation from the thumb joint to the shoulder. I definitely don't live in a perfect world and on some passages end up with more heel on the pins than I would like. I'm at a point now where at worst, the heel of my hand traverses the pins as a light depth guage.

There's definitely no right or wrong way to pick or play, look at the different styles between, Django, Dan Crary, Tony or David Grier. Go for the tone and challenge whatever habit seems to limit or diminish good tone.

Great question! I certainly don't have the answer.
BTW, if you haven't yet, take a look at Tim Stafford's right hand technique. Born out of a banjo background. I don't think my hand can form that shape without the aid of some kind of device. But, man, does it work for him!

I am chiming in after this post has been here several years...but this is an issue I am wrestling with.  I used to anchor, but found as I sped up, my movement became exaggerated.  I bought FP Mags book,  "Improving Speed, Tone and Accuracy" and it discussed this issue.  It favored what is called gliding or sliding, where for me the fingers are curled under the right hand and I lightly rest the pinky on the pickguard.  Being curled up, my pinky rests on the finger nail...which provides little resistance as I slide up for low strings and down for the higher ones.  The book also talks about the different components of movement for flat picking; from the elbow to wrist, the wrist itself and then even the thumb and forefinger moving slightly.

I find with this new right hand technique, my movement is quieter and more efficient...and I notice my speed and accuracy increasing.  There is also a related youtube post that shows this in real time.  Can't find the youtube, but here is link to the book.


I have noticed that others have shared what I have experienced - when it is a fiddle tune or lots of single string runs, I drop the pinky - but when its straight rhythm with strums - I go free hand.  I really like the way my D-28 rings out when I hit a chord!


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