For Fans of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine
Could use some advice, or just start a discussion, on the merits of strum patterns that go both up and down, versus Boom-Chuck with straight down strokes.
I bring this up as I have recently broken the habit of resting my wrist on the bridge after many years of struggle. The result is that I am faster, cleaner, and am now able to play with a heavier pick. I now imitate the Brian Sutton model with a pinky posted to the pick guard.
While this has made my speed on fiddle tunes and single-note runs skyrocket, it presents problems with a strum pattern that calls for both up and down strokes. If I stay with the classic boom-chuck -a bass note followed by a down stoke, it not a problem. My timing is good, and the tone is clean. I can keep the beat at even atomic-speed songs like "White House Blues".
But to get a nice sound on songs that use both up and down strums, I can't get the pattern without lifting my pinky and free floating. I guess it isn't a real problem, as long as I'm keeping time, who cares? But when watching videos of good rhythm players, I notice the pinky stays down all the time.
Hi! I'lm in a similar position as I recently started taking Bryan Sutton's online video lessons. So far, the experience has been transforming, but also difficult as I realized I had to unlearn a few bad habits. I, as well, used to rest my palm on the bridge, which gave me more control over hitting the right strings when flatpicking single notes and bass notes in strumming. But Bryan makes it abundantly clear in his lessons that it's a flawed technique, and he recommends a free-floating hand instead. Note that Bryan does not suggest to plant your pinkie in place. If I remember correctly, he says it's an acceptable way of doing things, but certainly not the preferred way. Now, when strumming and rhythm playing, you're not supposed to plant any part of your hand at all. Doing so will limit your range of motion and go against the "flicking water off your hand" motion that many flatpickers, including Bryan, advocate. I'm not sure where you got the impression of bluegrass rhythm players keeping their pinkie planted when strumming rhythm, because in all honesty, I can't recall a single time I ever saw that. So if that doesn't work for you, don't worry about it! It sounds like you instinctively want to do the right thing, which is play rhythm with a loose and free-floating hand. That's the way to do it. :-)