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What is "floating?"

answered by Bryan Kimsey

Floating is a technique of playing open strings in combination with fretted strings. You want to produce a ringing sound with the open strings and allow the notes to sustain as long as possible. Mark Cosgrove, 1994 Winfield Flatpicking Champion, described floating as a "piano-like" sound. To get this sound, you need to combine cross-picking with highly accurate fingerings, usually played up the neck. Any dead notes will ruin the effect.

An example of floating is shown below. This is a lick used by Kenny Smith, one of the masters of this technique.

Floating Lick

To create your own, take a section of music normally played in the 1st to 5th fret area and transpose it up the neck to the 7th to 9th fret area, using as many open notes as you can. The idea is to play certain notes against other notes in phrases that you can't produce in the lower fret regions. For instance, it's difficult to play an A against a G in the first few positions, but easy if you float it up the neck.

Last updated by Dan Miller May 11, 2008.

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