Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #52712  by jeffm725
 Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:14 pm
old man down wrote:No, his right hand, the picking hand. A little arm motion will change the dynamic of his picking, bring some force (bravado) to bear, and the increased sustain of the notes will allow him to coordinate the left hand fingering a little better to the right hand picking. (remove the mushiness)

OMD, Here's is where you lose me on your feedback (and it may be valid feedback, I dont know)....there is nowhere in that video above that trking posted that is showing ANY right arm action at all. The whole video is of his left hand and fret board. How can you judge arm motion?
 #52718  by old man down
 Sat Nov 15, 2008 10:11 am
jeffm725, you are right, you can't see his right hand in the video. But I had gone into YouTube and looked at a lot of his videos and it looked like he was almost resting his picking hand on the strings, almost like palm muting.

I really don't like to comment on anyones playing style, it's a very "touchy" subject, picking. But I am a strong advocate of the floating arm rather than the anchored pinky. Picking involves a lot of spirals in all three planes and once you get used to a floating arm approach you'll never go back to the anchored pinky. However, the learning curve can be disastrous on an electric guitar because the slightest variance gets magnified to 110 decibels.

If you play with a floating arm technique already you know how your picking hand almost becomes like a conductors baton. Your whole hand will "fall" toward the strings at times, many times with a subconscious and lazy feel to it as the spirals keep the momentum going. But it becomes so much easier to switch to a rhythm stroke from the pre-existing spirals, and you can switch to upstroke bias like turning on a dime. Sometimes you'll notice that your wrist knuckle defines how things proceed.

The best advice I can offer is to look at the vids of Bobby. He has the best feel for rhythm that I've ever seen. He is so relaxed. Lead guitar, when it stems from a rhythm base, is really just extremely refined rhythm where the spirals get nodes right above individual strings, ever changing in their loci, but because the elipses keep going and going you stay right with the beat and everything remains in time, keeping time. Drummers love a rhythm guitarist's influence when the rhythm stokes stem from a floating arm. I remember how our drummer would switch to emphasis on the cymbals when the rhythm had the kind of feel I'm describing and away we'd go.
 #52720  by CaptainTrips
 Sat Nov 15, 2008 11:56 am
OMD . . . . fabulous post. Picking technique is so fun, IMHO. Just floating the arm gives you a whole range of motion and feeling that you cant get when anchored. Ive never been an "anchored" picker, I couldnt do it, physically. I would imagine that its a hard thing to change though.

 #52722  by trking8
 Sat Nov 15, 2008 12:55 pm
interesting - - thanks. some of it might have to do with sitting down when you play. also, I tend to play a lot of partial chords and get very controlling about it.

wow, gotta see if this old dog can try something different... :idea:

 #52729  by old man down
 Sat Nov 15, 2008 5:08 pm
trking8, I only play acoustic these days. It would be ridiculous for me to try and separate my arm from the lower bout of the guitar, thereby "floating it."

So I just checked what is going on and my arm rests on the edge of the bout below the elbow joint. But it isn't anchored there per se, but instead is slightly mobile in that it rubs around just a little. Then, on the hand itself, my fingers that don't hold the pick are slightly open, just about exactly the way Weir's hand appears in videos. The fingers are constantly just grazing the surface of the top. Because I don't manicure the nails as much as I should, the wear and tear on my guitar comes from fingernail scratches rather than pick miss-hits of the strings.

For you, if you want to follow things further, you might want to experiment around with things like keeping your wrist parallel to the ground, much like the old fashion locomotive steam-engine connecting rods that tied all of the wheels together,

“I wish I was a headlight, on a northbound train…”

just to see what that feels like, or moving your elbow sideways, like when Weir makes it seem like he's doing little circles of the whole hand to play closer to the fingerboard on in-between strokes, etc., etc. There's no end to this stuff.

Really, I don't think about it anymore. My biggest problem is oils on my fingers transferring to the pick, I slightly miss-hit the strings or just go into a trance, and my pick goes sailing away.

One cool thing about the floating arm (or hand) is that you never know exactly what you're going to hit on the strings, great with an acoustic but I don't know with an electric, been so long ago. I generally always have some sort of chord base, like an "open G" shaped chord or something, placed on the strings that allows the miss-hits to be incorporated into whatever results. Keeps things exciting and slightly varied.
 #52731  by b weird
 Sat Nov 15, 2008 6:53 pm
Um...where's the vid? I clicked the YouTube link and it says the video was removed. What happened?
 #52757  by trking8
 Mon Nov 17, 2008 5:37 am
pulled for now - - will probably re-edit, or redo.

hey, the tips on arm position seem to work. I don't know if it activates the left brain more or what, but it gives the right arm more authority and the licks are more cleaner.

learning something after all this time? go figure.

thanks very much for taking the time to go over this OMD - - I really appreciate it.

peace out,

 #52768  by CaptainTrips
 Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:41 pm
Yeah Bobby really got me into textured rhythm a lot more than I ever used to. A nice hard stroke by the bridge and a gentle touch up by the frets . . . . circular motion switching between feels. That man could play a guitar. Rhythm guitar is always underrated and Bobby is a fabulous rhythm guitarist.
 #52779  by trking8
 Mon Nov 17, 2008 6:39 pm
maybe Bobby redefined what it means to be a "rhythm guitarist"; who else plays so much counterpoint lead? to some extent, cesar rosas does it with hidalgo in the heat of battle (los lobos) - - try to listen to both lines at the same time and it'll split your brain (a good thing).

I was always envious of the space that Bobby got with the Dead, less pressure than playing the out-front lead, but so much freedom.


p.s. some mellow jazz progression, great opportunity to play arpeggios off:
 #52787  by old man down
 Tue Nov 18, 2008 7:51 am
trking8 wrote: thanks very much for taking the time to go over this OMD - - I really appreciate it.
You're welcome and hope you get a nice quantum leap from everything.

Yes, "more authority" says it well.

Left hand looked good, nice high arches, can't go wrong with that.

You'll have it "all together" in no time, especially if you start to see the chords surrounding and underlying the scale position you're playing. Then it will be child's play for you when you enter the groove, and people who watch you do it will wonder how you make it look so easy. (It is easy.)