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Thread: George Benson's Picking Style (I don't really get it)

  1. #1
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    George Benson's Picking Style (I don't really get it)

    I've been using standard alternate picking for most of my time as a player, but I've recently decided to try out the Benson Style as described on Tuck Andress' web site(IE, gripping between the thumb and the index fingerprint with a very firm grip.) I'm just having trouble understanding it and how to put it into practice. Is anyone familiar with it at all? He says the most people can't bend their first thumb joint (the one closest to the thumbnail) back too far like George can, but I find that I am able to, or at least I think so. I can keep the index arched and still grip between thumbprint and fingerprint. But I don't know if this is how I should do it. But then...When I try to hold it between the thumb tip and fingerprint, my first thumb joint seems to bend, especially when descending on scales and such. From what I gather, this is not desirable.

    So, I was thinking about at least giving it a try and seeing if it works for me. I'm in that kind of a stage in my playing where I want to try other things to improve my technique.

    Has anyone used this method with success? If so, can you offer any advice on how best to make the transition from regular picking to this technique? I'm still not too sure how the right hand should look and I don't understand all of it, but Tuck claims that if you use this style with oscillation (which I also don't completely understand) it can be speeded up virtually without limit...he said somewhere around 20 notes per second...without much tension. I use alternate picking and play mainly jazz, by the way. I plan on practicing more this college year...
    And here's the link to Tuck's page. http://www.tuckandpatti.com/pick-finger_tech.html#1.1.8

    Maybe some of you will understand it better than me...I'm not a very mathematical person.

    Any explanations or suggestions to clear things up for me are GREATLY appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Jazzman Poparad's Avatar
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    Maybe this will help:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNB19Bt9WmQ

    Russell Malone uses the same kind of Benson picking and you can get a good look at it in this video. A guitarist in my area, who also happens to be good friends with Malone, also plays in this style/technique. I've done a few gigs with him on bass, and from my observation (I don't pick like this), and from what my friend has told me, it involves holding the pick with that sort of 'underhanded' approach. I don't follow it entirely myself, so hopefully that little bit helps.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poparad
    Maybe this will help:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNB19Bt9WmQ

    Russell Malone uses the same kind of Benson picking and you can get a good look at it in this video. A guitarist in my area, who also happens to be good friends with Malone, also plays in this style/technique. I've done a few gigs with him on bass, and from my observation (I don't pick like this), and from what my friend has told me, it involves holding the pick with that sort of 'underhanded' approach. I don't follow it entirely myself, so hopefully that little bit helps.
    I watched the video and realized I pick in the same exact style. I never really gave it much thought. The bottom line is I don't think picking style makes a lick of difference as to whether or not you'll pick facter so long as you are comfortable with it. There's gripping while making a fist, leaving the hand open and loose, anchoring at the wrist/palm, anchoring with the pinkie, floating your hand, picking from the wrist, picking from the elbow, oscillating, and on and on.......... all techniques work just fine for the people that are comfortable with it. The plain fact is if you naturally pick a certain way that you are comfortable, you will only become faster with effective and determined practice. It doesn't come overnight. The more you keep trying to change the way you pick the longer it will take you to become fadster. Truthfully I think scale knowledge and left hand ability have alot more to do with speed picking than the right hand. JOM.

  4. #4
    Registered User SeattleRuss's Avatar
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    Cool vid Jeremey!
    I'd checked out RM some time ago and thought he was more into the smooth jazz thing but I dug this!

    My take on picking is still:

    Put in the time with Alternate picking.
    Do the same with circular / economy picking.
    Then pretty much forget about it and play. I think my body makes unconscious adjustments in technique more to facilitate getting the sound I'm going for than any kind of efficiency / speed thing.

  5. #5
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    Pat Metheny

    Pat Metheny (did I spell that right) uses an unconventional pick grip. He holds a typical normal fender type guitar pick upside down so the wider portion makes contact with the strings. He also does not really anchor his picking hand but when he blazes through his jazz runs, it works well for him..

    I tried playing with a penny for a while. Kind of cool because you never have to wory about pick angle if the penny moves. It forces you to play perpendicular to the strings, because you can't really play on an angle with a penny. It has to be straignt on..... food for thought..
    Last edited by joeyd929; 09-25-2006 at 12:39 PM. Reason: spelling error

  6. #6
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    Eric Johnson

    I think I may have mentioned this in another thread about something else, but I watched an Eric Johnson instruction video back in 1994 and he uses this "bouncing" wrist technique.

    As you strike each string with the pick you sort of bounce your wrist down and up. The reason he uses this style is because it is great for playing through chords as well.

    I studied this technique for a while and what happens is when you bounce up away from a string, you are hovering over the strings far enough away so you can skip to another string without hitting any strings in between. Or you can hit the same string over and over, whatever..

    Do this for about 5 minutes every day and when you start to get your wrist moving, it will start to cramp until you get used to it. It opens up a whole new area of pick/wrist muscle development.

  7. #7
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    Pat metheny

    Check out this link from youtube.com

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqeDFxS78dM

    You can see him do his solo from a tune called third wind. Notice how he holds the pick. Also he has an unconventional fretting technique compared to most jazz players.

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    I am late on this thread but all the talk of double jointed thumbs leads me to believe a key element is missing; namely the rotation of the elbow joint to get this "underhanded" grip. Put the palm of your right hand on your stomach. Your right elbow joint is now in a similar position as traditional picking with the back of the hand and forearm parallel to the guitar strings. Now, pretend you want to create a table with your right palm on which you could place a cup of tea. This is the kind on elbow rotation I am talking about. Now your palm is facing up and the back of your hand is facing the floor. You obviously cannot pick a guitar with your arm in this position so bring it back about half way. Hold the pick (I use the rounded edge, like George, for a fatter sound) between your thumb and straightened index finger and anchor your pinky on the pick guard. Keep the angle of the pick consistent on all of the strings. That is what should determine the exact amount of elbow rotation.
    Hope that makes some sense. Good luck.

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