Electromatics

Where is my right hand supposed to go on this thing?

1

Hi guys,

Kind of struggling with a technique thing with my year-old 5422. I like the guitar, it's definitely a different look, sound and feel to my Strat, Tele and LP, but I can't seem to get my right hand to rest in the right place when picking notes or soloing (if you can call it that). I've noticed this when I played around with Jags as well - the strings leading up to the back of the bridge just aren't a very comfortable place to rest my palm. I find that I'm picking the strings too close to the saddles, getting that trebly "sitar-like" sound, and if I try to move my right hand forward so the pick is closer to between the pickups, my palm ends up sitting almost on top of the saddles and muting the strings.

The weird thing is that I have very large hands, size XL in any gloves, so I would have thought this would be less of a problem for me than for guys with smaller hands. On my Strat or Tele, I just rest my palm on the bridge piece behind the saddles, and it's easy to mute or not if I want. But on the Gretsch it's only the feel of strings rather than a solid metal bridge. Maybe my hand sort of slides down toward the Bigsby too much because the strings are angled down, I don't know. But I don't tend to have this problem with my other guitars.

Anybody else have this problem or have any tips to deal with it (other than more practice, which I am not diligent about)? To get the tone I like, I often find myself "floating" my right hand over the strings between the pickups. But while that's fine for strumming, it really makes it harder to arpeggio or pluck certain strings without lots of mistakes. At least I have more trouble trying to do, for example, the Peter Buck early R.E.M. stuff unless my right hand is securely anchored.

Any tips appreciated!

2

I have large hands too, "not bragging" and with my Gretsches I have the habit of using my pinky finger and ring finger bridging my hand below the strings, when I play open and the rest of the time I lay the base of my hand against the bridge, Ala muting. I do a somewhat bouncing technique against the strings when strumming sometime, as well.

3

The technique I've been trying to emulate (with limited success) is Paul Pigat's:

I've always admired the way he keeps his wrist set for picking and then brings his hand forward and sweeps when strumming. He seems to have a great feeling for how far to bring his hand forward to get the tone he's looking for and then goes right back to his set position. All in all a very economical and precise technique.

By comparison, my technique looks more like Bootsy Collins, but on a guitar and with a lot less skill.

4

I get what you mean. I like to rest my hand somewhere too a lot of the time. I have that issue with my Strats, although I love them, I can't rest my hand on the bridge because I like it floating and it will go sharp.

I feel like the bridge works for me on GRETSCH guitars because I can rest on the bridge w/out muting or bending any strings.

What about seeing if a Rickenbacker bridge would fit somehow (maybe drill holes for the thumb wheels) and keep the cover on? Then you could rest your hand on the nice flat cover and enjoy the guitar more?

5

I don't get it. I rest my hand where I need to rest my hand. It is a little uncomfortable with the mounting studs on a Melita, but it's better than a sharp stick in the ear. Others with a TOM-style, bar or whatever present no problem. I guess I've been doing it so long I don't even notice. I also play an assortment of Fenders, Gibsons and oddballs. You should probably just get used to it. I think that's what everybody who plays guitars with a trapeze or Bigsby has done.

6

I agree with Charlie, I don't see why it's difficult to put the "heel" of your hand where you want it to rest. I mute essentially everything I play, playing Chet's/Merle\s style exclusively. I have multiple size Gretsches, electric and acoustic, a Gibson Gent, an Eko acoustic and 2 Ovations and don't have an issue of uncomfortableness with any of them.

The only model I've played that isn't comfortable is an orchestra size acoustic with the neck joined at the 12th fret. I have to concentrate on moving my right hand further towards the end of the guitar to keep the "heel" firmly on the bridge. Bothersome so I don't play one but with any other guitar, no issues.

Chet and many players like to anchor their hand by virtue of having the pinky firmly planted on the pickguard. I've tried that but it doesn't work for me, particularly in light of the fact my normal size hands have a somewhat short pinky. If I tried anchoring it, I wouldn't get the height needed for my fingers to have the correct picking angle. This might work for you Sparky and with time, might train your hand to be where you want it. I don't know how you can rest the "heel" on the bridge and not mute the strings. Resting on the strings behind the bridge is accomplishes nothing for fingerstyle except for as you mentioned, getting a very 'trebley' sound.

7

Well this a controversial subject. I land on the side of don't rest your hand on any thing.

One thing, the pick does its best job when it pushes through the string without any restriction from your hand, this makes the string ring.

I think I came to this conclusion after many years of hybrid picking on my acoustic guitars. Pick thru with flat pick and touch the strings with my fingers for position.

If you just play with a flat pick, a little touch on the pick guard is OK for position, but if you lock down your tone will suffer.

I think if you review the previous Paul Pigat video, you will see he does it that way.

Lee

8

I don't feel it's controversial at all, but merely an issue of preference, and that depends entirely on what you're trying to accomplish for the sound/tone you're after.

Chet's/Merle's [finger]style depends on muting the lower 3 strings essentially all the time. If you don't use this technique, then the alternating bass begins to compete with the melody and harmony notes to the listeners' ear. The alternating bass is an accompaniment to the melody, whether played by a separate instrument or as a muted factor on the same instrument. A very important part of Chet's sound, something he always mentioned in giving advice, was to ensure the melody sing through clearly, and that's most always to mute the alternating bass, when it's used in a song. I've never found that muting just the 3 bass strings lessens the tone of the notes picked with your fingers. They ring through nicely whether you're using a flat pick or a thumb pick. If you need to use the lower 3 strings for melody work, runs or banjo rolls, simply disengage your heel from the bridge, no?

9

Well this a controversial subject. I land on the side of don't rest your hand on any thing.

One thing, the pick does its best job when it pushes through the string without any restriction from your hand, this makes the string ring.

I think I came to this conclusion after many years of hybrid picking on my acoustic guitars. Pick thru with flat pick and touch the strings with my fingers for position.

If you just play with a flat pick, a little touch on the pick guard is OK for position, but if you lock down your tone will suffer.

I think if you review the previous Paul Pigat video, you will see he does it that way.

Lee

– Lee Erickson

I wasn't going to comment because I don't think I could've explained nearly as well as you did Lee. I guess for me it was maybe because I had small hands at 17 when I started playing and I liked the sound of soloing with the pick over the neck pup. I like what I hear as a "fuller" sound so I don't rest my hand anywhere.

Switch to acoustic and I also pick through and get positioning by touching the strings. Pretty cool to see 2 players who don't know each other taking the same approach for mostly the same reason and appears to be fairly rare to do amongst players.

10

Thanks, guys, appreciate the different views. I've tried the pinky-on-the-pickguard method, and it works OK, but I'm generally more comfortable with the heel of the hand somewhat stationary. I find that after all these years bad picking or hitting the wrong strings when playingt solos or arpeggios is actually a bigger problem for me than getting the left-hand fingering right. I don't know why that is; I assumed it would be easier than moving the left hand all over the fretboard.

Anyway, it sounds like practicing more than an hour or so a week might be a good place to start! Which is why I still suck after 40 years of playing off and on...

11

I didn't talk about palm muting. In my early days I really liked surf music. Of course, you must touch the strings over the bridge for some tunes.Lighten up your touch and things will sound better. I didn't make much effort on Chet and others, but I think the light touch will sound better.

Lee

12

I'm more of the Chet and Tommy E camp.

13

Thanks, guys, appreciate the different views. I've tried the pinky-on-the-pickguard method, and it works OK, but I'm generally more comfortable with the heel of the hand somewhat stationary. I find that after all these years bad picking or hitting the wrong strings when playingt solos or arpeggios is actually a bigger problem for me than getting the left-hand fingering right. I don't know why that is; I assumed it would be easier than moving the left hand all over the fretboard.

Anyway, it sounds like practicing more than an hour or so a week might be a good place to start! Which is why I still suck after 40 years of playing off and on...

– Sparky84

I like to have a guitar on stand-by when I'm just sitting around. I usually find myself picking one up to fiddle with while I'm sitting on the couch. It's fun and it doesn't feel like I'm practicing. Most of the time I'm just noodling but every once in a while I'll play something that inspires me.

14

I play a 5422TG, it has a pick guard similar to a Les Paul. I only rest the edge of my right hand on the bridge if I'm muting the strings. I tend, with any guitar, to make a 3 point contact with my right hand/forearm. When flat picking my 5422TG, I make contact with my forearm, below the elbow, on the top edge of the lower bout. I make contact with my ring and little fingers on the pick guard, slightly forward of the bridge pickup. This allows me to always be able to guage where my pick is, in relation to my ring and little finger, as I bounce the pick back and forth across the strings. For strumming, I lift my fingers off the pick guard, brushing them only lightly on the pick guard as I strum, while still keeping my forearm in place. If I'm finger picking, I also keep contact with my forearm, and center my right hand between the pickups.

15

Welcome to all things Gretsch Wade.

Where one places the right hand depends on the style of music you're playing. The first difference factor is between using a flat pick for single string work or using a thumbpick (or your thumb) for fingerstyle work......but even then not all fingerstyle playing. Classical music doesn't require any muting whereas Chet's style does and the position the guitar is held for classical playing makes muting not really feasible.

Basically it comes down to using the right tool, or in this case, the right technique for the job. There not being any 'rules' for the right hand, it comes down to whatever floats your boat! Just as we all borrow licks and styles from players and music we like and want to play, try all different positions with the right hand until you find what's comfortable and what works for you. There isn't a right or wrong.

16

I took the pick guard of my Jag Tan Annie. My pinky has found a home resting on the top edge of the bridge pickup.

17

Thank you Windsordave, I'm just beginning my adventures into Gretsch world. I appreciate your greeting, I waited far too long to get here, I am very enamored with my new Gretsch guitar. I absolutely agree with you, there is no right way, or wrong way to place the right hand on a guitar. It really is "whatever is comfortable" for each individual. I tend to use the comfort rule myself, allowing things to happen naturally.

18

It's because you are used to strats. I had the same thing. Only play standing for a while and push the body of the guitar back a bit so that your torso is more behind the neck joint. Or just hang the guitar like setzer does live. Exaggerate a bit until you get used to it. You'll be glad you did.

K

19

Thank you Windsordave, I'm just beginning my adventures into Gretsch world. I appreciate your greeting, I waited far too long to get here, I am very enamored with my new Gretsch guitar. I absolutely agree with you, there is no right way, or wrong way to place the right hand on a guitar. It really is "whatever is comfortable" for each individual. I tend to use the comfort rule myself, allowing things to happen naturally.

– Wade H

One other thing I didn't mention Wade as regarding whether to anchor your pinky, with or without your ring finger or not. Chet did this a lot and I can't for the life of me. Chet's pinky was very long so when he anchored it on the pickguard, his hand was at [for him] a comfortable picking angle but my pinky is too short so I rest only the heel of my hand on the bridge to mute the lower 3 strings. I also use my right hand ring finger a lot and on occasion my pinky as well for 5 string chords so you do what you need to to get the needed results.

20

I think there’s been a lot of great advice in this thread so I won’t comment on hand placement but I will mention that a lot of problems people have derives from the shoulder. Remember it’s all attached!

21

Paul, That's defo true with me. I had a lot of issues probably thanks to playing lots of acoustic guitar (sitting down). It contributed to frozen shoulder, so for years I just played standing up. Then I got into kettlebells/girevoy sport and my shoulder greatly improved (as did my playing)

But still...

Strats mess you up.

(K, ducking and running)

22

You're right about the pinky finger Windsordave I have relatively long, and thin fingers. I suppose this is a blessing, when it comes to playing the guitar. My pinky and ring finger seem to naturally rest on the pick guard. And yes Konrad, I'm guilty as charged, I have many years on a Stratocaster and Les Paul, two diametrically different animals. I will agree that the shallow picking required to play a Stratocaster can definitely contribute to the habit of anchoring the ring and pinky fingers on the pick guard. But I do this on any guitar I play, and my first electric guitar was a Les Paul, which has a very similar pick guard and deep picking ares as my Gretsch. I suppose it is just my natural "comfort" zone. Not only is it comfortable for me, but it gives me a point of reference to where my pick is, in relation to the pinky and ring fingers. It helps me to "see" the strings through my right hand. It's an interesting way to visualize things, I'm sure I'm not the only one who has experienced this. I'm sure we all do this in one way or another.

23

Just another reason to get a Tru-Arc.

24

Pick goes between thumb & forefinger. Hand follows thumb & forefinger.

25

You're right about the pinky finger Windsordave I have relatively long, and thin fingers. I suppose this is a blessing, when it comes to playing the guitar. My pinky and ring finger seem to naturally rest on the pick guard. And yes Konrad, I'm guilty as charged, I have many years on a Stratocaster and Les Paul, two diametrically different animals. I will agree that the shallow picking required to play a Stratocaster can definitely contribute to the habit of anchoring the ring and pinky fingers on the pick guard. But I do this on any guitar I play, and my first electric guitar was a Les Paul, which has a very similar pick guard and deep picking ares as my Gretsch. I suppose it is just my natural "comfort" zone. Not only is it comfortable for me, but it gives me a point of reference to where my pick is, in relation to the pinky and ring fingers. It helps me to "see" the strings through my right hand. It's an interesting way to visualize things, I'm sure I'm not the only one who has experienced this. I'm sure we all do this in one way or another.

– Wade H

I envy your long pinky, Wade! My fingers are 'normal' thickness but both pinkies are a good 1/4" shorter than I'd like them. It makes some stretches just possible with a shorter scale that I can't grab on the longer scale.


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