Bluegrass Flatpicking

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stezzer99stezzer99 Frets: 5
Hi
can anyone tell me the reason why Bluegrass guitarists never, or rarely, use right hand fingers along with the pick (hybrid)?
Is it an attack thing?
Surely it would be beneficial for crosspicking patterns and string skipping ... for example?
I am trying to get to grips with this wonderful genre and would appreciate any insight
Regards
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  • LewyLewy Frets: 682
    There are lots of reasons, I think. Pulse and dynamics are a big part of it. Maintaining acoustic volume would be another.

    Crosspicking is an interesting example because yes it technically would be simpler to use your fingers - it’s mimicking the banjo after all - but it doesn’t sound right when you do that , because you lose the propulsive effect of the pick downstroke moving to different beats as the pattern repeats.

    The other big reason is that, whilst string skipping and such are harder to get the hang of, once you have you virtually never have to think about your right hand ever again. It’s just like a pendulum swinging away there.
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  • stezzer99stezzer99 Frets: 5
    Thanks Lewy
    I had the pleasure of watching Molly Tuttle playing last weekend and kept a close eye on her right hand ...... she never once used pick and fingers! Truly inspiring performance and I'm hooked ...... would love to find like minded people for a go at this!

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  • LewyLewy Frets: 682
    edited May 10
    Molly is truly outstanding. Not the most orthodox right hand as it’s very “wristy” but it certainly works for her!

    After 5 years or so of solid study I’d call myself an intermediate flatpicker. Happy to help or answer any questions you might have about getting started.


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  • bingefellerbingefeller Frets: 5432
    stezzer99 said:
    Thanks Lewy
    I had the pleasure of watching Molly Tuttle playing last weekend and kept a close eye on her right hand ...... she never once used pick and fingers! Truly inspiring performance and I'm hooked ...... would love to find like minded people for a go at this!


    Join up to Troy Grady's forum - forum.troygrady.com

    There are a load of players on there getting into crosspicking and Troy has posted a lot of lengthy posts on the finer details of crosspicking and some tutorial videos too.

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  • LewyLewy Frets: 682
    edited May 10
    Don’t get confused though...what Troy calls crosspicking isn’t what bluegrass players call crosspicking. It’s not what the OP was referring to.

    Crosspicking in bluegrass parlance is playing arpeggiated patterns on (usually) three (usually) adjacent strings with a “3 over 4” feel, either using a down down up pattern (the traditional way) or a down up down up pick approach.

    Troy uses the term to describe a pick motion where the pick always starts and finished above the plane of the strings.  This happens to be how most bluegrassers play, but none of them would call that crosspicking. It’s just the way you pick when your doctrine is to stick to a down up down up pick pattern regardless of what you’re playing.



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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 1393
    stezzer99 said:
    Hi
    can anyone tell me the reason why Bluegrass guitarists never, or rarely, use right hand fingers along with the pick (hybrid)?
    Is it an attack thing?
    Surely it would be beneficial for crosspicking patterns and string skipping ... for example?
    I am trying to get to grips with this wonderful genre and would appreciate any insight
    Regards
    Volume.

    You would have been completing with the banjo, dobro and mandolin with no microphones.

    This is why the D28 was referred to as "the banjo killer" because of it's volume.
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  • stezzer99stezzer99 Frets: 5
    Dear All
    Thanks for the replies ...... looks like i'll have to unlearn years of hybrid picking!!

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  • Jimbro66Jimbro66 Frets: 752
    edited May 11
    stezzer99 said:
    Dear All
    Thanks for the replies ...... looks like i'll have to unlearn years of hybrid picking!!

    Don't unlearn it because hybrid picking is great for country guitar. You may find it harder to adapt to the flatpicking bluegrass technique than someone who's always used just a plectrum.

    I've always used fingers for all styles of playing but when I put some effort into learning bluegrass guitar 10-12 years ago I quickly found that the correct flatpicking technique is essential. Despite lessons from a top player I struggled to adapt to this completely alien way of playing so I did not continue. I should add though that I was already playing dobro so was getting my bluegrass fix and using fingers

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  • Panama_Jack666Panama_Jack666 Frets: 2556
    Off topic slightly but does anybody know some good starting places for learning flat picking? Any decent You Tube lessons?
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  • LewyLewy Frets: 682
    edited May 11
    Off topic slightly but does anybody know some good starting places for learning flat picking? Any decent You Tube lessons?
    The best fundamental explanations I’ve seen are the ones Chris Eldridge does on Sonic Junction. It’s a pay subscription, but you could sign up for a month, fill your boots with a lot to work on and then cancel.

    Or if there’s anything specific and I can help im
    happy to record a vid and post it here.
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  • JackGrantJackGrant Frets: 9
    Lessons with marcel seems pretty good. Don’t know about his beginner stuff but the intermediate (where I think I am with Lewy) is clear. 
    Claremce white uses hybrid at times. Check out YT on listen to the mockingbird 
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  • JackGrantJackGrant Frets: 9
    Also check out banjo Ben. His style gets iny
    merves a bit bit good info

    on terms of hybrid picking  - o use this loads on other styles (often on a fylde alchemist (lucky me)). On the Atkins D28 I can’t get the top moving enough to match the tone needed to compete with bastards (collective noun for banjo fiddle andamdolon. 
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