Picking from elbow.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by MCBTunes, Mar 21, 2005.

  1. Ok, I've got apretty good picking speed down but the problem is my wrist and forearm are dead tired halfway through a fast song.

    I've noticed some bassists... mainly pop punk bassists like my boy Mark Hoppus :). Pick from their elbow pretty often. However when I attempt this on any string but the E I am hitting mroe strings than I need to be.

    Is picking from the elbow about
    1) Left hand muting
    2) right hand muting
    3) angle of attack(just miss the strings above)
    4) I have no idea! But do you?

    I try to mute, but with that much force going down on the string it doesnt do much good. Or do I just suck?

    :help: Thanks
  2. First of all, mark hoppus sucks. i wouldnt strive to play like him. not many people play like that, because of just what you said. i can play fine like that on the e string but the rest i wouldnt bother playing like that. unless you're playing chords. my wrist used to get tired but i guess i built up some stamina and endurance. just find a fast riff to play for a long time. if you do it every day you'll get stronger
  3. Kelly Coyle

    Kelly Coyle Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2004
    Mankato, MN
    I think picking from the elbow is ergonomically more sensible -- you pretty much have to to do tremelo picking. But I do think it's really just a practice issue; keep trying to do it, and you'll do it. Especially work on string changing (just pick two notes on different strings and alternate them as fast as you can while keeping them in time; then try it again, reversing the pick direction) and in just a few days you'll get noticably better.

    As far as the "trick" to it, I don't know. Don't keep your wrist real stiff (except for tremelo, if you're into that). Try to move your arm in a single plane (don't dip to pick the strings; play "through" them). Don't grip the pick too tightly (which allows you to play through the strings).

    I know more. Feel free to PM.
  4. Thanks for the advice guys, and PM sent Yellow, I appreciate it.

    I dont see where all this hoppus sucks stuff comes from. Sure his lines are simple, but he comes up with some really cool sounds and plays what he plays well.

    Anyone that can jump around like that, take huge swings at the strings and still hit the right notes has to have some skill... Not like Wooten skill, thats acompletely different subject.

    Input still wanted/Welcome too ;)
  5. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    I used to play a mix of technical death and black metal. Its some of the fastest and most demanding music around from a purely technical standpoint (regardless of what you think of it musically).

    I played with both my fingers and a pick, though gradually gravitated towards a pick more and more as I needed the extra attack to keep my lines distinct.

    Keep this in mind when I tell you: pick from the elbow is a BAD idea. Not only is it sloppy and slow, its also physically dangerous in the long term. You can develop tendon issues simillar to tennis elbow from playing even easy songs for a long time. Elbows are litterally not designed for that kind of repetative movement.

    As they say: its all in the wrist, the whole wrist, and nothing but the wrist :)
  6. +1

    Specifically, you want to combine rotation from the wrist with a little side to side motion from the wrist. And before anyone says you can't tremelo pick like that: yes, you can.
  7. Kelly Coyle

    Kelly Coyle Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2004
    Mankato, MN
    I just googled around, and there is, to say the least, a diversity of opinion on the wrist versus elbow controversy. The consensus seems to be, "whatever works." So far, I've seen that "Yngwie and Rusty Cooley pick from the elbow. Al diMeola picks from the wrist. John Petrucci picks with the joints of his thumb and forefinger." Stevie Ray, Dick Dale: elbow. I don't know what pick-using bassists do, although I'd love to know what Steve Swallow does.

    I will say, in my case, it's a very slight movement. And the wrist is fluid, but isn't driving the motion.

    This guy advocates elbow (he calls it forearm), as does Jamie Andreas the guitar efficiency guy. There's a lot of wisdom out there saying use the wrist, not the elbow, but everybody I can find (in the ten minutes I worked on it) who claims to have studied guitar ergonomics picks elbow/forearm.

    So there! :smug: (and I, for one, am in the Dick Dale school of tremelo; I can't even imagine doing it with the wrist -- more power to ya!)
  8. slugworth

    slugworth Banned

    Jun 12, 2003
    So. Calif.
    Proper picking technique is all in the wrist. It's all about economy of motion. Using this technique, I can play 16th notes all night long and barely break a sweat, and I feel NO hand, wrist or arm pain afterwords. I don't know where this arm pumping style came from. It looks like they're pumping water or jacking up a car or something. Playing like that will never achieve speed, accuracy, or dynamics, plus it makes you look like a dufus.

  9. Kelly Coyle

    Kelly Coyle Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2004
    Mankato, MN
    I am fast, accurate, and have a lot of dynamic range. Looking at me play, I think that you would hardly see my arm move as it doesn't move very far. I do, probably, still look like a dufus, but it isn't because of my picking style. Anyway, I have been doing it for 31 years without injury. I don't have any issue with how you pick, although my opinion differs. Do you have to be insulting?
  10. slugworth

    slugworth Banned

    Jun 12, 2003
    So. Calif.
    >> Lighten up yellow...Maybe this technique works well for you. It isn't one that I was ever taught nor one that I would ever recommend to my students, and I've been playing just about as long as you have...Who I was referring to were some of these dudes on MTV, who are terrible examples for people who want to learn how to play the right way and without causing long term damage to their muscles and joints.
    They look like they're sawing wood, or working a floor jack.
    I studied with Carol Kaye for about 6 months. She may not be right about everything, but she's 100% right on about proper picking technique. You can check it out here:


    Look at "tip 26"

  11. You're right, Jamey does say to pick with forearm movement, but doesn't mean what a lot of people may think it does. I can't speak for you, Yellow, but to me picking from the elbow means rotating my elbow joint to move my forearm up and down, or pumping my arm up and down. That's not quite what he says to do. Notice the advice from Ney Mello, Jamey's favorite pick virtuoso. While he suggests using some forearm movement, it's actually a rotation of the wrist -- it just happens that the forearm is what actually twists.
  12. squierplayer120


    Nov 17, 2004
    lol i use parts of the mike dirnt technique, i.e. from the shoulder.
    but for like for some songs i use the wrist
  13. HunsBassist


    Oct 3, 2004
    Orlando, FL
    Dude, you studied with Carol Kaye?!? what was it like?
  14. haha i think sawing wood is cool :) Adds a lot to a proformance if you ask me. Takessome good muting though
  15. I think it is also important to note the difference between bass pick technique and guitar pick technique. Many guitar player angle their picks in order to get a "smoother" follow through and less resistance to the pick which helps with speed. On bass this does not result in a good sound especially with roundwound strings as you get an abrasive attack where the pick grates against the string windings. Guitar technique should be modified when playing the bass with a pick. Also, I agree the motion is in the wrist.
  16. hmm, I cant seem to upstroke from the wrist... the pick is angled up only slightlyand it catches the string.
  17. Desi


    Jan 11, 2005
    I also face that same problem, upstroking with the wrist. I depend on the strength of my forearm to strike the string from below, but it's easy to perform repeated downstrokes from my wrist, therefore I sort of alternate actions. This is definately something I want to fix as this alternating of movement is not very ideal and forces me to pay grotesque amounts of attention to my playing to prevent errors. I want to be able to fly with my instrument and not have to worry about flubbing my craft due to lame technique :crying: .
  18. MCB and Desi, you may be holding your hand a little too low in relation the the string you are picking.
  19. Desi


    Jan 11, 2005

    You know, I'd like to have a 15 inch boot handy...to kick myself with, everytime something so obvious blows up in my face :oops: .

    Thanks for the tip lemur821, I'll be sure to pay close attention to my hand's distance from the string.
  20. thank you indeed, helped mucho ;)