picking - wrist or arm?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by fleabass89, Aug 4, 2001.

  1. I'm trying to improve my picking technique, and i've been using my wrist, but i realize that this isn't good. That's a good way to get carpal tunnel. So what are some tips for using your whole arm? I find it hard to ge coordinated. Any suggestions? Thanks!
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Picking doesn't typically create wrist problems in the R.H. unless you brace your 4th (or 3rd & 4th) fingers on the face of the bass above the G string while you play - this puts the wrist at a strange angle. Instead, try this: hold you Right hand up with your palm facing your face. With your fingers extended, draw an imaginary line from the tip of the pinky to the base of the hand. When you get to the base of the hand, feel for the bone there. That's the part of the hand that you can use for a pivot point.

    Set that part of the hand either on the bridge (for a bright or muted sound) or on the face of the bass above the "E" string, and practice picking by pivoting on this point. This keeps the wrist straight and safe from danger of injury, and also creates a point of reference to the string, so you won't have to look at your hand all the time.

    When playing this way, it helps to hold the pick (thick ones with a point are best, IMO) between the thumb and first two fingers of the R.H. By using two fingers instead of one, you have a lot more leverage to adjust the pick angle as the arc of your stroke changes the "default angle" as you move from string to string.
  3. There's no one way to pick, as our guitar-playing friends have found through the years.

    I go from the wrist and use an extremely stiff pick (Modulus Graphite), and because of the way I hold my bass I find that there's about a 15-degree angle between the pick and the string. This increases my speed and makes string-crossing easier. It can sound kinda funny if I pick way back by the bridge (angle gets up to 45 degrees), but I generally stay over the neck PU anyway.
  4. purple_haze


    Jun 29, 2001
    London Town
    There is no set way, but I personally find picking from the wrist easier. Picking from the elbow is much harder to control, so I end up hitting two strings or getting fretbuzz, etc. so I prefer to use my wrist. I find elbow movement is much more conducive to strumming my guitar. ;)
  5. My method :

    if ( mostly ) playing on 1 string.. use elbow.
    if playing on serveral strings, use wrist.

    for melody - wrist
    for speed / solid bassline - elbow