Sunday, 27 April 2014

A blast from the past

Hello! I've just realised that I've not posted anything here since October 2012 so thought it was about time I corrected that. The title of the post refers to two things - firstly the fact I've not posted anything in so long, and secondly because it relates to the fact I started working on this technique years ago but have recently revisited it.

I have always said that the weakest part of my playing is my picking, I've never been happy with my muting or my general ability really. In 2008, I was fortunate enough to attend a two day masterclass with the phenomenal Todd Johnson and one of the key things we studied was his right hand technique commonly known as "floating thumb". Rather than anchoring the thumb on the pick up, Todd's technique involves the thumb trailing with the picking hand, which allows it to mute the low strings as you play the higher ones. I worked on this for a while but over time resorted to my tried and tested (but not that great) picking technique.

If you're interested, there is a clip of myself and Todd from that masterclass here.

Recently I sat down to do some recording and became increasingly frustrated with my right hand muting, I kept getting sloppy little noises and it was driving me nuts so I decided enough was enough. I already do a lot of palm muting when picking with thumb and fingers, as well as using my hand in that position to play chords so decided to give it another go. The improvement it has made has been huge, and it means not having to change my hand position for palm muting or chordal playing. The nice thing with this technique is that the angle of your fingers doesn't change from string to string so the technique is much more consistent from the low to high strings.

The way it has developed isn't quite the same as Todd's, I tend to use the sides of my fingertips slightly more. Other great players who use this kind of technique include Steve Lawson, Janek Gwizdala and Gary Willis, who has a highly evolved three finger technique in addition to the floating thumb.

Here's a quick (and unplugged, so turn it up) video of this technique -

Take care and I'll try to post a little more frequently!