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Long Arms and the gypsy picking technique

Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
edited March 2006 in Gypsy Picking Posts: 1,002
Michael--

First off thanks for you excellent book. I got my copy last week and dug right in. You mention placing the right forearm one the guitar one to two inches below the elbow (I don't have the book with me right now, so I may not quote exactly). You further mention that the right hand should fall roughly midway between the soundhole and the bridge, and John Jorgenson's video, which I also ordered agrees.

My problem is that I am a tall guy with long arms. My hand ends up over the soundhole, more to the neck side. The string tension there is too soft to dig in, and now I understand why I was having some of my problems with the rest stroke technique.

So how do I adjust? To get my hand whereit should be, I have to put my armon the guitar much further from the elbow, which seems to give me less mobility. The alternative is to drop my arm farther down towards the bridge end of the guitar. I can get my hand in the right place and my elbow 1-2 inches from the guitar, but then my arm is coming in too nearly parallel with the strings, which means I can't hold my wrist in the proper position.

I am only 6'2" so we're not talking basketball player proportions here, and my arms are not freakishly long. They are just too long to easily find the textbook position. Any suggestions? BTW, Gypsy Picking is a terrific book. The most systemtized picking technique I have seen since my classical days.
I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.

Comments

  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,893
    Hi Michael,

    I'm actually 6'2" as well! But I guess my arms aren't as long. Although, you'll notice that the Dunn guitar I have in the photos of the Gypsy Picking book had a very small body. So I sort of had that problem. I think one thing that helps is making sure you have a nice arch at the wrist. With that Dunn guitar I think I arched my wrist more then I do now so that I could get the right position.

    Now I have a Favino which has the biggest body size of any Selmer. You might look into getting a guitar with Favino proportions. I think it will help!

    Good luck!

    -Michael
  • B25GibB25Gib Bremerton WA✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 166
    .....Bauer - I bought a Dell 'Arte Homage which has the same dimensions and bracing as the Favino and found that it fits me better also, as I am 6' 1". My arm and picking hand fall more naturally into a position where I'm picking closer to the bridge than my Gitane DG-250M with the Selmer dimensions. I still play my Gitane, but find I must think about moving my arm a little farther back on the guitar so my hand is back closer to the bridge to get the tone and attack I want.
    I agree with Horowitz that a Favino size guitar will be a more natural fit to your height.

    Rocky
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    Thanks, Mike and Rocky. I'll start saving now to buy a larger bodied guitar. That should make my wife happy... :-)

    I must be making the adjustment in increments, because I notice that I am staying behind the soundhole almost all the time now, and occasionally even get halfway to the bridge, especially paying rhythm. I still have to watch my wrist, because after years of electric guitar, it wants to creep downwards towards the strings.

    Mike, I know you have heard this alot, but Gypsy Picking is quite an amazing book! I have learned more in a couple of weeks than I ever believed possible. I can see where someone would keep coming back to this book for years. I got professional help, by the way. I have managed to hook up with Barry Warren of the H.C of Philadelphia for lessons. First lesson was this past Sunday, and it was a big step forward.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • sockeyesockeye Philadelphie sur SchuylkillNew
    Posts: 415
    Although, you'll notice that the Dunn guitar I have in the photos of the Gypsy Picking book had a very small body.

    I had noticed that -- wasn't sure if it was a small guitar or if Michael was a giant...
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,893

    Mike, I know you have heard this alot, but Gypsy Picking is quite an amazing book! I have learned more in a couple of weeks than I ever believed possible. I can see where someone would keep coming back to this book for years. I got professional help, by the way. I have managed to hook up with Barry Warren of the H.C of Philadelphia for lessons. First lesson was this past Sunday, and it was a big step forward.

    thanks Michael...I'm glad the book has helped you out. And nice to hear you found Barry...he's been to Europe a lot to study with Fapy so he's a great person to the trad. style learn from.

    good luck!

    'm
  • mmaslanmmaslan Santa Barbara, CANew
    Posts: 87
    I'm in the same boat, but as I'm very attached to my guitar, which is the standard petit bouche size, and also quite broke, I'm trying not to worry about it too much. I find that if I arch my wrist a lot it tightens up and impedes mobility. I'm guessing you could hurt yourself this way too. The other problem I run into when I try to reposition well below the sound hole is that I end up locking the guitar under by elbow and stiffening up there. (I often find I have to loosen up my elbow periodically anyway, especially if I'm working on something really challenging.) It seems to me that playing close to or over the sound hole is preferable to being uncomfortable, so that's what I usually do, unless part of a piece requires that really bright, metallic ring. I imagine you could get heavier strings--I use 10's--if the tension feels too mushy. I remember reading that some gypsy players--Jimmy Rosenberg?--play over the sound hole. Am I right? If so, it doesn't seem to cause him any problems!
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