Fine-tuning efficient rest stroke picking

ChiefbigeasyChiefbigeasy New Orleans, LA✭✭✭ Alves de Puga DR670; Dupont MDC 50; The Loar LH600
As a relatively new student to this style, I'm doing my best to adopt rest stroke picking. In my previous post, I was concentrating on untangling my left hand fretting fingers with whilst playing the decidedly non--intuitive yet beautiful and melodic phrases I'm learning from Django and others. I am not, however, ignoring my right hand in this endeavor.

I recently purchased a small amount of time at Stochelo Rosenberg's Academy in order to sample some of his lessons. The split Camera technique is very helpful. One thing seems very apparent: Stochelo is extremely efficient in his movements. Even in slow motion, it's hard to tell sometimes that he's even hitting an upstroke, for example. I find myself, conversely, jumping around like a kangaroo between strings trying to reproduce the sound I'm hearing at anywhere near the speed he demonstrates. Even picking slowly, I can tell that I'm nowhere near as efficient as he is.

I do own Michael's gypsy picking book, and have made my way through the exercises. However, I find that neither Michael nor Stochelo spend a lot of time trying to the fully dissect their efficient picking movement across the strings. I've been checking earlier posts for some discussion of this, and I don't know that I'm seeing very much.

Therefore, fellow pickers, is there an extended discussionand/or lesson out of there about efficient gypsy rest stroke picking? As a new student to the style, I would like to not pick up bad habits early on.


  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,131
    Not many people talk about it because there is not much to say. As long as you are using your wrist most of the time (especially for the quicker runs), it's really just a matter of putting in the (unfortunately) many many hours.

    Make sure you get a good tone, make sure you use your wrist properly, and that's it.. we've all been there, it seems frustrating in the beginning, but the more time you spend doing it, the more automatic it becomes, and the more efficient your right hand becomes

  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,974
  • edited September 2014 Posts: 3,707
    The jouney is way more important than the destination....but if you need

    The extended lesson can be defined by a simple approximation equation. Assume you want to play at The top level. Take 10,000 divide by the number of hours a week you will practice this style ..then divide the dividend by 4. That will give you an approximation of the number of months of CLEAN RELAXED PRATCTICE to get there. Note I do not say slow as it is relative, what is slow for Angelo and Stochelo will be blazing stumbling fast for others. This equation assumes starting at zero knowledge. If you are an ace jazz guitarist the constant will be reduced by an order of magnitude

    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • PetrovPetrov ✭✭
    Posts: 125
    Jazzaferri wrote: »
    ...Take 10,000 divide by the number of hours a week you will practice this style ..then divide the dividend by 4...

    Only 26 years to go
  • ChiefbigeasyChiefbigeasy New Orleans, LA✭✭✭ Alves de Puga DR670; Dupont MDC 50; The Loar LH600
    Posts: 293
    With all due respect to you guys, especially Dennis and Michael, I think there is much more to be said about this than "it takes time" and to put in the thousands of hours.

    I'm thinking here about you, Dennis, as I was studying your Jazz Manouche: The Art of Accompaniment. You had many fine and detailed observations and explanations about the exacting aspects of even the most simple rhythm styles. I've got to believe that if I were sitting in front of you or Michael, you both would have many specific observations about picking.

    I'm also thinking about you, Michael, and what you wrote introducing the technique in your book. The directive to relax the shoulder and other unneeded muscles, and to hold the pick in a relaxed way, is something I am constantly observing about myself. I often work my way back through a difficult passage and realize that every muscle from my neck to my thumb is too tense. Stochelo mentions it in his short technique segment, but your detailed explanation about it and emphasis on it is most insightful.

    As I mentioned in the earlier post, it was a revelation to me to see how efficient Stochelo's right hand movement is. His pick seems to glide over the strings on a very flat plane, pick angled down slightly, and his thumb and finger holding the pick never move as his wrist does the picking work and his elbow provides the slight movements to move across the span of the strings. (I am battling a life-long bad habit of thumb movement while picking that is working against my current study of gypsy picking.) Stochelo's upstroke is nearly visually ghost-like, but the notes are quite clear. I'm remembering a suggestion from Yaakov Hoter in a lesson I purchased from him, suggesting that the upstroke is produced like a "flick" up of the wrist. That visual picture was quite helpful and revealing to me.

    So, when I describe Stochelo's picking as "efficient," I'm doing so to help me pare away that which is not efficient: too much jumping around, too high over the strings, too much of an angle that causes me to catch a string accidentally on the way to another above it, etc.

    Believe me when I say that I don't discount putting the work in--paying my dues, so to speak. (I'll own up to impatience as much as the next guy, though.) It's just that I know that there have been times, studying this and other techniques, where I hit a wall over which I can't seem to scale. It is at these times that a close review of mechanics have helped me overcome the obstacles. At my age, though, a bit of wisdom has accumulated that allows me to anticipate and/or spot my issues more quickly.

    I imagine there has been much over-discussion and directive of this topic as there has been about what pick to use. Forgive us beginners for obsessing about these things. I know--from becoming accomplished at other styles--that once I settle the mechanics questions, I will move on. I, like many here, have tried various picks, for example, until settling on a favorite. I know that when I get over some the initial big picking obstacles, I won't be thinking about them as much. I am, though, determined to not settle into another bad habit--like my thumb movement issue--that I would be sorry I didn't address early on.

    Hence, my inquires continue. Thanks, everyone, for your helpful comments.
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,131
    hello, as i said in my first reply, as long as you make good use of the wrist (and it's hard to say anything without being able to see you play), and that you get a good tone, it really is just a matter of practice...

    again it's hard to say anything without seeing you play, it would be easier to make precise suggestions then.

    One more time: make sure you don't unnecessarily use your arm, most of the attacks come from the wrist. Make sure your wrist is arched naturally.. extend your arm forward and let your wrist fall, that should be the position to adopt.

  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,131
    one last thing, and i'm repeating myself here, i know how you feel, and many people know how you feel.. in the beginning, it feels really frustrating, but the sad truth is that as long as conditions i explained earlier are met, it's really just putting in the frustrating hours hahaha...

    i practiced a lot in front of the mirror back in the day (still do, every now and then), and i would carefully watch my right hand to make sure i was truly using my wrist, and that my wrist angle was always naturally arched. And of course, make sure you use the appropriate pick strokes, don't cheat!!
  • arjrarjr ✭✭✭
    Posts: 75
    Keep acquiring information about the picking technique but don't over analyze it.

    It will work itself out.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,182
    Try watching the pros who do it 'right' and then watch yourself (mirror and/or vid) and see if your right hand looks relaxed and the technique looks like theirs does.
  • Everything I have heard, read, observed and deduced leads me to believe that working on this is a matter of doing it absolutely right 99.9 %of the time with the odd concious who cares blast to get the feel of fast. That means relaxed, in control, conciously working on things that you have found don't work at speed.

    The hardest part in it all is developing the concious es of making errors in the first place. That is why IMO having someone to regularly check on how one is playing is so helpful. Often in the earlier stages people don't even recognize that they are doing it wrong.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
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