Avoiding Injury with Faster Picking

I’ve tried to get in touch with Troy Grady in the past about creating a category on healthy hands and injury that goes beyond the technique category. There is a wealth of member created content on here about avoiding injury, so I think a sub category would be welcome by many.

My post is specific to the elbow, but may not be “golfer’s elbow” as I have gone to physical therapy for in the past. The pain flares up when I practice playing sixteenth note double time passages at 140 to 150 bpm. I posted a topic in the recent past about picking and technique suggestions related to picking double time jazz lines and I got excellent feedback. I’ll post some videos this week to demonstrate my technique further to isolate the issues. &Tom_Gilroy has some excellent posts that I would like to revive as well on this topic.

Here is a video example of my playing–totally got wrong with the metronome later in the clip, so warts and all

1 Like

About how long does it take from when you start playing for the day, for the pain to start?

sometimes a couple of hours, sometimes the next day. I’ll post some more later, but it still feels like tension gets in the way of playing cleanly. Or maybe it’s a matter of hearing the subdivision more clearly. Not sure. But I definitely feel sore in my hand and elbow after the fact. In my first post to Cracking the Code, some members saw that I was picking too much from the elbow when I should be doing the forearm rotation.

here is more sloppy double time:

My picking technique can’t make up up it’s mind :sweat_smile:

My elbow sometimes locks up after I play like this.

In your video I noticed the angle of your wrist. Is this a comfortable position for you? Have you ever tried any other way to position your picking hand. I only ask because I’ve been playing for over 30 years and never got pain. I position my wrist a little like Michael Angelo batio with my little finger touching the body of the guitar below the 1st string. It keeps my wrist facing sorta downwards but it’s comfortable for me. Maybe you can try different positions to see if it helps :slightly_smiling_face:

I’m trying to lightly rest the pinky and third finger, and rest of the hand–helps keep the downward pick angle more consistent. It’s a little awkward because I spent years trying to make a floating right hand technique work.

I don’t see how your playing would cause injury, I would think it’s probably something else causing it, something thats causing inflammation, though what I do notice is you’ve got your hand mostly floating, so there will be a constant contraction and tension in your arm.

When I think of injury on guitar I think of Steve Morse with his constant alternate picking, far more stressful than what you’re doing.

Perhaps find a way to relax your palm on the guitar so your elbow isn’t under constant tension. Sounds like you are heading in that direction already.

Playing with a floating hand is great and shows a lot of control, I personally think if a technique can’t be pulled off floating then it’s not a great technique, but to do it all the time is too much, you can be so much faster and in control with a good anchor. It lets you use leverage to really increase your picking power and speed. And accuracy. Try spend a few weeks with your palm on the low e string/bridge.

The muscles need to relax every now and then to remove the toxins that build up from their use. Keeping a muscle active for extended periods of time will cause a lot of irritation.

That “floating right hand” picking technique is often placed on a pedestal as optimal technique, but I see very few players actually float. When I spoke to Denis Chang over at DC Music, he said that besides a SELECT few–Mozes Rosenberg, for example–most Manouche players rest their picking hand. I’m experimenting with gracing my right hand on my pickguard–a work in progress ever since I had the dang pickguard reinstalled. I remember a couple of years back trying to create a Benson trailing edge FLOATING technique. 3 months later, I developed tennis elbow.

What’s up with Troy Grady doing these days? I feel like I am getting more help from you peeps on the forum than from him :wink: Still cool that he’s adopted study to all of these mechanics.

A lot of members are really high level players, lot of good info here from members.

Yeah I’ve read the floating technique is something to strive for too, and I agree with that, tho not as your main technique, it’s more that if you can pick well floating then you can pick even better anchored and can use floating as needed . Very often playing live requires the skill to play in many different positions, floating is a good example of control in many different angles. If you can do that well then you’re in a good position to dance around on stage without losing much accuracy.

I can’t recall seeing anyone actually play fully floating before. I’m not even sure how you’d be able to actually do that reliably with no tactile reference at all…

The pick is a reference, and the guitar neck in your hand and on your body, and the overall experience you gain over time. I’ve not really seen many fully floating either, Marty Friedman is close like many gypsy jazz players.

Yeah I’m not saying it’s not possible, I’ve no idea about that, I just can’t recall if I’ve seen it or not.
There can be some confusion around the terms “anchoring” and “resting” etc etc. Anchor can be a misleading term to say a beginner. It almost makes it sound like you should be planting your hand into the bridge.

With a real anchor on a boat the anchor mostly stays in place with the boat floating around that point?, as far as I know lol, I’m no expert.

Thats pretty much what my hand does and most players I’ve seen, it’s like a semi floating and semi anchored style, best of both worlds.

I learnt the opposite way, I always planted my hand hard on the bridge, and with experience have lightened up a lot to the point I can play with no anchor or little contact with the guitar. I Molly tuttle is one I remember playing full floating. With random anchoring. Or rather anchoring for tight lines

I guess thats still not fully floating tho, great blend tho :slightly_smiling_face:
And watching it back she says resting rather than anchoring like you say.

Did Troy Grady do a specific series on anchoring–I remember seeing someone on youtube talk about the importance of rest or anchoring. When I used to float, I would deaden the strings with the knuckles of my picking hand. Sometimes it worked, at high volumes I was often at a disadvantage. That… and fully carved archtops like my guitar (not quite a Gibson, but my Eastman is still a keeper) behave HORRIBLY at gig volume with horn players involved. I might want to get a laminate in the future because I am used to the thickness of a hollow body. I do find that playing at loud volumes is REALLY challenging and often a neglected topic–in any genre of music.

I can’t remember an anchoring focused series, unless I’m wrong? I think it’s mostly talked about randomly throughout each of the interviews with various players.

I’m not a MIM member atm so I can’t watch these, but it has anchoring in the title lol

In my own playing I’ve tried so many different picking styles, nowhere near the ammount Troy has, but about 6 different ones, and it’s really helped educate me by physical example what the best picking style for my body is, we all have very different bodies and hands, Although it does take a lot of time and moves you away from being musical if you obsess on it. Tho I’d recommend picking a bunch of picking styles you like the look of and adding them into your practice if you’re not already. It can only help ultimately. Look at Troy for example, he’s an awesome player and his exploration into all these different picking techniques has made him really enlightened on how to play correctly. And educated all of us.

If I were you I’d look into Marty Friedman and Joscho Stephan, they both have videos with Troy for CtC members, they are close to what you’re already doing so it won’t be a big change. They both float a lot but both have some connection to the body/strings with their hands that lets their forarm/elbow relax more. Just having that small reference point really should loosen your arm up a lot.


Omg that is hilarious!

1 Like

Ha! Well there you go, can’t argue with that :sweat_smile: