One more thing: we see a lot of posts in “Technique Critique” where someone says they have a particular problem, but when we look at the video, they don’t seem to have the problem they say they have. Sometimes they don’t actually have any problem at all, they just think they do. Why? We don’t know! I think sometimes people overthink things.
So before you waste too much time trying out different motions, just make sure you really have the problem you think you have. If you want to post a clip we are always happy to take a look.
OMG ! Me too. I am a stringhopper , but my picking motion with my left hand is actually way stronger and faster. In retrospect, I probably should have been playing let handed all these years, but feel it’s a bit late for me now, just have to improve the right hand with your excellent site ! What happened to the lefty you mentioned ?
The player I was referring to was not a left-handed player. He just noticed as a test that he was able to perform a particular motion with his left hand and not with his right.
I have no evidence that handedness matters at all in guitar playing. The two activities you do in guitar are both complicated and they each use different hands. If handedness mattered significantly, then everyone would be “weak” at something, either fretting or picking. Left-handed players playing righty would be weak at picking and right-handed players playing righty would be weat at fretting. And so on. But if such a effect exists, I’m not aware of any evidence of it.
Among players we’ve interviewed, Steve Morse and Michael Angelo Batio are both left-handed players who pick with their right hands. They’re great at picking and fretting so I can’t really draw any conclusion from them one way or another.
My best guess is that if there is any effect of handedness, it’s probably not as simple as one hand good, other hand bad. And it’s also probably not a strong effect compared to simply not knowing what correct technique is, and inadvertently learning the wrong one.
Think about it this way. Stringhopping is a technique too. It may not be the one you want, but if you’ve done it for years and years and can’t stop doing it, it’s only becuase you were really good at learning it quickly and making it permanent.
What’s interesting, I actually acknowledged the fact that I was string hopping quite early in my playing, long before I attempted to play lead stuff. I just didn’t know the terminology at the time. However, I never really used it as a technique, I always viewed it as a hindrance and tried to avoid it.
Personally, I found that my hand “hops” because I can’t control the string pushing my hand into the air when using wrist deviation. It’s not my hand muscles that cause hand extension, it’s the string. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I’m not entirely convinced that my issue is the same as other string hoppers.
I can control it at slow tempos, but it requires a very strange locking of my hand that I can’t quite describe. I’m sure most players are able to lock the extension/flexion axis while allowing the deviation axis to move freely, but I have always struggled with this. If I allow my deviation axis free movement, I can’t figure out how to lock the other axis in place consistently, so my hand bounces erratically. I’ve gotten better at it for sure, but it’s still a struggle.
Another poster made a funny analogy that I found quite relatable: Learning wrist deviation is like learning how to raise one eyebrow. For me, the two aforementioned axes are like my two eyebrows.
There is a potentially better way to look at this: There is a curve that has “max picking frequency” on the x-axis, and the “percentage of people that can match or exceed” said frequency on the y-axis. I suspect that everyone can do (say) five notes per second, and then it must fall off exponentially or something terrifying, where I bet 0.1% or less can do 13.3/s. And because of @tommo, I better put in a sqrt(2) somewhere in the answer.
I think this curve would be pretty easy to measure with enough subjects.
Thanks for that totally invaluable insight Troy.I am actually partially dominent. I write, eat, wash, brush my teeth with my left, but throw, kick, play racquet sports with the right. I only became aware of being a stringhopper about 2 1/2 years ago, and having found I could move the left hand much better, I did seriously wonder whether I should switch. I’ve been having flamenco lessons for about 6 years and my teacher did point out that I’d be losing all that fretboard skill if I switched. After reading your reply above, I realised that my right hand, although weaker than my left, is not necessarily inherently worse than the left for picking, it may just be that it’s had decades of stringhopping bad habits learned into it. I’m sure that the left could have been just as bad had I spent years accidentally teaching it ! The fact that MAB and SM are left handers is all I need to know to drop my lefty ideas and concentrate on coaxing my naughty right hand back to Smoothpicksville. Thanks again for your thoughts, this is an awesome community, well done for what you’ve put together !
Are you sure you’re “stringhopping”? Because we often seem to have convinced players they have problems that they actually don’t. When in doubt, feel free to post a clip and we’re happy to take a look at it.
So are you only counting lead guitar players? How many rhythm guitar players are strong hoppers? And I bet there is more than double the rhythm players than lead. So most of the world is terrible at picking? I hope. I don’t want to be alone.
I’m not sure I’ve seen “rhythm stringhopping”. My guess is the instance of this would be somewhat lower since most people probably try to use forearm or elbow when they strum, and those joints don’t really “hop”, per se. Stringhopping is usually a wrist motion. I’m not saying everyone is automatically awesome at strumming. But that’s not the same thing as “stringhopping”.
Lots of players I’m sure. For the same reason we get people saying they can “tremolo” faster than they can “alternate pick”. Around here everything is just an alternating motion, there’s no difference. But a lot of people don’t see tremolo and alternate picking as the same thing. In similar fashion I’m sure there are players who have good forearm type strumming speed but can’t do anchored wrist picking, for example, just because it’s a different motion and they don’t know how. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this particular example in a lesson or something, I just don’t remember.
Sorry I don’t know much about the scientific categories and names. I don’t mean to throw you off with my laments terms Troy. I’m a novice. Also I can strum WAY faster and more consistently than I can pick. It’s not even close. As long as I’m just aiming for 3-6 strings I can fly. Or the 1 low E string. I can play full bore Swedish death metal, but as soon as I dip inside the other strings I’m lost.
That sounds super interesting to me!! Would you feel like doing a Critique thread about this? It will be interesting to try and find out what the difference between your two movements is, and if we can harness your strumming powers for single notes!