Is it possible to develop completely floating RH technique?

Have been experimenting and came across the floatin technique. To me it looks like term “floating” here is refering to something like pinky anchoring on the guitar body, or hanging with your fingers on the first string. Are there any examples of fast playing with no anchoring at all?

Shawn Lane maybe? I don’t see him contacting the body or strings at all with his picking hand fingers when he plays. Same with Rusty Cooley.

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I think the short answer is lots people do fast alternate picking without anchoring the fingers of the picking hand in the way you’ve described, but most or all of those people make some other kind of contact with the guitar/bridge/strings that helps guide their picking motion.

When I think about the concept of “anchoring”, I include anything that gives you tactile reference relative to the strings, which includes thumb-heel and/or wrist contact with the guitar body, bridge, or strings. I’m pretty confident that Rusty Cooley grazes the bridge/strings with the thumb-heel or wrist when he does fast alternate picking. I’m less confident making conclusions about Shawn Lane, but at a glance I think he often has wrist contact with the body or bridge.

I’m not going to tell you not to experiment with something, but in terms of allocating your resources, it can be useful to ask yourself what you’d get from a new technique that isn’t already available to you. Any answer that satisfies you is enough, even if it’s just “I think it’s cool and I want to mess around with it”. Just understand that if you also have specific musical goals, it may be useful to evaluate the new technique in terms of how time spent on it advances your musical goals compared to refining a technique you already have a good handle on.

I think the prevailing thought here is: think first about the licks you want to be able to play, and view technique as a means to get you there rather than as an end to itself. In that frame, the question becomes: “Are there licks I want to play that I think a ‘completely floating’ picking hand will help me perform better than a non-floating picking hand does?” Another angle to that might be “Have I seen somebody play something with a ‘floating hand’ that I think would be more difficult to play with a ‘non-floating hand?’” My perception is that your post is sort of aligned with that second question, and I’ve yet to see anything that would cause me to answer “yes” to that question (at least in terms of fast alternate picking). I’d re-evaluate that position if you or somebody else can offer some compelling examples for us to analyze.


Kinda sorta. Shawn had a few different picking forms which are all subtly different. Unfortunately, his picking is very difficult to analyze. The video quality of most footage available isn’t very good and ideal angles are rare. Shawn almost always wore long sleeves to cover his psoriasis.

In one clinic video he discusses the idea of "picking from the wrist"and contacting the lower strings with the base of the palm for dampening. The claims the contact point is necessary to isolate the wrist movement. Video here:

There are certainly instances where he uses this method of picking, up to moderate and “normal” fast speeds. This method is a USX motion, and from the positioning the best inference is a “dart thrower” type movement.

However, at faster speeds, Shawn broke contact with the strings and picked over the bridge pickup. Video here:

There is no effective dampening technique is this mode. In this mode of picking, his forearm near the elbow is anchored to the upper bout of the guitar. It is still a USX motion. My best inference here is that this facilitates a compound movement which combines the dart thrower wrist action and forearm rotation, to increase the range of motion of the pickstrokes and allows for greater margin of error. Also, it would seem that the elbow driven string tracking could potentially be allowing some degree of escape after downstrokes.

His Vigier has a contoured bout and a flat top, unlike his earlier Ibanez and Charvel guitars which were archtops without a contour. This leads to a difference in setup on the guitar and differences in form.

We can clearly see the lack of contact with the strings in several places in this video, and a much more exaggerated movement of the forearm when playing slowly. There’s elbow, but there’s still some degree of USX. My guess here is a dart-thrower with elbow combination.

There’s another form with string contact, used while hybrid picking. This seems to be a wrist based DSX action. I suspect reverse dart-thrower. Watch carefully. We see a wrist based DSX with hybrid picking and contact, some wrist based USX with string contact and then some wrist based DSX without string contact. Then, at the 37 minutes mark, there “the warp”. I’m convinced there is an elbow component here also.


Right, and I should have clarified that I didn’t mean “he never anchors”. I just meant I’d seen some playing of his (most likely the PowerLicks video) where it looked like he hand little to no anchoring happening. Great overview on his various picking modes though :slight_smile: