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Thread: right wrist, rotate or up and down?

  1. #1
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    Default right wrist, rotate or up and down?

    I can't imagine this hasn't been covered a bunch but my searches didn't bear fruit so please point me in the right direction.
    Simple right wrist question and as I watch the really good guys and gals I have trouble seeing exactly what they do.
    When your pick heads for the string is it a wrist up and down motion mostly in line with a stable forearm or is rotating your wrist and by extension your forearm?
    Seems to me for tremolo it almost has to be rotating the wrist if its going really fast but for everything else up and down should work. If the answer is both then which is the most preferred?

    Thanks---Jay

  2. #2
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: right wrist, rotate or up and down?

    Interested in opinions as well.

    I've heard it described as either "tapping with a small hammer" or "turning the ignition key"

    Coming from guitar, I tend more toward the ignition key, but I've noticed a lot of better players (that perhaps didn't start on guitar) using more of the hammer motion.
    "Keep your hat on, we may end up miles from here..." - Kurt Vonnegut

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    Registered User dylanferris's Avatar
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    Default Re: right wrist, rotate or up and down?

    I think you will find that this varies quite a lot from player to player. Technique to me is less of what should I do and how should I do it, but rather avoiding the bad habits, and allow myself to find what feels comfortable. I'd say as far as picking something melodic, I tend to have a bit of a hybrid between the "tapping with a small hammer" and "turning the ignition key". I don't feel like I fit into either of those, but somewhere in the middle. For tremolo, I plant my pinky, stiffen my wrist and nail those 16th notes with forearm movement.

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: right wrist, rotate or up and down?

    To avoid injury and get the best tone, stay relaxed from the tip of your finger all the way up to the shoulder and neck - don’t tightly “lock up” anything. Grip the pick just enough to keep from dropping it. I think with everyone, there should be bits of comfortable movement in forearm and wrist. “Tapping” motion or “twisting” motion will vary depending on your preference, comfort and the technique of a given moment, I think there will also be some micro movement in the fingers.

    Try to be relaxed and accurate. Your body can teach you what adjustments to make to improve accuracy, being relaxed is the difficulty and the more important thing to note IMO. Effortless is the goal, put in the effort to appear relaxed and effortless - this is difficult but possible.
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    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: right wrist, rotate or up and down?

    It's not one or the other: it's BOTH!

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  9. #6
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: right wrist, rotate or up and down?

    When you have a conversation, should you speak loudly or softly? Should your eyes look straight ahead, or up, or down or to the side? Should you gesture with your right hand, left hand, or both?

    facetious questions, but hopefully you can find an analogy. Individuals will vary in behavior; personally, you want to comfortable and effective. You ask, “If both, which is preferred?.” I think the answer is “both” - you will have to answer as to which you prefer.
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  11. #7
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    Default Re: right wrist, rotate or up and down?

    Thanks Mark,
    There is no question relaxation is key, in anything we do, not just playing mando but I do constantly struggle with it. I can be totally relaxed and playing away one minute and then find my shoulders all tense the next minute for no reason, frustrating, but it's good we are talking about it. I went to several mando camps years ago when I first started playing and I don't recall anyone mentioning how important playing relaxed is.
    As far as what I prefer, no question the wrist up and down feels far more comfortable for me, unfortunately I am more accurate, consistent with better tone when I rotate my wrist---thus my conundrum and the reason for making the post.
    Jay

  12. #8
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: right wrist, rotate or up and down?

    I think it can be frustrating for many of us, Jay, and frustration is the enemy of relaxation. I tend not to let myself worry about it. I find that the more I practice in a relaxed manner, the more musical my playing becomes. But when I play in public or even record myself, the relaxation goes out the window and the tension sets in, to varying degrees.

    In the practice space, I think that focusing on accuracy and relaxation is most important. If that means rotating the wrist a bit, I see nothing at all wrong with it.
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