View Full Version : The Floating Hand (once more)

Shred Fan
02-20-2003, 10:55 AM
Hey guys, having been doing the floating hand thing now for some time (since reading one of Eric's Articles) I have found it extrememly beneficial. I used to just anchor the side of my hand on the bridge.

However, I've noticed that when going particularly for the higher strings (B & E in particular) I can't hit the high speeds because my right hand's picking speed is minimised unless I kind of rest (more like a touch than a rest, as not much pressure is applied) the small part of my hand directly down from my thumb on the strings.

If I try to float entirely when I go that high, i find that the angle my hand is at causes me to lose speed & consistency.

So seeming doing this is the better way for me, I'm just curious, is this normal for you guys as well? Is it still considered floating like this as I'm not actually anchored to the bridge or anything (i'm more just lightly resting a small part of my hand where my thumb is a little). This is very hard to explain, but I'm just curious whether this is a common thing and a good way to go about it, because like I say if I do a full float with nothing past the wrist touching anything , then I lose a speed & accuracy.

So feel free to put forth your views, I'm most likely going to stay this way but just want to see what you guys think.

NP : Bruce Dickinson - Man of Sorrows

The Bash
02-21-2003, 10:43 PM
I've been working on the floating thing myself and feel the first string to give me the most problems. The little Maj7 min7 arps Eric used (the Gary Mooreish lick) for example I found much easier to player on the higher strings when I achored the right hand, I find it very difficult to do that floating. I still prac. it floating but if I wanted to whip it out in a Real Musical Siutation like performing I'd definatly anchor the hand cause I can't do it at that level yet floating. I do like the floating thing as far as seeing the benefits though I can't always do it up the desired level in every musical situation. I'd just recommend practice what's diffucult and use what ever works best for you when it comes time to actually play. If anchoring works best for you in some situations then anchor if floating works better then float.

02-21-2003, 11:32 PM
good to see you checking in again :)

Shred Fan
02-22-2003, 12:07 AM
Yeah, thanks for the advise bash. I'm pretty much like you when it comes to floating, I fully support it. Though I tend to rest my hand lightly on the lower strings when playing higher sometimes (I wouldn't really call it anchoring, as it is only light) though I've noticed when I rest like this I can move my right hand much faster, as opposed to the speed on higher strings with a full float. I can still do it with a full float, I just can't hit the real high speeds.

What's your views on this Eric? After all, you are the guy who got us all into it in the first place :)

02-22-2003, 12:26 AM
LOL, you did have to bring that up, huh ? :)

Well, I didnīt say anything yet, cuz I wanted to see what some of the others would say, and also, after all Iwrote about the floating hand in my articles and we had another thread about this.
Letīs see...

However, I've noticed that when going particularly for the higher strings (B & E in particular) I can't hit the high speeds because my right hand's picking speed is minimised unless I kind of rest (more like a touch than a rest, as not much pressure is applied) the small part of my hand directly down from my thumb on the strings.

Well, you actually do rest your hand on the lower strings ? Because, that sure is valid, unless it causes extra noise... did you try that with a higain-sound ? It might add some noises because your hand might be kinda "scratching" the low strings...

See, the whole floating hand-thing is some kind of an approach, something to keep in mind, to maybe get away from anchoring ( Guys liek Yngwie and Petrucci anchor, and they sure can pick fast, I prefer the floating hand thing though, so do a lot of other players. )
It does not mean that you can not slightly touch the strings sometimes. Thatīs absolutely ok. But if you wanna use the "floating hand", your focus should be to avoid any kind of anchoring if possible.
If, on the higher strings, you feel itīs easier if you slightly touch the lower strings or bridge, it of course is absolutely ok !
Others kinda angle their hands... Iīll try to explain...

Extend your arm, as if pointing at something to your right. Then, bend your arm at the elbow, so your arm is positioned as if you wanna punch someone in the face.
Now, while keeping your arm extended, relax your hand and let it drop ( it helps to hold a pick ) downwwards. It should hang in soem kind of a right angle.
If you apply some pressure, you should be able to bend your wrist a bit more, so your hand is kinda dturning inward, towards your body.

So, some players bend their wrist a bit, moving the knuckles of the picking hand a bit closer to the body of the guitar while picking on the upper strings.
I hope this kinda explains what I am trying to say ( If you wanna donate a digi- or webcam for me to provide pics, feel free to send me one , c/o Ibreathe music :) )

So again, itīs ok to slightly touch the strings there, if it helps and doesnīt cause extra-noise...

When I play a long pickign passage on the high E-and B-String, I very slightly touch the fine tuners of the bridge with the side of my wrist.

One thing I had problems with at first was that it was easy to pick fast on the lower strings ( i.e. the PG-exercise ), but on the higher strings, especially at higher speeds, my hand / wrist locked up. That slowed me down.
I had to focus and work hard to keep the right hand all relaxed, regardless of what string I am picking. That was kinda tough.

So to sum this up... "floating hand" means to mainl avoid actual anchoring. It is ok to slightl touch the lower strinsg or bridge, it even is necessary sometimes to mute them when playing with a higain-sound...

I am sorry if I didnīt point this out clearly enough before, hope I didnīt cause too much confusion...

Shred Fan
02-22-2003, 12:33 AM
Thanks for the advice Eric, much appreciated. Yeah I play mainly with a hi-gain sound, and seeming that I only lightly rest my hand, the scratching noise is very minimal, and only noticable if I move my hand without picking any notes, otherwise you can't notice it at all.

I'll keep working at it, but I think for me the light resting is the way to go.

Once more thanks for the advise.

-Shred Fan

PS. How's the album going? Surely you couldn't have any more bad luck after all you went through.

02-22-2003, 12:43 AM
Hey there...

Cool, I am glad I was able to help.

The albums going fine, I hope to be able to bring new promo-CDīs ( featuring at least two more finished tracks ) to the Musikmesse. If that is the case, weīll have new soundfiles up at my site soon.
Itīs almost done, some more recording and mixing. The main-problem righ tnow is the scheduling, since both the drummer and the bassist of the EVB are out touring a lot with the musicals theyīre involved in, and I am pretty caught up too with lotsa different projects, so itīs slow, but itīll be finished soon...

The Bash
02-28-2003, 09:05 PM
Hey Eric,
So I guess it ain't that weird for me to find the PG lick more difficult on the E and B strings than say the D and G strings.

One thing I wanna try is useing a lot more wrist as I speed up it seems I use less wrist and more forearm. Which I know is fine for sum people but I feel more freedom (relaxed) when I'm using more wrist. Any suggestions?

I'm basically trying dirt slow really really over doing the wrist motion (which I know is gonna limit speed but I'm thinking it'll help lock the feel of the wrist in better) then slowely speedin up trying to mantain that same relaced wrist motion with a smaller swing. Not sure that makes sense. Guess what I mean is slower I'm doing a bigger relaxed motion and as I speed it up I'm trying to keep that small fell only with a smaller motion.
I'm just trying to use what makes sense to me but you might have a better suggestion regarding really gettin the wrist involved.

02-28-2003, 09:15 PM
I rest the arm on the upper part of the guitar, slightly below the elbow... that way, I automatically avoid moving the forearm any more than necessary ( a bit IS necessary for the wrist movement, though ).
That way, I also donīt get tired when playing really long picking passages.
I really loosen up the wrist, constantly remind myself to do so. Then I "tighten" my fingers, holding them kinda stiff, while relaxing the wrist. I know, that sounds a bit like "patting your head while stroking your tummy", but it works.
I tried the forearm / move-from-the-elbow-thingy, and I decided to focus on the wrist, thatīs why I rest my arm... works great.
I think in the book of the Yngwie-video ( first one ) it says something like "itīs a movement similar to shaking water from your hand"

It helps a lot to slow down and exaggerate the wrist motion. Then, as you speed up, hold back on the motion, but try to keep it coming from the wrist.

Hope this helps

The Bash
02-28-2003, 09:26 PM
It helps a lot to slow down and exaggerate the wrist motion. Then, as you speed up, hold back on the motion, but try to keep it coming from the wrist.

Yeah, that what i was trying to say :)
Only you said much better.

Thnxs Eric, that made a lotta sense as something just clicked as I'm sitting here holding the pick tighting my fingers and shaking water from my hand.

02-28-2003, 09:49 PM

Yeah, I can just imagine... one day Iīll make a video, and when it gets to the part about picking, itīll be like "Assistant, please bring me a BUCKET OF WATER"... and Iīm gonna demonstrate the picking motion with water for like 15 minutes ( "some fluid licks here..." )... and THEN, maybe, Iīll pick up a guitar and a pick... or maybe Iīm just full of...

Shred Fan
02-28-2003, 10:09 PM
Perhaps you are Eric, perhaps you are :)

Hahah, anyways, just to update, I'm fully floating now, making sure not to have the part of my hand under the thumb touching anything and its going good. I noticed that I used to do it that way because it enabled me to make smaller movements more easily therefore being able to pick the strings quicker.

However, it was causing a bit of scratching and other noises so I decided it had to go. I have realised though that now seeming I have a little decreased stability I can't pick the string as fast (still reasonably fast though), I think its just a matter of practising fast picking with small and precise movements, starting slower.

I take it it'll get better with time, because I was going faster before so this can't be my limit, it's just a matter of adapting to the new technique (ok so I may not get 100% of what I had before but surely it has to improve). Right Eric?

02-28-2003, 10:37 PM
Exactly. When I went from anchoring to floating, I had to slow down everything big time, but it wasnīt hard to work it up to speed again. Youīll be back to old standards ( but using the floating hand ) and beyond that in no-time, most likely

By the way, way back when I started with the picking-exercises, years before the GIT, I got my hands on one of those Stylus-picks. ( See pic below, and their website (http://www.styluspick.com) for more info )

Please pay attention now: This is not a direct recommendation. The Stylus Pick CAN be a neat tool to help minimizing the picking motion ( because you learn / are forced to use only the very tip of the pick ), but not if you use it for all your picking exercises.

It can really help you to improve the picking, but it can also ruin your tone. Because, if you pick like that ( very tip of pick ) all the time, all notes will kinda sound the same, have the same volume / dynamic. And that is not always good ( itīs neat if you use a guitar-synth or guitar-MIDI-interface, but after all, itīs a guitar, not a keyboard, for crying out loud... and one of the cool things about the guitar are all those different dynamics you can get by changing your picking, digging in deeper with the pick )

So, if you wanna try it ( if you feel it might help... most of my students taught themselves to use the tip of the pick without the Stylus ), use it only for a few minutes every time and then go back to your regular pick.
Itīs really important to not loose the feel for more attack ( by i.e. digging in with the pick between the strings ), so you have to be careful with using tools like the Stylus.
It helped me a bit back then, though... it forced me to minimize picking motion and, for really fast picking, to use only the very tip of the pick
I still have one, but I havenīt used it in eons...

02-28-2003, 10:38 PM
Forgot the pic, sorry...

Shred Fan
03-01-2003, 09:54 PM
Thanks Eric, yeah I've noticed the speed is starting to come back and it is really just a matter of minimised picking motion. I might give the stylus pick a miss as I can work on minimizing picking motion with a normal pick plus like you said I don't want to be to limited dynamics-wise.

Thanks again,
-Shred Fan

04-05-2003, 11:23 AM
Hey, I looked through this thread again after a long time, and I wanted to point out once more:
If youīre gonna try a STylus-pick, use it only for a short amount of time, and switch between it and your regular pick.
That way, youīll be able to work on minimizing the picking-motion, while also using dynamics etc. with your regular pick.


Shred Fan
04-06-2003, 02:26 AM
Yeah I never ended up trying out the stylus pick, and I became pretty accustomed to the floating hand (hahah, love the picture Eric). I've just started floating the whole arm (with only light touching of the guitar with my forearm occasionally).

The reason for this is it allows me to keep my hand at the reasonably same angle and use my elbow as like a crane (heard the term somewhere else before) when I need to skip more than one or two strings quickly.

As all new techniques do, it feels a bit awkward and having some troubles but no doubt with practise i'll be up to standard and even further in no time.

-Shred Fan

The Bash
04-07-2003, 01:11 PM
I just read something kinna neat, that kinna goes along with eric's 99ways to pick lesson.
Someone asked Steve Morse why he held his picking hand diffrent for the Highway star solo. (the section near the end that's played all on the 1st string).
Without quoting Steve (cause I don't remember exactly what he said), he basically said, "Cause it's way easier to play it that way than the way I normally play." Meaning since all the notes are on one string.

And now for a floating update :)
Actually I'm pretty comfortable doing this now.
I did go back to gripping the pick with the fleshy part of my index finger as opposed to the more tradtional way. I'm not sure I quite qualify as holding it with three fingers but my middle finger does seem to kinna suport my index finger. I just found that to be the most comfortable and felt as if I had the most control and I seem to get better wrist action that way. Then again I' kinna bassackwards :)

04-08-2003, 12:52 PM
I never pay attention to the way I pick. Sometimes I float, sometimes I anchor, etc. Whatever it takes.