Rest strokes when playing fast

PatrickPatrick Paris, FranceNew
edited January 2005 in Technique Posts: 29
Hello folks,

First and foremost I'd like to thank Michael for this again great initiative in federating all of us django fans via better ommunication means. Thanks !

Now here's a question on technique. Like many of you I'm working on my right hand technique and use the standard gypsy technique (I've been doing so for a little more than a year now with the help of Michael great book on the subject and some videos).
I use rest strokes a lot now and it brings a greta sound. But when playing fast (or very fast lines), although I still keep playing rest strokes (I think), I'm not totally sure the pick actually rests on the next adjacetn string, since the movement being too fast to be sure and since you have in mind the fact the pick needs to get upward fast again to play the next rest stroke. So my question is: when playing fast lines, do you hear or feel the pick resting on the next string or at some point in speed it doesn't matter anymore to notice if it does since what matters above is to be in time with the right picking pattern ? what's your experience on this ? Am I the only one who fears not to be the appropriate technique when playing fast ?

thanks for any thought or recommendation on this.

Paris, France


  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    in my opinion , you should aim to use rest strokes as often as possible, but sometimes for very very very fast runs (ie fast django chromatic line), it doesn't work well... but at the same time, you shouldn't worry too much about it, if you miss one rest-stroke , it's not the end of the world...

    of course it also depends what fast means for you, for many "fast" licks, it's still possible to use teh rest stroke technique

    here are examples... the Andreas Oberg cd featuring Ritary and Yorgui:

    on Montagne-ste genevieve, it's possible to use rest strokes on all the fast licks except mayve the chromatic one....

    even if you can't use rest strokes, you should try to pretend as if you were using them

    finally , i repeat, don't worry too much about it either...

    i tell you this based on my personal experience and also on watching many sinti guitar players way up close (fapy, ritary, stochelo, etc...)

  • djangologydjangology Portland, OregonModerator
    Posts: 1,018
    I'm not totally sure the pick actually rests on the next adjacetn string, since the movement being too fast to be sure

    since my rest stroke on the high E string often will follow through far enough to "tap" the top of the guitar, then I think it is safe to say that "yes, the pick actually will rest on the next string". it might be more correct to say "the pick should try to rest at a point that is past the next string"

    hopefully this doesn't confuse you though and anything in Michaels picking book should certainly supercede what i say. be very careful about what i say here. i think, at times, that I might follow through on a rest stroke in such a way that the pick touches and mutes adjacent strings which are not actually played. at high speed this helps make runs sound clearer.

    Im not experienced enough to know these things for sure but this is the impression that I get so far with my playing.
  • aa New York City✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 800
    i've been using the book, but i'm having trouble getting down the best way to hold the pick. the concave part of the wegen makes me think that either the tip of thumb, or the first joint should connect right there.i def get more momentum when i grasp right at the first (closest to the tip) joint of my thumb.

    also, my index finger keeps on getting in the way of the rest-stroke by not letting the pick fall to the next string. at what angle should my index finger be in relation to the string? i've checked out the videos, but the close-ups are sort of ambigious. do you have any pictures?

    furthermore, should i be stroking each string with my hand in the same position (using my forearm to move the hand to a different string)? should i let my right hand relax to the point that it is virtually limp, like a dead hand (like a classical guitarist)? that's what michael's hand looks like in the book. it feels like there is greater stroke resolution/control when I do that, but the sound isn't as driven.

    could you explain play-relax a little i supposed to keep my hand as relaxed as possible all the time, or only when i'm not playing. should any adjustments be made when playing at very high speeds? should i get my hand to the point where tremolo and phrase picking are indistinguishable (that's what it looks like when django plays)?

    Learn how to play Gypsy guitar:
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    that is quite difficult to answer, because a lot of it is learnt kinda intrinsically by watching others do it and trying to imitate them... which is why i totally recommend getting as many video recordings of the technique masters (ie stochelo) as possible and also practicing in front of the mirror ...

    holding the pick:

    you hold it the standard way, i don't know of any pictures that show you how to hold it... if your index finger is getting in the way, then there's definitely something wrong...

    i cant describe it to you with words, i'd need to use a graph and can't think of a way to do it here...

    ..i'll try my best with words...

    first of all the position, as you know the wrist is at an angle similar to classical guitar...

    what's equally important is where you rest the elbow, it should be comfortably nested at the top right edge of the guitar... i noticed that my students tend to move it around for some reason when they play.... avoid doing that.... leave it there....

    the attack itself is hard to explain, i'm not sure how michael explains it in his book (I don't have it :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: i'm sorry michael, when i win the lottery i'll donate some money :lol: )...

    the attack comes from the weight of the wrist... however, the motion comes from both the wrist and the forearm... the forearm motion is the hardest to explain, it's kind of slightly rotating back and forth... it's much easier if i could show u in person... (or with a graph)... you can see this when u watch stochelo play...

    basically the forearm motion allows for a more natural and fluid movement of the wrist... but the attack itself , i repeat, comes from the weight of the wrist...

    when you attack the strings, the pick is falling at a circular angle (again hard to explain without a graph) which is what makes downstrokes so efficient in this style... in fact, this is also the reason why upstrokes are generally avoided, if you follow the full plane of the pick attack, the upstroke would never reach the lower adjacent string, unless you bring your pick right under it.... in order to do an upstroke on a lower adjacent string, it would require unnecessary movements... which is why we use the bouncing technique....

    man it's really hard to explain... i apologize if it sounds confusing...\

    regarding the boucing technique... it has to do with the weight of wrist falling against the string and the rotation of the forearm... watch stochelo videos and notice how his wrist is kind of always bouncing around... that's the play-relax technique...

    if you're not used to iti would recommend playing

    1 2 3 4 on all the strings at a slow tempo AND in front of the mirror...

    try to imitate stochelo by looking at the mirror,

    a useful thing to do is to exaggerate the right hand movement too....

    maybe this analogy can help ... look at nous'che when he does the pompe... for the first beat, when his right hand goes all the way down, it bounces back up to prepare for the second beat.... this is the exact same motion for single note playing on downstrokes... as soon as your pick lands on the adjacent upper string, it bounces back up...

    well i hope that sorta helps... again this is next to impossible to describe without pictures/graphs/videos/etc....

    good luck!
  • zavzav Geneve, SwissNew
    Posts: 94
    Hi Dennis, hi All!
    first of all the position, as you know the wrist is at an angle similar to classical guitar...

    I would like to ask you once more about that ANGLE. Hm, I could well see a significant (classic-like) angle on Lou's pompe video, but it seems to me that on all your exercises there is now any significant angle between your wrist and forearm. Sure I should re-watch all my videos of the masters, but in adition it's good to ask you if i'm wrong.. :-)

    Thanks a lot,
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    it's an optical illusion, when you look directly in front of the person playing it looks there is no angle but if you look sideways or from above, you can see it
  • zavzav Geneve, SwissNew
    Posts: 94
    OK, now I see (first i've thought about another angle, but now everything is clear).

    Thanks a lot, Dennis!
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