Playing off the right side of the right hand fingers?

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
Forum rules
IV Laws governing the quotation/citation of music


For discussion of studies, scales, arpeggios and theory.
User avatar
Allister Slingenberg
Posts: 168
Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 8:14 am

Re: Playing off the right side of the right hand fingers?

Post by Allister Slingenberg » Tue Aug 18, 2015 8:22 am

.
Last edited by Allister Slingenberg on Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

Luis_Br
Posts: 2201
Joined: Sun Apr 23, 2006 2:50 pm
Location: Brazil

Re: Playing off the right side of the right hand fingers?

Post by Luis_Br » Tue Aug 18, 2015 10:57 am

Check recent GFA winner, Thibaut Garcia...

chinyc
Posts: 189
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:31 pm
Location: Hudson Valley, NY

Re: Playing off the right side of the right hand fingers?

Post by chinyc » Sat Aug 22, 2015 2:01 am

I learned how to play on the right side from Alice Artzt. It took me about a month to make the transition. I feel that my tone is much fuller playing this way.
Cordoba Custom Artist SP/IN

User avatar
Tom Poore
Posts: 1036
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2006 4:00 pm
Location: South Euclid, Ohio, USA

Re: Playing off the right side of the right hand fingers?

Post by Tom Poore » Sun Aug 23, 2015 2:01 pm

If you are getting the sound that you want and you can move your fingers to hit the notes, use the right side of your fingers.
This is a short-sighted approach to technique. The right hand can play the guitar in many different ways. But it doesn’t follow that any way is as good as any other. In a nutshell, here’s a good way to evaluate technique:

• It’s ergonomically comfortable.
• It allows one to produce the widest possible musical expressiveness.
• It minimizes the possibility of injury over the long term.

One shouldn’t underestimate how difficult it can be to answer meet these criteria. For example, people who are insensitive to subtle increases in tension will be poor judges of ergonomics. Further, a normally good technical guideline will need to be broken in pursuit of an unusual musical goal. And obviously it’s difficult to evaluate the long-term consequences of a particular technique. Be that as it may, at some point one has to think things through, and then make decisions that—although they lack clear evidence—seem to make sense.

For example, throughout this discussion, no evidence has been offered to explain why playing off the right side of the nails is better. Some players have been cited to prove that one can get good sound playing off the right side. But for every player cited, one can easily cite players who sound as good (or better) playing off the left side. Since one can sound equally good using either approach, there’s no musical justification for choosing either way. And one might just stop there. To each, his own.

That, however, is only part of the matter in evaluating technique. Shouldn’t we also examine the ergonomics of playing off the right side of the nails? Consider that most players who do so play with a more deviated wrist than those who play off the left side. Are there no ergonomic consequences to this? Obviously some would say no. But does this make sense? Do we really believe that playing with a deviated wrist is just as ergonomically good as playing with a straighter wrist? Do we really believe there are no possible long-term disadvantages?

I realize some get upset when anyone suggests that certain techniques are better than others. Indeed, some will defend any technique not on its real merits, but simply on the belief that arguing against something invariably betrays a rigid mind. Such people can’t be reasoned with. There are those, however, who are a bit more thoughtful and less beholden to unquestioned ideologies. For them, any technical approach should be judged on its actual merits. That seems a better approach than merely pointing to this or that player who supports a predetermined mindset.

Tom Poore
South Euclid, OH
USA

John Stone
Posts: 321
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2014 5:32 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Re: Playing off the right side of the right hand fingers?

Post by John Stone » Sun Aug 23, 2015 3:07 pm

Tonyyyyy wrote:
Jeffrey Armbruster wrote: I could imagine wrapping a small piece of sandpaper on several strings and then playing. This would automatically wear your nails to a shape that matches how you actually strike the strings.--sort of like a wear pattern on the soles of your shoes.
Some top player or teacher did recommend this(fine sandpaper wrapped around one string) I forgot who it was.

An individualised solution
Jerry Willard taught me to do this when I studied with him in college. I think Tenant recommends this as a nail polishing technique in his Pumping Nylon video.
2001 Manuel Velazquez
1977 Ramirez 1a
2014 Cordoba C10
They said, "You have a blue guitar, You do not play things as they are." The man replied, "Things as they are / Are changed upon the blue guitar."

User avatar
Tonyyyyy
Posts: 2286
Joined: Tue Aug 15, 2006 3:20 am
Location: Sussex, UK

Re: Playing off the right side of the right hand fingers?

Post by Tonyyyyy » Sun Aug 23, 2015 9:21 pm

chinyc wrote:I learned how to play on the right side from Alice Artzt. It took me about a month to make the transition. I feel that my tone is much fuller playing this way.
Her Ida Presti style position looks alarming, but in her interesting youtube video it seemed as though she relaxed into it with no tension. Maybe you can tell us how it feels to play like that.

Jeffrey Armbruster
Posts: 1528
Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2013 3:16 am
Location: Berkeley, California

Re: Playing off the right side of the right hand fingers?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Mon Aug 24, 2015 1:21 am

"I realize some get upset when anyone suggests that certain techniques are better than others. Indeed, some will defend any technique not on its real merits, but simply on the belief that arguing against something invariably betrays a rigid mind. Such people can’t be reasoned with. There are those, however, who are a bit more thoughtful and less beholden to unquestioned ideologies. For them, any technical approach should be judged on its actual merits. That seems a better approach than merely pointing to this or that player who supports a predetermined mindset."

+1.
Paul Weaver spruce 2014
Takamine C132S

chinyc
Posts: 189
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:31 pm
Location: Hudson Valley, NY

Re: Playing off the right side of the right hand fingers?

Post by chinyc » Mon Aug 24, 2015 2:13 am

Tonyyyyy wrote:
chinyc wrote:I learned how to play on the right side from Alice Artzt. It took me about a month to make the transition. I feel that my tone is much fuller playing this way.
Her Ida Presti style position looks alarming, but in her interesting youtube video it seemed as though she relaxed into it with no tension. Maybe you can tell us how it feels to play like that.
Even with no tension, one notices the hand position. Especially till one gets comfortable with it. It's a tricky hand position. When I was first learning it, I would say that it was often uncomfortable. After a while one finds a balance, and nowadays I don't keep my hand in such a bent position as MS. Artzt. For me, the payoff is the tone. A tone that I don't get playing on the left side. Speaking for myself, it is a "night to day" transition. Something about the way the nails cut the string perpendicularly. Again, this is only my experience. I'm sure that someone can say the exact opposite. Its whatever works for you. But it is clear that this technique has worked for a number of well-regarded musicians.
Cordoba Custom Artist SP/IN

chinyc
Posts: 189
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:31 pm
Location: Hudson Valley, NY

Re: Playing off the right side of the right hand fingers?

Post by chinyc » Mon Aug 24, 2015 2:19 am

chinyc wrote:
Tonyyyyy wrote:
chinyc wrote:I learned how to play on the right side from Alice Artzt. It took me about a month to make the transition. I feel that my tone is much fuller playing this way.
Her Ida Presti style position looks alarming, but in her interesting youtube video it seemed as though she relaxed into it with no tension. Maybe you can tell us how it feels to play like that.
Even with no tension, one notices the hand position. Especially till one gets comfortable with it. It's a tricky hand position to get.Not painful, just that I don't have my wrist in that position except for when I play guitar. However, when I was first learning it, I would say that it was often uncomfortable. After a while one finds a balance, and nowadays I don't keep my hand in such a bent position as MS. Artzt. For me, the payoff is the tone. A tone that I don't get playing on the left side. Speaking for myself, it is a "night to day" transition. Something about the way the nails cut the string perpendicularly. Again, this is only my experience. I'm sure that someone can say the exact opposite. Its whatever works for you. But it is clear that this technique has worked for a number of well-regarded musicians.
Cordoba Custom Artist SP/IN

User avatar
Tom Poore
Posts: 1036
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2006 4:00 pm
Location: South Euclid, Ohio, USA

Re: Playing off the right side of the right hand fingers?

Post by Tom Poore » Mon Aug 24, 2015 11:12 am

Regarding Alice Artzt, it’s been a while since I watched her videos on the Ida Presti right hand technique. So I went back to refresh my memory:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW1pDXnSGxI

It’s not long before Artzt says something with which I disagree. Skip to the 5:30 mark, where she describes the power grip. At 6:11 she says “your fingers basically come in toward your thumb—like wringing out a dish rag.” But why does she advocate this? It’s a more complex, less comfortable movement. If my fingers flex in a relaxed way, they go straight into my palm. They don’t flex toward the thumb—not if I flex them in the most comfortable way. Of course, I can flex them in the twisting manner Artzt describes. But why is this the preferred manner for a guitarist’s right hand technique? Artzt doesn’t justify it in any way. She merely says this is the way the hand works. To which I’d reply that this is one way the hand can work, but it’s certainly not the most comfortable way.

Artzt’s explanation of Presti’s right hand technique assumes an extremely questionable premise. Sorry. I don’t buy it.

Tom Poore
South Euclid, OH
USA

Luis_Br
Posts: 2201
Joined: Sun Apr 23, 2006 2:50 pm
Location: Brazil

Re: Playing off the right side of the right hand fingers?

Post by Luis_Br » Mon Aug 24, 2015 3:29 pm

Tom Poore wrote:Regarding Alice Artzt, it’s been a while since I watched her videos on the Ida Presti right hand technique. So I went back to refresh my memory:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW1pDXnSGxI

It’s not long before Artzt says something with which I disagree. Skip to the 5:30 mark, where she describes the power grip. At 6:11 she says “your fingers basically come in toward your thumb—like wringing out a dish rag.” But why does she advocate this? It’s a more complex, less comfortable movement. If my fingers flex in a relaxed way, they go straight into my palm. They don’t flex toward the thumb—not if I flex them in the most comfortable way. Of course, I can flex them in the twisting manner Artzt describes. But why is this the preferred manner for a guitarist’s right hand technique? Artzt doesn’t justify it in any way. She merely says this is the way the hand works. To which I’d reply that this is one way the hand can work, but it’s certainly not the most comfortable way.

Artzt’s explanation of Presti’s right hand technique assumes an extremely questionable premise.

Sorry. I don’t buy it.

Tom Poore
South Euclid, OH
USA
I haven't watched again Artzt vídeo, but I think there is some misunderstanding or maybe she really wasn't able to do it totally clear.

I think you regularly make quite great points, but it is also quite easy to simply find out some wrong word or faulty scientific basis to disaprove some technique. But in my experience, there are several great players and teachers who fail to explain to enough scientific detail, nonetheless in practical lessons they can teach and show their experience better they can explain through words. Actually a practical approach is by far better, in my experience. My last teacher has a great teaching experience, he also has background in Alexander technique and other things, several people ask him to write something, but he answers he probably never will. He sais the reason is that a text is not as effective as presential demonstration and he thinks it is not even effective enough to make a point writing it. In his opinnion a book of hundred pages wouldn't address properly a problem a few minutes of live discussion and practical demonstration could reach. So he thinks it will only help increasing the misunderstandings and it wouldn't solve anything practically.
But in a forum and textual debate, there is no way to do it different than a scientific approach. I think trying to explain things at least makes us think in a clearer way in our search and even though I agree it may not directly solve issues, but devoloping the way we think might give important clues to get out from several traps.
So back to Presti technique, first I would like to say I don't use this techique, but I've tried for a while, totally on my own. I just want to make the Devil's advocate and trying to clear up things. First, besides what Artzt sais, she also shows. Remembering the famous "slow motion videos" topic, sometimes people don't exactly do what the say. we also know that finding effective words to explain is quite difficult.
About sound result, first thing I would say is that I agree we should be able to get similar results with both nail sides, since finger and nail are symetrical. Except those who have particular problems with nails, with hookings etc in different non-symetrical points, which is not so unnusual. So some might get better sound on either side according to personal details. Nonetheless, please tell me some players which adopt more regular technique with tone quality similar to Presti, Abiton, Assimakopoulos etc. There are great sounding players with regular technique, like Segovia or Bream, but they don't sound like the former. I am not saying who are better, they are just different.

About Artzt comments, the best image I've got from her explanation was the comparison of gripping a screwdriver. I think this may be the right physiological explanation for the different movement and it is something we find in physiology books. There are two things there: thumb against pinkie and some rotation or supination.
It is not true that fingers against thumb is worse, specially pinkie and ring finger against thumb. I don't know if it is better when applying to play the guitar, but it is an usual daily movement. It is so important you find in several physiology books as a basic hand movement group, it is considered a very powerful grip, and books demonstrate the special muscle groups in use, which are different from those for the toward the palm movement. Sorry I am not at home now, I don't have the books and I don't remember the correct name for the move, so I will call the "screwdriver grip", but this might not be so accurate. It is important to notice it is not actually a thumb-pinkie pinch grip. It is a mainly a grip from palm at the base of the hand.
Besides the pinky against thumb powerful grip, another important movement from this screwdriver analogy that Artzt comments, it is some sort of lateral wrist and arm supination movement. This movement works fine with Presti position, she demonstrates it in repeated chords explanation. Using a symmetric analysis, it would be equivalent to the opposite pronation movement for a regular technique. But then the Presti positioning is better because the supination helps thumb going down together, while in regular technique a pronation would collide thumb and fingers. I see some more use of a kind of pronation in Lute tehcnique, like in the index and thumb alternation, it seems to work better with so called thumbs-down lute technique.
So besides nail symmetry, supination and thumb against pinky movements do not have really the same results in a regular wrist positioning. I also noticed that the thumb against pinkie grip together with some pronation helps adding some lateral slide to the attack, which generates more round type of sound than a direct attack, like in the so called Segovian slip finger attack. This is what makes, IMO, this technique to generate a robust sound with different tone color when compared to regular "straight-passing" attack over strings.

Finally, both movements, the fist (regular technique) and the "screwdriver grip" (Presti technique) are natural ones, but I agree a straight fist movement approach seems simpler to digest how to apply to guitar playing. I also think the Presti technique is more dangerous in a way it is easier to get injury when doing wrong, while a straight fist is less sensitive to "wrong internal tensions".

guit-box
Posts: 1097
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: Playing off the right side of the right hand fingers?

Post by guit-box » Tue Feb 28, 2017 1:14 pm

Looking through the comments on this topic it seems to me that "playing off the right side of the right hand fingers" is an ambiguous title and there are two definitions being used in the comments:

Define: playing off the right side of the nail:

1. The original contact point is with the far right side of the nail and as the string is plucked it travels from right to left, exiting on the left side of the nail.

2. The right hand forearm is in a supinated position such that the string is contacted closer to the middle of the nail, but as the string is plucked the string still exits on the right side of the nail or further to the right than the initial contact point. (similar to lute thumb under position which would allow the pinky to touch the soundboard)

With the second definition, admittedly you' are playing more on the right portion of the nail, but this in my opinion is still playing off the left side of the nail and not the intended definition of the original poster. The title of the topic was clear to everyone, but unfortunately it didn't mean the same thing to everyone.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

User avatar
bacsidoan
Posts: 2340
Joined: Sun May 10, 2009 1:59 am

Re: Playing off the right side of the right hand fingers?

Post by bacsidoan » Tue Feb 28, 2017 1:30 pm

guit-box wrote:Looking through the comments on this topic it seems to me that "playing off the right side of the right hand fingers" is an ambiguous title and there are two definitions being used in the comments:

Define: playing off the right side of the nail:

1. The original contact point is with the far right side of the nail and as the string is plucked it travels from right to left, exiting on the left side of the nail.

2. The right hand forearm is in a supinated position such that the string is contacted closer to the middle of the nail, but as the string is plucked the string still exits on the right side of the nail or further to the right than the initial contact point. (similar to lute thumb under position which would allow the pinky to touch the soundboard)

With the second definition, admittedly you' are playing more on the right portion of the nail, but this in my opinion is still playing off the left side of the nail and not the intended definition of the original poster. The title of the topic was clear to everyone, but unfortunately it didn't mean the same thing to everyone.
Should we call it the ulnar side of the nail versus the radial side of the nail? :wink: This will be applicable to left-handers too. :)

guit-box
Posts: 1097
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: Playing off the right side of the right hand fingers?

Post by guit-box » Tue Feb 28, 2017 3:02 pm

Probably, but I think left-handers are used to living in a right handed world--they know how to translate. I didn't comment to be right, I commented because I read people confusing each other and it seemed clear to me this was the reason. This thread is simultaneously about lute hand position and Ida Presti technique. I don't think that was the intention.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

astro64
Posts: 640
Joined: Sat Aug 06, 2016 7:43 pm
Location: American Southwest

Re: Playing off the right side of the right hand fingers?

Post by astro64 » Tue Feb 28, 2017 3:51 pm

Your definition 1 is what I interpret it to mean. That is what Presti and Lagoya did and what Artz advocates. To be able to do this implies a hand position more or less what you would need to play as in your 2nd definition, but that hand position in itself can still be used for playing off the left side of the nail, as e.g. Segovia did.

Return to “Classical Guitar technique”