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Normally when I am playing I support my right hand by putting my pinky finger below the E string, but when I try to play past a certain speed I have difficulty keeping up. I have found a couple sites where they advise supporting the hand by putting the wrist on the bridge, but when I try it I tend to mute the A and low E strings. It's also more tiring because I am not used to that position, and my pick hits the pickups. Another thing I tried was to leave my hand unsupported, and I actually found it easier than supporting it on the bridge.

Is there a "proper" technique for this that would help me in the long run even if it is difficult to get used to? It would also be nice to know the advantages/disavantages of each of these listed methods, or whether it is totally irrelevant and you can get to a good level using any of them.

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You may find some helpful information in this related question: Flatpicking: how can I make my floating-pick-hand less bouncy? Note that the answers there recommend anchoring for fast, accurate picking, so the fact that you’re anchoring isn’t a problem in itself, but there may be a better way to do it. –  Bradd Szonye May 27 at 20:29
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4 Answers 4

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About 99% of where your hand should go is determined by two things: 1. the style of music and sound you want 2. what feels comfortable to you

When I finger-pick an acoustic guitar, I find myself holding my pinky below the e-string on the pick guard (if applicable).

If I'm wanting a pulsing (I don't know the word, think punk-rock rhythm) strummed rhythm, I usually take the outside edge of my hand (the side that's opposite from the thumb) and rest my hand centimeters from the strings (not all bridges allow this comfortably). Then, for a slightly muted or faster-decay-time sounds, I lower my hand so it grazes the strings as the strings vibrate.

For basically everything else on acoustic or electric, the "floating hand" works best for me. I basically use my elbow to push the guitar towards me a little and just strum. I'm pretty sure I aim my pick so it's just to the top of the bottom pickup. I usually don't think about it so hard to give more detail than that.

If you're hitting the strings with your hand, then you could try moving your hand or tilting the guitar. Maybe even lower or raise the guitar. The last thing you could get checked out (by a professional) is an incorrectly aligned neck - I've seen on two guitars where a player's kept hitting the strings due to the neck being bowed inward too much. You'll find what works and it'll be second nature when you start playing to hold it whichever way you find is best.

Overall, I'd say personal preference and comfort are more important than any one "correct" way of holding your hand. Hendrix, SRV, Eric Clapton, and Slash all played completely different ways - not just styles, but they also held their hands differently, held the strings with different intensities, as well as numerous other things.

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Normally, you'll get all the support you need when you simply rest your wrist/forearm on the upper body of the guitar. With your full hand completely free to move, you'll find that it is much, much easier to play smoothly. This is how I was taught to play both classical and rock style guitar.

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If your pick is catching your pups, you have too much showing.For faster play there needs to be only a little sticking out, so it shouldn't catch.

You will use all sorts of hand/arm positions to play. Some will need a 'floating' arm, where the contact is inside elbow on guitar body. Sometimes the palm will rest just behind the saddles, as in palm-muting, but slightly further along thr strings, away from the pups.

If you find one position is strange, angle the guitar differently, so your arm/wrist is comfortable. This will morph into a good shape for you in time. Partly because everyone's arms are slightly different from each other, and wrist flexibility also differs, a personal rather than textbook position works better for each individual.I.e some find that resting pinky on the top e works well. Obviously not while trying to play that string though !

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Others have provided good answers but I think this also depends on the shape of the guitar and what you're playing.

Eg for strumming an acoustic guitar, you probably want a bit of movement available so resting your forearm (just below the elbow) on the uppder body of the guitar will work - or possibly just have it free with no support - so you can get nice even sweeps across the strings.

Assuming you're talking about intricate/fast playing on an electric guitar, you may get different results on say a Les Paul as opposed to a Stratocaster because the bridges are different.

On a Les Paul you'll find resting your palm on the bridge at all will mute a string somewhere. On a Strat you can often get away with resting it a bit on the bridge because the height adjuster grub screws may stop your pam hitting the string immediately.

Also the shape of the body on a strat means you can move your arm in a little closer to the strings and kind of rest your arm along the top of the body. Not so on a Les Paul or a Telecaster - there's no chamfer in the upper body so your arm is forced outwards a little more.

To an extet, what you're aiming fgor is subjective in that it's "whatever works for you" so the actual answer to your queston is "No, there isn't a 'correct' position" but what works for me is to rest my wrist on the body of the guitar just next to the bridge, holding my hand quite still, and allow my fingers to move about as necessary. I use a Strat (can you tell..) so the bridge isn't too raised above the body, and this feels comfortable.

I also have a Telecaster and a Les Paul and use the sometimes. One of the reasons I return to the Strat is because it feels strange when first using the Les Paul after a while, having to hold my hand out a little further because the bridge is higher from the body on the Les Paul, and the body of the Tele pushed my arm out whcih feels strange at first.

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