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I want to learn the right hand technique used by gypsy guitar, especially that of joscho stephan. His arm is perfectly still but the hand is moving so fast, how is he doing that? Any tips on how to develop such strumming? Specifically, here is a link to a performance where this technique is predominant. When I try moving only my palm, my arm also moves due to the impulse and then starts hurting.

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Do you mean his wrist is perfectly still but the hand is moving so fast? –  Tim Aug 8 '14 at 14:55
yes, thank you. Made the changes –  codeln Aug 8 '14 at 15:48

4 Answers 4

I suspect this may not be the answer you were hoping for, but here it is.

Based on your question, I am going to assume that you are still learning some techniques and that you have not yet reached a level of advanced proficiency at the guitar, and that you are not an otherwise advanced player who is struggling with one specific technique. Please let me know if I'm wrong.

When you master picking, your hand will be relaxed as you see in this video. The tension and pain are from trying to push your body to do something it has not yet mastered. As you master this technique, it will become easier and easier and you will expend less and less energy. And yet the advice to "try less hard" is not very helpful for you right now. But what you can expect as you get these techniques down is that mastery will be marked by ease and relaxation.

You may not be able to "learn" this technique in the sense of using disciplined practice over a short period of time to acquire it. There are multiple picking techniques used, including economy picking, sweep picking, tremolo picking. Each technique could take thousands of hours to develop.

It may take a very long time to get this technique to a level anywhere near this guy. It is useful to set your goals on these targets but it can also be dangerous to use the technique of a world class player as a comparison. I don't mean that you shouldn't draw knowledge and inspiration from great players. For instance, when you say it looks like he's not moving at all, actually he's moving just as much as he needs to but in a very coordinated and fluid way. And although it may be useful to analyze his technique, I think it's much more useful to spend that time practicing it instead.

I believe the answer to your question lies in developing very strong right-hand picking technique by developing all aspects of your right hand picking, an endeavor that many players spend 10 or more years working on. I don't mean to be discouraging, but I remember asking more experienced players "How do I do that?" and then 5 years later I was able to do it. There was no secret. The only magic bullet for developing good technique was many, many hours of practice. This is one of the most frustrating parts of learning an instrument. But when you get to the other side and look back, it's one of the most rewarding.

Keep at it, make sure you are spending plenty of time shedding all different picking habits. Good luck, and practice lots!

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:) Not looking for any shortcuts here. I want sort of an explanation(or a tutorial should I say) so that I may practice it. –  codeln Aug 8 '14 at 15:51
@codeln At least in my opinion such a tutorial would be too long to create here. Try searching for tutorials on: economy picking, alternate picking, sweep picking, and tremolo picking. –  Grey Aug 8 '14 at 16:13

The gypsy right hand technique revolves mostly around the so-called 'rest stroke'. The wrist is bent naturally, the upper arm rests on the top of the guitar. Every time a different string is hit, it's always a down stroke. The down stroke will rest on the string above it, hence, the 'rest stroke'. Down strokes are predominant.

The action originates from the wrist. Django's soloing style came mostly out of arpeggios. This is a very difficult technique, different from alternate picking or hybrid picking. You tube has many instructional videos about Gypsy technique. Check out Rob Nolan's instructional vids on youtube as well as Michael Horowitz's book on Gypsy Jazz technique. Stochelo Rosenberg, Adrien Moignard, Bireli Lagrene are also players with astonishing technique that you might enjoy.

And most importantly, listen to Django and remember that this music swings. I hope this was somewhat helpful. I'm also trying to get my right hand accustomed to this picking tech.

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May I suggest a couple of resources:

Great article about picking techniques by Tuck Andress:

Training software using the "speed curve" system for building speed and stamina:

Also recommended: google for web pages which refer to the above article by Tuck Andress. While you'll probably not find many other articles of comparable quality, you'll likely find quite a few additional useful ideas here and there.

Edit: additional article by Tuck, with some Q & A:

Good luck... :)

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Perhaps you might be interested in an online gypsy jazz guitar course at

The site has launched just recently, and we are currently offering our debut course 'Rhythm Guitar Fundamentals,' which deals with the essential left and right hand techniques and basic chord vocabulary for playing gypsy jazz / Jazz Manouche style rhythm guitar.

Our second course, 'Lead Guitar Fundamentals,' will be released in late 2015. You can also find a number of free backing tracks to stream on the site here.

Hope that is of some help!

(Disclaimer: I am the Head tutor in gypsy jazz guitar at

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Hi Harry, Welcome to Music.SE! We have a specific protocol for posting links to external sites (even/especially if it's your own work). I've edited your answer to put it into this form. Please stay and answer more questions! (External links from low-rep users are also likely to raise flags around here: so let's raise that rep! :) –  luser droog Sep 15 at 3:13

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