Only twice have I touched a guitar over the last month, but in those two brief sessions I was able to refine my picking technique significantly. Maybe because I was just screwing around and not really thinking about it (or maybe I was) I probably reverted to my old picking technique that I learned from my first Mel Bay book 23 years ago. However, I noticed that I was suddenly able to play faster and more consistently, particularly on upstrokes and and sweeps. When I stopped to examine my right hand, I lost whatever grip I had and control along with it.

That got me thinking about what I was doing again. A few years ago, I had read a series of articles on Tuck Andress’ website about picking in which he tries to analyse and describe George Benson’s picking technique. I tried applying this based on the written descriptions provided, but it’s hard to break old habits. Then more recently I found some online lessons with George Benson describing it himself. Seeing this was much more effective than reading about it, but I was still not satistfied with the my application of it. I didn’t like the sound or feel I was getting because I lost alot of warmth and rythmic feel. There no shortage of those qualities in George’s playing, so I wasn’t convinced that it was simply a matter of “Oh, that’s his style — not mine.”

Finally I made a breakthrough while sitting on my couch while watching a Sci-Fi B-movie Sunday night. I looked down to find my pick pointing on an oblique to the tip of my thumb. The ass-end of the pick was aligned with the joints of my thumb and forefinger, supported by the others stacked neatly underneath. Unless I just didn’t understand before, my current technique is really a compromise between my old way and George’s way, which is as it should be though since I’m using George Benson’s signature model guitar, I sound damn close minus the harmonic sophistication and shocking speed. I’ll never play just like him, even if I really wanted to. There are always things that I would want to do differently, more of, less of, etc.



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