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Warren Nunes' picking technique
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Jeffrey_Burr



Joined: 04 Jul 2005
Posts: 164
Location: california

PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2006 7:22 pm    Post subject: Warren Nunes' picking technique Reply with quote

Some of youse may have heard of Warren. He was known for having great technique, alternate picking and sweeps. I'll show youse the right hand thing, like I say there was this whole other crazy left hand part to avoid {downstroke, to upstroke on a lower string}.

The first thing is, he had these picks of real tortoise shell. I file down a triangle pick (fender heavy) to the same basic shape. Also, the pickguard is shimmed up with some felt, approximately level to the plane of the strings.



The wrist is elevated, angled slightly. The other fingers are relaxed and allowed to brush against the guard as a reference to the location of the strings. It's helpful at first to ball up some tissue and stuff it between index and middle finger; to stretch in this way, without tension, is a little tricky.



The whole arm is supposed to be relaxed actually, but the hand doesn't move much relative to the forearm i.e., no flex at the wrist (but relaxed, not rigid as I've seen it described) - with the yellow line I've tried to indicate the axis of rotation.



Here's a view of the grip:



This line shows the angle of the pick, in the spot where I usually pick.



Warren would take your guitar, find the "sweet spot", and tell you to stay there. It seems to me it would depend on where along the length of the neck your left hand is working, fretting higher up ought to cause a similar shift of the supposed sweet spot.

Anyhow, I hope anyone finds this interesting. Probably an mpeg would be most helpful, to visualize the twisting motion of the forearm. You kind of throw it, I can't explain. You can get it going really quick, kind of like...uh...waxing a carrot.

The unused fingers are begging to be used for picking out chords, which I do. Warren never talked about that, but this hybrid plectrum/fingerstyle thing is great for solo guitar or a nice filled out texture with a band.
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capJazz



Joined: 08 Apr 2006
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2006 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That looks almost exactly like the gypsy picking technique. AKA the rest-stroke which is employed by oud players. Oud players don't brush their fingers on the top though.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ko3nc6sDFM for some oud. check how relaxed his picking hand is. he's basically letting his hands fall on to the strings.
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Yagyu



Joined: 15 Mar 2006
Posts: 144
Location: Wroclaw, Poland

PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2006 12:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have similar way of holding pick but playing mostly with wrist motion Wink
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JakeJew



Joined: 30 Jul 2005
Posts: 2190
Location: Boston, MA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2006 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I pick similar to this, very little/no wrist movement, fingers out (I do a lot of hybrid picking) but I lightly rest the base of my thumb on the lower strings or the low E string side of the guitar.
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Jeffrey_Burr



Joined: 04 Jul 2005
Posts: 164
Location: california

PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2006 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Jeffrey - how do you mute with that technique?


Same way I bend with 14's on....I don't. It's not a big deal for me, muting notes like that isn't really part of my voice. It might be possible by kind of bringing the elbow up and over the body of the guitar but that sounds wacky.

The elbow doesn't bend either, the forearm twists around that yellow line. I find it more easily controllable than anchoring the forarm and wiggling at the wrist, and it's fast, potentially. Warren was known primarily for this. Any more serious students of Warren's lurking around here? I'll be the first to agree, I've left out a great deal; there was the left hand stuff too, but more importantly how they both work together.

It should go without saying (but I'll mention it anyway) that this isn't presented as something "better" or more this way or that. It works for me.

Quote:
he's basically letting his hands fall on to the strings.


Funny, Warren used to ask us to try and bat his arm off the guitar, to demonstrate how relaxed his arm was. I'm not sure it really proved anything since it wasn't like I could catch him off guard.
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rwmol



Joined: 11 Jun 2006
Posts: 69
Location: Washington, Utah

PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2006 4:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Jeffery.

I use that exact same technique. Why? I too learned from Warren. What a Musician he was. I took from him 1966 and 1967. At that time he taught out of his house in Hayward. I remember the tortoise shell custom picks.

I have been able to find a plastic pick about the same size (large) with similar bends. I remember he use to use a match to soften the pick and creat the proper shape.

He was really big on positioning the arms and hands. He also had this thing about the Klose'. We would learn a lot fgrom those clarenet books. I still have some of his written teachings.

You can find some of his playing when searching Amazon.com.

Thanks for passing on his method.

Warren RIP

Randy
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JakeJew



Joined: 30 Jul 2005
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Location: Boston, MA

PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to bump a very old thread, but Jeffrey it would be sweet if you re-uploaded these images.

Regarding the upstroke-on-a-lower-string issue, it's funny how as I'm working with these imbalances in my own playing I realize that pick angle is such a root cause.

For example, remember how I was saying in another thread that it was ridiculously easier for me to pick lines that change strings on downstrokes? Keep in mind I'm not saying it just feels more comfortable - I can do it at tempos almost 50% faster. I realized that when I do this hyper-speed downstroke stuff I'm holding my pick at a very, very specific angle. I suck at explaining visual things like this so I won't bother - but as I've been practicing upstrokes more it's very apparent that this specific angle totally sucks for changing to new strings starting with upstrokes. In fact, the opposite angle is better for this.

What i find interesting with Nunes' issue is that the mechanic he describes is actually one of the easier ones for me, and I wanted to point out that going to a fatter string with an upstroke would always be the case with 'economy' picking, so it's interesting that he avoids it. To put it another way, isn't it generally thought of as a very economical mechanic?

Although I can't see the pictures posted here, I have a hunch that the way he holds his pick and makes his picking motion was similar to how I do this hyper-downstroke stuff. The angle of the pick allows for a very rapid transition from the end of an upstroke on one string to a downstroke on a new string, especially a higher string. I might make a video about this, probably half to help others and half to ask for help myself.

one thing I can say, if it makes any sense, is that if everything is pointing down then it is easier to do things that go down - changing to thinner strings, changing on downstrokes, etc. And of course, I believe the opposite to be true as well.

I've been practicing the hell out of the upstroke-leading thing. Pretty interesting, specific stuff.
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Jeffrey_Burr



Joined: 04 Jul 2005
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Location: california

PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hm, I must have deleted these pictures or something? Sorry Jake. They probably weren't that good anyhow.

I feel you on the angle thing, I was working on it too and had to get myself a bit more perpendicular to the strings so that I wouldn't have to make such a big adjustment for up- vs. down-sweeping. After doing that I realized that up is just way harder than down even without considering any type of cross string moves. Maybe it would be easier to do while hanging upside down suspended by the ankles, with the guitar strap fed between the legs...?

Warren's problem with that specific sequence was that the pick tends to bump the same string again on the way "up" to the lower string. I definitely can see the tendency but to me the Occam's razor solution is to practice that move enough so that you don't do that. Just my opinion.
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JakeJew



Joined: 30 Jul 2005
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Location: Boston, MA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jeffrey, am I correct to assume you're referencing gravity as part of the reason up strokes are more difficult than down strokes?

I've realized that very slight variations in pick grip can help this problem.

For example, if holding the pick between the thumb and the index finger, the thumb is doing more work to stabilize the pick (and make the attack) for downstrokes and the index finger probably slightly more work for upstrokes.

This being the case, I've found a grip that involves moreso the tip of the index finger rather than the pad, to be more comfortable for upstrokes. I've inched my pick up on my fingers a little bit so that my index finger has more play in the process.
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JakeJew



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also how the hell did he avoid this motion? When you get into wider interval leaps, I can't see how you could avoid this except by playing the higher note with an upstroke as well, so that the picking is up, up.
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Jeffrey_Burr



Joined: 04 Jul 2005
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Location: california

PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 6:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting thoughts Jake. I think gravity is (only) a part of it.

Warren's grip actually has a lot of first finger in it - it's more like starting a car than smoking a doobie. Thumb is aside the pointer, thumb pad almost opposite the knuckle, thumb and pointer pointing in opposite directions (or nearly). Wrist up off the guitar and slightly bent, other fingers extended but relaxed, tips getting a spatial reference from the pickguard. The action is essentially a twisting I guess, but with the wrist bent maybe 20-30 from straight, there's some off-axis mass to throw around, making it easy to control and fast (enough for me anyhow). The axis is not the forearm, but just inside there (towards the guitar). Elbow is stationary, and maybe there's one magic stationary spot on the inside of the wrist, or palm of the hand. I don't know if this makes any sense.

I hope I haven't given the impression that I'm a "true believer" of Warren Nunes' teaching. There are likely others among us who have much more definitive knowledge of it. There were a lot of metal doods around too. The fact is I only took a handful of lessons and really cherry-picked what I thought was of value at the time. So to me it centered on the right hand, but his teaching was actually integrated with a whole program of left hand moves whose purpose was partly avoidance of this one "bad" picking sequence. It still strikes me as a bit nuts, but at this point in my life I might almost be entitled to an opinion, when I was 14 I should not have been so quick to opt out. The bus ride out to Castro Valley also seriously sucked ass.

Up-up was definitely okay, he wasn't teaching strict alternating. I guess "economy" picking is the most fitting description. It involved plenty of pull offs, sweeping, and other picture postcards.
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Jeffrey_Burr



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 6:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

and, yes I still have my Klose clarinet studies book
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Rzad



Joined: 14 Sep 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 10:18 pm    Post subject: Yup Warren could do it.. Reply with quote

I studied with Warren for about the last two years he was alive. His picking approach had several components that worked together. Pick angle, arm movement, left hand arp voicings. It sure worked for him and helped me also. Its funny how many really good players you run into that studied with Warren at one time or another. I just found a big binder full of stuff he gave me or wrote out on lessons... I will have to see whats in there again. At Warrens funeral some of us talked about getting all of the material we have been givien and orginizing it but, It never happened.

Paul
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Henryrobinett



Joined: 01 May 2010
Posts: 180
Location: Sacramento, Ca

PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry for bringing up this old thread too, but I studied with Warren for a good couple of years back in the mid 70s. Spitzer Music in Hayward. It was always a class with his other students, a bassist, drummer and sometimes a tenor player.

I'm not sure I understood the OP correctly but he did not emphasize a unmoving arm. I had had a previous teacher who taught me kind of the classic Sal Salvador straight arm locked wrist technique. Warren corrected this in me. There is a pronounced wrist motion. He described it as opening a door. I guess a door with a handle. This description never made much sense to me! And, at least when I studied with him he was not in favor of any sweep technique. He has a funny description I won't go into here. He had a wonderful way a phrasing, using pull offs, hammers, ghosting all in a very bebop way. Blistering technique.

I've wondered whether Bruce Foreman studied with him. I think he may have even been in some of my classes. Similar bop way of phrasing to Warren.

I'd love to see some of those lessons. I don't have anything myself.
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Jazz Website



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 3:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've known people who've studied his technique and I heard the difference.
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