Newbe asking about strumming amndolin.

  1. Ray Elliott
    Ray Elliott
    My question is this: Do you drive the pick through the strings? Do you try to glide the strings over the top of the strings? I seem to be able to strum down ok but on the up strum I have problems.
  2. Dr H
    Dr H
    I learned guitar way before I learned mandolin, so other mandolinists may differ with what I have to say...

    That disclaimer given, on all of the instruments I use a pick on, I try to follow the maxim given to me by the best jazz guitar teacher I had: present the absolute minimum amount of pick to the string that gets the note played at the desired volume. Anything more will hang up your pick, at least a little, and reduce your picking speed. Too much pick will also affect the tone, giving a more percussive 'slapping' sound (although sometimes that can be desirable as a special effect).

    To achieve that end, I use very small ("teardrop" or "jazz") picks, that are very stiff, and I hold them very close to the tip, most of the time. The pick should not slap at the string, flat-side on, but cross it a something of an angle -- for me, about 30-45 degrees. That seems to give me the best sound with the quickest recover time. The pick definitely doesn't dig into the strings except for the tiniest bit on the attack.

    As far as upstroke problems, like anything else, that can be worked out with practice. You might try playing some scales or short passages all upstroke for a bit, then alternate with all downstroke, and then with alternate up/down strokes. It's easier to correct something once you exagerate it to the point where you can focus on exactly what it is you're doing. If you're not sure what your doing, it's harder to know what to change.

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