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Thread: Best Classical Picks?

  1. #1

    Default Best Classical Picks?

    Hi all, where are the best classical Mandolin picks to buy in America? Donít want to spend more to ship my picks than they actually cost! Thanks!

  2. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    There is really no such thing as a classical pick (just like there is no such thing as a classical mandolin). How long have you been playing mandolin and how long have you been playing classical? What pick(s) are you using now? Are you studying with someone to learn classical technique?

    In the beginning of classical playing I used whatever I used for any other genre. Over the years I played with jazz size picks, then the Ranieri/Roman picks and lately have just been using Blue Chip (which, from your post above, I assume you don't want to use). I have tried Pettine picks (small, long and very pointy), those Wolle picks from Germany (small and rubbery plastic) and the tiny Dogal picks, none of which worked for me.

    If you poll classical players you will find a variety of plectra they use. Experiment with whatever. Everyone is different in their playing style and you will find what works for you.
    Jim

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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    While violin bows can hit mid-five-figures, picks are cheap. There is no cheaper way to explore and vary the tone of a mandolin. I encourage obtaining a plethora of picks, from which you can pick the pick of your preference.

    Every mandolin likes its own particular pick. Satisfaction also varies player by player. Buy a bunch. Go big or go home.

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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    I in general prefer Blue Chips (minimal pick noise with those.) I too have tried Pettine and Dogal, they are okay on my bowl backs but I don't like them on my other mandolins. I am a bit of a pick addict, I keep trying interesting-looking picks (cheaper than buying mandolins,) and seeing if I like them. I have found I definitely like pointy picks (detest Golden Gate picks) and prefer thinner (0.7 - 0.8mm.) You have to try different picks and find out what you like and works for you and your mandolin(s). You may want to try the traveling pick sampler (in General mandolin Discussions.)

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    My taste in classical mandolin picks has gone through stages, including the Dogal and other small pointed teardrop, Pettine picks, etc.

    I have experimented with but am not a fan of the big Roman picks, I do prefer a Neapolitan pick.

    Frankly I am currently quite happy with these:



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    They are quite similar, stiff, made of ultem/ultex, a rigid hard wearing plastic, with a good sharp point.

    Both are slightly less than .75mm, although I have used the 1mm's too and might if I was playing archtop mandolins, but I'm not.

    Plus, they are very reasonably priced and easily available.

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    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    I'm using cheap-and-cheerful picks on my bowlbacks as well -- Jim Dunlop nylon 0.88mm in my case. Much the same shape as the ones David uses, but a touch thicker and less rigid. I find that I need a reasonably thin pointy shape for precision and dexterity but that the slight gives a rounder tone.

    I use somewhat thicker and harder picks on flattop and archtop mandolins (Wegen 1.0mm teardrop) as they respond better to harder picking.

    Martin

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Jonas View Post
    I'm using cheap-and-cheerful picks on my bowlbacks as well -- Jim Dunlop nylon 0.88mm in my case. Much the same shape as the ones David uses, but a touch thicker and less rigid. I find that I need a reasonably thin pointy shape for precision and dexterity but that the slight gives a rounder tone.

    I use somewhat thicker and harder picks on flattop and archtop mandolins (Wegen 1.0mm teardrop) as they respond better to harder picking.
    Those archtops do need a bit thicker pick, huh?

    I use those picks on bass for the 10% of the time I need a pick sound.

    "Much the same shape as the ones David uses, but a touch thicker and less rigid"

    And this is where the player has to decide what works for them.

    I prefer the slightly thinner pick but it has to be very stiff, and I choose the pointiest ones possible. I used to shape regular picks to a point, now I can buy them that way.

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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    Many players of German style bowlbacks strung with flatwound strings prefer the Wolle pick.
    It's quite thick, rather soft and has a hole to grip it in the middle. https://schneidermusik.de/shop1/prod...ducts_id/68270
    Here, you can see Caterina Lichtenberg picking her Seiffert style mandolin with such a pick.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    First some context.

    First of all I am just on the bottom rungs of my classical journey, (first rung, second rung, on a good day with just the right amount of coffee I can be on the third rung). So don't count my experience as having more weight than it does.

    Secondly, it has been relatively recently and largely through the postings of our own DavidKOS I have been encouraged to explore and appreciate the scintillating brilliant tones that a thinner pointier pick can coax out of a decent mandolin.


    For classical playing and serious classical practicing and lessons, I have settled on the Pickboy mandolin picks. They are something like 0.75mm, and very bright and cheerful, fast playing. When combined with a decent mandolin the tone is something one could fall in love with. With a pickboy pick my L&H sings out brilliantly, in a way I could not have predicted, especially considering L&Hs are arch tops.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    As I noted above, there are a wide variety of preferred picks for playing classical (or, really, any genre). It is a personal choice depending on what style you play and the techniques you use to produce sound. If there is any trend that distinguishes picks for classical music I would say that most strictly classical players prefer a pointier pick. Other than that, there is a wide range of picks used.

    As noted above, the players of the German school are probably the most consistent, using a soft pick and flatwound strings to minimize string noise and get a mellow sound. This has to do with an actual school that teaches specific techniques.

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    I have experimented with but am not a fan of the big Roman picks, I do prefer a Neapolitan pick.
    Frankly, the Ranieri pick is truly a minor choice among classical players. It is an acquired taste. It also requires a different touch and certainly a different approach to tremolo. It derives somewhat from the pick used as you would play with a violin bow, holding it in a loose grip.
    Jim

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Secondly, it has been relatively recently and largely through the postings of our own DavidKOS I have been encouraged to explore and appreciate the scintillating brilliant tones that a thinner pointier pick can coax out of a decent mandolin.


    For classical playing and serious classical practicing and lessons, I have settled on the Pickboy mandolin picks.
    I'm happy to assist in any way.

    I like those pickboy picks - for a while I was using them a lot!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post

    As noted above, the players of the German school are probably the most consistent, using a soft pick and flatwound strings to minimize string noise and get a mellow sound. This has to do with an actual school that teaches specific techniques.
    They get a nice sound that way, but I prefer roundwound strings, etc. Still, it's a very viable choice in the classical mandolin world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Frankly, the Ranieri pick is truly a minor choice among classical players. It is an acquired taste. It also requires a different touch and certainly a different approach to tremolo. It derives somewhat from the pick used as you would play with a violin bow, holding it in a loose grip.
    Well, even though I've used oud mezrab and other large odd shaped picks, I could not acquire that taste!

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    Registered User Classicalcomp's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    I play a lot of different mandolins in a classical style. The previous posts are correct. Picks can be very personal. Of the 10 mandolin members I play on, I can tell you, no two picks sound the same on the same mandolin. So respectfully, it is going to be a matter of what you want from your instrument. For my main mandolins, I actually prefer a more rounded pick. The pick I have the best consistency with is a wegen pick called big city, but I like a very heavy pick and they are all quite heavy. V picks would probably come in second. There's one called the fusion which is a delight to play. My last bit of advice is, dont be afraid to spend a lot of money on picks. They are as essential to a mandolin player as a bow to a violin and a reed to a wind instrument. Some people will disagree, but there is a reason they cost significantly more than the bulk picks you can pick up at your local music store. My main playing picks all range from $5-$50 each and my favorites are about $8 a piece.
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    Registered User JH Murray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    The different tones that Wegen and Blue Chip picks are well worth exploring. It took me a while to justify spending $ on a plectrum, but it changed how I play.

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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Classicalcomp View Post
    Of the 10 mandolin members I play on, I can tell you, no two picks sound the same on the same mandolin.
    I hope those mandolin members don't mind you picking on them.
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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    Pick shape size stiffness grip all make a big difference in how the mandolin sounds. Its quite an adventure.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Pick shape size stiffness grip all make a big difference in how the mandolin sounds. Its quite an adventure.
    Factor in the multiplicity of strings and even with one mandolin there are many variations to try. An adventure, for sure.

    Of course, those of a particular school, like the German-trained players, know what mandolins, strings and picks to use. They do have choices, of course, but much was specified in terms of technique and equipment.
    Jim

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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    Of course, those of a particular school, like the German-trained players, know what mandolins, strings and picks to use. They do have choices, of course, but much was specified in terms of technique and equipment.
    Although I'm from Germany, I do not cosider myself part of the German school. I never took formal mandolin lessons and everything I do is what seems to please me most. But I like the mellow sound of flatwound strings picked with a Wolle pick. After getting used to its stiffness, a thinner and more flexible pick seems outright wobbly to me. And I like the tone it produces. More substance, less pick noise. I just recorded a little pick comparison, first the Wolle, then from 0:25 on a 0,75 mm celuloid pick.
    Do you hear the difference?I used my Sandner bowlback, a rather inexpensive but OK German Bowlback.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    Thanks for the comparison recording. Frankly, I liked the tone you got from both of those picks. I heard the pick noise on the first note of the celluloid part but after that didn't really hear anything that bothered me. And the Wolle is maybe a hair's breadth more mellow. It might sound different in person and to the player.

    People give me picks all the time for some odd reason. I don't recall if anyone ever gave me a Wolle pick tho. I have to look and see.
    Jim

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  27. #19

    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    And the Wolle is maybe a hair's breadth more mellow.
    I agree that the difference in sound for the listener is probably not as big, as the different picking feelings would make believe the player. Today, I grabbed the thinnest pick I could find, a 0,5 mm Pickboy and repeated the experiment.
    2mm vs. 0,5mm, do you hear more than a hair's breadth difference?

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    Definitely a difference this time. More with pick noise than a completely different tone of the mandolin.
    Jim

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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    The Pickboy is noticeably brighter, the Wolle has richer darker tone, not as tinny. The second time I listened to your track, I didn't look at the screen, to discern if I could tell when the pick changed by sound quality alone. It was quite noticeable.

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  33. #22

    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    I just found this video of Catherina Lichtenberg, where she demonstrates different kinds of picks and how she holds the pick. Maybe it is of interest...

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  35. #23
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Classical Picks?

    Thanks, crisscross. I like the way she describes the grip as how you grab your nose and talking about tone connected to pick thickness. I also like that she mentions to not hold it too tight even when controlling volume. Very good video.

    I highly recommend not only trying many kinds of picks but also ways of holding and gripping and the different effects you can get fro, that.
    Jim

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