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Thread: Again with the picks

  1. #1

    Default Again with the picks

    Long-time watcher, first time poster. Guitar player, but always wanted to play mandolin. Since I just bought one (used Eastman 505), I guess it's time to learn to play it. Since I've never even held one until this week, I know there is much to learn.

    Picks. I need some but have no idea what kind, thickness, etc. 5 YouTube videos will all tell a different story. I learned last night that playing with my guitar picks isn't going to cut it.
    I could use some help on which pick to start with.

    Looking forward to my new adventure.

    Tony

  2. #2

    Default Re: Again with the picks

    Tony, there are a billion people with a billion different opinions here. But--having just switched over from fingerstyle guitar to playing Mandolin primarily, I can chime in.

    Thin picks won't do it.

    Most thick guitar picks won't do it either.

    Dunlop makes a series of jazz picks that are pretty thick, and I think pretty good for getting proficient on the Mandolin.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Many people who have been playing longer have strong preferences based on their style, but I think the JazzTone 207's have a pretty good tone, have enough of a rounded bevel to be able to get a tremolo to work, and generally feel pretty smooth.


    You can also skip all discussion and go order a Blue Chip CT55 for $35 plus $7 shipping here:

    http://shop.bluechippick.net/products/CT55.html

    These are the Cadillac picks that you will be hearing everybody talk about if you hang around here long enough. (Not an endorsement, just an observation--I like them fine, but I like my JazzTones and others just as much)


    But, for half that money you can have a 36 pack of JazzTones

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    --

    As an aside, do yourself a favor and join the Newbies social group here on the cafe:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/group.php?groupid=76

    Everybody there is super friendly and you can start working on some of their monthly tune projects in good company!


    Welcome to the Cafe!
    Last edited by Scott R; Aug-10-2018 at 9:46am. Reason: Typos galore.

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  4. #3
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Again with the picks

    As a player out of the Neapolitan mandolin school, I play professionally with a Ultex or Ultem sharp pointed pick, app. .73mm, but it is stiff - and I play bowlback and other non-Gibson style instruments.

    The other extreme is the round poker chip sort of pick. What both picks have in common is that they are quite stiff. I could not use a .73mm pick that was not as stiff as a certain natural material pick that is no longer legal.

    Top players have used all sorts of picks, but if you were using a thin or medium flexible guitar pick, that will not work on any mandolin.



    This works on regular guitar, mandolin, Greek bouzouki, etc.

    I do use a thicker pick for Gypsy jazz, a Dunlop 3mm nylon Big Stubby:



    Both are very reasonably priced compared to some brands of picks, which have not proved to be any better to me - you can get bags of these for 35 bucks.
    Last edited by DavidKOS; Aug-10-2018 at 10:54am.

  5. #4
    Registered User FredK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Again with the picks

    All of the mentions above are good advice. Every player has a preference and the best way to find that preference is to play using a lot of different picks. Shape, thickness and material of the pick factors into the equation. If you haven't already, check out the thread and get on the list for the Travelling Pick Sampler. It's an inexpensive way of trying out a load of picks back-to-back to find out what suits your taste. Happy picking!
    "If your memories exceed your dreams, you have begun to die." - Anonymous

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  6. #5

    Default Re: Again with the picks

    Quote Originally Posted by FredK View Post
    All of the mentions above are good advice. Every player has a preference and the best way to find that preference is to play using a lot of different picks. Shape, thickness and material of the pick factors into the equation. If you haven't already, check out the thread and get on the list for the Travelling Pick Sampler. It's an inexpensive way of trying out a load of picks back-to-back to find out what suits your taste. Happy picking!
    I second the Taveling Pick Sampler. Was in the same spot you were a year ago. Got the sampler and then got a CT55. Before that I thought $35 for a pick was insane but once I tried one I was a convert. Also look at JTís picks (also in the sampler). Happy picking

  7. #6
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
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    Default Re: Again with the picks

    Well … yeah you really do need a thicker pick to drive the dual courses of short strings a mandolin uses. The thicker / heavier those strings are the thicker the pick needed. And the looser the wrist and grip on that pick. As stated above a pick is a personal preference and they cost from a few cents to a goodly chunk of money for a piece of material easily lost. I prefer a large rounded triangle shape. Wegan, Primetone, Tortex, Blue Chip are some brands worth experimenting with. Enjoy the search. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  8. #7
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Again with the picks

    Quote Originally Posted by UsuallyPickin View Post
    The thicker / heavier those strings are the thicker the pick needed.
    Correct.

    Which is why the short scale/lightly strung European style instruments I favor work well with a stiff .73mm pick. (pointed of course!)

    The Gibson scaled and heavier strung instruments need another approach. The bigger thicker picks work better for those mandolins.

    I find it interesting that the longer scale instruments typically use thicker strings, making a lot higher string tension than Italian mandolins.

  9. #8
    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: Again with the picks

    I came to mandolin from guitar too.
    I find guitar picks to not be optimal for mandolin.
    I play very heavy guitar picks (3mm big stubby)

    I find the best mandolin picks to be the larger triangle shape, with a speed bevel.
    1.5mm seems to work best for thickness on my mandolin.
    That is a good thickness to get a nice string tone from a Mando.

    As for brands, I currently use a Blue Chip CT55, but I also like Wegen TR150 picks.
    I had to try a bunch before i got to what I like.
    I suggest buying a Blue Chip CT55 as a starting point, and then try whatever picks you come across.
    A pack of Wegens are not that expensive, so grab a pack of those too.
    Mandolins: Northfield 5-Bar Artist Model "Old Dog", J Bovier F5 Special, Gibson A-00 (1940)
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  11. #9
    Registered User Chris Bowsman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Again with the picks

    When I started mandolin, I went through 25 years worth of collected guitar picks and hated them all. After spending a few years with the picks described above (Wegen, BC, Primetone, etc...), I can use anything. Even the thin single point guitar picks, like a yellow .73mm Tortex is fine if I flip it and use one of the rounded corners.

    The only thing I really dislike is a thick pick without a right-hand bevel.

  12. #10
    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Again with the picks

    Picks can be pretty cheap. It might be worth finding a music store that sells individual picks and buy a handful to see what you like.

    I like the Dunlop Primetone picks with the molded grip. They let you hold the pick without a very tight grip. This makes for more flowing,relaxed playing. Mine are 1.4mm
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  14. #11
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    Default Re: Again with the picks

    It also depends on your style of playing what kind of pick suits you. I prefer a thinner pointed pick, and can't stand Golden Gate picks, but some people love Golden Gates. Due to the difference in how people play, and the sound they prefer from their mandolins, I would agree with the posters who recommend the traveling pick sampler, you can give lots of picks a try, then sent it on. The thread is under General Mandolin Discussions.

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  16. #12
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Again with the picks

    Quote Originally Posted by LadysSolo View Post
    It also depends on your style of playing what kind of pick suits you. I prefer a thinner pointed pick, and can't stand Golden Gate picks, but some people love Golden Gates. Due to the difference in how people play, and the sound they prefer from their mandolins, I would agree with the posters who recommend the traveling pick sampler, you can give lots of picks a try, then sent it on. The thread is under General Mandolin Discussions.
    Well put...it really depends on style, personal technical ability, and what you think is a good tone.

    " I prefer a thinner pointed pick" - well, as long as the material is very stiff, I'm with you, but as I say, I am a remnant of the Neapolitan mandolin tradition, where all the pick options were pointed, app. .75 to 1-ish mm and made of the now rightfully banned material.

    but can we say tortex...very good...ultex...better!

    Remember the click test?

  17. #13
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Again with the picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Busman View Post


    I like the Dunlop Primetone picks with the molded grip. They let you hold the pick without a very tight grip. This makes for more flowing,relaxed playing. Mine are 1.4mm
    Sorry I forgot, thanks for making the point. Primetones are very fine picks at reasonable prices. Dunlop seems to have a good R and D dept.

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