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Thread: Pick Noise

  1. #1

    Unhappy Pick Noise

    Pardon me if this is completely obvious. I've been having a blast muddling along with my mandolin the past couple months, but one thing I haven't been able to shake is this annoying, loud 'click' the pick makes sometimes, especially on the thicker G and D strings. All the advice I've been able to find is 'hold the pick more loosely' which I'm not sure is possible since it's already just shy of slipping out of my hand, and 'make sure you're holding it parallel to the strings,' which I think I'm doing but I suppose I can't be certain of without a camcorder.

    As an aside, I can reduce or even eliminate this noise by actually tightening my grip on the pick, but I'm reluctant to do that since it goes against all the prevailing wisdom. Is it even remotely possible that I'm gripping the pick too loosely?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandowan View Post
    Pardon me if this is completely obvious. I've been having a blast muddling along with my mandolin the past couple months, but one thing I haven't been able to shake is this annoying, loud 'click' the pick makes sometimes, especially on the thicker G and D strings. All the advice I've been able to find is 'hold the pick more loosely' which I'm not sure is possible since it's already just shy of slipping out of my hand, and 'make sure you're holding it parallel to the strings,' which I think I'm doing but I suppose I can't be certain of without a camcorder.

    As an aside, I can reduce or even eliminate this noise by actually tightening my grip on the pick, but I'm reluctant to do that since it goes against all the prevailing wisdom. Is it even remotely possible that I'm gripping the pick too loosely?

    Thanks.
    I'm a bit confused. I've usually heard the term "pick click" used to describe the sound of the pick hitting the fretboard, which has nothing to do with how loosely you hold the pick. Could it be that you're digging a bit deeper on the G & D strings, causing you to hit the fretboard with your pick?

  3. #3
    Registered User Doug Hoople's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    Pick click comes in two forms: 1) the sound of the pick striking the string at the moment the note is sounded, and 2) the sound of the pick making contact with the string in advance of actually sounding the note.

    2) is completely unnecessary, and can be eliminated with attention and good right-hand exercise.

    1) can be diminished by changing the angle of attack, but it can't be eliminated altogether. If you get your stroke right, the click will be fairly faint and almost completely subordinated to the sound of the string sounding the note.
    Doug Hoople
    Adult-onset Instrumentalist (or was that addled-onset?)

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    Registered User Mike Snyder's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    The pick touching the string will make a "chirp" sound. It's worse with some picks than others. We assume that "click" is as mandolirious describes in post #2. What pick, what strings, what mandolin are you using? Angle of attack influences this pick noise, too, so you might have a pal observe your pick angle. I had a short infatuation, recently, with a very fat pick that was terribly noisy, but gave me a tone I liked. Pick options are wide and varied, and easy to read via the search function on the cafe. Tell us about your instrument, strings, pick, and what music you are playing. More experienced players than I may have suggestions.
    Mike Snyder

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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    You're already holding the pick loosely, which is good. Vary the angle of attack, I use a slight front-end angle down to the floor. John McGann suggests drawing tone by 'delivering the pick to the string'. Somewhat oblique, but what I think this means is don't bang the string, but rather finesse/coax good tone by a gentle yet firm pick stroke. (John, corn slap me if I got all that wrong!)

  6. #6
    mgwhitehead Martin Whitehead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    The only time I've experienced pick click is when I'm picking too close to the fretboard extension and hit my pick on it. But that seems rather obvious and I'll bet that's not your problem. One solution is to wear earplugs when you play so you can't hear anything!
    Martin
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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    Try other picks. I've tried picks that were unacceptable due to the sound of the pick against the strings.

  8. #8
    mgwhitehead Martin Whitehead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    Or just try a different finger. Sometimes if it's way up there I can dig it out with my pinky finger. It works best if you haven't trimed your nails for a few days. . . . oh, I just reread the subject. It's pick N-O-I-S-E.

    (Sorry I couldn't resist that.)
    Martin
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    jbmando RIP HK Jim Broyles's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    Since you say the noise is reduced by holding the pick more tightly, my guess is that you are slapping the strings with the pick. The could mean too much pick is sticking out or you are indeed holding it too loosely. You need a firm grip, but loose hand/finger/wrist muscles. The other possibility is that your pick is too thin, or made of a hard material which clicks before the note sounds. Ivory, bone and hard acrylic picks such as the Big Stubby do this for me. The Dunlop 207 and 208 do it too, for me. Try a celluloid or Ultex pick and see if it still happens.
    "I thought I knew a lot about music. Then you start digging and the deeper you go, the more there is."~John Mellencamp

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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    Agree with simply trying different picks and adjusting your approach as starters. If you're hearing click from the fretboard extension, then a modification may be in order (ie, have someone experienced amputate that sucker). I tend to get more pick noise with thin but stiff picks (thinking Tortex .79s, which I don't use anymore b/c they're just too thin for me as I've grown as a player). It's probably impossible to completely alleviate (except for the amputation scenario above), but almost certainly modifiable.

    I've found that I didn't mind pick noise until I got my Flatiron 1-N, which doesn't have an extension. Two things have happened...first, I think I've reduced my click on my other mandos as I've adjusted my pick depth some. Secondly, the click I do get is now driving me nuts!! There may be surgery in my Kentucky's future!!
    Chuck

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    Registered User 300win's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    Blue-Chip pick = no pick 'chirp or noise', scooped fingerboard extension or no fingerboard extension = no 'pick click'. Simple as that.
    ' There is no substitute for PRACTICE"
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  13. #12

    Default Re: Pick Noise

    I think a lot of people have this issue when they first start on the mando, especially if they've come from a guitar playing background. I know I did, and I've seen it mentioned a number of times on the Cafe by newly converted guitar players. This kind of pick click is mostly absent from guitar playing and drove me nuts when I first started. Try different picks. The Blue Chip seems to make less noise for me. The small black Wegens were pretty good too. Mainly though, I think it's a matter of practice and getting your mandolin picking technique down. I hardly notice it any more except when I'm pressing to play something I don't have down yet, which seems to indicate it's at least partially related to technique. Either that or I've just gotten used to it over time. Just keep playing.

  14. #13
    Registered User Doug Hoople's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanN View Post
    You're already holding the pick loosely, which is good. Vary the angle of attack, I use a slight front-end angle down to the floor. John McGann suggests drawing tone by 'delivering the pick to the string'. Somewhat oblique, but what I think this means is don't bang the string, but rather finesse/coax good tone by a gentle yet firm pick stroke. (John, corn slap me if I got all that wrong!)
    There's a fine line here, actually.

    If you finesse it too closely, you might actually contact the string prior to the actual striking of the note, and that sets up a pure pick noise completely independent of the note. It will drive you absolutely nuts.

    I make sure I keep the pick far enough away from the string to avoid contact until the time for sounding.
    Doug Hoople
    Adult-onset Instrumentalist (or was that addled-onset?)

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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    Yah, I guess it's a very just-there thing by now, I hardly think about it. All I know is when I picked Thile's Dude one time, I banged the G string, ham-fisted hack that I am
    His action is so low and his attack so perfect, my neanderthal approach just buzzed the heck out of it.

    Another important aspect is pick follow-through. Gotta have it.

  16. #15
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    Quote Originally Posted by 300win View Post
    Blue-Chip pick = no pick 'chirp or noise', scooped fingerboard extension or no fingerboard extension = no 'pick click'. Simple as that.
    There is truth to that.
    Indulge responsibly!

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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    Mandowan...I promise you that one way to stop "pick click" is to use a nylon pick...I make my own and I make them round and there isn`t any points to hit the fret board either...Nylon stock can be bought at a lot of places in different thickness`s...I like a round pick because the way I play they tend to turn in my fingers so I never have to worry about playing on the flat side of the pick, the nylon also maks a soft mellow sound....Good luck....Willie

  18. #17
    Registered User Doug Hoople's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie View Post
    Mandowan...I promise you that one way to stop "pick click" is to use a nylon pick...I make my own and I make them round and there isn`t any points to hit the fret board either.
    Let me try a counter-suggestion.

    Find the noisiest pick you can find. Try then to minimize pick noise through your technique. Once you've done that, then you should look for a pick that gives you the sound you want.

    You shouldn't be selecting a pick to compensate for a problem in your technique.
    Doug Hoople
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    Registered User Mike Snyder's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    I've got extra fat V picks. I'll send you one if you want to hear a chirpy pick. Great tone, bad chirp.
    Mike Snyder

  21. #19

    Smile Re: Pick Noise

    Wow, lots of great feedback. Yeah, I play about a half inch below the end of the fret board, so I really think this is the inexcusable chirp/click described as type 2 by Doug Hoople. 'Slapping' seems like a plausible explanation, knowing me.

    I didn't give a lot of thought to pick selection, the mandolin is my first stringed instrument after a youth misspent on piano, bells, and percussion. I basically randomly threw in the golden gate 'dawg style' pick with my order from themandolinstore.com. I'll definitely look at other picks in addition to working on my right hand, but Doug makes a good point about not using hardware to fix a software problem (sorry, tech nerd). Worst case, I do have some ear plugs. I could even put on my headphones and listen to a good player while I practice.

    Thanks for the tips, this forum is indispensable!

  22. #20
    jbmando RIP HK Jim Broyles's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    Well, that pick is celluloid so you should not get any chirp, and it's round enough not to clack. My verdict - too loose or too much pick sticking out.
    "I thought I knew a lot about music. Then you start digging and the deeper you go, the more there is."~John Mellencamp

    "Theory only seems like rocket science when you don't know it. Once you understand it, it's more like plumbing!"~John McGann

    "IT'S T-R-E-M-O-L-O, dangit!!"~Me

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    Registered User 300win's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandowan View Post
    Wow, lots of great feedback. Yeah, I play about a half inch below the end of the fret board, so I really think this is the inexcusable chirp/click described as type 2 by Doug Hoople. 'Slapping' seems like a plausible explanation, knowing me.

    I didn't give a lot of thought to pick selection, the mandolin is my first stringed instrument after a youth misspent on piano, bells, and percussion. I basically randomly threw in the golden gate 'dawg style' pick with my order from themandolinstore.com. I'll definitely look at other picks in addition to working on my right hand, but Doug makes a good point about not using hardware to fix a software problem (sorry, tech nerd). Worst case, I do have some ear plugs. I could even put on my headphones and listen to a good player while I practice.

    Thanks for the tips, this forum is indispensable!
    I've got to ask you. even though you added 'grin', how is listening to someone else play when you practise going to benefit you ? Since you are already a musician you know that only one thing is going to help in your endeavor to learn, hard work, but learning to play an instrument is the most fun hard work that I know of. Since you are just beginning, I suggest you don't get too bogged down in all the tech. stuff just yet. If you do it might not be as much fun as you are wanting it to be.
    ' There is no substitute for PRACTICE"
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    Different Text eadg145's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    I strongly suspect angle of attack is a major influence on the annoying sound being described. I say this because even with the same strings and the same picks, one of the mandolins I play (but have trouble with holding) makes a tremendous pick noise even though my others do not. The only difference here is the way I'm holding the mandolin, which translates to the angle of attack of the pick.
    Think globally, bike locally.

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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Whitehead View Post
    Or just try a different finger. Sometimes if it's way up there I can dig it out with my pinky finger. It works best if you haven't trimed your nails for a few days. . . . oh, I just reread the subject. It's pick N-O-I-S-E.

    (Sorry I couldn't resist that.)
    I don't know whether to feel cheated or superior after I struggled valiantly and resisted the temptation...

  26. #24
    Mandolicious fishtownmike's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    Maybe you need a thicker gauge pick? You didn't say what gauge your using. Holding pick to loose can cause this sound too. Sometimes i use this technique when i desire a certain effect.

  27. #25
    Henry Lawton hank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick Noise

    I've notice even great players in their training tapes make pick noise. You hear yours and others up close(like in the training tapes) but usually not from a distance. The volume of the pick noise isn't loud enough to be heard with a little distance from the picker. Yes it can be reduced with technique and pick material but I always hear it to some degree if I'm close enough and there isn't other louder noise(other instruments) to drown it out. YMMV but that's my opinion and I'm pickin to it.

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