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Thread: Slipping plectrum

  1. #1
    Registered User Dean Campbell's Avatar
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    Default Slipping plectrum

    I am nearly two months into my playing, and i think i am doing okay, but one part of my playing that i am struggling with is my plectrum, when i start to strum it moves about between my finger and thumb, if i grip it tighter then it doesnt seem to strum right, slacken off a little and its all over the place, is this something that will come with practise?
    I cant seem to find a happy medium here..

  2. #2
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    You might try one of the many picks that have some traction, either a rough spot, or holes, or cork.

    If those picks don't appeal to you, you might try Gorilla Snot. I have used it and it works.
    Indulge responsibly!

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  4. #3
    Registered User Dean Campbell's Avatar
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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    You might try one of the many picks that have some traction, either a rough spot, or holes, or cork.

    If those picks don't appeal to you, you might try Gorilla Snot. I have used it and it works.
    Thanks Jeff, i was actually thinking about roughing the surface up some way

  5. #4
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    Or put two or three small holes through it.
    Indulge responsibly!

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  7. #5
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    It's easy enough to sand or use holes for more friction, but I think it's worth noting that many of us play with smooth picks and have no trouble with slipping. The Blue Chip pick I use has a very smooth surface.

    With just 2 months of playing, you're probably just learning to find the sweet spot between gripping the pick too tight, or too loose. That comes with practice, lots of practice.

    An early Chris Thile instructional DVD includes a comment about how the pick can be thought of as like the tires on a car, with the strings being the road, and the fingers acting like a car's shock absorbers. You want to allow a tiny bit of movement between your fingers as the pick strikes each double course of strings, but not so loose that you risk dropping it. Somewhere in-between allows good tone and control, and it just takes a lot of practice to get comfortable with your pick grip.

    Roughing up the surface or drilling holes might help in the beginning, but really it's about finger control. Or else there wouldn't be so many players who use smooth-surface picks.

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  9. #6
    Registered User Dean Campbell's Avatar
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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    It's easy enough to sand or use holes for more friction, but I think it's worth noting that many of us play with smooth picks and have no trouble with slipping. The Blue Chip pick I use has a very smooth surface.

    With just 2 months of playing, you're probably just learning to find the sweet spot between gripping the pick too tight, or too loose. That comes with practice, lots of practice.

    An early Chris Thile instructional DVD includes a comment about how the pick can be thought of as like the tires on a car, with the strings being the road, and the fingers acting like a car's shock absorbers. You want to allow a tiny bit of movement between your fingers as the pick strikes each double course of strings, but not so loose that you risk dropping it. Somewhere in-between allows good tone and control, and it just takes a lot of practice to get comfortable with your pick grip.

    Roughing up the surface or drilling holes might help in the beginning, but really it's about finger control. Or else there wouldn't be so many players who use smooth-surface picks.
    Yeah, i hope it comes with time..
    i wouldnt mind too much at home, i can st
    I am on stage at an open mic next week, me and a cousing on guitar are doing a spot...i have the fear of god that i will drop the pick or it will move that far it becomes unplayable..

  10. #7
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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    I lick my fingers, as though to turn a book's pages. That does it.

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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    What foldedpath said.

    I'll just add that playing with a smooth pick allows you to seamlessly switch between picks, without thinking about or even relying on special modifications.

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  14. #9
    Registered User Dean Campbell's Avatar
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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    what size picks are you guys using, and do you use a lot? i seem to be going through 0.5 quite quick

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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    I use 1.5 mm, and I suspect you'll find that many here are in that range. I tend to favor more rounded than pointed. Others may prefer more pointed.

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  17. #11
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    Generally you get the hang of holding it but there are just days when your skin is too dry to hold any pick and for that reason I always have Gorilla Snot handy. You don't need very much.

    https://www.amazon.com/Gorilla-Snot-...gateway&sr=8-2
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  19. #12

    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    You might try just cleaning the pick with soap and water. The natural oils in skin (or hand lotion, if you use any) do tend to make the pick more slippery, if I don't do this every so often.

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  21. #13
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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    I like 1.4 mm larger triangle shaped picks. Blue Chip or Wegens for the most part. The advice above is all good...just keep at it, it’ll come. I can remember having the same issue when I first started as well. Also, try googling the Thile or Compton videos where they talk about pick grip...depending on how you’re holding them presently, they may change your life
    Chuck

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  23. #14
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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    Well …. this is a problem most all players have when they first start playing. A stated above you can roughen the pick surface with a bit of sandpaper or an emery board, glue some cork or sandpaper to the pick, drill some holes , buy some sticky product. All can add some grip tp your pick. A larger pick did help me. I use a large rounded triangle pointed corners with curved sides about 1.5 mm thick. Mostly though it is just practice... loose grip loose wrist and a lot of patience. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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  25. #15
    Registered User Dean Campbell's Avatar
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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    Thanks for all your posts guys, its all very much appreciated, it sounds like you all had this problem at one time..

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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    I've had a triangle pick slip and move from one point to the next while playing a break. Half way around it was a bit of bother and distraction

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  28. #17
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    The surface of Blue Chip picks is some material that makes it less slick than others, at least for me. I use a relatively small jazz pick with a point, but that's because of the kind of music i play. I use a smooth pick for the snake and I use a BC for my Eastman which has a bridge mike and I'm more apt to play it at a gig where my hands will suddenly be sweaty. It's managed to stay where it is in my fingers regardless of sweat, heat, fear or solo. My smooth pick will move around under those conditions and occasionally disappear into my fist!
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  29. #18
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    I have the same experience with Blue Chip picks, I can hang on to them with less effort, something about the surface texture. That translates into less tension, more speed and less fatigue.
    -Dave
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  30. #19
    Registered User Polecat's Avatar
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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    A drop of tincture of propolis on each side of the plectrum is what I use. When the alcohol has evaporated, it leaves the propolis, which is naturally sticky.
    "Give me a mandolin and I'll play you rock 'n' roll" (Keith Moon)

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  32. #20
    Registered User Dean Campbell's Avatar
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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    Quote Originally Posted by Polecat View Post
    A drop of tincture of propolis on each side of the plectrum is what I use. When the alcohol has evaporated, it leaves the propolis, which is naturally sticky.
    Thanks Polecat, i have just started to use something called Blu tack, and it seems to help me a lot, its a reusable putty-like pressure-sensitive adhesive produced by Bostik, it gives me quite a good grip on my plectrum, its a great help until i manage to be able to use the plectrum as it should be used, thanks for your input

  33. #21
    Registered User Cobalt's Avatar
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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    Like most people I've had this problem some of the time, especially when I first started. To some extent it may be an individual thing, each person's skin may differ in terms of natural moisture or oils, so there won't be a single solution for everyone. I do prefer a plectrum with some sort of textured grip, but even the smooth, potentially slippery ones I've learned to handle.

    Sometimes I'd find the thing rotating as I played, so I'd start with the point, go along the broad side and end up on a corner. But it's a matter of touch for me. If I hold it in a way which causes it to rotate say clockwise, there must be an adjustment I can make which causes it to rotate anticlockwise. Finding the balance point where things even out is a start, but the real heart of the matter is being able to detect and make small adjustments in the grip during use, without stopping what I'm playing. I can't explain the method, there's no magic, it's just a matter of touch and small changes in position of the fingers to counteract any unwanted motion, the same way that riding a bike one makes adjustments automatically without thinking about it, to remain upright.

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  35. #22

    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    I agree with all the little tricks brought up (especially licking your fingers and then drying them off on your pants to add a little "tack").

    One other thing I would say is that I find that if I am holding the pick so the top of the pick is pressing on my thumb, i have more control than if I am holding the middle of the pick so it can spin. I use a larger triangle... I've found this to be a good reference point and it prevents spinning most of the time.

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  37. #23
    Registered User Eric Hanson's Avatar
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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    +1 on the Gorilla Snot
    Especially in this super dry winter weather. My hands get so dry I have a hard time gripping much of anything.
    Eric Hanson
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  39. #24
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    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    I find that when I’ve got my index finger properly curled in my pick grip, the crease of the first joint on my index finger forms a little pocket or backstop that the back edge of the pick can rest against — not tightly, but just enough that the pick doesn’t rotate even with the lightest of grips.

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  41. #25

    Default Re: slipping plectrum

    Everyone goes through this. I don't think the solution is special equipment. The most common reason for this is gripping too tightly (I know - counterintuitive). Try to relax your grip (if you are squeezing) and make sure the attack angle of your pick isn't parallel to the strings.

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