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Thread: Another pick grip question

  1. #1

    Default Another pick grip question

    Lately Ive been re-working my right hand because Ive been noticing a lot of tension in my right hand that i think has to do with how im holding the pick. I think it mostly has to do with the fact that im using the tip of my index finger to support the pick (like mike marshall in pics 3 ) . After catching a glimpse of how sierra hull holds her pick (farther up the index finger between the first and second knuckle so that the index is pointed more towards her palm). I decided to give it a try and it seems to give me a little more support on upstrokes since the first knuckle is supporting the pick and there's less "bend" in my index finger if that makes sense. but i notice that the faster I play the more my index finger starts to straighten out again so that im holding the pick on the tip of my index finger and the playing gets choppy. probably something i need to get used to. Im just curious what other peoples views are on this and what others recommend. Seems some people play great with the pick on the tip of index finger (mike marshall, tristan scroggins etc). for me i think it creates tension .what do y'all think?
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  3. #2

    Default Re: Another pick grip question

    Start with a loose fist that is as relaxed as possible. Insert pick between thumb and index finger with a knuckle supporting the pick. Chris Thile explains in well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdhVC0DzfFY

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  5. #3

    Default Re: Another pick grip question

    I can't tell you what is right, but since we just covered this (not in depth or anything though) in another thread, there are some basic guidelines, that aren't necessarily going to be true for everyone.

    When the point of the index finger is parallel with (or points towards) the pick tip, and you tend to use the pads of thumb and index fingers, this is the classical style, and has been in use for a century or so. It gives a lighter touch, and more dexterity at the slight expense of power and volume.

    When the index finger is curled more, and the thumb faces the side of the index finger, this is the common closed-fist style used by many BG players today. It's main strength is power and endurance.

    Both styles are capable of any speeds you wish to train up to. And hybrids between the two are seen in many players.

    I prefer the classical grip myself, but I play classical music... :-)

    My favorite non-classical player is John Reischman, who is noted for his subtle expression. He can play solid powerful notes, and effortlessly intersperse them with softer lighter notes, and all of his playing uses very dark tonality (this is the sound I love). He holds the pick with a more open-fist style which I would expect, because that's what the more open-fisted style excels at.

    I you want to blast bluegrass and drown out banjos, then the closed fist (Sam Bush) style is gonna be your best friend. :-)

    At least that's my limited understanding of these things so far. :-)
    Trinity College TM325 Octave Mandolin (converted to 4-string tenor guitar).
    Eastman MD-605SB, MD-604SB, MD-305, all with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: QSC-K10, DBR-10, THR-10, Sony XB-20.

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  7. #4
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another pick grip question

    Quote Originally Posted by dbrown101 View Post
    After catching a glimpse of how sierra hull holds her pick (farther up the index finger between the first and second knuckle so that the index is pointed more towards her palm).
    ...Seems some people play great with the pick on the tip of index finger (mike marshall, tristan scroggins etc). for me i think it creates tension .what do y'all think?
    I'm not a BG player. https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/m.../45220-kurth83 makes excellent points.

    I have studied mandolin and guitar for years. The 2nd picture is the one I noticed.


    Try making the index finger and thumb find a place where they are in closer opposition. This varies from person to person, but it looks like your index finger and thumb are far enough apart to make it harder than it needs to be to do certain things. What your may see in Hull's grip is that the pick is centered in her fingers, more in the same place between thumb and 1st finger, in a way. She also lets a fair amount of RH thumb go past the pick.

    Think of the center line up from the tip of the pick as where both fingers need to be opposed, perhaps?

    If I'm intruding, please excuse me, and best of luck finding a good method for you.

  8. #5
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another pick grip question

    Isn't that Sierra in pictures 1 & 2 ?
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” ≠ “Accidentals”

  9. #6
    Registered User Brian560's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another pick grip question

    and what is the best way to hold a pick for Italian style tremolo ?

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  11. #7
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another pick grip question

    Quote Originally Posted by Philphool View Post
    Isn't that Sierra in pictures 1 & 2 ?
    I would't know that detail, being from another world of mandolin...nor how the player actually used the pick with the grip in any picture.

    If that is SH, then she controls the pick from the top end of the triangle where her fingers meet in 2 planes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian560 View Post
    and what is the best way to hold a pick for Italian style tremolo ?
    Remember they want to play with a range of dynamics, and a bright rich tone color, so they are not just playing for volume or only a "warm" tone.

    More specifically, when I research this, I get a wide range of what is considered a proper pick grip.

    What I would see is that the typical American player has a more fist-like tight grip and the Italian player would have a more "refined" grip in that the muscles in the web of the thumb and 1st finger can also be used to subtly change the pick angle, pressure/stiffness, etc.

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    From the Munier book; the hand position is not so much a closed fist as a loosely open, but still firm hand. It's not the same and the "dangling fingers" position, as it still can deliver power, but the tremolo can be played with a small motion of the fingers alone, of course with a bit of wrist, elbow and arm as nothing happens strictly alone in terms of your whole arm..

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  13. #8
    Registered User Ky Slim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another pick grip question

    Sierra has much smaller hands than Mike Marshall. I'm only throwing this in here because the comparison was made between the way these 2 professionals (masters) grip the pick. I do not mean to suggest right or wrong or change any of the advice already given. What works for one person may not work exactly the same for another person. thanks and good luck
    Last edited by Ky Slim; Jun-07-2019 at 9:48am.

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  15. #9

    Default Re: Another pick grip question

    Quote Originally Posted by Philphool View Post
    Isn't that Sierra in pictures 1 & 2 ?

    Yes that is sierra in pics 1 and 2 and mike marshall in pic 3

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  17. #10

    Default Re: Another pick grip question

    Thanks for the replies!. I feel like my natural tendency is to use the classical grip with my index almost parallel to with the point of the pick almost pointing to the top of the mandolin. The problem i feel like im having with this is my index (maybe because the joints are too flexible in that finger?) isnt providing enough support on the upstrokes and at higher speeds i begin to lose control making it sound really choppy and tense. thus, the reason for my researching other options. it seems i get a little bit more support with the "fist-like" grip sierra uses but my index slowly works its way back to its original position at higher speeds. probably soomething I need to practice until its ingrained. just curious as to what others thoughts/experiences are

  18. #11
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another pick grip question

    Quote Originally Posted by dbrown101 View Post
    Thanks for the replies!. I feel like my natural tendency is to use the classical grip with my index almost parallel to with the point of the pick almost pointing to the top of the mandolin. The problem i feel like im having with this is my index (maybe because the joints are too flexible in that finger?) isnt providing enough support on the upstrokes and at higher speeds i begin to lose control making it sound really choppy and tense. thus, the reason for my researching other options. it seems i get a little bit more support with the "fist-like" grip sierra uses but my index slowly works its way back to its original position at higher speeds. probably soomething I need to practice until its ingrained. just curious as to what others thoughts/experiences are
    There is a middle path where the fist-like grip only comes in when you play harder, and the more open grip when playing softer. There is a spectrum of degrees of "soft" and "hard" hand but most discussions about this only seem to address the extremes.
    It's possible to shift hand position for different effects; it's also good to know more than a single way to use the pick.

    I apologize for not instantly recognizing the current famous players' hands, but as you know I come from another world of mandolin than the BG/Americana players.

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  20. #12

    Default Re: Another pick grip question

    I use the classical grip, and don't notice upstroke problems unless the pick isn't vertical wrt the strings. We use a 45 degree angle in classical for some stuff, and if you forget to switch back things get unbalanced as you describe. So maybe check your pick angle.
    Trinity College TM325 Octave Mandolin (converted to 4-string tenor guitar).
    Eastman MD-605SB, MD-604SB, MD-305, all with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: QSC-K10, DBR-10, THR-10, Sony XB-20.

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  22. #13

    Default Re: Another pick grip question

    Thanks for the tip. I usually try to keep the pick angled as you describe but maybe as I’m speeding up I start straightening the pick out. I’ll give that some focus to see if that’s the issue.

  23. #14

    Default Re: Another pick grip question

    I think we are talking about two different kinds of angles... :-)

    Not sure how to do this in words. With the pick vertical to the strings, I can rotate the pick and attack at an angle, speed bevels help with this kind angled attack. I was not suggesting no angle here, I always play with an angle here, and increase it for tremolo.

    The kind of angle I am talking about is where the pick is not vertical to the strings, the 45 degree angle is used when dragging the pick across multiple strings in the same direction, like a controlled strum. If I don't get the pick vertical to the strings again, it will catch on the stroke in the opposing direction, which is what I was talking about. In my early practice with this technique I ended up leaving the pick in that position, and noticed the upstrokes were getting harder. If you are finding one pick direction harder than the other this was my first guess at what might be wrong.
    Trinity College TM325 Octave Mandolin (converted to 4-string tenor guitar).
    Eastman MD-605SB, MD-604SB, MD-305, all with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: QSC-K10, DBR-10, THR-10, Sony XB-20.

  24. #15

    Default Re: Another pick grip question

    Ah I see what you are saying. The angle you are talking about is whether the top of the pick(opposite of the point picking the strings) is pointed more towards the floor or towards the sky? I think I typically have it angled slightly towards the floor which would probably cause the problem I’m describing. I’ll definitely check it out.

  25. #16
    R-5, MT & A1 ('12. '13) lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another pick grip question

    Quote Originally Posted by kurth83 View Post
    I use the classical grip, and don't notice upstroke problems unless the pick isn't vertical wrt the strings. We use a 45 degree angle in classical for some stuff, and if you forget to switch back things get unbalanced as you describe. So maybe check your pick angle.
    I may be incorrect, but I think you want to contrast the pick when parallel to the strings vs. at a 45 degree angle to the strings? Please correct me if I am missing something.

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