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Thread: Round picks

  1. #1
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Round picks

    I would like to know why, by all appearances, classical mandolin players never use round picks. Perhaps many do and I have just not observed it. Thank you in advance for your observations.
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  2. #2
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round picks

    From what I have seen, heavy round picks give a deeper sound, are prized by bluegrassers for example, and many others. And at that not every bluegrasser in fact, because while the Dawg picks have their fans, many prefer other picks that are more pointed.

    Classical mandolinners, to my experience, prize the brilliant scintillating high notes that a pointed, lighter pick delivers. I was not always keenly aware of this, but my forays into classical music have shown me this over and over to be true, and this has become my preference, with classical, for a while.

    I use a Pick Boy, 0.75 mandolin pick like these:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Indulge responsibly!

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Round picks

    +1 for Dawgs and their scentillating notes. . .

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  6. #4
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round picks

    Classical players vary in their choice of picks. It is true that some prefer thinner and pointier picks but there is not universal pick just as there is not one kind of mandolin that classical players prefer. When I first met Carlo Aonzo he used John Pearse jazz picks and for some time that is what I used. These days I like BC large jazz 35 which is still relatively thin and that it generally what I use to play my Lyon & Healy with Thomastik flatwounds as well as my bowlbacks usually with Dogal Calace roundwound strings.

    The German school of classical players pretty much stick with Thomastiks on their larger bowlbacks but often use a small pointed pick made of rubbery plastic (see below). Their goal is to get a mellow tone with minimum pick noise.

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    Jim

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  8. #5

    Default Re: Round picks

    The German school of classical players pretty much stick with Thomastiks on their larger bowlbacks but often use a small pointed pick made of rubbery plastic (see below). Their goal is to get a mellow tone with minimum pick noise.
    Thanks Jim! The pick shown in the picture is called "Wolle". The music store Trekel offered their variation on the Wolle pick, the Trekel pick.
    Since I got one, I use it exclusively, even on my non-bowlbacks. You can see one at 1:34 of my little video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrBiajwfwyk
    Alas, Trekel closed for good. Looks like, if I lose the Trekel pick, I've got to go back to the Wolle, which seems a little less elegant...

  9. #6

    Default Re: Round picks

    Maybe a pick made from the tread of an SUV summer tire?
    Or the soles of an old pair of walking boots?
    Will get back to you with the results.
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    Default Re: Round picks

    "Alas, Trekel closed for good ..."

    The bricks and mortar store in Hamburg, Germany, closed. But not Trekel, the music publishing company, and my understanding is in addition to Trekel publications, will continue to offer the Trekel picks: https://www.trekel-musikverlag.de/Zu...dola_6471.html
    Robert A. Margo

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  12. #8
    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round picks

    I'm no pro but I use rounded edge picks or the back,rounded part of a pointed pick for all the styles I play. And I play, or try to play, all styles of music. And I'm sure I may struggle with some speed and dexterity issues, but tone is most important to me.

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  14. #9
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round picks

    Why?

    Clarity of tone, precision, better tremolo, etc.

    Signed, user of sharp picks

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  16. #10
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankdolin View Post
    I'm no pro but I use rounded edge picks or the back,rounded part of a pointed pick for all the styles I play. And I play, or try to play, all styles of music. And I'm sure I may struggle with some speed and dexterity issues, but tone is most important to me.
    Exactly - but unlike you I do NOT like the tone of a round pick gliding over strings - I like the tone of a pick actually plucking the string.

    Then again I do not own archtop Gibson-style mandolins, but European/Italian style instruments.

  17. #11
    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round picks

    When I first started my plectrum journey, though I liked their articulation capabilities, I was very clumsy with pointed picks, getting them easily hung up in the strings, so I opted for rounder ones. I came to prefer more of a point as my technique got more focused and I was flailing less. Nowadays, I couldn't play a passage cleanly with a round pick if I tried.

    Everything keeps changing. Actually, I've been on a lengthy quest to not hear any pick noise at all. That's almost impossible unless you use a pick that's made from a substance that has the unfortunate side effect of slowing you down, or else using your fingers. So I've been spending a lot of time on the "dark side" of nylon strung instruments, learning to pick with my fingers (not fingernails, the fleshy tips), and it's very gratifying. Now I'm trying to do that on mandola. I'm able to do more than I thought possible a few years ago, but need to build up thicker right finger calluses! I think I won't be able to altogether abandon picks, though. I only wish!

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  19. #12

    Default Re: Round picks

    Happy to see good old friends on this thread...

    Noise under the ear isn't necessarily noise in the audience. Bratsche and I are fellow bowed-string players by profession and have lived forever and a day with all the natural friction noises caused by rosined up, sticky horsehair rubbing against metal strings. None of that "hiss" goes out over the stage; it's effectively a non-issue.

    I recall an amusing experience I once had with an excellent jazz bassist, who asked me if he could try out my bass and my bow. I handed him the instrument, he put the bow on the string, played for a split second, then recoiled in horror. "How do you live with all that )#*$#*#$!!! noise?" he gasped as he handed it all back.

    Habituation and conditioning take the sting out of such things, IMHO. And even when an extraneous, non-musical component does remain in the musical tone, that's OK, too. Think of the chiff of a pipe organ, the enunciation of this magnificent instrument. "Chiff-less", electronic organs are all the poorer for the lack of it.

    Cheers,

    Victor
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  21. #13
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round picks

    BTW, I was at a sewing shop w/ my wife and found a couple of lovely round buttons that seem to work well as picks, at least as well as a round pick can work for me.

    Price?

    a nickel each.

  22. #14
    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round picks

    Quote Originally Posted by vkioulaphides View Post
    Happy to see good old friends on this thread...

    Noise under the ear isn't necessarily noise in the audience. Bratsche and I are fellow bowed-string players by profession and have lived forever and a day with all the natural friction noises caused by rosined up, sticky horsehair rubbing against metal strings. None of that "hiss" goes out over the stage; it's effectively a non-issue.

    I recall an amusing experience I once had with an excellent jazz bassist, who asked me if he could try out my bass and my bow. I handed him the instrument, he put the bow on the string, played for a split second, then recoiled in horror. "How do you live with all that )#*$#*#$!!! noise?" he gasped as he handed it all back.

    Habituation and conditioning take the sting out of such things, IMHO. And even when an extraneous, non-musical component does remain in the musical tone, that's OK, too. Think of the chiff of a pipe organ, the enunciation of this magnificent instrument. "Chiff-less", electronic organs are all the poorer for the lack of it.

    Cheers,

    Victor
    Hi Victor, good to "see" you, too! Good points - real music (versus synthetic) includes its many integral extraneous sounds, and each of us has our personal tolerance/annoyance thresholds. The only time I've ever used sticky bass rosin was back when my bow would get so slick from being past-due for rehairing, but I was too busy to get it taken care of! It was often a short-term lifesaver then. LOL

    In general, though, any negligible viola bow noise (even with a mic, and monitor pointed at me) is nothing near as annoying to me as audible pick noise is! I do want to keep my mandola audience happy, too, and since it usually just consists of myself, well, you know...

    bratsche
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  23. #15

    Default Re: Round picks

    I'm another pointy-plectrum dude, specifically favoring the Neapolitan variety. Cheers, all, reunion of sorts.

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  25. #16
    Registered User Classicalcomp's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round picks

    I'm a classical player, and I actually prefer heavier, rounder picks, but then again, I actually prefer the fuller, rounder sound to the tinny, shrill sound. Truly to each their own.
    (I was) my own teacher and pupil, and thanks to the efforts
    of both, they were not discontented with each other. -- Segovia

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  26. #17
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Classicalcomp View Post
    I'm a classical player, and I actually prefer heavier, rounder picks, but then again, I actually prefer the fuller, rounder sound to the tinny, shrill sound. Truly to each their own.
    What mandolins have a "tinny, shrill sound" when played properly with a Neapolitan pick?

  27. #18
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Classicalcomp View Post
    I'm a classical player, and I actually prefer heavier, rounder picks, but then again, I actually prefer the fuller, rounder sound to the tinny, shrill sound. Truly to each their own.
    Hi Classicalcomp -
    What round pick do you prefer to use and do you have more trouble using it on the E string? Thank you.
    Tim
    2014 Phoenix Neoclassical Euro III
    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A #1674

  28. #19
    Registered User Classicalcomp's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Logan View Post
    Hi Classicalcomp -
    What round pick do you prefer to use and do you have more trouble using it on the E string? Thank you.
    Tim
    My favorite pick is the big city and tf-140 pick by Wegen picks. The big city is Like a more rounded teardrop jazz pick, I have no issues with it at all on any string,.
    https://www.wegenpicks.com/images/bigcitypicks.jpg
    (I was) my own teacher and pupil, and thanks to the efforts
    of both, they were not discontented with each other. -- Segovia

    Lawrence Smart Stern 2-point Mandolin
    Lawrence Smart Stern 2-point Mandola
    Weber Gallatin Mandocello
    Weber Gallatin Soprano (Piccolo) Mandolin
    Breedlove Prototype Mandolin

  29. #20
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Classicalcomp View Post
    My favorite pick is the big city and tf-140 pick by Wegen picks. The big city is Like a more rounded teardrop jazz pick, I have no issues with it at all on any string,.
    https://www.wegenpicks.com/images/bigcitypicks.jpg
    Coincidently the Wegen TF140 pick has become my favorite as well. I think of it as a pointed pick though. I am experimenting with a Wegen M150 pick which I think of as round. I very much like some of the sounds it helps produce but I do have troubles when I use it. Thank you for your comments!
    2014 Phoenix Neoclassical Euro III
    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A #1674

  30. #21
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round picks

    I use a narrow plectrum because I don't want the slapping noise that comes from a wide plectrum. I want as much of the energy as possible from the plectrum to go into moving the string. This becomes even more important to me when playing quietly as the extraneous noise becomes more noticeable then. It's something I hear a lot on recordings by some mandolin players and can undermine an otherwise engaging performance.
    Eoin



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