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Thread: Different picks for different instruments

  1. #1

    Default Different picks for different instruments

    As a 30 year guitar player, I've been using standard shape .88 picks which are on the heavy side. I just started playing mandolin and switched to large triangular Dunlop Tortex lighter picks at .60 and have noticed that the lighter picks on the mandolin are more comfortable.

    I'm wondering if I should try using the lighter picks on the guitar. I'm just afraid that if I do, I might have to get readjusted. If I keep using heavys on the guitar and lights on the mandolin, I'm also concerned that there would be some adjusting to do each time I switch back and forth on instruments. Or I could use the same pick on both instruments so that it eventually becomes a level playing field. I'm not sure.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Different picks for different instruments

    It's pretty hard for anyone to tell you what to do, since we all have different taste. I'm a fairly new mando player/long-time guitar player too, but I much prefer a thicker pick on the mandolin than I do on guitar. I like a .88 pick with guitar and a 1.14 or 1.4 on the mandolin.

    I haven't noticed the slightest difficulty going back and forth between different pick sizes on the two instruments.

  3. #3
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Different picks for different instruments

    My-husband-the-guitar-player switches picks on his guitar from time to time as the mood and the music require and i've never noticed much more than a moment or two to accustom himself to the new pick. But that's him -- ymmv. When he picks up my mandolin, he uses the pick i have in the strings and it hasn't made much of a difference, from what I can tell from the outside. It's a different instrument, the neck is different, the angle is different -- and the pick is different. It's like putting on dress shoes vs tennis shoes. There's a short adjustment, then you walk off. I don't know if using the same pick will make it easier for you to play or not, only you can tell that, but the mandolin is generally way more responsive to different picks than guitars are, just as they are more responsive to string sets than guitars. They are, after all, two different instruments so using what's appropriate to each doesn't seem too far a stretch. my 2 cents.
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  4. #4
    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Different picks for different instruments

    .88 picks for a mandolin are almost a med. considering some go between 1 -2 mm...for me though,a stiff .88 is perfect for both instruments...

  5. #5
    Registered User archerscreek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Different picks for different instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by The Big Loubowski View Post
    As a 30 year guitar player, I've been using standard shape .88 picks which are on the heavy side. I just started playing mandolin and switched to large triangular Dunlop Tortex lighter picks at .60 and have noticed that the lighter picks on the mandolin are more comfortable.

    I'm wondering if I should try using the lighter picks on the guitar. I'm just afraid that if I do, I might have to get readjusted. If I keep using heavys on the guitar and lights on the mandolin, I'm also concerned that there would be some adjusting to do each time I switch back and forth on instruments. Or I could use the same pick on both instruments so that it eventually becomes a level playing field. I'm not sure.
    Picks have a huge impact on sound, in my opinion. Different picks provided what I thought was the best sound on my guitars (1.5 Primetone) and mandolin (BC TP1R 60). I haven't had any issues going back and forth. I play each every day though.

  6. #6
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Different picks for different instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by The Big Loubowski View Post
    I'm wondering if I should try using the lighter picks on the guitar. I'm just afraid that if I do, I might have to get readjusted.
    AgentKooper writes, "It's pretty hard for anyone to tell you what to do, since we all have different taste." And he's right. But I can offer some advice from my own experience, 56 years or so on guitar and 5 or 6 short years in on mandolin, and the best advice I can offer you is don't be afraid of readjusting.

    Unless you feel that you are such an exceptional player on guitar that you can't grow by changing technique, then it is better to embrace changing things without fear. Even if you have to suck again for a time, changing technique can be a good thing. Not saying you have to change anything, just don't be afraid to.
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  7. #7
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Different picks for different instruments

    I played guitar with the same teardrop shaped, medium, nylon picks for over 40 years. One of the biggest advancements in my musical "career" (aside from simply picking up and getting serious about mandolin) has been to switch to large triangle, stiffer and heavier picks ... and readjusting my pickgrip! It wasn't easy. In fact it was very difficult for a few weeks trying to change ingrained habits. And I sucked for a while. But the benefits I gained were worth the effort in my opinion.

    I use the same picks on both instruments now. Not just one specific pick, but several I rotate for different sounds.
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  8. #8
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Different picks for different instruments

    Folk who've been playing stringed instruments for a long, long time can easily forget how difficult it was learning those first few chords in the beginning, getting the changes in time and playing cleanly. Can you remember? It was hard, it took time and practice, but voila! it just started working one day and really didn't take an eternity. It will be the same if you change old habits or learn new things starting today. You've got this.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
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  9. #9
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Different picks for different instruments

    Once I switched from Fender Heavy guitar picks to Primetone 1.5s or BlueChip 60s, I've never gone back, I use 1.5s or thicker on everything now. I think it helped my guitar playing.

    Try some different picks, the sound of a mandolin seems to be way more sensitive to the pick than guitars are, it's a cheap experiment.
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  10. #10
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Different picks for different instruments

    I think the mandolin responds much more to differences in picks than the guitar. I am primarily a mandolinner, but i do dabble in guitar. I have mandolin picks that do not work on the guitar, and many guitar picks that do not work on the mandolin. I have fewer types of guitar picks, only because I have found they don't make as much much difference, while I have several different kinds of mandolin picks for different mandolins, different genres of music, different venues, different types of play. The differences seem to matter more with the mandolin.

    The mandolin, being so small, responds more to small differences. I think.
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Different picks for different instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by The Big Loubowski View Post
    As a 30 year guitar player, I've been using standard shape .88 picks which are on the heavy side. I just started playing mandolin and switched to large triangular Dunlop Tortex lighter picks at .60 and have noticed that the lighter picks on the mandolin are more comfortable.

    I'm wondering if I should try using the lighter picks on the guitar. I'm just afraid that if I do, I might have to get readjusted. If I keep using heavys on the guitar and lights on the mandolin, I'm also concerned that there would be some adjusting to do each time I switch back and forth on instruments. Or I could use the same pick on both instruments so that it eventually becomes a level playing field. I'm not sure.
    I do occasionally use different picks for different songs !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

  12. #12

    Default Re: Different picks for different instruments

    This is the right place to ask that question!

    Yeah, try heavier picks.

    Like you, I'm a guitar player learning mando.

    I've found that:

    - very thick picks (like Dunlop's Grisman "Dawg" pick) are warmer than thinner (1 - 2 mm) picks. That's probably part of why some people use more than one.

    - How you hold it affects tone dramatically. Hitting the string flat on give you more treble, angling it softens the tone.

    - Holding it is the hardest part. Mando players mostly use a sort of monkey clutch that feels unnatural, even after several years of trying.

    A heavy guitar pick should do it for you, at least in the short run. But mando players are much more - uh - picky about their picks than guitar players are. And spend a lot more, too.

    So experiment.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Different picks for different instruments

    I tend to find that the shape of the pick has a noticeable effect on tone as well as thickness,material,grip angle.

    If you use a teardrop shaped pick do you use the pointy or more rounded edge?

    Pointier picks bring out a more distinct,sparklier tone for me. I use rounder shape picks for a Monroe fiddle tune and pointier for something like jazzy Dawg tunes.

    I agree with Mark Gunter about trying different grips etc. I changed my pick grip after about a decade of playing mando. It was awkward at first but find I now am more efficient/faster with my picking. And it takes less effort than before.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Different picks for different instruments

    I've been using Wegen 2.00 picks for 15 years now and nothing better for volume and tone. I've tried the Dawg etc etc. I use the same Wegen 2.00 for mandolin, tenor banjo and guitar. If I pick up a 1.4 in error, I know immediately.

    I'll never change. They are the best in humble opinion.
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  15. #15
    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Different picks for different instruments

    I’m a better guitarist than mandolinist and am a believer in keeping a lot of different picks around. For guitar, some songs need a lighter, more airy touch, so I’ll ease up and grab a thinner pick. Songs where I need to dig in and get every bit of sound from each note, I’ll grab a thicker one. And sometimes I’ll use a medium pick for every thing I’m playing. On mandolin, I’ll usually use a reg med guitar pick for every thing, but now and again the big “man hole cover” picks feel best. All said, get a nice collection and use them all, and abandon the idea that you should only choose one.
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Different picks for different instruments

    I used to use 0.7-0.88 picks on guitar and mandolin, but somewhere along the way got more comfortable with Fender Heavies on both. Then, one year for Christmas, my wife gave me some Wegen TF-140s, and I haven't gone back to the thinner picks since. I use the 140s or Bluechip CT-55 on mandolin. On guitar I use primarily BC TAD 40 or Wegen TF-120s, but will use the heavier picks without issue if they're what I have on hand (or on my keychain in a music store). I use BC TAD-50 on OM.

    I agree with Mark...don't be afraid to adjust. That said, there are plenty of folks around who play "medium whatever" for picks and strings on all their instruments and do way better than myself...
    Chuck

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