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Thread: Picks

  1. #26

    Default Re: Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    One why, for me, is that I changed my grip. All my life I'd used teardrop style picks on guitar, and I used a sort of three digit grip (Thumb, index & middle) kind of like a pencil grip. I changed to the more common thumb & index loose clamp style of grip, and the large triangles feel better to me now.
    That is very helpful, thank you! I do indeed use the "pencil grip" on my pick when playing guitar, but did not even realize it (or at least hadn't given it any thought). From the little footage I've found that actually has a good shot of the picking hand, It seems like guitarists are all over the place. Molly Tuttle seems to very definitively use the "loose clamp" type grip, Sean Watkins looks like he uses two fingers but in a "pointier" kind of grip. There are some instructional tapes of Doc, Tony Rice, and Norman Blake out there that probably have some good picking hand shots to look at, I'll have to look into those more.

    In any case, I tried to change my grip for guitar last night and it was maddening. Not to say I couldn't eventually, but I'd need to set aside some time off from gigging, etc to really rebuild from the ground up. Mandolin on the other hand, I might be catching myself early enough to just ingrain it now. I'll give it a try.



    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    I got to thinking the other day and I wonder if this "one pick" thing comes from guitar culture, where because the type of pick seems to make less difference, one chooses the personal favorite based on comfort and personal play-ability, and sticks with it to the point of putting that chosen type pick in the wallet.
    I actually notice quite a bit of difference between picks when I'm playing guitar, and I've heard other guitarists refer to pick selection as an acoustic guitar's "tone knob." When I did my big taste-test with about half a dozen BlueChip picks, there was noticeable impact to the attack and to my tone as I moved up in pick thickness. I ultimately settled on one pick for 90% of my playing because it started to feel like the equivalent of an overcrowded pedal board for an electric guitarist - too much brainpower tied up in worrying about the pick when I should just "shut up and play."

    That being said, my mandolin playing is still at the stage where I am happy to produce anything that sounds like a mandolin at all. You've definitely given me something good to think about/chew on as I progress. If I hear/feel that much difference with guitar picks, I suspect I will eventually notice even more of a difference with mandolin.

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  3. #27
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Gibcaster000 View Post
    In any case, I tried to change my grip for guitar last night and it was maddening. Not to say I couldn't eventually, but I'd need to set aside some time off from gigging, etc to really rebuild from the ground up. Mandolin on the other hand, I might be catching myself early enough to just ingrain it now. I'll give it a try.
    I can empathize there, changing ingrained technique is not so easy. You have to be willing to suck at it for a while.

    I faced the same conundrum (or at least, I had the same thoughts) when I tried this a couple years ago. Fortunately, I wasn't doing much heavy gigging at the time though, only playing out once a month or so. But I decided that I had to be willing to suck at playing again for a bit if I thought the change might help. That was a great decision on my part, I believe, and I learned from it. One of the things I learned is that it doesn't take long to make a change! Not for me, anyway. What it takes for me is desire, and a little practice. It helps to remember how you've generally sucked at all new things you want to learn musically, and how those things become like second nature if you stick with it. For me, that goes for everything from learning to fret a chord, play it cleanly, change chords on time, expand rhythm vocabulary, learn fingerpicking styles, pick up jazz chords, etc. etc. etc. Just remember back when you first started with anything ...

    Now I'm not advocating that you change your personal picking style, far from it. That's your deal to figure out. But I am certainly advocating that any musician should not be afraid to suck awhile - go backward in skill, as it were - in order to make new changes to technique or try new things. The surprise is that one day in just a very short while things click and you're set. You know, you've experienced this before! It turns out that I didn't have to worry about fumbling up a gig or anything.

    Also, like JeffD, I'm not married to a specific pick. I prefer the large triangles and they're all I use now, but I have currently in rotation a number of brands, different thicknesses, different materials, and different pointiness to the tips. Depends on my mood and the piece I'm playing as to the one I prefer in a moment.
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  5. #28

    Default Re: Picks

    PS - This past week I've been using a Dunlop Dawg (mellow) and a Dunlop 1.0 Big Stubby (snappy) a lot. So far, of all the flatpicks I've tried, I like them best. Comfortable, and the tips stay aimed at the strings.

    Still experimenting, though.

  6. #29

    Default Re: Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    . . . One why, for me, is that I changed my grip. All my life I'd used teardrop style picks on guitar, and I used a sort of three digit grip (Thumb, index & middle) kind of like a pencil grip. I changed to the more common thumb & index loose clamp style of grip, and the large triangles feel better to me now.
    Ugh! I've tried and tried, but I just cannot stop using the pencil-style guitar-player's grip and get used to the mandolin monkey-clutch.

    I'll give a big triangle another try, but, oh, man, mando pick grip seems to be beyond my—uh—grasp.

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  8. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    Ugh! I've tried and tried, but I just cannot stop using the pencil-style guitar-player's grip and get used to the mandolin monkey-clutch. .......
    Some very good players use the pencil grip. Brian Oberlin comes to mind as one.
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  10. #31
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Gibcaster000 View Post
    I actually notice quite a bit of difference between picks when I'm playing guitar, and I've heard other guitarists refer to pick selection as an acoustic guitar's "tone knob."
    I am surprised to hear you say it. I am open to the idea, but in my limited experience with guitar I haven't noticed it (while with mandolin the differences just pop out at me) and more importantly, I have not heard the discussion among guitar players. I have heard folks go on and on about guitar strings, or guitar woods, or top bracing, but not much, if at all, about pick choice, as it relates to tone.

    You may be right I will admit.

    Perhaps I just don't get around much in the much wider world of guitar.
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  12. #32

    Default Re: Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    Now I'm not advocating that you change your personal picking style, far from it. That's your deal to figure out. But I am certainly advocating that any musician should not be afraid to suck awhile - go backward in skill, as it were - in order to make new changes to technique or try new things. The surprise is that one day in just a very short while things click and you're set. You know, you've experienced this before! It turns out that I didn't have to worry about fumbling up a gig or anything.
    Wise words! And your observations about the learning/growth process (omitted from my quote just for brevity) certainly ring true with my experiences. I've continued to play around with variations of these grips on both guitar and mandolin. Not sure how to precisely describe it, but there are times when things "flow" with the clamp grip in a way that I can absolutely believe would be a benefit in the long run.

    I'm currently sucking at about as many things as my sanity/ego can safely handle - on guitar I'm in the midst of learning a new set of material, and it features some techniques that are solidly outside of my comfort zone and quite challenging to me; the group I'm playing mandolin with has 4 full sets of material, plus they want me to sing harmony (these are both quite new endeavors for me). But at the very least I'm going to keep this in the back of my mind to revisit in the future.

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    I am surprised to hear you say it. I am open to the idea, but in my limited experience with guitar I haven't noticed it (while with mandolin the differences just pop out at me) and more importantly, I have not heard the discussion among guitar players. I have heard folks go on and on about guitar strings, or guitar woods, or top bracing, but not much, if at all, about pick choice, as it relates to tone.
    I would not say that it has as much impact on tone as the build of the guitar (wood, bracing, body shape), and obviously the technique of the player trumps just about everything. But I would venture that many, if not most, serious guitarists choose their pick at least somewhat based on tone. It's certainly not as fun/sexy to talk about as guitar models, preamps, microphones, etc but your pick is still part of the signal chain between your brain and your audience's ears.

    I'm still a pretty blunt instrument (no pun intended) on mandolin, and most of my tone right now is probably the result of my own fumbling through learning something so new. But I recently tried a Dunlop 207 (a huge brick of a pick), and immediately noticed a biiiiiiiig change in my tone over the other picks I was playing around with. So it's entirely possible that this difference is more pronounced on mandolin than guitar. I could absolutely see that being the case.

  13. #33
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    Default Re: Picks

    My personal pick journey paused around 25 years ago when I bought several Golden Gate picks. I've been playing on those exclusively ever since, until acquiring a new mando recently. I've always liked the tone from the GGs, but the rounded corners, for me, are limiting in other ways. I found the volume lacking. Recently I dug out an old triangle shaped pick with more pointed corners. It's larger than the GGs, is probably plastic, but looks like tortoise shell. And I immediately liked the 'feel' of it, and the extra punch. But still preferred the sound of the GG. After hearing all about the BCs, I decided to try one (CT-55). The BC is almost exactly the same size as the triangle pick I recently found. But with the beveled edge, and slightly thicker it has both the play-ability and the tone I have been looking for.
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  14. #34

    Default Re: Picks

    Another update:

    I've been using one of these this week: Dunlop Delrin purple 2.0 mm

    . . . and am going to invest in a fistful. It's Goldilocks: not too bright, not to dull, just right.

  15. #35

    Default Re: Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Gibcaster000 View Post
    That is very helpful, thank you! I do indeed use the "pencil grip" on my pick when playing guitar, but did not even realize it (or at least hadn't given it any thought). From the little footage I've found that actually has a good shot of the picking hand, It seems like guitarists are all over the place. . . .
    Yes, indeed. Guitar players hold picks every which way.

    I never realized it until I got into a pick-holding discussion here a while back. It turns out a lot of folks here had never even heard of holding a pick like a pencil. But it's the way I was taught—and so were others.

    The mando pros here seemed fairly united on the monkey-clutch, which continues to confound me. A few even insisted that it's the only good way to pick a guitar, as well.

    As Thomas Jefferson so aptly put it: Whatever!

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  17. #36

    Default Re: Picks

    Quote Originally Posted by Gibcaster000 View Post
    . . . I actually notice quite a bit of difference between picks when I'm playing guitar, and I've heard other guitarists refer to pick selection as an acoustic guitar's "tone knob." . . .
    Hm! I've been playing guitar for over fifty years, and you're the first person I've heard mention that.

    It does make a difference on guitar, so it makes some sense. But the difference isn't nearly as dramatic as on mando. Guitar players I know seem to just use picks they think are comfortable. Tone might be affected, but comfort decides.

    I'll admit, though, that I don't talk to many jazz guitarists. In that rarified atmosphere, who knows what goes on!

  18. #37
    Registered User bradlaird's Avatar
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    Default Re: Picks

    Here is my 42 minute reply to this eternal question.
    http://www.bradleylaird.com/podcast/...how-notes.html

  19. #38
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Picks

    I think the way one holds the pick may also have impact on how much difference that particular pick makes in the tone of the mando. I mean, if you hold the pick way out, with fingers straight, in what I have heard called the ick-a-bug pick technique (holding a pick as one might hold a dead moth), I can see that the length of fingers and their flexibility can subtract a lot of of the energy coming from hand and arm and going to the pick. The more monkey-clutch (I love the name), the more of the arm energy goes through the pick, and the picks flexibilty, shape, angle, etc., would have more impact.

    That said, none of what I said is science, just an explanation I have heard and which kind of makes sense, at least fisherman's sense.
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