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Thread: Holding the pick

  1. #1

    Default Holding the pick

    So I have been learning on my own and I took a lesson today. The first thing he did was change the way I hold the pick. It is super uncomfortable to me. I have been holding it with the tips of my fingers. What is the reason behind holding it a certain way? I feel like I am starting over.

  2. #2
    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: Holding the pick

    What you are doing is starting right, before the bad habit gets too solidified.
    Learn to do it correctly.
    You wont regret it.

    It sucks to have to unlearn something after years of doing it that way.
    Much better to get it out of the way, and just do it right.

    The correct hold on the pick lets your hand be relaxed, and you get the best possible tone out of the mandolin. Plus you will be more accurate as you get more advanced.
    Holding the pick with the ends of the fingers is a weak method. You don't get the wight of the hand behind the pick, and you end up just plinking the strings with your fingers. The mandolin pick hand should work as a unit. More power, better tone.
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    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Holding the pick

    I would entertain the thought that not all teachers, players, encourage the same pick hold. German classical players, for instance, are very likely to have a different approach than American bluegrass players.

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    Default Re: Holding the pick

    Assuming that your teacher changed you to a Mike Compton power grip or a Chris Thile style grip (both pretty similar, actually), then I’d stick with the new grip. It is like starting over, but will ultimately improve your speed, power, and tone, and the accuracy will come with muscle memory.

    Of course, everyone is different, so you must take into account what works for you, but a “bad habit” hold will most likely eventually hamper your progression, whereas the new hold will be tough to get used to for a couple of weeks, but will bear fruit as you progress...

  6. #5

    Default Re: Holding the pick

    Thanks

  7. #6
    mando-evangelist August Watters's Avatar
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    Default Re: Holding the pick

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Logan View Post
    I would entertain the thought that not all teachers, players, encourage the same pick hold. German classical players, for instance, are very likely to have a different approach than American bluegrass players.
    Yes. I find it more helpful to think in terms of traditions and schools of thought. The "standard" (in the west) grip with the bent index finger is not universal by any means. I use the "standard" grip too, but when I get a student who is already comfortable with the pencil grip approach, we usually have a conversation about musical goals and interests, and whether it's desirable to switch. For sure it's a lot of work to start over again, but (for some) it's worth doing if it's in line with the way you want to play the mandolin.

    My process was sort of backwards from the OP's. Coming from the bluegrass world, I played an F5 and used the "standard" grip like the players I saw around me. But as I got more interested in other kinds of mandolins, and other ways of playing them, I had to decide whether it was time to relearn with the "pencil grip." I didn't switch, but I view this as a personal decision you have to make based on the type of instrument and music that interests you the most.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Holding the pick

    Quote Originally Posted by zdub View Post
    So I have been learning on my own and I took a lesson today. The first thing he did was change the way I hold the pick. It is super uncomfortable to me. I have been holding it with the tips of my fingers. What is the reason behind holding it a certain way? I feel like I am starting over.
    I don't know the pick hold that has been recommended to you. The one I use is very similar and often identical to Mike Marshall's in his famous video. Or Chris Thile's famous video.

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    Default Re: Holding the pick

    IMO - starting out at slower deliberate speeds it appears to not matter what pick grip you chose. But..

    When your speed picks up you'll hit a wall if your upstroke isn't supported or if your finger tips are doing most of the heavy lifting. By then the offending grip is mighty hard to change. For me playing rhythm was harder to do with the tucked index and kept me from adopting it sooner. Wasted time

  12. #9

    Default Re: Holding the pick

    Here is a very interesting view on PICK and PICKING by Danilo Brito make sure you have closed captions on, it's in Portuguese by a master of Choro.
    Rob

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Holding the pick

    Quote Originally Posted by RobH View Post
    Here is a very interesting view on PICK and PICKING by Danilo Brito make sure you have closed captions on, it's in Portuguese by a master of Choro.
    Rob
    That's a very similar pick grip to the way I was taught...and we use almost the same picks, too!

    For those who are not playing with thick round picks and a tight bent finger grip, this video shows a very viable option.

  15. #11
    mando-evangelist August Watters's Avatar
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    Default Re: Holding the pick

    Quote Originally Posted by RobH View Post
    Here is a very interesting view on PICK and PICKING by Danilo Brito
    Rob
    Very interesting, thanks. This three-finger grip also looks a lot like that used by some of the Israeli players, such as Jacob Reuven.

    We can dissect how this or that player holds the pick, but I think it's even more helpful to consider the various technical traditions of the instrument. What is "standard" in one part of the world might be an outlier elsewhere. Sometimes a standard is determined by the "folk process," where it evolves through the approach of many players. Other times, it's defined by influential teachers -- such as Ugo Orlandi in Italy, or Gertrud Troester in Germany, both of whom have developed very specific technical approaches (including pick grips different than what most of us consider "standard" here in the USA).

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    Registered User Jairo Ramos Parra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Holding the pick

    As a teenager I learned to play the Colombian Andean bandola, which is a local version of the Spanish bandurria, with 16 strings. My teacher for many years was a very old man and he taught me to hold the pick in the same way that I see Daniel Brito is using. It is the same one that I continue to use with the mandolin, I have not been able to learn what in the United States is called "the standard forms".

    I suppose that since Portugal and Spain share many traditions, the way my teacher taught me comes from the same tradition of using the plectrum.

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