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Thread: Help: How To Improve Picking Accuracy

  1. #1

    Question Help: How To Improve Picking Accuracy

    Iím experiencing an issue with picking accuracy that I would appreciate some advice on.

    Iíve been playing mandolin for a couple months and trying to pick cleanly is the main thing thatís holding me back. I often brush against adjacent strings, sometimes Iíll even pluck the wrong string entirely. Iím sure most players also experience this, but picking accuracy accounts for the vast majority of my mistakes.

    My main interest is Irish/Celtic tunes. Iím not taking lessons, but Iím trying my best to develop proper technique by soaking up resources like mandolin YouTube channels. Iíve been playing guitar for years before picking up the mandolin so the learning curve hasnít been too steep.

    I have experimented with pick sizes/thickness (currently Iíve settled on a larger Dunlop triangle pick thatís rather thin) and I have also tried various arm positions.

    I donít think Iím playing too fast. I have been using a metronome to slowly gain speed. I also donít think this is an issue with picking patterns. I have DUDU down solid, and Iím currently working on DUD DUD.

    If anyone has any suggestions it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

    PS I had a similar problem with guitar when using a pick. However it wasn't much of an issue because I usually liked to use my fingers instead.

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  3. #2
    Registered User Cobalt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help: How To Improve Picking Accuracy

    Quote Originally Posted by MandolinSnow View Post
    I often brush against adjacent strings, sometimes Iíll even pluck the wrong string entirely. Iím sure most players also experience this, but picking accuracy accounts for the vast majority of my mistakes.
    I think you just need practice. Repetition over and over of the correct movement. In that respect, it will take time.

    However, when I had that sort of problem, such as picking the wrong string, or brushing past it while picking the correct one, I arrived at a mitigating strategy. That is, play double-stops. I have a habit of fingering a harmonising note on the adjacent string, effectively holding down a chord, or part of a chord. That way, when I accidentally hit the wrong string, instead of a loud discordant note ringing out, instead I would be playing a loud harmonising note.

    How effective that strategy would be depends on the practicality, what sort of tune one is playing, the exact fingering involved, how fast it is and so on.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help: How To Improve Picking Accuracy

    I agree. It sounds like something that just requires practice.
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  7. #4
    Play on FredK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help: How To Improve Picking Accuracy

    I experienced the same problem when I started playing mandolin. Never really had that problem on guitar but, on the mandolin, you are dealing with a shorter fretboard and tighter spaces between string pairs. The advice I followed in the beginning was to play extremely slow where each note rings true. To me, it was painfully slow but it worked. And, it keeps you from making the same mistakes over and over to the point where it's hard to unlearn. Taking the time to get the basic mechanics absorbed in your mind and fingers pays off. Continued practice helped the muscle memory develop which allowed me to pick up speed and accuracy. After a while, it was no longer a problem and I went on to solving other problems with my playing. I anticipate that will take somewhat more than my lifetime, though. But, who cares? . . . The joy is in the playing. Keep on picking!
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  9. #5

    Default Re: Help: How To Improve Picking Accuracy

    Practice some open string exercises, first looking, and then not looking:
    (1 is the treble course, 4 is the bass course)

    4-3-2-1-2-3-4-3-2-1-2-3-4

    4-4-3-3-2-2-1-1-2-2-3-3-4-4 (both all down and down/up)

    4-2-3-1-4-2-3-1

    make up your own

  10. #6
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    Default Re: Help: How To Improve Picking Accuracy

    Practice.

    Especially, string crossing and string skipping. I find it helps to mute the strings with my palm then play whilst watching TV and just practice string crossing and skipping. Being able to do it whilst not paying much attention really makes it easier when you are paying attention.
    Just a dude with a mandolin.

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