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Thread: Pick Noise, pointy vs rounded, etc.

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    Default Pick Noise, pointy vs rounded, etc.

    There's lots of discussion about pick noise here, most seem to dislike it. However is there only one aspect to 'pick noise'? I find some picks give a flat papery click, and I don't like that much. However, others (mostly pointy ones for me, 1.3-2mm) ) produce a percussive 'pt' noise which I suspect might add the the presence of the pick stroke and make it more audible - a plus to the sound? I find some shapes of Ultex picks do that, and on top seem to produce a more open sound that brings out woody tones.

    As a beginner trying to work up my tremelo, it feels like rounded tip and pointy picks work in different ways for tremelo. The pointy pick feels like it grips the string and requires less movement to have the string release, whereas to me rounded ones seem to require more motion and effort for fast strokes, like they're sliding off the string rather than gripping it. Any views?

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    Default Re: Pick Noise, pointy vs rounded, etc.

    Your post made me reevaluate some of my picks for tremolo.
    I liked the sound of the snappy .6 Bullpick and preferred it but rounded it, because I couldn't get consistent tremolo with the pointy pick.

    After reading your thoughts about movement, I tried my 1.0 teflon/PTFE picks from Colin Ayres, I found that they needed less movement, så could be moved faster.

    They will be my preferred tremolo picks from now on. I also like them as they give off less pick noise. If you move them up and down the string for testing, they are almost silent, compared to other pickmaterial.

    I do bevel them though by playing a nailfile.

    Thank You for the heads up :-)
    Last edited by poul hansen; May-23-2021 at 7:44am.
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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick Noise, pointy vs rounded, etc.

    I'm very intrigued by the idea of a teflon pick. I did a quick search online, and only found one, on Reverb, from Canada. Is this what you have?

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    Default Re: Pick Noise, pointy vs rounded, etc.

    I'm not collecting, not collecting, not........OUMM.....
    Kentucky KM-805
    Hora: M1086 Portuguese II; M1088 Mandola; M1087 Octave
    Richmond RMA-110-VS
    Noname (German?) mandolin; Taropatch all solid Acacia
    Mandoline Pochette Franz Janisch; Unknown Pocket Mandolin
    Mandolinetto Neapolitane
    Johs Møller 1945;
    Marma Seashell back; Unknown old Mandolin Banjo
    Crafton(in the car)

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    Default Re: Pick Noise, pointy vs rounded, etc.

    If you want to glide thru the strings while doing a tremolo, angle your pick. The more you angle the quieter you are, even with more force. Learning tremolo most folks need more force and angling the pick allows a smoother attack and easier thru the strings.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: Pick Noise, pointy vs rounded, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    As a beginner trying to work up my tremelo, it feels like rounded tip and pointy picks work in different ways for tremelo. The pointy pick feels like it grips the string and requires less movement to have the string release, whereas to me rounded ones seem to require more motion and effort for fast strokes, like they're sliding off the string rather than gripping it. Any views?
    The rounded picks don't seem to "pluck" the string as much as a pointed one. I prefer the feel of plucking the string. Also the smaller pointed tip allows for more precision and control over the pick, at least for me.

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    Default Re: Pick Noise, pointy vs rounded, etc.

    Regarding the flat-slap sound, that's mostly controlled by the pick holding angle. Very subtle angle changes can make a huge difference in both tone and volume. A little experimentation with the pick holding angle can provide a lot of free education.
    -- Don

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    Default Re: Pick Noise, pointy vs rounded, etc.

    I’ve found that it’s not simply down to the pick but also the instrument, the gauge and age of the strings, your personal technique and the sound you want to produce. I have a selection of instruments and have only been playing mandolin for 50 years so what do I know!

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    Default Re: Pick Noise, pointy vs rounded, etc.

    I've just started experimenting with rounder picks, about two weeks ago. What I read is that the rounder picks let you hear more of the note/instrument where the pointier ones let you hear more pick. That feels true to my experience. I'm not sure if this is because I read it first or not.

    Thursday was my first rehearsal with a quality instrument and a rounded Wegen and the tremelo was super-pleasing to me.
    YMMV.

    Both the Wegen M150 and the Primetone Semi-Round Smooth 1.5mm are working very well, right now
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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pick Noise, pointy vs rounded, etc.

    I started out using the pointed end of a Jim Dunlop .96mm Delrin 500 when I first started playing, but soon switched to using the shoulder end of it instead, for me I found it facilitated playing triplets much easier using the rounded end.
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    Default Re: Pick Noise, pointy vs rounded, etc.

    ^^YES^^

    Worth mentioning, if you have a pointier pick and want to experience the feel and tone of a rounder pick, you can always turn the pick over and hold it by the point.
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
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  21. #12

    Default Re: Pick Noise, pointy vs rounded, etc.

    When I first ventured into Blue Chip picks, I order a couple with the 1-R option so I have the rounded corner as an option. I found the sound so muted that I never really adapted to using the round tip. Granted, most of my playing is jigs and reels and I find that the sharper point with a speed bevel really works well for that, triplets included. I know a player really loves the Grisman tone and finds the Dawg pick to work perfectly for him, he gets that nice fat, full tone. I just have a harder time getting the control I like with a rounder tip, especially at speed.

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    Default Re: Pick Noise, pointy vs rounded, etc.

    I started with the CT-55 and have slowly gotten rounder and rounder. Now I'm using the E shape from Apollo Picks (similar to the SR from BC).
    I also like the new rounded Clown Barf ones from Golden Gate.
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    Default Re: Pick Noise, pointy vs rounded, etc.

    Pick noise should be recognised as the result of an excited sound board loosing its energy. The motion of a pick thru a string not only exites the string, it also excites the pick and both loose this excitement by radiation of sound or local heating. If I was smart enough I would figure out a way to subtract the spectrum of the pick noise from spectrum of string to get the pure sound of the mandolin string. Luckily the pick noise dies out faster than the string sound so that at slow tempos we get a purer string sound, but when the picking gets really fast, the signal to noise ratio decreases. At least that how I think about it.
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    Default Re: Pick Noise, pointy vs rounded, etc.

    Thanks for lots of interesting discussion on round vs. pointy picks. A second question, though is whether pick noise is not just a natural part of mandolin sound. Guitarists have comparable discussions about recording 'seagulls' - finger squeaks when they shift position.

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    Default Re: Pick Noise, pointy vs rounded, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    Thanks for lots of interesting discussion on round vs. pointy picks. A second question, though is whether pick noise is not just a natural part of mandolin sound. Guitarists have comparable discussions about recording 'seagulls' - finger squeaks when they shift position.
    It is, if you want it to be. When I first asked advice here on buying a good mandolin, the first/wisest questions were about what I wanted it to sound like.
    I have an assortment of picks and do switch, depending on what I want to increase/reduce.
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  30. #17

    Default Re: Pick Noise, pointy vs rounded, etc.

    Beyond tip shape, I find both material and weight affect pick noise and tone. To me, it's more noticeable on guitar than mandolin, but heavier picks tend to be quieter in terms of noise and stronger on the fundamental. I was struggling with with low note clarity on a rosewood dread (imagine that!) and was amazed at the difference between a CT-55 and a TAD 50. Who'd have thought 0.005" difference in thickness would make such a difference?

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