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Thread: Have y'all known this all along? (re: upstrokes)

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    Registered User hdismal's Avatar
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    Default Have y'all known this all along? (re: upstrokes)

    I am a mediocre player (at best) with a Washburn M118SWK. Working diligently (without a teacher) to try to improve right had tone production. Have made some progress, with the exception of the E string(s). Can not get tone comparable to that of the other strings. Weak, unclear, no resonance.

    Using GHS Pure Nickel strings in Medium Light (old hands) which come with 10.5 E strings. Switched up to 11s to see if it would make any difference. It did not. This instrument has been set-up twice in the last 3 years, both times by very reputable shops (Tennessee/Michigan). Neither Tech made any comment about problems encountered so my assumption is that this is not a structural issue.

    Which leaves technique. While scouring YouTube found “Everything You Wanted To Know About Mandolin...but were afraid to ask! Episode 1 - Clean it Up! ' by Andrew Collins wherein he talks about angle of attack (:50 - 1:50 min). I've always tried to keep the pick attack consistent on both down and up strokes. Mr Collins details a technique that calls for same, but by applying the front edge of the pick on the down stroke, and the back edge of the pick on the up. Have never heard of this before. Anyone care to comment on their success or failure with the application of this approach as regards tone production or improvement? Thank you. Fare well, h

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    Default Re: Have y'all known this all along? (re: upstrokes)

    Quote Originally Posted by hdismal View Post
    I...
    Which leaves technique. While scouring YouTube found “Everything You Wanted To Know About Mandolin...but were afraid to ask! Episode 1 - Clean it Up! ' by Andrew Collins wherein he talks about angle of attack (:50 - 1:50 min). I've always tried to keep the pick attack consistent on both down and up strokes. Mr Collins details a technique that calls for same, but by applying the front edge of the pick on the down stroke, and the back edge of the pick on the up. Have never heard of this before. Anyone care to comment on their success or failure with the application of this approach as regards tone production or improvement? ...
    Seems like that's what happens naturally if you're keeping a consistent, more or less, angle of the pick going through the strings in both directions. To hit the same side of the pick you'd have to rotate the pick from a down angle to an up angle.
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    Default Re: Have y'all known this all along? (re: upstrokes)

    Quote Originally Posted by hdismal View Post
    ... front edge of the pick on the down stroke, and [I][B]the back edge of the pick on the up ...
    Okay, I'll comment:

    Nobody "taught" me but, uhmm, I always assumed, without paying much attention, that that's just the way it works. At least, that's the way my picks started wearing down when playing in rock bands in the '60s, and ever since.

    If you dare venture into the current world of high-end picks, the whole topic of "right-hand bevel" vs left-hand can keep some folks going for months. But I've never heard any of them ask which is the top, bottom, front, or back of the pick: The edge that you use on an upstrioke is the same edge that, were it turned over, you'd be using on a downstroke. But then, I'm no expert on high-end picks, and get by pretty well with ProPlecs for mandolin.
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    Default Re: Have y'all known this all along? (re: upstrokes)

    I think Keith has it right, it's the natural thing that happens. Don't over think this stuff, it'll drive you crazy............I speak from experience......

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    harvester of clams Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Have y'all known this all along? (re: upstrokes)

    Quote Originally Posted by Denny Gies View Post
    I think Keith has it right, it's the natural thing that happens. Don't over think this stuff, it'll drive you crazy............I speak from experience......
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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Have y'all known this all along? (re: upstrokes)

    Agreed, this just comes naturally if you angle the pick a bit, as most of us do; it’s no big revelation.

    I would challenge a couple of your assumptions though:

    (1) You say this is not a structural issue, because the mandolin has been setup well by pros. Actually, a good setup does not mean that there are not “structural issues” … a good setup means that there are no “playability issues”. That is to say that an instrument can be made to be easily playable and well setup, even if it’s construction methods are not suited to high-end, upper-register clarity.

    (2) “Which leaves technique” - your second assumption is that the problem must be technique, and you are focusing on right hand pick attack.

    I own the sibling mandolin, the A model of that series, M116SWK

    I love my Washburn, because the feel of the neck is perfect for my preference. It is setup perfectly; I did my own setup to my preferences years ago. It has been a “faithful friend and companion” to me for the past 5 or 6 years. However the top, sides and back are Overbuilt IMO and so the clarity of tone is lacking a bit, especially in the upper registers!

    By overbuilt, I mean that they are too thick. They have not been graduated to the extent they might have been. I believe that this is probably more the source of your issues.

    Go and play a Collings mandolin, compare the difference in overall instrument weight, and clarity of the E string notes, and you will see what I mean.

    I consider my Washburn a keeper, but it is not my main player.
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    Default Re: Have y'all known this all along? (re: upstrokes)

    “ Can not get tone comparable to that of the other strings. Weak, unclear, no resonance.”
    I know you’ve had it set up, however, if you get clear notes on the A string, are no notes clear on the E? The only thing that makes sense to me is the the action needs to come up a bit. Sometimes before strings will buzz, they lose some clarity, distinction, and tone. As an experiment why not try raising the action some?

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    Default Re: Have y'all known this all along? (re: upstrokes)

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bellino View Post
    ... As an experiment why not try raising the action some?
    A quick, dirty, & cheap temporary fix:
    A paper shim under the string at the nut is often just enough to allow proper clearance at the first fret. If the "proof of concept" works, then you can proceed to a more proper fix.

    FWIW: Just finished working on a friend's guitar where the E-string slot was SO narrow & deep that I couldn't get a small enough piece of paper to stay in there through the tuning process, so I twisted several strands of thread together and laid that into the slot - success!
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  12. #9
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    Default Re: Have y'all known this all along? (re: upstrokes)

    "applying the front edge of the pick on the down stroke, and the back edge of the pick on the up"

    I make an effort to keep my pick horizontal and my neck as a 45 degree angle. So it kinds just happens for me automatically.

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