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Thread: pointy vs round picks.

  1. #26
    Mano-a-Mando John McGann's Avatar
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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    The OP states that Pettine style picks give a "superior tone". That is a perfectly valid opinion, in that it is merely an opinion; one shared by many folks coming from the classical mandolin world. Many non-classical players would disagree heartily with this opinion.

    As far as tone production goes, the chain ABOVE the pick (hand, wrist, arm position, elbow, shoulder, heart, soul and brain) as well as below (instrument, string choice, setup etc.) has an awful lot to do with how the music is going to sound. The pick choice is important, but in many ways the least of the problem.

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  3. #27
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    pointy vs round picks?

    Why is it always either/or?

    Since you can obtain a somewhat different sound between pointy and rounded, (and between thick and thin), having both in hand seems to be (at least to me, anyway) the best option.

    That's why I use the big rounded trangular Fenders (xh). I leave one point as it is (XH pointed), I take a file and round off the second point (XH rounded), and the third point is left pointy but is thinned down with sandpaper to a medium thickness (M pointed). Now I have a three-in-one pick, my own personal plastic tone-knob which I can rotate in my hand to choose from a wider palette of sonic options. (I can also use some of my right hand fingers to pluck the strings)

    And as John McG aptly says above, the pick is only one aspect of tone production. (and don't also make the mistake of thinking that every one of those aspects devolves to a single either/or choice as well).
    NH

  4. #28
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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    Interesting thread - I can bore folks for hours on my pick selection!
    I use a rounded over triangle pick -used to be a turtle - on some jazz and ballads - a pointy tortoise shell for faster gypsy tunes... a small very thick bone pick for choros and intricate stuff. And for fiddle tunes, I've been favoring a solid silver pick I bought in Santa Fe - no kidding - it really articulates. This is all subject to change at a moment's notice.
    John, do let me know when they go into production on the pick extension- thingey.
    best, Will
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  5. #29

    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    I guess we can settle this with the answer to one question.
    What did Bill Monroe use?

  6. #30
    Mike Parks woodwizard's Avatar
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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    Sense we're going on opinions ... mine is to my ears that I get much better tone with a rounded pick. I use a TPR60 BC ... I get a bigger & fatter tone with rounded vs: the pointed picks which always sound too thin and tinty to me. I think one should use a pick whatever the shape that sounds good to their ears.
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  7. #31
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocrucian View Post
    Now I have a three-in-one pick, my own personal plastic tone-knob which I can rotate in my hand to choose from a wider palette of sonic options.

    That is great.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

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    funny....

  8. #32
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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    I'm with Niles

    I used to use the large 1.14mm Dunlop Ultex triangles. Then I had a lesson with Reishman at a festival, and he suggested rounding one of the points. I did that, used that pick exclusively for a long time (I managed not to lose it in 2 yrs.. amazing!). I liked the tone better, but for me it does take more effort to get volume with a rounded pick. Then I discovered the Fender Extra Heavy triangles at a music store. The points on those are less pronounced than on the Ultex pics. These Fenders are now my fav. Some of them I have rounded one of the points a bit more to give me some different options (for tremolos for instance).

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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    I use a Wegman MF-1.15. I LOVE it!!!! Seriously, pointy picks are honestly dificult for me to use anymore on a mandolin. Much easier to play tremolo with a rounded edge.

  10. #34
    Registered Pontificator Roger Kunkel's Avatar
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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    I recently picked up a Blue Chip that is triangular with two pointy and one rounded. Very handy. Apply the most effective point as needed.

  11. #35
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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    Quote Originally Posted by mandotopia View Post
    I guess we can settle this with the answer to one question.
    What did Bill Monroe use?
    Whatever he could get his hands on at the time

    Seriously, I really have no issue with you stepping on toes, as long as you're wearing boots big enough to do the stepping! We tend to get caught up in thinking these guys (insert famous mando player here) are perfect, and they're not...pretty darn close sometimes, but not perfect. In the remembering Monroe thread there are a couple of posts already suggesting that if you don't love his music, you just "don't get it." I do like his music, but there really are some who don't, simply because they don't, and that's OK. Same for Thile, Grisman, Bush, etc. If we all liked everything...well, as long as boy bands are around that won't be an issue...diversity is what keeps things interesting as long as folks don't get nasty about it.

    Niles, I'm laughing, but only because I've been close to doing the same thing and have just been too lazy (instead just carry a couple different picks)!! I'm imagining myself debating the merits of Dremel vs hand filing...

    Chuck

  12. #36
    Mano-a-Mando John McGann's Avatar
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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    Quote Originally Posted by mandotopia View Post
    I guess we can settle this with the answer to one question.
    What did Bill Monroe use?
    Good point (no pun intended)- he used whatever and always sounded great!

    Maybe he'd tell us all to "shut up and start playin'!"

  13. #37
    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Kunkel View Post
    I recently picked up a Blue Chip that is triangular with two pointy and one rounded. Very handy. Apply the most effective point as needed.
    That's the one I prefer as well. I think it is the 1R...comes in different weights, I have a 35 and a 40. Both are good, but I tend to prefer the 35.
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  14. #38
    Ben Beran Dfyngravity's Avatar
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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    When was Thile quoted saying he uses rounded picks? As far as I know he is using a triangle shaped Blue Chip pick. I think he has used a triangle pick for quite some time now. About 3 years ago I saw him and talked to him about his set up and various other topics, but he said then he was still using a triangle shaped pick which he showed me and it's what he had been using for a while. But I wouldn't consider his pick to be rounded at all.

    Anyways, to me it depends on your pick stroke. If you strike the strings at an angle and or pick softly, a pointed pick is probably your best bet. But if your pick does not hit the string with much of an angle and or you hit the strings fairly hard, you might benefit from a rounded pick. Music style like mentioned before also call for different picks too.

  15. #39
    Registered User Ken_P's Avatar
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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    I'm incredibly particular about the point of my picks, I can't have it go too much in either direction. I hate when it's too pointy, the tone just becomes shrill to my ears. Too round, and I loose too much brightness and I can't control it as well. I'm using the Blue Chip Chris Thile model (CT55), but I had to dull the points a bit to get the tone and feel I want out of it.

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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    D'Andrea PRO PLEC 1.5mm. but:

    "As far as tone production goes, the chain ABOVE the pick (hand, wrist, arm position, elbow, shoulder, heart, soul and brain) as well as below (instrument, string choice, setup etc.) has an awful lot to do with how the music is going to sound. The pick choice is important, but in many ways the least of the problem."

    What he said......very very least of my problem anyway. merci mr. McGann.

  17. #41
    Registered User 300win's Avatar
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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    pointy picks = pointy tone, no question, end of story.

  18. #42
    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    Quote Originally Posted by 300win View Post
    pointy picks = pointy tone, no question, end of story.
    Sir, some of us prefer to think of it as tone with a point, rather than pointy tone. For us, using a perfectly round pick is . . . pointless.

    Me, I like an every so slightly rounded point on a fairly fat pick. To my ear, and for my playing, that achieves the best compromise between a fat, warm tone and clear articulation. The big triangular Wegen TF 140s are just about pefect.

    I know Dawg gets fabulous tone with a round pick, but many other players--me included--tend to sound muddy and indistinct when using a round, pointless pick. Hurrah for those who succeed.
    Just one guy's opinion
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  19. #43

    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    Chris Thile and David Grisman were lacking in tone?? What Universe are you from?

  20. #44
    Mano-a-Mando John McGann's Avatar
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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrFantasy View Post
    Chris Thile and David Grisman were lacking in tone?? What Universe are you from?
    It would be great for the OP to tell us what players aren't lacking in tone, if Chris and Dawg are...

  21. #45
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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    OP stirred the pot than left the room.

  22. #46
    Registered User 300win's Avatar
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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Kotapish View Post
    Sir, some of us prefer to think of it as tone with a point, rather than pointy tone. For us, using a perfectly round pick is . . . pointless.

    Me, I like an every so slightly rounded point on a fairly fat pick. To my ear, and for my playing, that achieves the best compromise between a fat, warm tone and clear articulation. The big triangular Wegen TF 140s are just about pefect.

    I know Dawg gets fabulous tone with a round pick, but many other players--me included--tend to sound muddy and indistinct when using a round, pointless pick. Hurrah for those who succeed.
    What I was meaning by what I said, if you use a thin or thick extreme sharp pointed pick, the tone will suffer. I use a Blue Chip 50 that has " very much rounded" points, not a round pick. To me if you use a very sharp pointed pick the tone will sound shrill and tinny no matter how good a mandolin you have.

  23. #47

    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    Marylin Mair and Andy Statman are two players that come to mind that I believe generate exemplary tone from their instruments. Dave Appalon was an extremely clean player but recording technonogy at the time makes it difficult to have a serious opinion about his tone but I suspect his pick was on the pointy side. There are more obscure and unrecorded musicians who have admirable tone in my opinion. Dave Evans from the Baltimore Mandolin Orchestra is one of those. Norman Blake and company sounded great on the Underground Music from the Mysterious South album. If I were to guess, I would guess Blake uses a pointy guitar pick on that recording. Because this discussion has had so many posts I will reanswer a couple of questions. My source for Thile uses a round pick was an interview from the Summer 2008 issue of the Fretboard Journal. The cover Shows Thile with a white round pick in his hand.Grisman does the interview. I did not purchase the magazine or I would post the exact quote. At that time they both agreed and could not understand why anyone would use a pointy pick. Hence my response. Several people have since pointed out that Thile currently uses a pointy Blue Chip. So, Thile has come around to my point of view. Punny huh.

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  25. #48
    Mano-a-Mando John McGann's Avatar
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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    Andy doesn't use a pointy pick...and there's a big difference between a Pettine pick and a Blue Chip, there aren't within a mile of each other tonewise...

  26. #49
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    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    Quote Originally Posted by 300win View Post
    What I was meaning by what I said, if you use a thin or thick extreme sharp pointed pick, the tone will suffer. I use a Blue Chip 50 that has " very much rounded" points, not a round pick. To me if you use a very sharp pointed pick the tone will sound shrill and tinny no matter how good a mandolin you have.
    In your hands, perhaps so.
    Steve

  27. #50

    Default Re: pointy vs round picks.

    What does Andy Statman use? A Pettine is rather pointy, the one I use is similar to a Pettine but slightly larger and slightly less pointy but still more like a Pettine than any other pick. I am not saying the pointier the better. I am saying that if used properly, a pointy pick can do almost everything a round pick can do but a round pick cannot do almost everything a pointy pick can do. There are certain tonal extremes that only a round or pointy pick can achieve but for overall tonal versatility, a pointy pick is more versatile. If one wants to alleviate the shrillness associated with pointy picks then the the string must be plucked in such a way that the string vibrates more vertical to the top. Developing a good rest stroke facilitates this. Equally important is the pick cannot be held too tight. People tend to hold picks too tight and this makes pointy picks especially shrill sounding. The nice thing about the shape of the Pettine is that the non pointy end is narrower than most mando picks ( like a gibson heavy, or most of the Bluechips I saw on the web site) and it tucks nicely into the fold of the index finger allowing it to be held more loosely without dropping it. To really get good tone from a pointy pick (or any pick I assume) is to follow the advice of my late great teacher Herman von Bernewitz who said "You must caress the string rather than pick it". If the Blue chip material is as good as people say, than perhaps they will make a Pettine shaped version. I'm sure there is a market for it.

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