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Thread: Getting used to a thicker pick?

  1. #1

    Default Getting used to a thicker pick?

    I've been playing for a couple months now, and I started out using some thin (.76mm) guitar picks that I picked up when I bought my mandolin. After reading around a little, at one point I tried a 1mm tortex pick, but found it too dull to play with and went back to my old ones.

    This week I started with a new teacher, and at the end of the lesson he sent me off with a Golden Gate to use, and I've been trying to get used to it since, but having some difficulty. Much like when I tried the tortex pick, it feels dull. The thinner pick would always catch and spring off of the strings I guess, but a lot of the time the thicker pick seems to either graze over the top of the strings or catch too hard on the sides of them giving me a really muted tone, especially on the treble strings. Every now and then, though, I'll somehow manage to play just perfectly with it for a short song or two, occasionally a little bit longer, so I figure there's some hope.

    So right now I'm just trying to figure out how I can consistently replicate those perfect stretches. I'll be playing with it just fine, and then 10 seconds later I'll be convinced that it takes black magic to get the treble strings to actually ring out with the darned thing. Is this a common problem? Is there something simple that I'm missing, or is it just a matter of practicing more with it? At this point I've only been using it for three days, so I'm hoping I'll just get used to it the more I use it...

  2. #2

    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    Maybe look into dava picks. A mate showed them to me about 7 years ago and ive never looked back.

  3. #3
    Mano-a-Mando John McGann's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    The 'dullness' comes in contrast to this funny effect that thin picks have- the bright tone sounds kind of loud to the player, but the sound does not project, because the thin pick doesn't draw the low frequencies from the instrument very well.

    Think about a car with those big bass tubes in the trunk driving away from you- you hear the pounding way down the block. A thicker pick will help you project your tone in a similar fashion. It takes some right hand adjusting to get used to the feel of 'drawing the tone out', but hang in there, it's worth it!

  4. #4
    cyclo-mandolinist! OzMando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    I would have a think about your pick hold. The biggest thing I found when I changed to a thicker pick (and I was going from 0.6 mm guitar picks to ~2 mm) was that I didn't have to squeeze the pick as hard as I thought I did. I found that the flexibility was in my thinner pick was still there, it was just in my fingers instead of the pick now. In my opinion a thicker pick can be much more versatile once you get a handle on it. Stick with it, you'll get there. :D
    Play on friend, play on...

  5. #5
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    I suppose all picks have their pros & cons. I just don't like thick picks (1.5 mm +). When i play,i can't hear clearly what i'm playing.There's too much plastic between me & the strings.That i'm maybe 'not projecting' as John says above,doesn't mean anything,as i'm usually playing for myself anyway. I do however take his point. (be it a 'rounded' one or not !). That's another thing that effects the tone - the point (or lack of one) of the pick. I've found that very rounded picks simply slide over the strings with hardly any 'bite' to the sound,whereas 'pointy' picks have more 'bite' - for me,the way that i pick. Ultimately,it's down to personal taste again. I would say one thing,that if you're spending too much time thinking about getting used to a 'thick pick',use a thinner one & use your time getting your picking better - whatever you use,that's the main goal,
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    I agree with Mr. McGann, but will add that I have not grown to like the Golden Gate, either. I picked one up a couple of months ago just to try. I typically play with the Wegen TF140 or 120 (depending on whether mando, OM, or guitar), and I really like their feel and tone. I don't know if it's the lack of a point on the GG or what, but I now only use it as a "quiet practice pick." I can get tone out of it, but have to really work to get it, which is not the case with the other picks.

    For cheaper recommendations, try out Ultex 1.4mm, Pro-Plec's 1.5mm pick (think Jazzmando picks), and my transition pick between the .73 Tortex and the Wegens was a good ol' Fender Heavy, in both rounded triangle and standard teardrop shapes. The "Gator Grip" picks also tend to work well, though I find 1.5 mm is about as thick as I can go with those, and 1.14 mm may be a good thickness for you to try.

    Basically, I use the Wegens almost exclusively, unless I'm in a situation where pick loss could happen (thinking lake dock, primarily). I think they're worth the 5 dollar price tag, and I have a couple I've been using for over 2 years now.

    So, yes, I think it's worth it to use a thicker pick, but if you can't make the GG work for you try others...
    Chuck

  7. #7
    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    Don't feel bad. I've been playing for 35 years and haven't been able to get any real sound or tone from the Golden Gate Picks. They're almost completely round and many players have difficulty using them. You might want to try something that has more stiffness than a .76 thickness, but still gives some brightness. There are lots of high dollar picks that give remarkable results, but at this stage of your playing, I don't feel it necessary to go that direction. What I would recommend would be the D'Andrea Extra Heavy triangular pick. It's 1.21mm and is not too stiff, but gives a nice balance of volume, deeper tone and brightness. Plus they're cheap.
    Another good choice is the Dunlop Ultex 1.14. Similar tone and volume, slightly different feel (slightly better grip). Here's some links.

    Dunlop Ultex Rounded Triangle 1.14mm
    http://www.firstqualitymusic.com/p_D...ks-6-Pack.aspx

    D'Andrea Rounded Triangle 1.21mm Extra Heavy
    http://www.bigcitystring.com/pxcell.htm

    Hope this helps.
    Larry Hunsberger

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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    Give it time. I've been messing around with this thing for about 5 years now, and my pick choice has has traveled all over the map. Fender heavy, Dunlop Jazz, teardrops, big triangles, smaller triangles, pointed, worn point, shoulder, rounded, right bevel, left bevel, no bevel - they've all been tried over time, each one seemed to work well for a while. It's just an evolutionary process that we all go through to find what we like, what works for us. The important thing is to keep picking, keep working on technique, keep listening and seeing what you like. I can just about guarantee your preferences will change - probably a lot!

    For me, I've settled on a BC TP-1R 50 for a couple of years now. The stiffness, slickness, and rounded edge with a bevel really work for me. I occasionally end up accidentally playing with the pointier tip, and I look down to see what in the world happened to my mando!

    Picks are a fairly cheap and painless experiment. Go for it.
    Mitch Russell

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    Registered User Bill Baldridge's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    I second Dr. John's comment about projection. My own experience has been that when I started, and for a long time afterward, I played only in the open position. To my ear, in open position the thin picks sounded brighter and louder and the thicker picks sounded dull and softer. Once my ability moved me out of the first position, the thin picks sounded weak and thin, and a thicker pick gave me better tone, volume, and a heck of a better chop. PAS is thousands of times cheaper than MAS, so join most of us and acquire dozens of different picks then try to duplicate the sound of your favorite professional. Odds are high that you will need a thicker pick to move in that direction.

  10. #10
    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    Record yourself so you hear what John says, it does sound better.

    I find the biggest thing students have adjusting to a thicker pick is to not hold the pick to tight. You have to hold the pick tight on a thin pick or it won't cut through the strings. A thicker pick does that on its own.

    Sometimes it can also help to use a thicker pick with a bit more of a point. The Pro Plec picks (triangle shpaed) are good for this. Ted has them at www.jazzmando.com
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  11. #11
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    get used to the thicker pick.

    f-d
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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    I tried a bunch of thicker picks and kept going back to my thin pick until I tried the Jazzmando Pro Plecs that others have recommended in this thread. I got used to that one pretty quickly and really like it now. It really is worth working into a thicker pick. In my opinion the sound really is better. The Jazzmando pick is just right for me at this time. Try one, I think you might like it too.
    Purr more, hiss less.

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    Both the Dawg & Golden Gate picks kill the tone on my Mandolins.The rounded edges slide over the strings without 'pushing' them to give me any volume either.Just 'digging in' deeper doesn't help with clean picking. A fellow 'Cafe member gave me a 2mm Wegen pick several months ago,& while it's very much better (IMHO) than the GG or Dawg picks,the rounded edges still don't have the attack of the 1mm Wegens that i use. As for having to grip a thin pick harder,i certainly don't have to. It's possibly different for others,
    Ivan
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  14. #14

    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    I would think that it is mostly a matter of technique.

  15. #15
    cyclo-mandolinist! OzMando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    The thick pick I use on mando is usually an Jim Dunlop Ultex Jazz III which is quite small and has a lot of a point (which I file back and bevel a little) especially compared to the golden gates. Pick shape, and in particular tip shape is definitely a key factor in tone production. I'd get a whole heap of picks if I was you (if you have easy access) until you at least come up with a shape you like. The other ones I really like are the Jim Dunlop stubbies. They sound fantastic, but can be a little too small.
    Play on friend, play on...

  16. #16
    Registered User Janos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    The Dawg and Golden Gate picks don't work for me either, because they don't have a bevel. I wonder if players (and Mr. Grisman himself) work on a bevel themselfs before really using the pick. I like the BC CT55 with its rounded sides. The bevel seems just right for me. Before I was using Dunlops and after enough hours of playing they develop a bevel because of the angle of my pick against the strings.
    New mandolin / double bass cd out! Check www.janoskoolen.nl

  17. #17

    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    I've been a tortex medium guitar picker for decades. Used the same on mandolin for years too. Then I tried a 1.5 Wegen beveled mando pick and I really like it. Doesn't "catch" the strings like pointy picks can and seems to flow nicely across the strings. The Golden Gates / Triangle picks didn't have this same feel that I like. Kind of getting attached to the Wegen Bluegrass series guitar picks too.

    http://www.janetdavismusic.com/images/wegens_m.jpg
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    Registered User Rodney Riley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    Been playing around with the 3mm Gravity picks since 10th of January. Almost gave up on them since I have been using an M 10 R Anglepick for 11 years now. Was digging in too much because of how tight I held them. Now that I have loosened my grip because when the pick gets warm it just sticks to your fingers. Have been using the 3mm Edge XL only now for the past 3 weeks. I have noticed the chirp using it. But when using my Godin plugged in I don't hear it through the moniter. I play mostly chords and like the sound of the pointed pick. Took almost 2 months of playin to start enjoying the thicker picks.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    I agree with Janos. I can't play with a thick pick that is not beveled.

    I also agree with everyone who likes the tone of thicker picks.

  20. #20
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    I tried using the 2mm Wegen again yesterday. I must say that it doesn't 'sound' bad at all,but Oh boy !,the pick-click i get is terrible.That's something that i just doen't get with thin(er) picks.It's the sound of the pick hitting the string a micro-second 'before' it picks it - i'll pass on thick picks,
    Ivan
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  21. #21
    Mano-a-Mando John McGann's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    Ivan- have you tried angling the pick slightly? If you hit 'flat on', you'll get more click than if you push the thumb knuckle slightly forward, and 'glide' into the string. I use a 1.5mm Dunlop and don't have a problem with click...the edges are beveled (I use the rounded part rather than the tip) and it allows for a smooth glide.

    Ever since Russ Barenberg talked to me about treating the pick 'like a bow' and 'coaxing the string rather than slapping it', my tone improved a good bit...thanks, Russ!!!
    Last edited by John McGann; Mar-04-2012 at 8:30am.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    When I buy a new pick it hits the sand paper immediately. The thicker the pick the better for tone and volume. Might take some getting used to if accustomed to a thin pick. Using sand paper, file the point to obtain the desired results your looking for.

  23. #23
    mando-evangelist August Watters's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    There are different schools of thought on this topic, and different musical traditions where one or the other way of thinking might predominate. I prefer a pointy, medium pick (.76) and find that getting all the tone out of the instrument is mostly a matter of developing right-hand technique. For a more specific description of the medium-pick viewpoint, check out Simon Mayor's books.

    I remember when if you walked into a music store and asked for a mandolin pick, they'd give you something small, teardrop-shaped, and medium weight. That's the kind of pick you usually see in the old mandolin method books, unless they're the old classical-style picks which were much longer and designed to replace the quill. Somewhere along the line, pick manufacturers realized that lots of bluegrass players were using the rounded, blunt edge of guitar picks, and started making heavy, rounded-edge mandolin picks. Anyone remember seeing these more than, say, 25 years ago?

    Whichever way you go, the right hand will probably take some time to find the sound that's there. Enjoy the ride!

  24. #24
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    Hi John - I understand exactly what you mean,however,it's the very large edge bevel (radius) that defeats me.It 'glides' too much,rather than pushing. I'm almost past the string before i know it. I used to use the 1.4mm Wegen Bluegrass picks,but they seemed slightly 'dull' to me.I changed to the 1mm Wegen of the same type & they're fine. I have to say that in all this,i'm not discounting the fact that my 67 year old ears simply might need the 'added treble' that the thinner picks give me. As you'll know John,our hearing ability falls away big time as we get older.
    Years back when i really got into buiding my Hi-Fi system up,i had a LP record with 'sliding tones' on it. It had separate tracks that went from around 20 Khz down to around 40 Hz. Back in my late teens,i could hear up to 18Khz. These days i'm possibly down to hearing around 12-14 Khz,maybe even less,
    Ivan
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
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  25. #25
    Mano-a-Mando John McGann's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting used to a thicker pick?

    Yep, losing the high end of our hearing is one of the 'perks' of being an older male

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