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Thread: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

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    Default What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    Anyone ever hear what kind of pick he used...I don't think it was a blue chip or a wegen...maybe it was tortoise shell? Or whatever he could find?

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    Registered User evanreilly's Avatar
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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    He mostly used the large black triangular Gibson heavy picks, because he got them free from Gibson!!!!

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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    Aside from that, I've always heard that he would use anything available in a pinch. Natural shell would certainly have been a choice for him at that time. I don't recall ever hearing that he endorsed a pick.
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    mando-evangelist August Watters's Avatar
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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    We didn't have all the specialized picks back then! If you asked for a "mandolin pick" they'd sell you a medium-weight, teardrop-shaped pick, which is what you usually see in the old method books. Most of the bluegrass players I knew used used heavy guitar picks, and lots of us turned them sideways and used the corner.

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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    I've always suspected that the endless discussion about picks, strings, gauges, neck widths, tuners and other paraphernalia associated with mandolin playing is a relatively modern phenomenon. Go back more than 30 or 40 years and you simply used what you could get hold of.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    I've always suspected that the endless discussion about picks, strings, gauges, neck widths, tuners and other paraphernalia associated with mandolin playing is a relatively modern phenomenon.
    And isn't great. With all the new materials available today, and a larger than critical mass of musicians making a profitable market that encourages manufacturers to get into it. Also so much more communication. Information about new tricks and techniques and tips and materials is much easier to find. We are living in a golden age in many ways.

    Go back more than 30 or 40 years and you simply used what you could get hold of.
    Which in some cases wasn't much. I remember getting a "mandoin pick" from a music store. It was a small little thing with cork glued to one side. I used it because it was supposedly for the mandolin, the only thing I found in those days that was "for the mandolin". I don' remember liking it much.

    I remember subscribing to the Mandolin World News and some other publications way back some 30 something years ago and reading every issue every word every letter. I felt like a secret agent, privy to information not available to the public. I learned a lot. Looking back over those issues, Mandolin World News was a slow motion version of this forum. A community of mandolin players, communicating at the speed of the post office and type setter and copy machine.

    The person with a casual interest in mandolinning has a much better chance than ever before of getting into it and eventually undergoing all the life changes of the truly mando-obsessed.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    We have to be careful not to generalize from the specific. Bill may have use only what was at hand, but that doesn't mean that we would benefit from that philosophy. A more interesting question might be what would Bill use today, with all the readily available options out there.

    What ever Bill used, or would use, we have to use what is best for us.
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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    Quote Originally Posted by evanreilly View Post
    He mostly used the large black triangular Gibson heavy picks, because he got them free from Gibson!!!!
    Makes sense!
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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    Y'all remember the story: Somebody (may have been somebody 'round here)was hauling Mr. Monroe from an airport to a clinic/master class.
    While in transit, Mr. Monroe, found he had no pick. Between the two, they managed to find a pick down in between the seats of the car. Later at the clinic, one of the questions came, "What pick do you use?" To which Mr. Monroe offered up, "What pick? Why, this a one right here."

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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    I got to check out Bill's mandolin once, after a show near the end of his touring days... probably early to mid 90s. He got the mandolin out of the case and handed it to me with a pick stuck under the strings. I pulled the pick out, played a few chords and part of a tune or two, and it was some sort of common plastic pick, nothing special, didn't make enough impression on me to remember exactly what it was. I was more interested in the mandolin, it didn't occur to me to remember what kind of pick he was using!

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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    Quote Originally Posted by August Watters View Post
    We didn't have all the specialized picks back then! If you asked for a "mandolin pick" they'd sell you a medium-weight, teardrop-shaped pick, which is what you usually see in the old method books. Most of the bluegrass players I knew used used heavy guitar picks, and lots of us turned them sideways and used the corner.

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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    Quote Originally Posted by farmerjones View Post
    Y'all remember the story: Somebody (may have been somebody 'round here)was hauling Mr. Monroe from an airport to a clinic/master class.
    While in transit, Mr. Monroe, found he had no pick. Between the two, they managed to find a pick down in between the seats of the car. Later at the clinic, one of the questions came, "What pick do you use?" To which Mr. Monroe offered up, "What pick? Why, this a one right here."
    I was thinking of this story, as well, FJ. In the version I heard (or more likely read on this forum, or a book), the pick was also hot pink, or some other bright color, raising quite a few eyebrows at the time.

    Interesting to imagine what Mr. Monroe would think of all of our nitpicky obsessiveness:

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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    .

    I remember subscribing to the Mandolin World News and some other publications way back some 30 something years ago and reading every issue every word every letter. I felt like a secret agent, privy to information not available to the public. I learned a lot. Looking back over those issues, Mandolin World News was a slow motion version of this forum. A community of mandolin players, communicating at the speed of the post office and type setter and copy machine.
    You betcha, would jones for every issue, 4x per year. And with the way the subscriptions were handled and mailed, sometimes months would go by and no MWN. It was an obsession, that little pamphlet. The tunes, articles, drawings, info nuggets, ads, letters to the editor, the whole shebang.

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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    Message 4, this thread

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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    Great pun with the nitpicky, Marty. Intended?

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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanN View Post
    You betcha, would jones for every issue, 4x per year. And with the way the subscriptions were handled and mailed, sometimes months would go by and no MWN. It was an obsession, that little pamphlet. The tunes, articles, drawings, info nuggets, ads, letters to the editor, the whole shebang.
    I had just moved and did not yet know many people. I remember many times how my mood was lifted for weeks on end by the arrival of the lastest issue.

    My entire collection was water damaged. A year or so ago I was able to purchase the entire collection again, and they are still a joy, and bring back lots of memories.
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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    I figured he was probably using a guitar pick, a medium, like a .83 dunlop type of pick or thereabouts. The reason I say this is when I listen to his mandolin playing, it sometimes sounds like a thinner pick, he didn't have the throaty, deep tone that a thick pick seems to give. Or it could be the mandolin or recording quality. Either way his picking had alot of chordal strokes and double stops, along with single string picking. Alot of the modern players like Steffey seem to do much more individual noting, alot more complex left hand action than Monroe. Is it safe to say that Monroe was less complex in his playing than someone like Steffey or Thile?

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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Denny Gies View Post
    Great pun with the nitpicky, Marty. Intended?
    Umm, yeah, sure - I meant to do that!
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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Timmando View Post
    I figured he was probably using a guitar pick, a medium, like a .83 dunlop type of pick or thereabouts. The reason I say this is when I listen to his mandolin playing, it sometimes sounds like a thinner pick, he didn't have the throaty, deep tone that a thick pick seems to give. Or it could be the mandolin or recording quality. Either way his picking had alot of chordal strokes and double stops, along with single string picking. Alot of the modern players like Steffey seem to do much more individual noting, alot more complex left hand action than Monroe. Is it safe to say that Monroe was less complex in his playing than someone like Steffey or Thile?
    I dunno.

    Is it safe to say "more direct"?
    Or "cleaner"?


    I think it's safe to say Abraham Lincoln was a "less complex" orator than Edward Everett ....

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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim2723 View Post
    Aside from that, I've always heard that he would use anything available in a pinch.
    Well, dangit! That just leaves me with the sad reality that if I were to get ahold of Bill's pick, and his mandolin, and even his band, I would still sound like... me.

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    Registered User Jeff Budz's Avatar
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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    I heard he played with a CT55.

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    Smile Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    I heard that he once played with a quarter....

    ...


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    mando-evangelist August Watters's Avatar
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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Timmando View Post
    Alot of the modern players like Steffey seem to do much more individual noting, alot more complex left hand action than Monroe. Is it safe to say that Monroe was less complex in his playing than someone like Steffey or Thile?
    Apples and oranges. Without Monroe, we'd all be playing ukulele. or tenor banjo? But perhaps it's safe to say each generation builds on the achievements of the last, no?
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    mando-evangelist August Watters's Avatar
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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerry Cassidy View Post
    Hi August!

    Great to see you back on the Cafe again...
    Hi Gerry - great to be back! It's been three years, but I decided to come back about a month ago. Like everyone else, I've learned more here than almost anywhere else.
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    Default Re: What kind of pick did Bill Monroe use?

    He used the pick of destiny before Tenacious D rediscovered it.
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