At what angle do you hold your pick?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by bluesman, Dec 7, 2004.

  1. bluesman

    bluesman Member

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    I'm probably not alone when I say that I need to work on my right hand technique.

    So I've got a 'back to the basics' question. At what angle do you have the pick when it makes contact with a string?

    I've been holding mine pretty flat related to the strings. Not very helpful when trying to increase speed. I've read that a 45 degree angle is optimal so before I go charge off and try to make this adjustment, what say all of you?
     
  2. BFC

    BFC Supporting Member

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    Your approach will change your sound so keep that in mind. I work on building up my technique and speed around the particular sound that I like and use other approaches for effect.
     
  3. somedude

    somedude Member

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    For normal playing, I use mine pretty flat...probably at about a 10deg angle.

    However, the faster I go, the more angle I add. Since I use a heavy pick (1.14mm and 3mm) it helps keep the pick from catching on the strings.
     
  4. Ben

    Ben Guest

    I hold my pick at about 20 degrees relative to the string and about 30 degrees normal to the body (inverting on up and down strokes). I use a very soft pick (Dunlop 0.46mm). The string sort of snaps over and slides around the tip at the same time. I grip down on the pick making it stiffer for lead and back off allowing the pick to bend more for rhythm.

    When I started playing Guitar I didn't know any better and just got into this habit. I have two problems with this. On lead riffs with more bass I get a scraping sound and thud from the pick. I have read this is from the soft pick. I tried a very stiff pick and got no better results. In playing lead the soft pick requires more range of motion before it snaps over the string. When the picking needs to be really fast I roll the pick away from the point for extra stiffness. I can't stand playing rhythm with a hard pick. It makes me have to use a very soft grip and the pick eventually flies out of my hand.

    An advantage to the soft pick is it doesn't scratch up you guitar like a hard pick will.

    I tried to eliminate 20 degrees to the string but it forces me to hold my guitar almost level making my left arm and neck uncomfortable. Perhaps I have a grip problem.
     
  5. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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  6. JPF

    JPF Member

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    Ask a great question, and get a great answer, thanks to jzucker's diagram above. I guess I'm not hoding my pick so wrong afterall :D
     
  7. Jarrett

    Jarrett Member

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    I hold mine like jzucker mentions above. Using the 2nd position as shown in the "Rotated in this plane" With the side of the pick facing the headstock tilted down slightly.

    Lately, I have been experimenting with using the non-pointy end as well since a lot of the better players on the board use that technique. I'm not finding any love with it so far, but not giving up yet.
     
  8. bluesman

    bluesman Member

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    Thanks Jack. This is an excellent diagram for what can be hard to describe in words.

    The bottom example is the angle I'm talking about here. And I have been under the mistaken impression (after playing for a long, long time) that the first angle (yeah, the one with the red circle and line through it) was the 'correct' way to strike the string.

    I've naturally used a bit of an angle as the diagram suggests should be done so that's good news for me. Although I'm afraid I may not be consistent between the top and bottom strings. I'm glad to know that I don't need to try to change to a 'flat' attack.
     
  9. Ben

    Ben Guest

    Food for thought!

    With regard to the top left picture. If you use a soft pick the pick deflects when you press it against the string and ends up attacking the string as a slight angle anyway (say maybe 20 degrees). This helps the pick easily slide past the string and the string past the pick. If you use a hard pick you might want to preset the angle of the pick to get the same effect. If you don't the pick tends to hang on a string every now and then. When I use a hard pick I have to loosen my grip on the pick to avoid hanging it. I really get loose with a hard pick when playing rhythm.
     
  10. somedude

    somedude Member

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    As a rhythm player that uses a 1.14mm pick, I'm sometimes amazed at how I even hold on to the thing it's rattles around so much in my hand. I tried swapping back down to a .73mm and my thumb would cramp up trying to hang on to the damn thing.

    Ultimatly, I chose to stay with the bigger pick as I felt it had more control and made much less "pick against string" noise.
     
  11. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    Everyone's different but I disagree with that statement. Any change in the angle in the first (left) picture makes it harder to get even tone on both the upstroke and downstroke. In fact, the reason most folks have such a hard time with sweep picking is that they angle the pick in that plane. It doesn't matter whether your pick is thin like Benson's or heavy like Martino. The point is that not much of your pick should be hitting the string anyway so it doesn't matter so much what guage pick you're using as long as it's at least a medium...
     
  12. Ben

    Ben Guest

    Don't get me wrong, when I say "preset the angle" I mean by using a loose grip on the pick. So, on the up stroke the pick also rotates into a preset position in the opposite direction.

    On the pick noise issue, I tried using a stiff pick to eliminate pick noise but it didn't seem to help. If you have an experience to share on this I would live to hear it.
     
  13. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    OK, that makes sense. I use both a loose and a firm grip as well as two different thumb positions over the pick. In one "configuration", I hold the pick between the tip of my thumb and index finger. This configuration allows me to vary the degree of floppyness of the pick. It's also nice for a really relaxed groove for both rhythm and soloing. In the other configuration, I hold the pick about a 3/4 inch back from the thumb tip. Because more of the thumb sits across the pick, the pick does not flop around and a greater degree of accuracy is attained. It also has a stiffer sound and to me doesn't have the loose groove of the other way. For a reference, Metheny uses a loose grip and Bruno uses a tight grip.
    The pick noise contributes to the tone IMO. I use a heavy pick when I want minimal pick noise and a medium when I want more pick noise. I prefer the tone of the medium but sometimes when I'm playing agressively, the pick bends as I'm playing which affects my accuracy.
     
  14. Vishnu

    Vishnu Member

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    mr jzucker can you show us your diagram please?
     
  15. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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  16. Vishnu

    Vishnu Member

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  17. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    It's worth it for his gig stories.
     
  18. Vishnu

    Vishnu Member

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    does anyone have a reproduction of the diagram in post 5?
     

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