How to hold the pick

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by jzucker, Sep 1, 2004.

  1. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    Your mileage may vary but this is what I recommend:

    [​IMG]
     
  2. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    The bottom illustration (rotated in this plane) is not clear to me Jack.

    Are you saying to angle the pick to the strings or keep the flat side of the pick against the strings?

    I find the faster I pick, the more I angle the pick as shown in the bottom illustration.
     
  3. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    I updated the diagram.
     
  4. WhosYourPal

    WhosYourPal Member

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    Thanks for the diagram Jack, I realized I haven't been holding it right while doing some of the SOS excercises. I can't wait for the DVD to become available, I think it will clear a lot more up.
     
  5. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Sorry to be so dense Jack but it's still not clear to me.

    Numbering the illustrations 1-3 from left to right.

    #1 appears that we are looking from the lower bout of the gtr. ie, from the back of the bridge. If so, it looks as though it's in contradiction to #2.

    What am I missing?
     
  6. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    You're not missing anything other than the fact that I'm lame at drawing 3d diagrams.

    Each part of the diagram illustrates a single plane of picking. Illustration 1 is showing that the pick is not angled up or down. It's not meant to show that along with rotation.

    Illustration 2 depicts rotation

    Illustration 3 depicts tip angle.
     
  7. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    LOL - gotcha.

    Just an aside, I use the corner of my pick rather than the tip. In other words, I hold the pick sideways.

    I noticed last night that for slower passages I have the pick perpendicular as ill. #2 says not to do. But as I speed up, I rotate as ill #2 shows.
     
  8. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    By the way, I updated the diagram again in an attempt to make it a little more clear.
     
  9. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    I do the same thing. I think the sound is better with the pick perpendicular and that's how martino gets such a fat sound. However, in order to do the sax lines, I compromise the tone a bit in order to obtain the raw speed...
     
  10. bbarnard

    bbarnard Member

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    Then you are in good company. Both SRV and Robben Ford do that as well. I'm starting to play that way more and more too (not that me doing it puts you in good company).:)
     
  11. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    So does Steve Morse.

    And BTW- you are good company even if you did go to Huguenot. :D Eight people died in Richmond from Charley floods. Took my bud 3 hours to get from Broad Street to Jahnke. Shockoe is a total mess and now we've got a new hurricane. That makes two years in a row of Richmond hurricane damage. Unprecedented.
     
  12. bbarnard

    bbarnard Member

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    Yeah I talked to my sisters both of whom are in Richmond still. One of them has a basement flooded.

    Now of course I'm in FL and Frances is scheduled to come straight thru and almost over Gainesville.:mad:
     
  13. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Yeah Jack, it's more clear for lunk heads like me. Looks good.
     
  14. aeolian

    aeolian Member

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    Sorry to disagree with you Jack, especially as you are such an awesome player. But in my experience, your preferred pick orientation gives the thinnest sound.

    I often tell people to try rotating the pick in the third axis you describe and listening to the sound. As you rotate it away from flat, if usually gets softer and rounder sounding. Along with the amount of outward motion (what Eric Johnson calls his "bounce" technique) these two make the bigest impact on tone production that I know of. This is kind of the first lesson in tone production for most folks. When they can vary the angle automatically to get a degree of brightness or darkness to match a sound in their head, without having to deliberately think about what they are doing, then they're on their way.

    I also find it easier to do circular picking with it rotated slightly.

    As for the first axis, I tend to favor a bit of downward slant (although nothing like Benson or Morse, how they back pick so fast like that I'll never know) for the same reasons of warmth in the tone. About the only time I keep the pick square is if I want to channel Sco or a vintage swing blues cat.
     
  15. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    How can you disagree with a suggestion? I thought I was clear that this is just what I do. It's not the definitive end-all-be-all of picking. There is no such thing. As to it yielding a thin sound, is my sound thin? Is Metheny's, is Benson's? There's a lot more to the tone than that simple illustration.

    This is just one of a million ways to hold the pick.

    Al Dimeola, John McLaughlin, Frank Gambale, Steve Morse, Eric Johnson, George Benson, Pat Metheny, Pat Martino, yada-yada - They all hold the pick completely differently, yet all are virtuosos and none of them have a thin sound.

    The music will dictate the sound in the end. I'm just giving folks a head's up about a technique that'll enable them to effectively play the kinds of saxophonistic lines that are in my book.
     
  16. Marcello

    Marcello Member

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    on his website, tuck andress has a cool article about picking tech. He describes the way benson picks, really interesting.

    Thanks Jack , thats very cool.
     
  17. aeolian

    aeolian Member

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    Sorry Jack, would differing opinion have been a better choice of words? As you say, there are many folks playing very sucessfully with some highly unorthodox techniques. But when giving advice that will be picked up by beginners, I tend toward some degree of orthodoxy. So your centered pick orientation is a good idea. When folks ask about picking and tone production, I often refer them to the Eric Johnson video as he gives a fair cross section of techniques most of which are not too awkward. A fellow who taught around here, Warren Nunes, advocated keeping the hand rigid and flexing the whole wrist. I've always been into the Johnny Smith technique of flexing just the thumb and forefinger which feels looser and more fluid to me. Some folks move their whole arm. But I usually start out with the minimum motion and work my way up to larger body parts if someone has trouble with controlling just their fingers.
    Did someone say different strokes for different folks?
     
  18. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    We'll agree to disagree then.

    By the way, one of my teachers studied with Johnny Smith and told me that Smith advocated absolutely no movement from the hand or flexing of the thumb or forefinger. Everything came from the elbow.
     
  19. JoeB63

    JoeB63 Supporting Member

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    Interesting that you should bring this topic up. A few weeks ago, I realized that I have a picking technique that's different from any other player that I've seen -- so after 25 years of playing, I'm trying to change it -- not easy!

    I noticed that everyone else keep their thumb straight (or nearly straight), but I pick with my thumb tip bent back, so that my thumb is in a "J" shape.

    This causes me to hit the strings with the pick angled up, instead of down like (seemingly) everyone else.

    I've never been an especially fast picker, and I always assumed it was because I'm a leftly playing righty. But now I think it's my picking technique. I'm making progress on changing it, but I've noticed that I'm now modifying my thumb position on the fly as needed to execute each specific passage. That's actually pretty cool.

    Jack, What do you think about my "bent-back thumb" technique? Is it as bad as I think it is?
     
  20. JoeB63

    JoeB63 Supporting Member

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    Unbelievable!! I just read the Tuck Andress article referenced above -- and he advocates Benson's technique -- which (surprise!) is my old technique. So much for changing.
     

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