My pick keeps moving during alternate picking practice!

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Lone Wolf
Messages
4,305
I've lately been working on a Guitar Gym Alternate Picking workshop and a new problem has cropped up for me. As I am doing an exercise, especially at higher tempos (say 100-110 BPM) my pick gets loose in my right hand and my attention then must shift to that so I can work it back into a comfortable position to continue. This seems to happen even if I am trying very hard not to let it! Is there any suggestion someone might offer so that my pick stays put between my right thumb and forefinger without it getting loose and crooked as it is in this situation? Hope that makes sense to someone :)
 

Shane Sanders

Member
Messages
1,564
There's a Japanese company called Hell Guitars that has a very nice and affordable pick. It appears to be made of carbon fiber and maybe nylon dust...hard to say for sure. Anyway, it has a super comfortable indentation as well as diagonal grooves which help anchor it to skin under pressure. These picks are way too rounded on the tip for me in their stock form, but they can be sharpened/sanded/buffed really quickly into any kind of tip you prefer. They sound a lot like the jumbo sized black Jazz III picks if you sharpen them to that shape. I like the 2mm though I go through phases where the 3.2mm is fun.
 

Shane Sanders

Member
Messages
1,564
Also, with most picks, you can take a crappy soldering iron and press little rough patterns into the pick. It takes some effort and stinks but it works.

John McLaughlin scores his picks in a cross-hatch pattern with a knife. This works great, too. And he also sharpens and buffs picks by dragging them on a rug or carpet (the rough base of the rug serves as a file. Try it, it works. You have to press really hard but you can re-tip a pick and buff it simultaneously)

 
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Messages
14,890
As I am doing an exercise, especially at higher tempos (say 100-110 BPM) my pick gets loose in my right hand
Try alternate picking an open string at the above tempo - not sure if you're practicing quarter notes, eighth notes, etc. - but the principle should be the same. Without the left hand, you can focus all your attention on the right hand and what you're doing to lose your grip on the pick.

For the way I pick ("fist" grip like yours, circular motion), there's a balance between too loose of a grip and too tight. Too tight of a grip slows down the picking hand and the pick might get caught on a string. Too loose... well, that's self-explanatory. I currently use Fender thin (around 65mm) picks, but I've also used thick stone picks, Eric Johnson Jazz III, etc.

I should note I don't have excessively sweaty hands. If that's your problem then you may need certain types of picks are recommended above.
 

Social Exodus

Lone Wolf
Messages
4,305
Try alternate picking an open string at the above tempo - not sure if you're practicing quarter notes, eighth notes, etc. - but the principle should be the same. Without the left hand, you can focus all your attention on the right hand and what you're doing to lose your grip on the pick.

For the way I pick ("fist" grip like yours, circular motion), there's a balance between too loose of a grip and too tight. Too tight of a grip slows down the picking hand and the pick might get caught on a string. Too loose... well, that's self-explanatory. I currently use Fender thin (around 65mm) picks, but I've also used thick stone picks, Eric Johnson Jazz III, etc.

I should note I don't have excessively sweaty hands. If that's your problem then you may need certain types of picks are recommended above.
Really I'd say my problem is muscular-skeletal in nature, IE it just shifts within my grasp so that it is not at the optimal position I started out in. I don't sweat at all when I am practicing.
 
Messages
14,890
Really I'd say my problem is muscular-skeletal in nature, IE it just shifts within my grasp so that it is not at the optimal position I started out in. I don't sweat at all when I am practicing.
At least try alternate picking on an open string as suggested earlier. Really concentrate on observing that picking hand, take note of any excessive tension, start with a slow metronome, get away from TV or other distractions, etc. Report back if it doesn't work for you.

BTW, can you strum chords without losing your pick? If not, that's a problem to correct first.

I also had problems with pick slippage before taking a serious look at what my picking hand was doing and removing the fretting hand from the equation.
 
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Social Exodus

Lone Wolf
Messages
4,305
At least try alternate picking on an open string as suggested earlier. Really concentrate on observing that picking hand, take note of any excessive tension, start with a slow metronome, get away from TV or other distractions, etc. Report back if it doesn't work for you.

BTW, can you strum chords without losing your pick? If not, that's a problem to correct first.

I also had problems with pick slippage before taking a serious look at what my picking hand was doing and removing the fretting hand from the equation.
Will do, this evening!
 

dhdfoster

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
13,083
I’m pretty familiar with this problem. When I was in college I worked at a restaurant and one day I stabbed my picking hand thumb with a huge kitchen knife. It went straight in and did a lot of damage. I have scar tissue under the surface that I can feel, and there’s nerve damage that makes my thumb mostly numb on the surface where I hold a pick. I’ve spent a lot of time practicing alternate picking because I’m also a lefty that plays righty, and my picking hand is really weak and slow.

Having the pick move around, causing me to constantly “shift” to feel where it is and to feel like I have a good grip on it, has been a real struggle. I’ve tried different ways of gripping it and I’ve tried most of the picks that offer a better grip. I’ve even tried thumb picks.

What finally helped me was realizing that when I was losing control of the pick, I was practicing too fast. I began practicing straight alternate picking on one string at a time at very slow tempos. I mean SLOW. I mean almost painfully slow. It’s very difficult to do cleanly, smoothly and comfortably, but it has helped me improve my picking therefore taking some of the heat off of my actual grip. The better my picking motion gets, the more relaxed and natural my grip feels and it seems to become a smaller part of the whole equation.

YMMV.
 

lowyaw

Member
Messages
3,066
I've been struggling with this for years as i have very dry hands. there were several methods i tried, in the order of going from the most uncomfortable to the esiest solution, imo 1) placing a small sponge on the amp, to wet your thumb and index finder a little. pretty weird, but works. funny enough, if your standard Dunlop tortex oick is wet, it stays mach better in the position and doesn't slip at all 2) scratching picks so there's more friction and they stay in place 3) Dunlop Tortex picks made of Delrin
 

Social Exodus

Lone Wolf
Messages
4,305
I’m pretty familiar with this problem. When I was in college I worked at a restaurant and one day I stabbed my picking hand thumb with a huge kitchen knife. It went straight in and did a lot of damage. I have scar tissue under the surface that I can feel, and there’s nerve damage that makes my thumb mostly numb on the surface where I hold a pick. I’ve spent a lot of time practicing alternate picking because I’m also a lefty that plays righty, and my picking hand is really weak and slow.

Having the pick move around, causing me to constantly “shift” to feel where it is and to feel like I have a good grip on it, has been a real struggle. I’ve tried different ways of gripping it and I’ve tried most of the picks that offer a better grip. I’ve even tried thumb picks.

What finally helped me was realizing that when I was losing control of the pick, I was practicing too fast. I began practicing straight alternate picking on one string at a time at very slow tempos. I mean SLOW. I mean almost painfully slow. It’s very difficult to do cleanly, smoothly and comfortably, but it has helped me improve my picking therefore taking some of the heat off of my actual grip. The better my picking motion gets, the more relaxed and natural my grip feels and it seems to become a smaller part of the whole equation.

YMMV.
You know, I'm glad you shared this with me. Years ago, my wife asked me to move what I thought was a sheet metal stove pipe from the barn to the storage area. I casually picked it up except it was like 4 of them stacked from which (of course) the inner ones slipped and cut my right thumb to the bone. I have had numbness there ever since and yeah, what you described is pretty much spot on. At lower speeds, say 80bpm I can keep up and keep the pick in place. But as the speed goes up and I guess because I am trying harder (and maybe gripping tighter?) the pick works its way loose in my grip so I have to use my middle finger to recenter it.

So years ago, I was taught an alternate picking exercise that employs a circle technique and didn't even fret any strings with my fretting hand. I did that for a couple of days, but got bored with and until now forgot about it. I think now would be a good time to find that (or another if someone has one) to specifically work on my right hand pick grip without regard to what my left hand is doing. Thanks again!
 

monty

Member
Messages
22,046
I've been struggling with this for years as i have very dry hands. there were several methods i tried, in the order of going from the most uncomfortable to the esiest solution, imo 1) placing a small sponge on the amp, to wet your thumb and index finder a little. pretty weird, but works. funny enough, if your standard Dunlop tortex oick is wet, it stays mach better in the position and doesn't slip at all 2) scratching picks so there's more friction and they stay in place 3) Dunlop Tortex picks made of Delrin
The sponge idea is a great one, I'm going to have to try it.
 

dhdfoster

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
13,083
You know, I'm glad you shared this with me. Years ago, my wife asked me to move what I thought was a sheet metal stove pipe from the barn to the storage area. I casually picked it up except it was like 4 of them stacked from which (of course) the inner ones slipped and cut my right thumb to the bone. I have had numbness there ever since and yeah, what you described is pretty much spot on. At lower speeds, say 80bpm I can keep up and keep the pick in place. But as the speed goes up and I guess because I am trying harder (and maybe gripping tighter?) the pick works its way loose in my grip so I have to use my middle finger to recenter it.

So years ago, I was taught an alternate picking exercise that employs a circle technique and didn't even fret any strings with my fretting hand. I did that for a couple of days, but got bored with and until now forgot about it. I think now would be a good time to find that (or another if someone has one) to specifically work on my right hand pick grip without regard to what my left hand is doing. Thanks again!
Hey, I'm not the only "numb thumb"! :) Not funny, I know.

Another thing that helped was getting an app for my phone that's an accelerating metronome. It slowly accelerates so I can feel the point at which things start to get out of control and work around that tempo. I do 1/4 notes, triplets, and then 1/16ths.
 

MERKS

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
835
Try using a smaller thicker pick, it privides you with more control. You can keep more of the flesh between your thumb and fingers by reducing the size. I use Dunlop Jazz 5's.
 

sharpshooter

Member
Messages
4,012
I double fold-over a piece of Scotch double sided tape, and "glue" the pick
to my thumb.
Keeps the pick where I need it, and allows me the use of the index finger by itself.
 




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