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Octave Practice

blhm84

Member
Messages
642
As a budding jazz player,I desperately want to learn how to do Octave solos a la Wes Montgomery or Pat Metheny. But I just don't seem to be improving at all just practicing along to records. Does anyone have any good practice techniques for gaining some skill in octave soloing? Oh, I use a pick, not the thumb techinque like Wes.
 

The Captain

Member
Messages
12,704
Using a pick to play octave works OK in a rock context where the noise made by striking teh muted notes is lost in the distortion, but for a clean jazz tone, I think a finger-picked approach is required.
Ther are a copuple of great songs on The Sky is Crying, a section in Litel Wing, and another Wes style song, can't recall the name now.
Practicve tucking teh pick away in teh crook of a finger so it's there for when you want it back. JAzz III picks are perfect for that.
 

blhm84

Member
Messages
642
I forget to ask whether I should just finger pick while doing octaves, but your advice cleared that up. Sounds pretty logical. Do the players that play with picks but do octaves (Metheny, Martino) tuck the pick away?
 

The Captain

Member
Messages
12,704
I forget to ask whether I should just finger pick while doing octaves, but your advice cleared that up. Sounds pretty logical. Do the players that play with picks but do octaves (Metheny, Martino) tuck the pick away?
My am not knowing !!
I do know that Joe Bonamassa, who plays with fingers mostly, nutil things get too speedy, tucks his pick into the crook of his index finger.
He shows how on one of his youtubes.
This stuff is really trial and error, and doing what feels and sounds good to you.
Another approach is to use a hybrid type technique, where you hold the pick in thumb and index, and use 3,4,and sometimes 5 to pick as desired, either with or alternating with the pick.
I use that appraoch on La Grange, for example, as the first riff sounds best as a straight finger pick, btu I find I play the second riff better if I can pick the bass strings.
 
Messages
10,651
I forget to ask whether I should just finger pick while doing octaves, but your advice cleared that up. Sounds pretty logical. Do the players that play with picks but do octaves (Metheny, Martino) tuck the pick away?
I think you have to tuck the pick to get the right sound...Wes brushed his enormous thumb across the strings while muting the string between the 2 played notes with his fretting hand, and didn't really use a pick otherwise.

Have you checked out Pat Martino's live version of 'Sunny'? Awesome octave solo passage (and great single note lines too!)
 

stevel

Member
Messages
14,729
I forget to ask whether I should just finger pick while doing octaves, but your advice cleared that up. Sounds pretty logical. Do the players that play with picks but do octaves (Metheny, Martino) tuck the pick away?
Though Montgomery used only his thumb when playing octaves - so he - like the rock method someone mentioned - did the same thing - "brushed over" the muted middle string.

You play octave with a pick - both strings on the down stroke (usually) - brushing over the muted middle string.

When you do them with your thumb, a la Montgomery, you do the same thing. Use the fleshy part of the thumb and get both notes.

If your fingerpick using your thumb and index, or thumb and middle, etc. you'll get a "cleaner" sound in that the attack of both notes is simultaneous and that the muted string makes no noise (and doesn't have to be muted even!). This will give you a more "classical" sound and/or fingerpicking sound.

To be honest, I would always assume that any octaves being played are being played by the pick only, or the thumb only in Jazz and Rock, except in those situations where it would be obvious they were not (such as intentionally being "classical", or country "hybrid picking").

I would suggest you learn to do octaves 4 ways:

Pick only.
Thumb only.
Hybrid - pick on lower note, free finger on upper note
Classical - fingers only, usually thumb on lower note and index or middle on upper note.

For the latter, you should practice without a pick at all (fingerpicking) and by tucking the pick away (using the remaining free finger for the upper note).

You'll note that each type has a different sound, and most likely, as you get accustomed to the various sounds of each, you'll be able to tell which technique the player on record is using.

HTH,
Steve
 

willhutch

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,907
I think Stevel has it right: learn a variety of techniques, as they all have their own advantages.

Hybrid or fingerplucking gives a cleaner sound. You have more control over dynamics. You can also control the relative volume of the two notes.

The thumb has a warm tone. It is easier for me to only hit the the strings I want to hit with this method.

With the pick only, I can move faster cuz I can do both down and up strokes.
 
Messages
7,046
Metheny doesn't do them that much. Stern does, a lot, and he uses pick.

I do them either with thumb, pick, of sometimes thumb and finger for a more immediate sound.


There is a Corey Christiansen Wes M. book from Mel Bay that has some good licks and exercises.

Another thing to check out is unisons, Tal Farlow especially, and Metheny to some extent.
 




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