picking problem please advise,

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by kurt1981, Feb 24, 2009.

  1. kurt1981

    kurt1981 Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2008
    Hey all, I've been playing a while, and I'm at a point where I want to really break things down and fix any little issues that may be holding me back as a player. I'm unable to see, so I just kind of learned as I went along, and I've never really felt like I hold the pick properly. Mainly, I'm wondering, how do you guys strike the string with the pick. I've been holding the pick verticle, so the pick would be standing on it's edge perpendicular to the body of the guitar, if that makes sense, and I always just sort of swept back and forth, keeping the pick in that verticle position, and it's parallel to the strings, so if you stood the pick on it's point on the front of the guitar, it'd be in a perfect line with the string. I feel like maybe that's not the most economical way to pick, so recently I've turned the pick so it's like a saw across the strings, but I'm not sure if this is right ither. Mainly, I feel inhibited when moving from string to string. Playing funky rhythm stuff is easy, and I feel I do it pretty well, but I'd like to tighten up my single string work.
    Hope that makes sense, sorry for boring everyone with my problem!!!
  2. stevel

    stevel Member

    Apr 6, 2008
    Hampton Roads, Virginia
    Kurt, do you mean you're blind?

    I've conversed with other sight impaired people on the internet who use "speak-able" technology so I know responses can be read.

    Good question actually. It's not one that's often addressed in various method books, etc.

    There is really no correct way to hold the pick, but I would say given the possibilities, there is a general range of positions that the majority of players use.

    I should point out that other factors such as the thickness and flexibility of your pick can come into play.

    What you're doing is correct. The pick is perpendicular to the top, and the flat side of the pick parallel to the strings.

    I would say most people actually don't pick the same way all the time. I know I don't.

    Sometimes I will pick like you describe.

    But usually, and in generally, I have the pick angled so that the flat of the pick is tilted diagonally so that the front edge of the pick, which is closest to the headstock, will be lower than the back edge, which is closest to the bridge.

    I think it's up to you as to what you find most effective. You should experiment.

    I find that if I want to "dig in" to the strings, I'll angle it more so the leading edge really scrapes across the string or strings.

    If it's parallel to the strings, and I dig in, so much of the pick's surface is against the string that it takes a lot of force to make it release. This can be a desirable effect sometimes - creating a really sharp attack and "pop". But it's not something I would use for single note lines.

    However, keeping the pick parallel but not digging in so far - so just the tip going in can help me play faster - like tremolo for example.

    I will also angle the pick on the other axis. I'll lean the pick so the tip is higher than the rest of the pick when I'm strumming downward - so the pick's tip is "falling behind" my hand as it goes down. On upstrokes, I do the opposite.

    Now, how much I angle or don't angle the pick in either of these planes depends on what kind of sound I want.

    I will also loosen or tighten my grip on the pick - If I want a real "loose" arpeggio, I will hold the pick so loosely it basically "falls" from string to string making a "clacking" sound (and to do this, I have to have it parallel to the string, but let it angle in the other axis as it drags).

    When I used to play with thinner picks which were more flexible, you can get away with more "digging in" because the pick's going to give. When you use a thicker or less flexible pick, you have to make up for the flexibility by angling the pick.

    So I say, use your ears, and listen intently to the sound each change of position makes, and keep them in your mental toolbox to use whenever you want.

    I find myself constantly changing as I play. Some of is intentional, but some of it is not.

    Hope that helps,
  3. kurt1981

    kurt1981 Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2008
    Thanks so much, that really does help a lot!! I'm glad I'm not doing it completely wrong. I need to also work on being more relaxed for single note lines. I feel very loose and relaxed when playing rhythm, even psyncopated funk stuff, but as soon as I go for single strings, I can feel my arm and hand tighten up as if I'm afraid I'll miss or something. Very frustrating!!
    Thanks again,

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