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Picks and tone

 
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toddinjax



Joined: 23 Aug 2005
Posts: 174

PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 2:14 pm    Post subject: Picks and tone Reply with quote

Having just responded to the new pick thread I thought I'd chime in on something a discovered years ago but nobody ever talks about. Of course different picks and materials all effect tone, but with any pick you can darken or brighten up the tone simply by varying the firmness that you hold the pick with. The more loosely you hold it, the brighter the sound and probably you'll get a lit more attack "noise or chirping", if you hold it really loosely, you'll get noise from the loose pick hitting the adjacent string (because you have no control) Conversely if you hold the pick with a good firm grip, the tone will darken and fatten up. This does not mean a death grip, but the pick should not move or flex at all between your finger and thumb. This is a delicate balance between your two hands as when you clench or relax one hand, your brain makes your other hand to some degree, do the same. So if you "over" grip the pick, you might find that you're fretting too hard, slowing yourself down, or pressing notes out of tune.
I think this is part of the reason why two players can make the same guitar sound quite different, not so much how they fret, but how each uniquely hold their pick.
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Henryrobinett



Joined: 01 May 2010
Posts: 180
Location: Sacramento, Ca

PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll have to think about this one. I'm sure you're right regarding the tone, but I pretty much always holding the pick very loosely. Off the top of my head, I THINK the only times I grip it firmly is when I bend a string in a blues lick.

Without a doubt firmness of the grip has a lot to do with the tone. There's also the force in which the string is struck, besides the up/down sequence.

Generally I like the pick to be loose and flexible and can react against the strings, rather than being firm. I like the way a light grip, barely seeming to hold it grip feels and the way it sounds. Though it does sound light. I find I can always increase the grip. Conversely I don't really like the sound of firm, immobile grips. I think it sounds stiff. Though I'd imagine Bireli has a firm grip and I have no problems with that! But this is all conjecture.
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Secret2goodtoneispractice



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 271
Location: Spinning & shimmering aqueous sphere

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 10:40 am    Post subject: Re: Picks and tone Reply with quote

toddinjax wrote:
. . . picks and materials all effect tone . . .

Variables reign when it comes to picks and tone. Pick interaction is highly variable dependent. Some possible variables follow:

Pick:
    Material
    Thickness
    Shape
    Rigidity
    Edge roundness or sharpness
    Edge smoothness
    String contact size
    Mass

Picking technique:
    Force of attack
    Angle of pick
    Pick position along string plane in relation to bridge
    Palm muting
    Speed of attack

Fretting techique:
    Fleshiness of fingers of fretting hand
    Fingered note selection at various neck positions
    Use of vibrato

Guitar:
    Style
    Woods
    Neck scale
    Pickup type and location
    Weight
    String gauge
    String composition
    String winding type

Amplifier:
    Digital circuit or analog (tube, soild state, hybrid)
    Amplifier volume
    Amplifier tone settings
    Amplifier headroom
    Number of speakers
    Speaker efficiency
    Speaker positioning within cabinet
    Amplifier positioning

Room composition:
    Size
    Material
    Reflection angles
    Stage type

Interaction with other instruments:
    Sympathetic vibration
    Sound level / pressure
    Frequency range of other instruments

Player mood

Music mood

Audience mood

Listener hearing ability

Peace!
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Trust your own opinion of a guitar or amp. Form your opinion from what you value. Your need, preference, circumstance, experience, and opportunity are the most important factors.
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cjm



Joined: 16 Oct 2006
Posts: 369

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All those variables is why I finally decided that the selection of picks (and most paraphernalia) is sort of like the superstitions of baseball players.

It's not that there is no real effect -- there is. But it's more about confidence and security versus nervousness and insecurity than anything else...at least for me. I can't get a better sound with a better pick...so I went back to the cheapies and don't worry about it anymore.
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trotsky



Joined: 24 May 2007
Posts: 438
Location: Sarnia Ontario Canada

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah CJM...to be that free...I am trying...really I am!!!
Wink Laughing
As it stands right now I not only have a brand of pick that I like but there are certain specific ones that I prefer over others...AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! Embarassed
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Henryrobinett



Joined: 01 May 2010
Posts: 180
Location: Sacramento, Ca

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah! It's all anal silliness to me! We can get so stuck in the details we forget the big picture and end up sticking ourselves. IT'S A PICK!!!! Yes they do have tonal characteristics and a comfort level. But of over riding importance is the technique - how you hold it, the force you use to play it and WHAT YOU PLAY.
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trotsky



Joined: 24 May 2007
Posts: 438
Location: Sarnia Ontario Canada

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nope!...its all the pick and don't you forget it!!!
JKing
I have learned to embrace and enjoy my kookiness...gives me something to laugh about.
Now where did I put that pick????????????? Wink
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Secret2goodtoneispractice



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 271
Location: Spinning & shimmering aqueous sphere

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most of the time I just use right hand fingers and thumb, plus left hand hammers, slurs, vibrato, etc.

However, my favorite pick is my thumbnail, with nail length being long enough to form an edge for alternate picking, and short enough to still be able to play with fleshy part of thumb. The deciding factor of nail or flesh touching string is thumb angle.

My second favorite pick is a Dunlop 204.

http://www.jimdunlop.com/product/JD-Jazztones
_________________
Beware of alliances that are formed by dividing relationships of others.
.
Trust your own opinion of a guitar or amp. Form your opinion from what you value. Your need, preference, circumstance, experience, and opportunity are the most important factors.


Last edited by Secret2goodtoneispractice on Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:12 am; edited 1 time in total
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toddinjax



Joined: 23 Aug 2005
Posts: 174

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="Henryrobinett"]Ah! It's all anal silliness to me! We can get so stuck in the details we forget the big picture and end up sticking ourselves. IT'S A PICK!!!! Yes they do have tonal characteristics and a comfort level. But of over riding importance is the technique - how you hold it, the force you use to play it and WHAT YOU PLAY.[/quote]

Well, yeah, that was the point of my post; they're all different but how you HOLD it can change the tone quite a bit. I've had friends play a guitar and say" it's a little too bright", then I grabbed it, played a few notes and he said "how's you do that"? Different pick held tighter than he held his.
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Henryrobinett



Joined: 01 May 2010
Posts: 180
Location: Sacramento, Ca

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well yeah, of course! I've seen plenty of examples of that. Many more factors though than how you hold the pick. The left hand has also a lot to do with tone.
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Henry Robinett
www.henryrobinett.com
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