The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #43755   Message #640716
Posted By: John Hardly
02-Feb-02 - 01:21 PM
Thread Name: Pick Replacement, Brand, Type
Subject: RE: Pick Replacement, Brand, Type
elementary pickology --for those held back by not knowing the huge range of "right" ways of doing things, and how they outweigh the "wrong" ways. …not meant to be exhaustive, just some elementary pick tips.

The soundof a pick can be determined by;
1. The pick material—bone, horn, shell, and varying compositions, density and thickness of plastics. You'll find different makers use different kinds (hardnesses, densities) of plastics.

2. Pick dressing—if you doctor your own picks with emery board, sandpaper, scissors or clippers, you'll notice you can alter the tone with a fresh cut or sanding, just as a pick sounds different with age wearing its edge smooth.

3. The shape of a pick—from round like a Golden Gate, to the point end of a fender style

4. There is no law that says you can't use the rounded "point" of a tear-drop (Fender style) pick. In fact, you may find advantages other than tone differences by experimenting with either of the rounded points. for instance, with the point as a "tail" resting against your middle finger, you may find you have more control, and the round point's decreased resistance might increase your picking speed.

5. Where and how you hold the pick. Obviously there is a relationship between how close to the tip you hold the pick. The closer to the point, the more rigid the pick will act. The further from the point, the more the pick will be capable of its flexion.

6. The angle of attack on the string. The more parallel to the string the more the string will be articulated, the greater the angle the more round the pick will respond (and the more likely to make noise on the string windings).

Anchors Aweigh
The reasons for anchoring is to give a reference point on the guitar surface for the sake of more easily navigating the strings (how's that for keeping the metaphors naval?). It's easier to quickly find individual strings more accurately if at least some part of your right hand is in contact with the guitar top. The most basic moorings with their elementary plusses and minuses are;

1. Bridge anchoring. This is where you position the heel of your hand against (behind) the bridge. On the plus side this offers an exceptional reference point to enhance your accuracy. It also allows for a great deal of power in your strokes. On the negative side, it really limits the range of motion across the strings to the flexibility of your wrist. It also limits the tonal changes you can coax from your guitar by playing it at different points from neck to bridge. Even with very large hands it is doubtful that you could get the nice round tones on the neck side of the sound hole. You also leave a very heavy part of your hand on the soundboard, thereby limiting its ability to vibrate—you're not maximizing the sound of which your guitar is capable.

2. Pinky anchoring. With your pinky (some use their ring finger) on the pick guard you have a good reference point, you increase your range of motion—both across the strings and from fretboard to bridge, thereby maximizing the tone you can coax out of the guitar. Your pinky need not be pressed to the guitar's top, therefore the top will vibrate much more than with the bridge anchoring. On the negative side, you will probably sacrifice power to anchor this way, and you may have more trouble with the bass strings, especially on the upstrokes, and especially if your hands are small or inflexible.

3. You can, of course, learn to play without anchoring. A curious irony in this regard is that, though you would assume that a blind player would most benefit from the reference point an anchor gives, Doc Watson plays "floating" over the strings. I know you pick experts. "Floating" refers to playing fretted and adjacent open strings in succession. I just wanted to keep the nautical theme going one more time I would assume that if you can learn to float, all the negatives of anchoring would be negated but that's a very big "if".

4. A small but meaningful will probably progress faster if you find a logical way to work a pick you like and stick with it. The reason for this is that half the struggle is learning something meaningful to do with your LEFT hand, and then coordinating it with your right hand. Once you have a vocabulary between left and right hand you can more easily switch to another way to hold your pick or find a different pick to hold.

$.02 no change.