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Unread 06-11-2012, 04:10 AM   #1
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How tight do you hold your pick ?

I recently saw a video of Rob Chappers where he's playing some awesome Yngwie style 3 note per string runs..



He said he doesn't hold the pick too hard.. in fact he says that he holds it very lightly

How do you hold your pick ? Tight grip ? Light ? I know it's all very subjective.. I personally think I hold my pick with a strong grip. Just like my booze... never let go..

But now seriously.. if I hold it lightly I feel like it won't glide across the strings and ill bounce (or flap) more on contact causing more instability. But I'm coming to realize that the way I hold my pick with a tight grip, creates lots of tension on my right hand. I can't seem to play fast and clean and maybe this could very well be the problem...
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Unread 06-11-2012, 04:38 AM   #2
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it really depends on what i am playing and how i am expressing my musical ideas through the instrument

when doing pentatonic stuff i usually get really intense and hold the pick hard as i get into it
when doing more melodic Per Nilsson-y stuff (not even close to his level, though ) where it flows together i tend to hold it with a looser grip

when it comes to more 'extreme' and fast technique, it is always light and relaxed when holding the pick because i spend the time in front of the metronome, so it becomes really relaxed and almost effortless when going into 'shred mode'
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Unread 06-11-2012, 04:55 AM   #3
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Firmly. Holding a pick gently for scales and lines takes away the purpose of using a hard pick.

Even if I am playing funk I still hold the pick firmly, but I keep my wrist very lose.

Pay more attention on how deeply you pick into the strings, that is a much bigger aspect of playing fast without fatigue.

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Unread 06-11-2012, 05:02 AM   #4
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You've really solved your own problem. If you hold the pick with too tight of a grip, you tense up and can't play really fast. Yet if you hold the pick to lightly it will fall out of your hand. So you have an idea now that you need to find something in the middle that works for you.

I personally have a fairly light but firm grip of my pick when I play. It does help me to play faster and i've never had issues with carpal tunnel, or pain in my right hand ever when i play. I also try to pick from the wrist as much as possible, angle the pick into string, and make sure the pick bounces as I pick. For a better explanation, watch this, it's an incredible video. EJ has really thought this stuff out:



Some shred guitar however will require picking from your forearm. In fact, alot of alternate picking does, I avoid this by using primarily economic picking. While i don't get the super separate articulation, I don't really feel like most people or I need that. I also think economic picking is superior in the sense that it is a more refined movement and requires less energy expenditure on your part. But if you want the super seperate articulation of guys like steve morse, john petrucci, or any of those other guys, than buy all means focus on building that technique. Besides we are talking about how you we hold our picks.

Ultimately, you're going to have to experiment with finding a balance between the two that works for you. To start, just try to hold the pick as loosely as you can with out it falling out of your hand and understand what that feels like. Play some exercises, patterns or licks you know slowly and make sure you aren't trying to hold the pick any harder than you need to.

It will also help if you can identify why it is that your holding the pick so tightly in the first place. Is it because:
-You want to achieve more power when hitting the string?
-You're trying to keep the pick from flying out of your hand?
-Your under stress(nervous) and you tense up.

As guitarists, we generally use smaller muscle groups. It's possible that you haven't incorporated these types of muscle groups into your playing. Once you do however, i'm confident that your speed will increase and your tension will go away.

Either way, hope you found this to be useful.
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Unread 06-11-2012, 05:08 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maniacal View Post
Pay more attention on how deeply you pick into the strings, that is a much bigger aspect of playing fast without fatigue.
Do you mean how much of the pick actually hits the string ? Meaning that there shouldn't be much pick sticking out from the fingers ?
Or instead you meant how much travel there is after hitting any given string ? (so there will be more travel coming back in alternate picking fashion = less speed)

Or both ?
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Unread 06-11-2012, 05:15 AM   #6
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Unread 06-11-2012, 05:22 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StratoJazz View Post
Either way, hope you found this to be useful.
Definitely! Very thorough! That Eric Johnson video is really good.. the guy is such a monster!

As for economy picking though.. maybe I haven't practised enough but I really suck at it! I guess because I'm always fascinated by strict alternate guys like Paul Gilbert and Petrucci!
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Unread 06-11-2012, 02:14 PM   #8
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That's a good question! There seem to be as many pick-holding techniques as there are guitarists.

I had a quick jam just now to assess how I tightly I tend to hold the pick (I've not paid attention before), and it seems that I'm pretty relaxed for the most part, and go a little tighter when alternate picking.

This would make an interesting poll, I reckon!
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Unread 06-11-2012, 07:41 PM   #9
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If you're worried about what's right and wrong, there isn't one. It seems there's a spectrum. On the far left you're just holding it WAY too tight and you won't ever be able to play like that. On the far right you've dropped your pick. :P

In the middle there's a whole area of the spectrum in which lies different levels of firmness at which you can hold your pick in a productive manner. Every player ends up varying the amount of strength they grab the pick with when doing different techniques or licks, and that's okay. Just find a nice balance that works for you with every technique you do. Some of it is about the ease of doing something, other times it's about the sound you get from doing so. Within that middle part of the spectrum all is good, just experiment and find what works.
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Unread 06-11-2012, 07:50 PM   #10
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I hold my pick as tight as the situation I am in requires. This varies by dynamic level and velocity of playing, but mostly due to dynamic level. I don't find how hard or softly I hold the pick to be of a great influence of how quickly I can play.
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Unread 06-11-2012, 08:17 PM   #11
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Try this approach: pay attention to your muscles - hold the pick tight enough so that it won't be out of your control, but loose enough so that you can't feel the muscles in your arm/hand tensing up. Either extreme will pose a variety of problems otherwise.

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Unread 06-11-2012, 08:21 PM   #12
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Kind of depends on what I'm playing. For clean, more chord-y stuff I usually pick pretty lightly but when im playing something more aggressive I hold the pick tighter

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