Holding the pick

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by LLeaDD, Jun 3, 2016.

  1. LLeaDD

    LLeaDD SS.org Regular

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    I'm curious what people think about this. I hold my pick on an upward slant with my thumb curved upwards. I know most prefer or recommend the downward slant. I noticed the pick will wobble so is that because it's being held in the fleshy part, whereas with a downward slant the pick is on the side of the finger where it's much harder?

    I can't get downward slant going for the life of me, the pick gets stuck on the upward stroke so the motion becomes very tight.

    I'm a lefty so everything opposite is comfortable for me...curved thumb up for edge picking, upward slant to break the string plane and inside/outside picking.
     
  2. OmegaSlayer

    OmegaSlayer SS.org Regular

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    It's your choice and no one should tell you how to pick.

    I play with a downward "angle" of 45° (slant is usually the rotational angle that brings the tip of the pick "out" of the strings)
    You play with the -45° angle, just like Ola Englund or Zakk Wylde when he goes very hmmm...wild :lol:
    To my ears the -45° angle does indeed sound more aggressive, but it doesn't work extremely well with some techinques that involve string skipping and sweep picking.

    There isn't any TRUE way of holding the pick, like there isn't a rule about anchoring your hand or not, or where to anchor your hand.
    You must feel comfortable with what you do.
    The true rules are to pick with the wrist and to not squeeze too hard the pick between your thumb and your index.

    Having said that...I practice both angles.
    If you pay attention to the movements of the muscles inside your wrist when you pick, you'll notice that while some muscle bands work the same in both ways, some muscle move more when your thumb points upward, some move more when your thumb points down.
    That's why you feel that one movement results more wobbly.
    The problem is not in the thumb, but in the tension you feel in some wrist muscles that you're not used to put to work.
    Few guitarists have realized that 95% of problems with picking is relative to stamina, to how your body work when you put it under the strain of a repeated movement.
    The main problem is not the speed by itself, but keeping that speed going for a considerable amount of times.
    It's pretty evident when you play speed bursts, you can achieve speeds that you can't keep going for too much.

    My suggestion is to practice both ways.
    Don't expect to pick in the way you're not used to, with the same efficiency.
    Expect a 30% less speed at least.
    So, if you play a certain pattern, picking with the thump pointing up at 120 bpm, try to practice the same pattern at 70-80 bpm picking with your thumb pointing down.
    Be consistent and pay attention, and build stamina in your muscles.
    Even if you won't change the angle you pick, strengthening those muscles you don't use in your wrist, will help you a great deal even with the movement you're used to.
     
  3. redstone

    redstone SS.org Regular

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    Wrong. Picking with the wrist

    - can be inferior to techniques involving other articulations.

    - is not a picking technique. A picking technique is a combination of movements, each being assigned to specific tasks to strike, skip and change strings. The wrist has four and many different ways to assign them. I studied many ways to pick only with the combination of wrist movements, and much more. Picking with the wrist is an empty answer so you might actually not pick the way you think you do. A large proportion of self-assessed wrist-pickers use pronosupinating techniques or passive wrist techniques where the wrist is relaxed and passively amplifies the motions of the arm, which, by reducing tensions in the forearm, mislead people in thinking they don't move it. Even a passive pseudo-pronosupination can be achieved that way.


    Certain picking motions are better for certain tasks and certain grips and positions are better with those motions.
    There's definitely a hierarchy of techniques to achieve specific results, and each of those have an optimal posture and grip. The fact that one grip is not an universal answer doesn't mean that there's no rule : all roads don't lead to Rome. I tried nearly all of them.
     
  4. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I never had any of my guitar teachers show me how to hold a pick. I just grabbed it with my fingers and dug in.

    Maybe the problem is how you hold the pick, or maybe the problem is how the pick holds you. You might want to try a few different types, even thumbpicks, or no pick, and see what gives you the best results.

    Remember that you are a lefty, so you need to do things the unorthodox way sometimes. The goal in music is to inspire other people. However you end up doing that is a good method. If people fuss over your picking technique but love the sounds you are making, then that's probably a double win.
     
  5. OmegaSlayer

    OmegaSlayer SS.org Regular

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    Wrist is the most efficient way.
    Maybe you can achieve faster speeds picking with elbow, but it's a big lever that gets harder to control, thus losing precision.
    Thumb picking offers a short lever with loads of control, but the majority of people can't achieve great speeds with thumb picking.
    Then there's people able to move everything together but it's quite crazy and won't give you much more notes per seconds than efficient wrist movements.
    We move into Rusty Cooley speed territories when notes are too fast that they lose musicality and become the Pac-Man jingle.

    Having said all that...even learning what you will never use or what you simply don't like, or learn to do things in a different way...it never killed anyone, the opposite, learning just makes you a better player.
     
  6. redstone

    redstone SS.org Regular

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    For striking strings, pronosupination moves less mass and has more strength than any wrist motion, even when moving perpendicularly to the floor.

    You reduce the picking question to striking frequency, ignoring how complex are the motions to skip and change strings at high frequencies, and their respective weaknesses. With a flat pick, you can't skip strings at high frequencies with the wrist alone.
     
  7. OmegaSlayer

    OmegaSlayer SS.org Regular

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    Pronosupination doesn't move less mass, because the hand is always the same mass, so it moves the same amount of mass but with a bigger mass of muscles supporting the movement.

    I prefer to pick with a prono-supinating, but prono-supination has weaker attack and less control at lower speed.

    Still, what you refer to "pronosupination" is still one of the wrist movements to me, but supported by radio/ulnar and elbow muscles.

    When I mean elbow, I literally mean people keeping the forearm stiff from the elbow joint to the fingers and only move the elbow joint.

    By the way...
    Pronosupination, for those who play guitar and don't study anathomy is the movement of the wrist when you open the door, the "wrist" movement is the movement when you play cards and you drop a card on the table
     
  8. redstone

    redstone SS.org Regular

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    What I refer to pronosupination is pronosupination lol. Elbow is the axis of rotation, it doesn't qualify as a wrist technique.

    Ok, bad wording : It moves less weight since the mass is equally spread around the axis and any imbalance caused by a non-neutral wrist posture is offset by the gain in amplitude. The attack of the upstroke is weak indeed, only if you're in postural supination. With a neutral p/s posture, all strokes can be equal, though then anchoring the hand or stabilizing the motion becomes tedious, which would qualify as less controllable I guess, but control is an empty concept unless we specify what we want to achieve and how. Either control quickly comes with practice, or it doesn't come if the movement, posture and grip assigned for a task is inadequate. Some picking strategies require to keep the pick away from the wrist, when they develop enough strength but lack the amplitude to change strings, which calls for a counterclock grip, whereas others require to keep it closer for opposite reasons, which calls for the opposite grip. No picking strategy reacts equally well to both, there's always a strength/amplitude imbalance and therefore a better grip.
     
  9. LLeaDD

    LLeaDD SS.org Regular

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    Me too. I just noticed the vast majority of shredders hold it with the thumb downward. It is more comfortable and my thumb does get sore after awhile but then goes away. I'm ok with that. EVH picks that way.
     
  10. LLeaDD

    LLeaDD SS.org Regular

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    For speed picking I get better results all around when I use my forearm. My wrist isn't totally stiff but something about it makes it more efficient.
     

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