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Getting Softer Acoustic Sounds?

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(@jaques)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 3
Topic starter  

Hello! I've been trying to add some vocals to my guitar playing, but there's one small problem, which is that my guitar sounds much louder than I can possibly sing without yelling. I have a pretty Martin 000-15 acoustic, and when I play with a pick, it's got quite a ring to it. Someone told me that "they" made picks that don't sound as loud, is this true? Where might I find such a pick? Or is there any other way to get a quieter sound with a pick?


   
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(@hummerlein)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 168
 

You could try using a floppy pick. Also try playing farther away from the bridge. Just go to a guitar store, there will be lots of floppy picks there.


   
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(@davidhodge)
Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 4472
 

Or even a felt pick, which is (as you might have guessed) a pick made of felt.

What about simply strumming with your fingers or playing fingerstyle?

Peace


   
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(@barnabus-rox)
Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2957
 

I have the complete reverse problem

when I record it you can hear my very flat voice way too loud and my poor ( very poor playing in the back ground )

here is a link to show you what I mean

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=490569

BE WARNED I'M NO SINGER AND DEFINELY NO GUITAR PLAYER

Here is to you as good as you are
And here is to me as bad as I am
As good as you are and as bad as I am
I'm as good as you are as bad as I am


   
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 Nils
(@nils)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 2849
 

You can also try going down one string size. You will loose a little volume and still maintain most of the tone. Remember, you may have to adjust the neck relief a little to accommodate the lighter strings.

Nils' Page - Guitar Information and other Stuff
DMusic Samples


   
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(@jonetoe)
Reputable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 365
 

I been getting a louder then wanted ring also mostly on the treble strings when strumming. It kinda echos and drowns out the softer strum sounds. Its almost like the strings are to sharp, but there tuned correctly. I'm thinking its not me but something about the guitar


   
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(@forrok_star)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 2337
 

I generally use dunlap picks. The size's I use range from .60, .46, and .38 being really thin and soft. You also may want to practice playing lighter (softer) more like touch playing. Being able to play softer and harder can also give you better control of your dynamic's.

Joe


   
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(@demoetc)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 2167
 

Since you have a rather high-end guitar, it's probably not the guitar. Like forrok mentioned, try strumming a little more gently, but also, try a thinner gauge pick; the thicker ones are good for playing single strings and riffs, but for strumming, switching picks might help. If you can't get different picks, you could also try holding the pick more loosely.

Also, since you said the treble strings sound out louder, you might also take a look at your strum; it might be that that it's at an angle to the strings, a little higher at the bass strings and lower at the trebles. Ideally, the strum should be level with the strings from top to bottom.


   
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(@jonetoe)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 365
 

Hmmm, Thanks for the advice. My strumming can always need too level out more consistantly, but I think I narrowed it down to the high e string giving a twangy sound on the way up. It could be me, but I notice it when I just pick at it. I remember someone telling that it happens to them on that string so they took it off. I don't think thats the answer though


   
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(@demoetc)
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Joined: 21 years ago
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Just another thought: When you strum, is the pick parallel to the strings like ---- , or is it tilded like / or ?

Meaning, does your pick hit the strings flat, the tip of it, or does either the back edge or the front edge hit first and then the rest of pick sorta 'slides' over the strings? There should be a slight angle to it, like if you were watching yourself play, face-on. If it's hitting the strings flat, sorta slapping it, then on the upstroke sometimes it'll catch the high E and twang it out loud.


   
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(@jonetoe)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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Thanks Demo, you may have something there I just tried tilting it pointing more toward my face on the down and the other way on the up and it seemed smoother. I will record it to see if I can hear the difference that way. Funny I knew about that techquie but I guess I tried it once and didn't notice the benefit


   
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(@demoetc)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 2167
 

Well, there's that tilt too, like a bird's wing flapping, but the tilt angle I was talking about was more like an airplane's flap. If you're looking at the plane from the side and look at the edge of the wing from the end, you can tilt it forward or back, but the wing is still straight across the plane, you know. If you're looking at it that way it would be / or , thought not that much of an angle. But the wing flap sort of thing also works.


   
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(@jonetoe)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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OK, so your saying it would be less of the actual tippy tip of the pick and more of the side? In other words if the pick were pointed more towards the nut or bridge


   
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(@demoetc)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 2167
 

That's yet another 'angle' of the pick but I know what you mean. I think maybe to use the airplane example because they have 3 dimensional angles;

Say you're in a plane flying with its wings level, straight ahead (not left or right), not pulling back or diving down, pretty much everything straight and it's 'fying' at the face of your guitar straight on, with the nose of the plane being the tip of your pick.

You can hit the rudder and the point will be left toward the bridge slightly (assuming you're right handed), or the other way would be toward the neck slightly. But the 'wings' are still level; you're not banking or anything, and the body of the plane is still level.

But you can have the plane's nose straight again, and 'bank' it to the left or the right slightly, but still heading straight toward the guitar and not pulling back or diving down. Like the fins on a submarine. If you 'bank' it to the right, it would make the front edge of the tip of the pick (closest to the neck) hit the string first and the pick would flex and let the string by, and then it's on to the next string, like if you're thinking about it in slow motion. If you 'bank' it the other way, the back edge of the tip of the pick would hit first and then slip over.

Straighten everything up again and there's one more angle - pushing the stick forward and diving, which means the point of the pick is slightly toward the floor, or pulling back where the pick is pointing slightly up. But everything else is straight ahead.

Sorta like these examples: http://www.pilotfriend.com/flight_training/new_site/aerodynamics/aircraft%20controls.htm

But think of the plane as your pick and the nose of the plane is the nose of the pick. I think the main terms used are 'pitch' 'roll' and 'yaw' and it's the same with a pick.

The thing is though, you can use any combination of all three, but first start with everything straight ahead. Strum, and you'll hear the pick sorta tapping or slapping against each string as it passes over it because the tip of the pick is hitting flat against the strings.

If you do the 'dive' or 'pullup' thing, it's still hitting the strings flat, but it's more like it's being 'dragged' over the strings and isn't so noisy. The only problem with that way of playing is you have to remember to angle it back the other way on the upstrokes. It's doable and I've done it for certain things and you get a sort of 'scrubbing' feeling to the strumming; like you're 'painting' them with a brush.

If you again straighten it up and now 'bank' to the left or right so that either the back edge or the front edge of the pick strikes first, it's way less noisy because the flat-to-flat contact is gone. And it's not a great deal of angle; I don't know, maybe 10-15 degrees or something.

I hope I didn't make it seem more complicated, because it really isn't, and after awhile, now that you're aware of the 3 different angles, it'll become natural.

For me, sometimes when I'm doing a really fast strum, like in funk or something, I have the pick so the back edge is hitting first - but that's because my thumbs bend back weirdly. But it's also the way Neal Schon, George Benson and Santana hold their picks, to name a few. When I play single lines I tilt it the other way so the front edge hits first, and when I'm doing 40s style rhythm, I sometimes let the tip trail after my fingers, so it's pointing up on the downstrums and down on the upstrums. I still have a slight left-right angle on it though so it doesn't slap.

You can get a whole bunch of different sounds from experimenting with the 3 angles, and if and when you try another pick shape, you get a whole bunch more. I usually use a 351 shape pick, but sometimes I'll go with a really thin Fender 'Big Triangle' pick to get a more airy sound, or the thicker little 'jazz' picks from Fender - the teardrop ones.

And lots of times I don't use a pick at all for strumming - just brushing the side of my thumb down the strings on the downstrokes and the pad of my index finger on the upstrokes. More like 'wiping' down with the thumb and then 'wiping' back up with the index. That's especially good for accompanying vocals on a 12-string because a 12 can get *really* clangy and loud *really* quick :)


   
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(@jonetoe)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 365
 

Demo, like if a door knob was where the sound hole is and I was turning it either way then, or the plane thing being my pick. I get it now i'm sure. when I strum with fingers I use the back of my nails ( middle finger down thumb nail up) When you do that your way you strum down with the side of your thumb (ok for me) but I come up also with the side of my index (side close to my middle finger) is that good its the only way thats works for me at this point


   
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