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thin picks rule

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(@scrtchy)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 106
Topic starter  

Has anyone else here noticed how much better each note sounds when using a thin pick? Take a medium pick or thicker and play with a clean sound, play a chord one note at a time and then play the exact same thing with a thin... the notes bloom better and have much more presence, to me they sound more alive. It feels so wierd, but I practiced my cushions off tryingto getr used to picking with a thin and pleasently discovered that once I had gotten over the wierdness of it, it was actually easier to play fast with a thin... it's almost just an extension of your fingers with an extra joint in the tip.

http://www.daughtersandsons.net -Cincinnati CEA Award winners for best original RnB/Funk band! (Bragging is in the user manual and encouraged)(Hi Mom)


   
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(@slejhamer)
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Nope; mediums rule for acoustic, heavies for electric. Better sound, better control.
8)

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


   
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(@gnease)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5038
 

This is a good example of the YMMV principle.

Even among those of us who've played a fair number of years, you will find various pick gauge prefs. Mine happens to be stiff => thick, because I believe I can get far more timbral and rhythmic control if all the flex is in my fingers and wrist, where I can control it dynamically. And also I happen to hate "clicky" thin picks unless I'm using that for effect (and I have). But that said, I can play with almost anything as a pick from a torn fingernail to quarter and do a passable job. But one thing I cannot do with a thin pick is really attack and snap a string. I also think the inherent rebound time of a flexy pick limits the speed when picking every note if that's the desired approach -- either alternate or all down or ...

IIRC, Ken (Smokindog) and Wes prefer something a bit thinner. Same for David (dhodge) Guys?

-=tension & release=-


   
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(@musica23)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 277
 

Strange this topic should arise as I've just begun to experiment with a thinner pick.

First off, I never used a pick until about 6 months ago. I used my thumb and/or thumbnail. My teacher wanted me to begin using a pick in order to build speed. I've finally gotten used to it (a thick 1mm one), but I'm having trouble with alternate picking. I just started with a thin-medium pick the other day to see if it might be easier. I'm short on patience and expect too much progress too soon, though, so I'm curious to see what'll be written here! :)

Love and Peace or Else,
CC


   
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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

Different picks do have different sounds, and I've pretty much used them all at times. But in general I'm with Greg - heavy picks give much more control over tone. I use heavy or extra heavy picks for everything, rhythm included.

Most people I know seem to start with medium, move to thin, and end up with heavy. As part of the learning curve, think picks definately have a place: it's easier to pick through the string, which is a requirement for developing speed.

One big downside to thin picks: they break. I've shattered dozens over the years. Thin celluloid picks don't hold up very long, and the 'unbreakable' nylon ones only last a little longer.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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(@kingpatzer)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2171
 

I'm another "stiff" pick guy. My favorite pick is a Wegen hand-made job that is almost 3mm thick. I've been experimenting lately with ironwood picks, which are much thinner (but still thick by plastic pick standards) but have a great deal of inherent stiffness due to the lack of flexibility and grain direction of the ironwood.

While there are exceptions, most jazz guys who use picks seem to use thicker picks. It allows for much greater dynamic control.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


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

I use different picks for different songs. No lie. When I play I'll usually have a table (or use a monitor or even the side of the keyboardist's keyboard) to place things like capos (always bring spares) and picks. On some very fast strummed acoustic songs (Greg - think Sapphire) I find I really get the best sound for that particular with a thin or "medium thin" pick while on other songs, even ones with the same tempo (like a souped up version of, say, All of Me) I'll use a super thick pick, like the "Big Stubby," to get a gypsy jazz chunky rhythm thing going. For me it really depends on both the rhythm of the song, what I'll be playing as rhythm guitarist and the instrument I'll be using (I often end up playing things other than guitar and different thicknesses in picks makes a world of difference on banjos, ukes, mandolins, dobros, etc.)

If I'm playing lead or a combo of lead and rhythm on guitar, I tend to work with a 1MM pick or slightly thicker.

To me, picks are part of creating an overall tone to the guitar and it's surprising how different types of picks (not only in terms of thickness, but also in terms of materials) can change not only the sound but also your approach to playing. Find what works best for you, but also take time to experiment and try out as many different sorts as you can. As everyone's pointed out, your mileage may vary. But you'll also have a lot of fun.

Oh, if you find you're a thin pick person, either get nylon ones like Jim Dunlop or have lots on hand. It's easy to shred them. Literally. :wink:


   
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(@ricochet)
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Thin picks are great for strumming, not so good for picking IMO. And they do make a loud click. YMMV.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
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(@jimjam66)
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Joined: 17 years ago
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Personally I find that the thickness of the pick has less impact than the shape. Being relatively new I find that sharp-pointed picks (think Jim Dunlop Tortex) 'bind' when I'm trying to strum or pick across strings, while rounder-edged picks (think Sharkfin) give me more freedom of movement. I have no doubt that as my skills increase this will become less of an issue but right now I have drawers full of picks I bought and couldn't use! :D

David


   
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(@clideguitar)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 375
 

Thin picks are great for strumming, not so good for picking IMO. And they do make a loud click. YMMV.

Absolutely! Having said that, I use a thin pick! I mostly play rhythm but when I want to play a riff and do some flatpicking the thin pick just doesn't cut it so I TRY mediums and hopefully can work up to heavy. I just think I play cleaner and faster with a thin pick but I know I'm holding myself back until I can play with a thicker pick.

As for the type of pick, I bought about a dozen thin picks awile ago and yes, They would last an hour or 2 and they would shred. I found the "Jim Dunlop" NYLON 60mm about 4 months ago and they last allot longer. The top edge is surrated so it's easier to hold.

There was thread about a month ago with the same topic.

Bob Jessie


   
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 cnev
(@cnev)
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I think I went through pretty muchthe exact progression as noteboat mentioned...medium to light to heavy.

Right now I use 1 mm picks not real heavy but I don't like anything thinner than that

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


   
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(@maliciant)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 259
 

I think preference in pick changes with my mood personally... but I will say that I've had several thin picks tear. I tend to play using fingerstyle a lot these days and strumming with my fingernails... but sometimes when I just want a pick and there isn't one sitting near enough I'll grab a piece of cardboard, a coin, a credit card, whatever. I usually have a few picks sitting at my desk but little pick gremlins must move them around to mess with me because sometimes they just aren't there (and sometimes they suddenly get back on their own).

Despite having played guitar (and sometimes bass) with many non-traditional materials (I wasn't kidding about cardboard... it didn't last long but it had a nice sound before it got too tattered), I haven't fooled with much other than nylon picks for real picks. Somehow a turtle shell pick just seems like it'd have a neat sound to it. Is there a place that sells an assorted grab bag of picks, no two picks being identical? Experimenting with picks is cheaper than strings, but it's pretty expensive to buy a variety of individual picks.


   
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 Nuno
(@nuno)
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Personally I find that the thickness of the pick has less impact than the shape.
I agree, the shape is also important. I use the picks for the rounder edge. I grasp them in a better way and I get more control (really I'm "shortening" the pick length). The sound changes.

I use Tortex, too. And Martin. Medium and heavy. I like the sound and how they feel. The small Stubby (1mm and 2mm) are also nice.

For strumming, I'd like to use thin picks (the Planet Waves sound great to me) but I always use my fingernails...


   
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 Mike
(@mike)
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I use nothing less than 1mm and cut them to a point, but not too pointy and there can't be any rough edges.


   
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(@scrtchy)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 106
Topic starter  

Well, I'm all messed up! Am I the only person here who has been playing a long time (20 years at least) and gravitated towards a thin pick? I am just the opposite, I started out with heavies because of how effortless speed picking was. Then as I followed my ears, I found that medium picks just made each note sound bigger, more full , and more articulate to me than heavier picks. Then once I had physically gotten used to mediums I tried thins on a whim and to my ears the difference was staggering, mediums and heavies sounded dull and like 'thud thud thud' compared to thins, and the dynamic range easily expanded to bigger extremes, the single notes to me seem deeper and more round while at the same time more articulate.. again to my ears.

But thins felt so terrible to my hand and technique that I didn't switch right away. I play from Paganini to Hendrix and I teach anything and everything, I couldn't have imagined being able to teach someone a Dimebag solo with a thin pick so I put them away and went back to mediums. Then I saw a friend's dad play a bazuki (spelling?), the greek intrument. He was flat picking lines that would have made Malmsteen and Di Meola jealous and his tone and dynamics were magnificant. When I talked to him after the show he offered for me to play his instrument, when I grabbed his pick I was shocked to find it was paper thin... much more thin than even a normal Fender thin. So I went back to listening to the differences between just a medium and a thin and realized I had to overcome the technique problems for the sonic gains. Somewhere into the first month I started to get used to the feel, and then one night it all just fell into my hand, I became able to use the flexability of the thin pick and further economize what my picking hand had to do... it felt like being set free. In my personal and possibly insane opinion, thin picks give me more to choose from tonally and dynamically, and they made my technique better.

I do agree that they break alot, though when they last, they don't wear any quicker. I use Fender thins and have found that the all white ones break less than the caramel coloured ones, if at all. The last pack of all white ones have all lasted until they were worn... during which time I broke three caramel ones.

http://www.daughtersandsons.net -Cincinnati CEA Award winners for best original RnB/Funk band! (Bragging is in the user manual and encouraged)(Hi Mom)


   
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