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Author Topic: I suck at picking!  (Read 3628 times)

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Offline Mark Cordova

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I suck at picking!
« on: Sep 21, 2005, 01:14:44 AM »
I have a mando, Bouzouki, and tener banjo. The fingering is a little tricky on the 'zouk but not impossible. My left hand feels fairly comfortable with any of these instruments. My picking stinks.

Exercises?
Suggestions?

Offline ImaginaryVoyage

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #1 on: Sep 21, 2005, 01:43:16 AM »
I'm the exact same way. After playing fiddle for so long and then trying to play mandolin, my left hand tends to want to move alot faster than I can pick. I guess practice does make perfect! That's the only suggestion I can really make since I have the same problem also, but I think its a good solution.

Offline beeswing

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #2 on: Sep 21, 2005, 05:09:07 AM »
Same problem, picked mando before fiddle, but put it down for about 30 yrs. Took it up again a while ago, couldn't find the strings with the dad blastit potrzebie pick. Same suggestion, practice: scales, arpeggios, pick out the spots that give you trouble and repeat. Hope it works for you.

Neat thing about mando is there's a four-finger closed chord or two that work all up and down the neck, so you can give it a whack and get a nice bright chunky chord.

I'd be happy if I could go seamlessly between notey picking and tremolo. Got to have that flutter every now and then or it isn't a mandolin sound.
I want to be a musician when I grow up.
Sorry, son, you can't do both.

Offline WildFiddler

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #3 on: Sep 21, 2005, 05:25:44 AM »
My picking stinks.

Exercises?
Suggestions?
If you do this exercise twice a day for 5 minutes each you'll see a big improvement with your picking. You'll need a metronome.

Set your metronome at 60 bpm. Each beat is a quarter note. You can use an open string, if you want - the focus initially is the right hand.

Pick down then up. Each pick is a quarter note.
Then do each pick is a quarter note.
Then do each pick is a eight note.
Then do each pick is a sixteenth note.

If your comfortable, and have clean sound, make the metro faster.
Keep working the metro up in speed, but with good clean comfortable tone. Your right hand should always be relaxed, release any tension.
Stop at any pain, pains means we over did it.

When you're comfortable with the excercise, apply it to scales, doing sixteenths, or what ever is appropriate for the speed of the metronome. This will help co-ordinate your picking with fingers.

After some time you'll see a tremendous difference in strength, agility and co-ordination. You'll also have a great tremolo. Sound good?  ;D

Offline farmerjones

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #4 on: Sep 21, 2005, 01:37:41 PM »
The fact that the necks are different widths makes me tend to drill up and down the first possition's scales quite a bit, as one whole scale y'know.  Just getting the feel and that pick timeing thing back every time i pick it up.  There's some obviousness to that.
   i know you're a pretty sharp cookie, so the one unobivous thing i kinda found is the pick itself. Try about twenty different thicknesses and styles. Some like the more rounded mando picks. i don't think they reach into the strings enough for me. Some like a thinner pick. Some like thicker. This will change the tone too.  I like star picks as they don't rotate in your fingers. 
 Oh, and the cheating part: On a mando you can rest your wrist and let the wrist joint do the work.  You don't have to use your arm at all. Like you have to do in fiddlin to control your string choices. But that may be obvious as well.
  Just play the thing as much as you play the Devil's Box and you'll have it.  :) :)

fj

Offline beeswing

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #5 on: Sep 21, 2005, 04:03:57 PM »
I like a heavy pick for mando, .96mm or even fatter. A Fender medium might be too light. Got a 2.0mm big stubby that I really like. Way back when, I had one with pieces of cork to grip, but nowadays they make them with some pretty aggressive texture molded right in, if that's what you like. My fingers don't get very sweaty, so I can use the ones with a matte finish, no problem grabbing it too tightly just to keep it in hand. I like a little wobble, a little free play, between fingertips and pick.
I want to be a musician when I grow up.
Sorry, son, you can't do both.

Offline swarbrules

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #6 on: Sep 21, 2005, 04:34:41 PM »
I use a hard sharkfin. Easy to hold and a good sound.

Offline David M.

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #7 on: Sep 21, 2005, 04:50:02 PM »
Thick pick.  Don't use a flimsy thin or med. thing.  Use heavy, x-heavy, or thicker.  Your tone will be better and your control will eventually be better as will your volume.  Also, experiment on what tip you like -- sharp or rounded.

Also, HOLD THE PICK VERY LOOSELY.  Almost so it feels like it'll fall out of your fingers.  the pick has to pivot in your fingers to go w/the direction you're moving it.  You'll get used to this after a while, but it's important.  If you stiffen up on your pick hold, you'll likely stiffen up your wrist, which leads me to the next thing:

as an old timer old me in Kentucky about the bow, LOOSEY GOOSEY.  Farmerjones hit the nail on the head.  loose wrist.  not from the elbow, but the wrist.  All in the wrist.  Watch someone like Tim O'Brien or Sam Bush and their forearm's barely moving, but the hand is pivoting at the wrist and moving 90 mile and hour.  Can't be stiff armed or stiff wristed.

And, practice.  Actually I like it when a fiddler or violin player has trouble w/the pick  ;)   Because for me, it's the other way around.  The pick is natural while that damm stick is trouble waitin' to happen.  But you gotta hold that stick loosely, too, and loose wrist on it.  So, there are similarities I reckon.

Offline feodosia

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #8 on: Sep 21, 2005, 05:58:07 PM »
Ha, Mark


  You still messing with the tenor banjo for how long now, 15 years at least ?  LOL

These guys are giving good advice , with the metronome and all...

Yeah, with the tenor banjo it's ALL about the wrist ...  arch that wrist, swing it independantly from the forearm ..  that wrist needs to be loosey-goosey 

  I wish I could draw a diagram on here... maybe I can take some pics sometime of how to hold the pick , and email them to you ....  keep trying , you'll get it

Offline kesh

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #9 on: Sep 21, 2005, 11:21:46 PM »
Apart from the pick & practice suggestions above, a properly set up bridge will make a world of difference.

Offline farmerjones

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #10 on: Sep 22, 2005, 01:22:21 PM »
Tenor banjo eh?
that's different.
They need alot of room for projection. Depending on wind or other ambient interference, a good tenor banjo should be played probably at the very least two miles or killometer away. That's just my finding/opinion. Your distance may vary. 


fj


 ;D

Offline beeswing

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #11 on: Sep 22, 2005, 01:31:41 PM »
They project better in small spaces if the head is good and tight. ;D

Don't bother cranking the clamps, just play the flame of a propane torch liberally over the head. Since, as FJ points out, wind will disturb the vibration, keep the windows tightly closed when you do this. If the skin doesn't blister and char, you have the flame too far away. ;D
I want to be a musician when I grow up.
Sorry, son, you can't do both.

Offline Mark Cordova

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #12 on: Sep 22, 2005, 08:20:51 PM »
Um - the tenor banjo has been collecting dust for ten years. Shame on you Feodosia Making them believe that I'm still an imcompetent at it after 15 years! I have to get a new head and strings so I can play it again. I was much better at picking that single string than I am at the paired strings. Some of these exercises and suggestion are really awesome. I'm Going to give them some attention.

Funny, I played tenor banjo better 10 years ago than I do now. Musta lost interest. I really despise sucking at something and having to hear it.

Offline WildFiddler

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #13 on: Sep 22, 2005, 09:00:55 PM »
I really despise sucking at something and having to hear it.
Glad someone understands.  ;)  When I first switched from guitar to fiddle, the pain to my ears was unbelievable. Funny the dogs liked it - I think they like the sound of tortured cat.  ;D  Better to start fiddle with our heads in a bucket of water, or I could have used the big ear muffs ...  But practice makes it good. Work that pick with the metronome and you'll get good again.  ;D

Offline feodosia

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #14 on: Sep 23, 2005, 04:05:21 AM »
Um - the tenor banjo has been collecting dust for ten years. Shame on you Feodosia Making them believe that I'm still an imcompetent at it after 15 years!
Funny, I played tenor banjo better 10 years ago than I do now. Musta lost interest. I really despise sucking at something and having to hear it.

  Ha, well if it makes you feel any better ... I got tired of competition Highland bagpipe playing and have set them down for almost as long as you set your banjo down... but now there's a new marching band within walking distance to my house..so no excuse, I've had to pull the brutish Highland pipes out of retirement .... and guess what ? Even though my fingers still know the movements and I can still play the Lowland pipes pretty decently , the hard 2 x4 planks of the Highland pipe reed is kicking my butt .....  my lip muscles have turned to mush ...you have to use it or lose it , ha ....Now I have to listen to the sucky sound coming out of my chanter after the first couple of tunes wear my lips out ...
 I despise having to hear such sucky notes coming out at a volume that half the town hears it too ...it's downright embaressing  :P

Offline Mark Cordova

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #15 on: Sep 23, 2005, 04:53:42 AM »
What an awesome tagline there Feodosia. That certainly applies to both of us, doesn't it. I couldn't imagine you without that Bullfrog neck swelling up and blowing galeforce winds into the pipes. Maybe your wind can still keep up. Would you like to know the best way to get your lips back in shape? Play your tenor Banjo with them.

Today, I've too busy to do anything like practice or send Gary his music reading lessons but I'll get after some of these techniques tomorrow.

Offline susiakasinead

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #16 on: Dec 01, 2005, 04:09:18 PM »
Well, the only advice I can give is to keep on picking. Start playing scales. Don't pick too fast, do it at a speed where you can control your picking. First, do downstrokes only and make sure you hold the pick properly (I'm sure there are pictures somewhere on the internet or maybe you know someone who plays guitar or such who can show you). Then, do down and upstrokes alternating. Hold the pick not too tightly but tight enough to not drop it. You need to be relaxed in your hand, and use your wrist as much as possible if you can. After scales, pick simple tunes. Don't speed up until you feel you have control over your picking.

Offline Mark Cordova

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #17 on: Dec 01, 2005, 04:32:33 PM »
To all my good friends with the ever excellent suggestions. My left hand is rather good. It is years ahead of my picking hand. I can however use your suggestions with regards to the right hand. I have already found those exercises to be quite useful. I'll keep after them.

Thanks to everyone!

Offline farmerjones

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #18 on: Dec 01, 2005, 07:22:30 PM »
 It's must be a cause & effect thing, but it applies to either hand on any string instrument: Don't watch you're hands.  It seems when you unhook the visual link to your brain you can somehow relax that "thing" that needs relaxing.  This one doesn't just work for me alone. i've suggested it and watched it work for others.


fj


Offline buttermuffin4

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #19 on: Dec 08, 2005, 05:14:26 PM »
I sucked at mandolin picking when I started.
I've just got down picking the right two strings successfully without hitting other ones.
I can't recommend any exercises, all I can say is practice, you'll eventually get it down, key word, eventually. ;)

Offline feodosia

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #20 on: Jan 15, 2006, 12:41:49 AM »
Hey Mark


  I took your  " Chicago Reel "    and kind of did an
Appalacian mountain thing with it on my old 4-track cassette recorder..

 I put it on the recording section of this forum
http://www.fiddleforum.com/fiddleforum/index.php?topic=14856.0

 Played my openback 5-string and added  fiddle playing..

I like Irish music and mountain 5-string banjo  together...
 Irish tunes are alittle fast and complicated for mountain banjo but it can be done  ;)








Offline rudi

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Re: I suck at picking!
« Reply #21 on: Jan 19, 2006, 09:13:25 AM »
An old guitar players rambleÖ

As a general rule, the heavier pick suits heavier gauge strings, and there should be a little give in them. So a pick should be able to flex slightly when you pluck. Different instruments likely have different action/tension, and a pick should be carefully chosen to suit each instrument. For me, an ideal pick should be capable of providing more force & volume than fingernails (as when finger-picking).

I had a pick crisis a few years back and could not decide which gauge best suited my evolving style(s). I swapped between heavier & lighter ones for about a fortnight, until the right pick chose itself.

If you mainly strum, more give is desirable, so a lighter pick makes sense. Light picks are ok for melody work if you donít mind all your notes sounding the same.

Some picks, like Gibsons are very unreliable in gauge thickness. In other words they vary, and sometimes a HEAVY will be about the same as a certain MEDIUM. So I handle them before I buy, and end up buying some of each.

Thatís what I reckon anyway. Having said all this, there are of course all kinds of things people use for picks:- stones, coins, plastic bottles etc. Good luck to all of them, except maybe the tortoiseshell plectra fiends.

 




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