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How hard do you pick??

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  1. jazzacast55

    Hey guys,

    Ok so this has been on my mind lately, I live in an apartment block and can never really play very loud with my amp so I end up playing quiet through my amp or unplugged.
    Now I been noticing I play quite light because of this (hold the pick quite light, it kinda moves around when I hit the strings) and I wondering if this is affecting my time (mainly) or clarity of notes as I feel those to aspects of my playing have been suffering lately.
    I don't pick every note ala Scofield, should I be holding it tight for that type of playing? it's been a while and I can't remember how I used to hold it as wired as it sounds.
    Anyway I'm wondering if anyone has advice or had a similar experience?
    I used to pick harder and also play with the pick slightly angled (ala Jimmy Bruno) but now its flat with the string.
    Thanks in advance.

  2. guitar1025

    I don't think there's really a right answer to this. I have a pretty light right hand touch and in the last few years I've noticed that in the "heat of the moment" I tend to play A LOT more aggressively (very hard picking) and I feel like I can't execute ideas nearly as fluently when I was in the shed. What I've done to combat that is I adjust the amp volume so that I can play with the light touch that I use when I practice.

    I'm sure some guys on here will have some good advice, but it really comes down to - do whatever gives you the best sound and is most comfortable.

  3. JorgeRubiales

    One thing is to practice, and another one is to play a gig. I usually practice unplugged, I have a 175 copy so I can get by easily.

    When the gig comes, I always have a practice session before to adjust myself again to playing plugged. My advice is to adjust the volume as if you were a saxophone. Play as loud as you can and ajust the volume to sound "fortissimo". There you have your maximum volume.

    Then it's just a matter of playing with dynamics, and it's really a relief to not having to think about the amp at all, because your brain is used to dynamics when you practice with an acoustic instrument.

  4. jazzacast55

    Thanks for the reply guys, Jorge, I think your right, I think I have my amp set for how I would play and then when I maybe pick harder at the gig guitar1025 mentioned it throws me off because of the volume difference, I'm going to try this tonight, set it up play hard as possible and then play with dynamics, this is great guys! Thanks!!
    Also a side note, do either of you guys (or anyone) play with the volume of your guitar around maybe 7or 8 at a gig? I've been finding that it sounds a lot warmer compared to having it on 10, which to me can sound harsh, I'm playing a 335 style guitar.
    Thanks again.

  5. OneFingerSnap

    Hi. My 2 cents. I think playing lighter makes you play more loose. Pick as hard as necessary to get a good sound. Lighter strings help. I used to follow the '13 gauge nonsense. Since playing lighter and with lighter strings I feel more relaxed and more at ease with different guitars.

  6. jazzacast55

    Hey, I know what you mean, I used to use 12s with a wound G for a good 18 months or so and have gone back to 11s and I feel more relaxed but I think this whole thing is just me getting used to that and dealing with the change of feel and sound in a live band situation at a band volume.
    @Jorge, the amp volume comment you suggested really helped, I think I've been setting it up and playing kinda quiet at sound check, plucking a few chords here and there, tonight I turned it on and hit some chords really hard to gauge the max volume and played some lines doing the same thing, it started to feel heaps better during the gig, I feel I'm on the right track to working this out, thanks again!

  7. jorgemg1984

    Lage Lund, Bernstein, myself and some others I know use 014 / 18 gauge. So nonsense it's probably not the best word - the fact it has not worked for you does not mean it doesn't work at all.

    These might seem stupid but the relationship between attack and volume might not be that strong unless you're playing in an extremly quiet situation. I have a strong attack and two archtops with some decent acoustic volume and I can practice unplugged at home and without changing my attack - you can have a strong attack and a not that loud output volume in my opinion.

    I think it's important to practice both plugged and unplugged and usually also avoid using the volume on 10. I think you need to develop a way to maintain your original attack but still be able to play quietly.


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