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Pick angle vs. string type, gauge, etc.

cbwimcbwim ✭✭✭
I'e been trying to duplicate the tone quality that some of the top GJ players including Django get on their guitars. I've been tending towards heavier gauge strings for more punch especially on the bottom end, but keeping the string height reasonable (2.5-2.75mm at the 12th fret). I am using a Wegen pick that measures about 1.25mm in thickness. My guitar is a Shelley Park Montmarte with a slightly shorter scale (10mm less).

Am finding that the angle of the pick relative to the body surface is the key. The flatter the better it seems whereas 90 degrees ives a simple dreadnaught tone. Also, where I am picking in between the sound hole and the bridge is important - too close and its too twangy and too far and it is too dreadnaught. The sweet spot varies with string length - thus playing higher up the fingerboard means playing a little closer to the bridge. One can also control the degree of tone by varying the pick angle as well, at least while playing slowly.

I've never had these parameters really explained well in workshops or online lessons. I thought I would share these observations here and see what others have to say.
Buco

Comments

  • NejcNejc Slovenia✭✭ Altamira M01
    edited February 2016
    EDITED!

    Yes, the pick angle, the material from which is made, the thickness and the way the edge is made has an effect on the sound, but also the attack of the player is pretty significant, and there should be more talk about that rather than the picks. Some people like to hit the strings very fast even at slower tempos with a looser grip, some prefer slow strike and strong grip etc. There is a ton of different ways and everyone has its on sound because of that.

    The best thing is to learn to constantly adjust the attack to get the sound you really want to get. And I think this is the main reason some players can create such a difference when they play. One of the best although hes not in the gypsy jazz genre is Marcin Dylla. The way he can play the guitar and adjust the attack of every single one of his fingers for every note he plays is just unreal.

    I also use a couple of different picks depending on what style I am playing. Some can give you that jazzy archtop kind of sound and other are very bark heavy. Again its a matter of trying out a lot of different things, combining them and see what works the best.

    For the strings I have found out that the 12 gages are ideal for me. I feel that from them you can get everything you really need. They can sound light if you want, but also very heavy (for a bit more articulation and drama). The 11s no matter how hard I hit them I can never get the notes to sound rich. The heavy gages strings 13s+ can be problematic, since you put so much more tension the top, it stops vibrating and you get the opposite of what you would expect.

    PS: It would be really nice if we could get the edit option to work, sometimes it doesnt work.
    Bill Da Costa WilliamsBuco
  • opus20000opus20000
    edited February 2016
    My issue is doing gypsy picking on standard flat top acoustics, as those usually have thicker gauge strings it gets difficult for me to pick with the gypsy hand postion on those and go through the strings
  • My experience leads me to comment that for every pick type there is a very small band of optimal angle to the strings to get the desired tone and ease of passage over the string. This will probably vary a little bit with each person's style.

    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
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