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  • MichaelHorowitz 3:16AM

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Not so loud! How to play quieter rhythm?

t-birdt-bird Portland, Oregon Castelluccia Nuages, Dupont Nomade
in Technique Posts: 98
I'm looking for tips on playing softer/quieter rhythm. There are is a lot of talk on this site and at jams regarding volume issues and I'm looking for good advice on technique.
If I use gravity and a loose wrist/arm I find it hard to vary the volume much. When I try to quiet it down, my arm gets tense in order to abbreviate the motion. I usually use the round side of a black 2.0 Dunlop and my main GJ guitar is a Nomade.
Any ideas?
Wim Glenn
«13

Comments

  • Wim GlennWim Glenn oƃɐɔᴉɥƆModerator 503
    Posts: 995
    It's a great question. It took me years before I even acknowledged the importance of controlling the rhythm volume, and then years again to get the technique for it.

    Nousche is the master of a light rhythm touch! I have some iphone6 slow-motion vids of him playing, up close and HD. When I get the time I'll get that stuff on youtube.

    I think you are on the right track with the pick choice. One thing that can help with controlling the volume is the amount of pick that is exposed from the flesh of the thumb and finger. If you have too much pick sticking out, it's harder to control the volume. Do you brush the strings with the top of the knuckle(s)?
    t-bird
  • t-birdt-bird Portland, Oregon Castelluccia Nuages, Dupont Nomade
    Posts: 98
    Wim Glenn wrote: »
    If you have too much pick sticking out, it's harder to control the volume. Do you brush the strings with the top of the knuckle(s)?

    Yes, my knuckles brush the strings. But, maybe not enough. I'm guessing i have too much pick sticking out - I'll try to get a photo up.
  • t-birdt-bird Portland, Oregon Castelluccia Nuages, Dupont Nomade
    edited April 2016 Posts: 98

    @stuart, I will be more conscious of my forearm. Though I was referring more to keeping it loose and relaxed, I may be moving more than necessary.

    I'm having a hard time posting the pick photo.
  • t-birdt-bird Portland, Oregon Castelluccia Nuages, Dupont Nomade
    Posts: 98
    This is the way I hold the pick for both rhythm and single note picking.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,738
    I'm not entirely sure what I do when I play quietly, but I think a lot of it is how hard you dig into the strings. I think the motion is still fairly large, I just don't dig in as much. Instead, I lightly graze the top of the strings which results in less volume.
    t-birdJazzaferrinomadgtr
  • Posts: 2,357
    I was trying to go back and forth between louder and quieter earlier today.
    My arm feels and looks the same
    If you're satisfied with your arm motion then don't try to change it.
    I think it's less pick surface that's in contact with strings that cuts the volume.
    Pretty much what Michael and Wim said, with less pick going over the strings you're going to introduce some knuckle and nail action to your playing and the pick will just barely be in contact with strings.
    t-bird
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 2,645
    Wow, yeah really good question and something that I've always struggled with.
  • altonalton Keene, NH✭✭ 2000 Dell'Arte Long Scale Anouman, Gadjo Modele Francais, Gitane DG-330 John Jorgensen Tuxedo
    Posts: 109
    Great topic. For me, realizing that I had been playing rhythm way too loud and hard was one of those "aha" moments. Then I set about figuring out how to dial the volume back. Damn that's hard. I like Olli's idea about playing late at night, except I am an early bird, so I practice a lot early in the morning and try not to annoy my wife! I agree with everyone who mentioned brushing the knuckles on the strings. When I play rhythm, I'll find myself choking up on the pick a bit so that the first knuckle on my index finger and the side of my thumb brushes the strings. Then I can't hit the strings too hard or I'll wear that knuckle right off. Brushing the strings with the knuckles also seems to give a nice rounder, mellower tone.

    The bummer here is that I felt like I was making progress getting my rhythm sounding good - good timing, upstroke, accents, relaxation, etc. Then I realized I that I was playing too loud and it was back to square one.

    Sometimes for guilty pleasure and instant gratification, I will let loose and whack the strings hard as I used to. It's a lot of fun. It's like playing an old non-master volume 100 watt Marshall. You know that it's too loud and you'll piss off the people that you are jamming with, but you do it anyway.
    t-birdBuco
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,019
    the most important thing is to not lose the same tone quality if you go down in volume. It needs to still sound crunchy and heavy.

    It's all in the right hand; you have to dig in to the strings to get the crunchy sound, but you have to do it softly. It sounds a bit like an oxymoron, but that's how it is

    My roommate just posted a video of Angelo Debarre's concert from last friday, and at the end of the song, right before the tag, he starts to play really softly, so i had to match the volume, but if you notice , the tone doesn't actually change





    altont-birdnomadgtr
  • altonalton Keene, NH✭✭ 2000 Dell'Arte Long Scale Anouman, Gadjo Modele Francais, Gitane DG-330 John Jorgensen Tuxedo
    Posts: 109
    That's a great video, Dennis! Exactly what I needed after a really long day. The ending is killer. It's like you read his mind.
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