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Does anyone else here prefer playing la pompe without a pick?

epsdudeepsdude New
in Welcome Posts: 20
I quickly got into the (bad?) habit of playing la pompe with my fingers when I was first learning the genre. I found that playing la pompe that way sounds much more dry and subtle. When I try to play with a pick (3.5 Wegen) it just sounds a bit plunky/scrapey and loud. Here's an example:

A little sloppy, but you get the idea. It might sound quiet or too heavy on the downstroke, but keep in mind I'm recording with an old, crummy phone, so my "fingerstyle" la pompe sounds more even and loud in person.

Does anyone else here prefer playing la pompe without a pick? I've tried so hard to get my la pompe with a pick sounding like Nous'che Rosenberg's, but I find it very difficult. It's much easier to achieve that dry and subtle sound without one.


  • bopsterbopster St. Louis, MOProdigy Altamira M30, Wide Sky PL-1, 1940? French mystery guitar
    Posts: 506
    Joscho Stephan’s father plays rhythm without a pick.
  • Carlo GentenaarCarlo Gentenaar The Netherlands✭✭ John Le Voi
    edited May 2018 Posts: 47
    I think your choice to play with your fingers rather than a pick is a means to make this particular guitar sound better and I noticed you are hitting the strings harder when you play with a pick. You shouldn't do that and don't dig into the strings too deep. Try to almost sweep the pick across the strings for a more gentle sound. And loose the wegen picks, they are scrapy and harsh. Get your hands on a genuine tortoise pick or try And above all keep swinging! ;-)
  • MitchMitch Paris, Jazz manouche's capital city!✭✭✭✭ Di Mauro, Lebreton, Castelluccia, Patenotte, Gallato
    Posts: 159
    Hi Epsdude, your pompe is much better with the pick. Without, it sounds inconsistent and weak, plus it sounds more swing jazz than Django style. I don't agree with Carlo, Wegen picks are excellent, i suggets you stick to that. Tortoise is the best in the US it will cost you a scandalous price. I've been playing for almost 20 years and Wegen are the best sounding picks I've found after tortoise shell.
  • Andrew UlleAndrew Ulle Cleveland, OH✭✭✭ Antoine DiMauro modele Django
    Posts: 509
    I think your choice to play with your fingers rather than a pick is a means to make this particular guitar sound better ...

    I think that's it - what makes THAT guitar sound best to YOU from the player's perspective behind the guitar.

    Personally, I always play rhythm without a pick because I'm alone and don't need or want the volume. However, I'm probably not developing good habits this way (or developing bad ones!) :anguished:
  • Wim GlennWim Glenn oƃɐɔᴉɥƆModerator 503
    Posts: 1,225
    Check out the discussion over at sideways for advice on how to get away from that harsh and scratchy sound.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,159
    Yeah I play with a 2mm Dunlop Gator 'sideways' since they are WAY cheaper than Wegens and you don't have to worry if you lose it. But I think a LOT of it is just what you are used to doing. Probably if I switched back to a Wegen I would prefer that. I think we just compensate to get the sound we want. But certainly different picks/instruments produce different results heck just check out the difference on a Gator between sideways and the pointy end. Totally different sound.

    Before you settle into anything though you should try it on a proper GJ instrument. Shameless plug, see my thread Gallatos for sale :-). Both of those guitars have the 'correct' sound (not that any one sound is 'correct' but you know what I mean, loud and dry) and that way you develop your technique on the actual type of guitar for the style, unless of course you want to use an archtop, no worries just don't expect it to behave like a Selmac.
  • Posts: 3,575
    I think your basic technique is pretty good. The difference in sound is part the pick, part the guitar and sure, part more practice. I too have stopped using Wegens because of the hardness of the material but when I did use it I'd turn it sideways and use the more round point, rhythm playing sounded much better with it.
    As you see there are still fans of it so try a different pick material and see how it feels. Jokko's picks are some of the best and he's using materials with different hardness so you can get a softer pick that doesn't have much of a click noise and sounds warmer.

    Unfortunately you and Gunter Stephan are probably in minority when it comes playing rhythm with fingers although he's using his thumb and you seem to hold your hand as if you had a pick between your fingers. Sure you can play like that at home, even record but won't be able to jam much.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • epsdudeepsdude New
    Posts: 20
    Thanks for the responses, everyone. It probably does come down a lot to the semi-hollow archtop I'm using. It does get a bit ringy thanks to the strings between the bridge and saddle, which I need to find something muffle with.

    I actually do own a GJ guitar, but I play my archtop more because it's not in a case, and because it was the first guitar I fell in love with. However, I still prefer "fingerstyle" la pompe with both guitars.

    But also like Andrew said, I play alone to myself (and along with YouTube videos) for fun as a hobby, so I never needed volume I suppose. As far as technique goes, I'm actually using the nails all four fingers on the downstroke and the side-nail of my thumb on the upstroke (It's impossible for me to do the upstroke without my thumb). Mixing in the flesh of my fingertips with my nails really helps to attain that dry, unintrusive sound I enjoy. Though playing with my pick sideways like someone was saying sounds nicer than with the point too.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,159
    Even playing with a pick I've still worn the top of my index fingernail flat from brushing it across the strings (which is common with this technique, brushing that is). If you play for a while at one sitting with Argies it turns the nail/fingertips black. If I played only using my fingernails and no pick I'd be afraid I would wear thru the nail to the skin :-) but I've never tried it.

    That is to say, even with a pick, the nails (at least the index finger) will/should also brush the strings especially for rhythm at least that's my experience (not to say I have great technique).
  • epsdudeepsdude New
    Posts: 20
    I've heard of people playing with both their pick and fingers, but I'm having trouble figuring out how it's done? How do you hold the pick? Does your fingertip extend with the point of the pick, or is it out to the side from an angle?
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