Gypsy Picking on other guitars

edited December 2019 in Gypsy Picking Posts: 85

Anyone else finds it hard to gypsy pick on other types of guitar other then the gypsy or nylon string?

I find it really hard on electric guitars and even archtops with pickguards.

It feels awkward and hard to aim for the strings.


  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    edited December 2019 Posts: 6,153

    @opus20000 i play archtops all the time, both acoustic and electric, and rest stroke picking works great! In fact, if you look at the old instruction books of Eddie Lang and George Van Eps, they specifically instruct students to use the the adjacent string as a “pick stop.”

    you probably just need to spend more time doing rest stroke picking on other instruments. It should become natural over time.

  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,319

    Yeah when I was learning rest stroke on an archtop I took the pickguard off.

  • wimwim ChicagoModerator Barault #503 replica
    Posts: 1,457

    You are not the only one, I also find it very difficult to use gypsy style picking on electric guitars. You really need a light touch, not the heavy hand you get used to using for drawing the sound out of a gypsy guitar.

    My guess is that it's because of the string tension - on a gypsy guitar (long scale, high string tension) you get accustomed to the "bounce" as the strings push back against the pick. On an electric, all that tactile feedback isn't there as much, so you have to readjust to the lighter touch.

    Rest stroke on some other high tension instrument like a dreadnought with heavy strings is not as much of a problem.

  • opus20000opus20000
    Posts: 85

    Thanks for all the advice. Yes, it is like night and day picking on a gypsy guitar vs. electric.

    Keeping at it I guess is the only solution.

  • therealguyfitherealguyfi Milwaukee, WINew Barault
    Posts: 47

    After six years of seriously using rest stroke picking, it's starting to become natural. When I started I played really hard, thinking that the goal was volume, but the volume actually comes from the speed of the attack (and getting off the string quickly). More recently as I've been trying to lighten my touch has my playing gotten better. I would recommend some amount of practice using rest stroke picking while playing at a quiet dynamic; watch for not holding the pick too tightly.

  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,153

    It's worth noting that George Benson uses a variation of rest stroke picking and what Wes Montgomery did with his thumb was essentially rest stroke picking as well. If you've ever tried playing a Wes line with Gypsy picking, it usually fits perfectly.

  • everetteverett san francisco✭✭✭
    Posts: 154

    I can't not pick in this's hard for me to do alternate or other styles of picking. I play soul music in a few groups and still float my wrist and play with heavy picks on a fender jaguar. I predominantly use downstrokes, and just adjust the amps/pedals, etc to balance volume wise.

  • pmgpmg Atherton, CANew Dupont MD50R, Shelley Park Custom, Super 400, 68 Les Paul Deluxe, Stevie Ray Strat
    Posts: 140

    I use a lighter stroke on archtops so I can play with lower action and also get a mellower tone. When you play with an amp, let the amp give you the volume so you can lighten up the attack and reduce any lingering tension to play fast without clanking the strings.

    I love my gypsy picks when playing acoustic - but switch to Dunlop Jazz IIIs for a warmer sound when plugged in.

    I'm always interested in jamming with experienced jazz and gypsy jazz players in the San Francisco - San Jose area. Drop me a line. Bass players welcome!
  • mac63000mac63000 Tacoma, WANew Geronimo Mateos Jazz B
    Posts: 248

    Switching to electric from acoustic, you're typically going from a heavier gauge higher tension string to a lighter tension, as Wim mentioned, and you're also dealing with narrower string spacing, which makes for smaller, more controlled movements that a thicker pick might struggle with. Rest strokes feel like a pretty natural way of controlling the pick, in my mind at least. Maybe it's just me, but gypsy picking is quite a similar technique to economy picking, (with the addition of a down stroke anytime you change strings) which works great on electric guitar, but if you're coming from alternate picking it's going to take time to adjust.

    Overall I'd say there are a few tips that benefit any player of any genre: don't hold the pick too tight, and don't hold your arm in a stiff, unnatural position. Little ergonomic adjustments will help with tone and agility, but also help save your joints down the road. The challenge for me since switching to GJ has been not resting my right hand on the bridge or top of the guitar like often do with an electric. All in due time!

  • DragonPLDragonPL Maryland✭✭ Dupont MD 50-XL (Favino), Michael Dunn Stardust, Castelluccia Tears, Yunzhi gypsy jazz guitar, Gitane DG-320, DG-250M and DG-250
    edited December 2019 Posts: 172

    If you came from playing another style using a different picking technique, continue using it on those guitars and style. For example, one probably would not use classical guitar/flamenco techniques playing an electric guitar with heavy distortion.

    Actually some years ago there was a video of flamenco guru Vicente Amigo playing an electric guitar with distortion using his flamenco technique; it sounds terrible!!

    I remember it was a laughingstock in flamenco circles at the time.

    Controlling feedback, overtones and string noise on the electric guitar with heavy distortion, which sound like a mess if not muted, can be tricky if not impossible with the gypsy picking, so probably it wouldn't be recommended in that situation anyways.

    Just like gypsy picking is appropriate to playing gypsy jazz, other picking techniques are appropriate to other respective styles, and are not necessarily transferable.

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