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Thread: Harder pick + slant + relax = YES!!!

  1. #1
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    Harder pick + slant + relax = YES!!!

    First of all: I love the internet. Thanks to all the info it gives on sites like this one, I learned more about the guitar in the last few weeks, than I did in the last 25 years. Really! Only problem is... there are so many sites and... so many forums! I currently visite (only) three forums daily (or better said every 15 minutes... ): a dutch forum, the forum on guitarprinciples and this forum. I try to keep things seperate and don't double post. But yesterday I had a breakthrough and I really HAVE to share it with you all, because this is my most favorite site! (No kidding!) So I copied the post from that forum and I will paste it here. Don't be afraid: I won't make a habit of it. Unless I have breakthroughs like this daily...

    Here it goes:

    After reading a lot on this site and the forum I decided to buy a stiffer pick. I had an old flexible one. I bought (amongst others) a Dunlop Jazz III (red) which is something like 1,38 mm thick.
    I had lots of problems with Troy Stetina's exercise 25 from Speed Mechanics: I couldn't do it faster than 110. The book says you have to do it at 132 before you proceed... My plectrum frequently got stuck behind a string. Whe I tried to play it at 120 it was a mess. Specially the thicker strings...

    When i came home I stumbled accross the page on this site about 'slant' (edit: http://www.guitarprinciples.com/Guit...ique/Slant.htm). I never heard of that before! I thought: I have to try this!

    I picked up my guitar and played the exercise. I had to get used a bit to the thicker pick and the slant position, but after a VERY short while I suddenly had a nice, steady pick! I also paid close attention to any tension I noticed. I've read a lot about it on this site, but haven't got the book (yet) so I don't know ALL about it, but, well, there's quit some info here if you look well! Anyway, I noticed (indeed) that my shoulders were tense. And both my arms. Specially my pick arm, when I tried to pick quick.
    But after paying attention to it all, I suddenly had a nice, light but still very pick-sounding pick. The exercise went quit well.

    I wondered how fast I was playing.

    I took the metronome and set it to 120 immediately: I felt I was doing better than yesterday, so...
    I started to play with the speed I just played in and to my surprise I was faster than the metronome. So I went to 130... and I still played the exercise well. Although not quit good on the tick strings.

    I had to go away for the evening. When I came back I thought: was it really true...? So I picked up my guitar and played th eexercise at 120. Easy! Smooth! I went to 130: pretty nice!
    How fast can I get, I thought, so I went to 140. And even that went well. Just as 'well' as 130 was earlier on.

    So... I thought, what will happen when I try 160...? Believe it or not (I hardly believed it) but it went well on the thin strings! And when I went back to 140 that went even better than before!

    So thanks to a harder pick AND slant (I really notice a big difference when I go back to my old position) I've made great progress!

    But what also surprised me a lot: until today, even yesterday, my right arm sort of froze when I tried to play at 120. I could play the exercise on two or three strings, but then I couldn't do it anymore, because of the stiffness and pain. My arm would just block.
    But today, by just paying attention to play it all VERY relaxed and allowing no tension AT ALL in my arms, I could play the complete exercise over and over! Without ANY pain ANYWHERE! Really, I'm not kidding!

    I already said: I don't even have the book, I didn't even follow a lesson, but if only this can give me such a progress, I can only say, without having seen it: this method MUST be great!
    Just as my new pick and the 'slant'!

    I'll go on tomorrow with doing the exercise at a slower pace, because it's not perfect yet. And also my coordination isn't very good yet (this exercise focuses mainly on the right hand: I can't play 160 yet with both hands having to work hard...!), but I know now I will get there!

    I don't think I will be able to make such a progress in such a short time anymore, even though it's a progress in just a small part of my guitar plpaying (the picking speed)... Going from 110 to 130/140 and even 160 here and there is incredible.
    I'm a happy man!
    Well, maybe this can help someone to progress a little further!

  2. #2
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    Hey there,

    yeah, the slanted-pick-issue has been discussed at the forums a few times. Most rock-players slant their pick... it helps to speed up, and I ( and I am not the only one ) prefer the sound of that... it sounds different than holding the pick the regular way.
    And I always preferred hard picks myself. The first pick I ever bought ( mainly because I had no clue at all ) was the one I bought the day I bought my first guitar... a white sharkfin... VEEEERRRY thin.
    I used that for a while, and once I wswitched to electric guitar, I bought some cool-looking Pickboy-pick. Never mind the look... what was cool about it was that it was VERY heavy... and from then on, I never went back to light picks.
    Congrats on your progress !
    Warm regards
    Eric

  3. #3
    Groovemastah DanF's Avatar
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    Interestingly enough I've been working on this same problem with poor results (I made a conscious choice not to slant my pick but maybe I'll try it again). I've been playing with Fender Heavies for a few months but yesterday I actually bought some Dunlop 1.5 mm (hard as an F'ing rock). Picking is a bit easier but it makes my chord stuff sound crappy (I think I may be able to correct this with some technique modifications though). My chords sound much brighter and have more bite (not what a jazzer wants :P) and you can hear the pick hit everystring on the way down (or up as the case may be).

    Congrats on the progress and thanks for sharing your experience.

    -Dan

  4. #4
    After reading this post, I decided to try out the difference (I always have a selection of different spare picks for my students to use). I, personally, have used the slanted, thicker plectrum method for years (despite many many other guitarists telling me its wrong!)- I just prefer the sound!

    As for how my experimenting went, I found that it does take more effort to play with a thinner pick, but only a little bit more. Make sure when you pick, you hold the pick near the pointed end aswell- which helps reduce friction and reduces the likelyhood of the pick bending as it hits the string.

    But as I said, I've always used thicker picks anyway, so I totally agree with what you're saying! Good job someone agrees with me!
    My guitar tuition website: www.ChainsawGuitarTuition.net

  5. #5
    I too tried to learn how to play the guitar and was able to play one song, but that is all, but never really learned to be a good guitar player. I really love to learn but music instrument is not for me. Even if i never learn how to play i really like reading article about it.

  6. #6
    Registered User bluesking's Avatar
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    There is only one pick worth considering from my point of view. Its got to be silver. Silver can be kept thin for precision and agility, but is very stiff. Plus it doesnt wear down so easy like other metals and doesn't leave a black residue all over your strings and hands.

    Just my experience, I appreciate a lot of people wouldn't like the tone but I love it!!

  7. #7
    He's dark. He's a man. Darkman's Avatar
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    So... I thought, what will happen when I try 160...? Believe it or not (I hardly believed it) but it went well on the thin strings! And when I went back to 140 that went even better than before!
    Hmmm. So playing that fast is so easy after all...... pardon my cynicism.

    One of the best tips I could give for playing faster is simply don't fret the strings very hard. Use a very light touch, and hey presto your left hand can jump around. It's obvious when someone points it out, but not so obvious if you've spent years fretting chords very firmly to avoid buzz.

    But who am I to lecture? I can't jump by 30 bpm just by changing my pick position!

  8. #8
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    Slanting the pick is the only way I can reach any reasonable amout of speed, but I try to avoid doing so for a number of reasons:

    First, to play that fast without tension, I need to rest my palm on the strings above the one I'm picking. That's fine for strings 1-4, but for strings 5 and 6 there's nothing to rest my palm on. On guitars with flat tops and low bridges I can usually rest my palm on the body of the guitar, but on carved tops with higher bridges it's considerably more difficult to do so. The posture also seems more awkward standing versus sitting. If I am going to invest the time cultivating a new technique, I'd like that technique to work on every guitar in every posture.

    Second, while the slanted technique sounds fine on the plain strings, I find that the pick makes a scraping noise on the wound strings. The noise can be drowned out with enough distortion, but I play pretty clean these days and can't stand the sound of it. To my ear, the unslanted pick has a much bolder and more musical tone.

    Third, even though I can play very fast with the pick slanted, it feels like uncontrolled speed. That's fine for tremolo picking, but not so good when I need clean sixteenth notes at 140 bpm, so I only really use it for tremolo picking.

    All that being said, I have a student who plays ridiculously fast by slanting his pick and he sounds great. I'd like to spend a couple of months exploring the technique to see if I can resolve some of the issues I've had.

  9. #9
    He's dark. He's a man. Darkman's Avatar
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    Maybe I'm simply not understanding the technique. The link said slant it towards the neck. That means the pick is still flat side horizontal to the strings, but the point is rotated to the left? I tried that and saw no difference in results. They don't mean slice across the strings with the pick more angular?

    Anyway, it's impossible to explain heh

  10. #10
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    It makes sense.

    When looking down on the face guitar, think of the pick as the side of a hill that's sloped towards the neck side of the guitar.

    I think this forum could seriously benefit from stickied threads for things like the picking angle and various speed building threads, modes, etc.

  11. #11
    He's dark. He's a man. Darkman's Avatar
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    Studying the pic, the plectrum is slanted slightly downwards towards the floor at 45 degrees (if you were sitting) as opposed to towards the neck. It's like 45 degrees *away* from the neck downwards to avoid a flat-on contact with the string.
    That's just me clarifying it for myself. I'll give it another try this evening...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkman
    Maybe I'm simply not understanding the technique. The link said slant it towards the neck. That means the pick is still flat side horizontal to the strings, but the point is rotated to the left? I tried that and saw no difference in results. They don't mean slice across the strings with the pick more angular?

    Anyway, it's impossible to explain heh
    I'm with you. The pics are not clear. I cannot see a definate slant in any direction. Having played for years, and tried various positions, I can't see why it would make that much of a difference. but whatever works for you is good

    Could somebody post a pic with maybe arrows or something to explain this technique?
    MOT

    http://profile.ultimate-guitar.com/lufc71/

    I've upped my standards...so up yours!

  13. #13
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  14. #14
    He's dark. He's a man. Darkman's Avatar
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    That's a much better demonstration pic, and it confirms they actually meant point the pick a little towards the floor at 45 degrees, as opposed to the neck. Playing with the pick flat to string is pointing towards the neck.

  15. #15
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    I'll stop arguing semantics after this, but the link never said to point the pick anywhere: it said slant the pick, that is, the pick as a whole is slanted in relation to the string.

    Where does the pick slant towards? Well think about an elevated driveway; it slants toward the street. The pick in this case slants towards the neck.

    As for where the pick is "pointing", to me it seems logical to say the pick is pointing into the soundhole, because that's where the point of the pick is after all (unless you pick with the round of it or something).

    Sorry, I'm bored.

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