Gypsy picking vs. Mandolin picking

edited August 2012 in Gypsy Picking Posts: 14
Hi Guys,
First post here so take it easy on me, alright? :D I've got a couple of instructional DVDs on order and will probably order a book or two as well, but I notice you guys talking about Gypsy picking, rest strokes, etc. Having studied classical guitar as a youth I'm familiar with the rest stroke. Also my teacher also played classical mandolin (man was he good!) and I was fortunate enough to take a mandolin lesson or two from him as well. We worked out of the Bickford Mandolin Method (I only bought volume 1, I wish I had bought all 4) and so am familiar with the rest stroke from that as well as the picking motion he and/or Bickford taught, which was a rolling motion from the forearm/elbow for lack of better description.

My question is how close is the Gypsy Jazz picking method to a mandolin picking method? What are the differences in any?
PS - My mandolin picking sucks btw as I never really stopped and relearned, so all my bad old rock and roll habits still exist. I never really pursued the mandolin anyway.


  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,379
    Hi and welcome to the forum,
    I'm not familiar with mandolin technique, so I couldn't comment on that...
    The right hand technique used for this style is described in detail in the "Gypsy picking" book... It's designed to get maximum tone and volume with the least amount of effort on an acoustic guitar. It also gives a certain phrasing that's typical to this style. Most people feel the motion is generated from the wrist which must be kept as relaxed as possible.
    I made the switch seven years ago and never looked back!
  • edited August 2012 Posts: 14
    Thanks Harry. I intend to get the Gypsy Picking books in the near future. I'm probably not the best person to describe the Mandolin picking technique as I my experience with it is limited. As I remember the wrist was kept straight, or perhaps a very light arch. The way my teacher held his Mandolin his arm was parallel to the strings (or nearly parallel). The motion came from the forearm, much like turning a door nob, rather than an up/down karate chop motion. There were definitely rest strokes as that was what my teacher wanted me to work on initially. I was just curios as poking around the forums I noticed a Mandolin section and saw the Bickford method mentioned there.
  • There may be some similarity that you can build on but I suggest you focus on the Gypsy Picking book as the picking style is so critical to the attack, and the phrasing that defines GJ style.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Ken BloomKen Bloom Pilot Mountain, North CarolinaNew
    Posts: 164
    The method of picking suggested in Michael's book is the same as they teach for domra in conservatories in Russia. I have observed the same approach with many older bouzouki players who were used to playing acoustically in noisy situations. If you read George Van Epps's first book carefully, he advocates the same approach. All of these folks are playing in situations where they have to be heard without the aid of amplification. The same method is what they have been doing on the oud for over a millenia.

    Ken Bloom
    Ken Bloom
  • swing68swing68 Poznan, Poland✭✭✭ Manouche Modele Orchestre, JWC Catania Swing
    Posts: 121
    Interesting observation, Ken. I never took lessons but believe it's true of the Indian sarod too (jump to 1.15 to get past the festival hype):

    The war on Am7 and Cmaj7 begins here ...
  • Ken BloomKen Bloom Pilot Mountain, North CarolinaNew
    Posts: 164
    I've seen this with sarod players as well. I think the explanation is simple. Rest stroke picking gives you the richest tone and the most volume with the least effort. After playing an instrument for a number of years in an acoustic and nosiy situation, you figure out what works best. An Indian concert go last many hours. Playing for dancers in a taverna can also go on for hours. I guess we've all come to the same conclusion. Rest stroke picking works.
    Ken Bloom
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