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pick angle help

I'm having some trouble with the angle of the pick using the gypsy jazz technique, the angle of rotation in relation to the string for single note picking. If I have the pick parallel to the string l get a really good tone, but cannot do an even tremolo or even slower alternate picking on a string for the like of any big wrist movement in all. The pick often gets stuck especially on up picks a few notes in to runs. If i twist the pick slightly 30 degree-ish or so I can pick fast and evenly but loose a significant amount of volume and it sounds a bit "brushy " and muffled against the strings. ...advice?!?!


  • Al WatskyAl Watsky New JerseyVirtuoso
    Posts: 440
    Depends on the thickness of your pick. Its easier to remain parallel to the string with a rather thick pick.
    If your using a thinner pick pick angle is more of a variable.
    I use several different picks depending of the use.
    On a Selmer type strung with 10's is use a 3.5 mm pick and remain parallel to the strings. The bevel of the pick is steep and allows for that.
    On a shorter scale guitar with heavier strings I use a 2 mm pick and set the pick at an angle to reduce pick drag.
    On a guitar with very heavy strings or flat wound strings , the 2 mm could be a bit much if playing with amplification and low action so a lighter pick might be a choice 1.5mm - 1 mm in my case.
    I think with a set or Saverez set at the normal height for a GJ guitar a heavier 3.5mm pick works best for me , but there are many here who use a 1.5mm .
    Right hand takes time.
  • I have found that (using a 1.5 mm Blue Chip) a little bit of angle doesn't affect the tone but helps with the speed as does holding the pick loosely. I experimented with angle til I found the spot where the tone was still great and the pick eased over the strings a little better. I suspect this will vary a bit between players. By experienced eye I am in the range of 5-10 degrees off parallel and my stroke is not parallel to the strings but down into the lower string maybe 15 degrees.

    At first the pick rotating around drove me crazy, particularly while being rhythm bitch. I used violin roesin to hold it in place for a little while but that bugged me so I stopped using it and got used to adjusting the pick after each song. After a couple of years that went away on its own. I have no idea why. Others on this site @buco and I think @pickitjohn have written of the same experience.

    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Posts: 3,003
    I think that after while you start having looser grip on the pick and you get good at doing micro adjustments as you play so without thinking about it and the pick doesn't rotate any longer.

    I'm not really sure if there is a formula for pick angle, depends on the anatomy of your arm, sweet spot on your guitar where single notes sound the best, what kind of sound you want to produce at the moment which would depend on a song, tempo and so on. I guess one rule of thumb you can try is look at the bevel of the pick and adjust the angle until you're picking at the middle of the bevel or close to it. That plus look at how much of the tip is poking towards the sound hole and adjust back and forth until it sounds better. I know with tremolos there is very little tip passed the string going towards the sound hole and more angle, stronger attack equals more tip without overdoing it of course, these are all small adjustments.

    This is a skill that's acquired over months if not years, which is my case probably.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • Wim GlennWim Glenn oƃɐɔᴉɥƆModerator 503
    Posts: 1,155
    What works well for me is a 1.5 or 2mm pick, held sideways, making a small angle with the string (about 10-15 degrees, 30 is too much I think and makes the "brushy" sound appear). And making a large angle with the top, not 90 degrees perpendicular, but about 70 degrees. I can get a good, round, tone this way.

    I had to rework my technique a few years ago, was unhappy with getting too much of the swishy sound aswell from too much angle with the string.
  • Posts: 4
    I started using a Wegen 3.5 when I converted to Djangoism, but as the years went by, I slendered down and I am now using a thin but rigid pick intended for bluegrass, or so the ad says. It has a diamond pattern of 1/8th in. or so holes for grip, so only a light grip is required to prevent rotation, especially when used at 90 degrees to the string, where the big tone lives. Years of practice helps, though.
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