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Gypsy picking and string ring..

in Gypsy Picking Posts: 79
When playing with other traditional picking styles, especially on electric guitar, I'd use the palm to mute ringing strings on ascending runs, descending the left hand would mute that, and I'm not talking about palm muting crunchy sound, but resting the palm on lower strings while playing the higher eliminated all these noises.
With gypsy picking this drives me crazy, over tones of ringing strings, when doing ascending runs string noise left by fingers lifting of the string, all things I used my palm for . I'm getting used to gypsy picking and like the sound of its attack but really can't do anything about the string ring. .comments anyone?


  • AppelAppel ✭✭✭
    edited June 2015 Posts: 78
    I know exactly what you are going through. I am with you in this struggle. Of course, the electric guitar's sensitivity to open-string ringing and finger noises is a beast that must be leashed, but you have techniques that are not picking-hand dependent - what are they? Anything you did to control noise on an electric guitar that came from the fretting hand is going to work on a Selmer-style guitar - and there is nothing wrong with lightly stopping the strings with the palm of your picking hand between phrases, just as you'd spin down the volume control on a Strat or a Les Paul.

    When you are playing out, as opposed to woodshedding or just playing for fun at home, we are talking about a very different kind of sensitivity and as I work on the transition from playing electric guitar to a Selmer-style acoustic, I find I need to adjust myself, a little bit, and accept a certain degree of sound from the open strings. And I am learning that on a very good guitar, the amount of ringing going on is happening at a much lower volume level than the intentional noises - let's be crazy and call it the "playing" - that I am playing.

    It is not unlike finding an acceptable balance between hum and hiss in a tube amp. On an electric, when working or playing by ourselves, we learn to live with a bit of hiss, control any hum (usually by spinning down the guitar's volume control between phrases). And when working with others, the noise issue changes. You know what they say about what happens when the drummer kicks in ... usually, as long as we have the feedback under control and the amp, guitar and gadgets are all in good repair, without a lot of loud hum or buzzing, a certain amount of hiss is ok and disappears in the overall sound of the group. I think the situation is similar with acoustic guitars - if the guitar is good, and the playing projects well with clarity and confidence, a little open-string ringing is going to be ok.

    When working with Selmer-style guitars, there is a mysterious evaluative quality called "wetness" and another even more mysterious quality called "dryness" - actually, most imply a sort of continuum running between the extremes of wet and dry - and try to get a definition of these terms from a long-time GJ player? Can't be done. They expect you to know and that's that. You can ask and ask, insist on a definition, demand an answer, finally grab a typical GJ player by the throat and squeeze and shake until the eyes pop out, you'll get nothing.

    So let me try to bust that jargon for you, as I've done for myself. "Wet" is basically "bad", and "dry" is considered "good". So that's a start. It helps to play a bunch of different guitars with the type of bridge and tailpiece we see on Selmers, listen to the way different qualities of guitars respond to get a sense of it, and having done that a little bit (which is extremely dangerous, by the way, very very hard on your financial planning, hide your gold and silver before you go on that journey, else though shalt be set upon until threadbare and thou mayst never return ...), what I have gleaned beyond the basics of "bad"/"good" is this:

    On a guitar that experienced players would consider to be "wet", playing anything on the guitar will create ringing noises coming from the strings and hardware behind the bridge, and the "wetter" the guitar, the louder and more interfering these noises will be; a guitar is "wet" when these noises are loud enough to get in the way with the playing. There are other aspects to "wetness" as well; in a "wet" guitar, you might hear strong resonant noises building up as you play, resonant peaks, harmonics and/or overtones, not necessarily dissonant combinations but present enough to add up and make the guitar boomy or muddy sounding or unclear. And one more thing, maybe the most relevant quality with respect to your question: on a "wet" guitar, the open strings will tend to ring out a lot more.

    (I can never discern whether players mean the same thing by "harmonic" as they mean by "overtone", but maybe it's pedantic to worry too much about this semantic fine point when the point generally is about how much the guitar's noises interfere with the music - which, in GJ jargon, is what a "wet" sounding guitar does)

    A point that confuses me with the term "wet" is that a great acoustic archtop guitar will have a beautiful natural reverb. This is not the same thing as the noises that collect on a Selmer-style guitar, and "wetness" means something completely different in the archtop scene. In a way, to think about just one part of the "problem", the floating bridge and tailpiece suspended from the end of the guitar is a noisy set-up, and the difference between the two guitar types is that the noises inherent to that set-up tend to work with the player, whereas on a Selmer-style guitar, they tend to work against the player. Do we get a "wetness" on flat-tops that is meant in a positive sense? I don't know anything about flat-tops.

    Anyway. A guitar is "dry" when it does not generate noises that interfere with the playing. The sonority of the guitar, the qualities of its voice, are a different question. But on a guitar that is "dry", the ringing of the open strings while playing is a lot less irritating. Even if you just play and let the open strings ring a bit, which a lot of great players do, the sympathetic ringing is happening at a far lower volume than the playing - like an acceptable level of "hiss" in that tube amp we all know and love - and becomes a part of the character.

    And, of course, we can use the ringing. Here's the absolutely greatest example I can think of, of a player using that ringing. You can see how he controls what he needs to control with his left hand, and you can also see what allows to happen naturally, as a part of the performance. I know, we aren't always going to play in D, but when we do ... we want to sound like this ...

    (OMG I wrote a book ... well, what can I do?)
  • AppelAppel ✭✭✭
    Posts: 78
    Right ... and through all that, I wanted to mention hotclubdebrampton's thread about "curing a Gitane's wetness", and his beautiful and simple idea of simply applying a capo lightly across the zero fret to dampen the ringing of the open strings. It's just ... not long ago, I would have wondered why anyone would want to cure a guitar of its wetness - isn't wetness a good thing? - and thought I'd try to answer a question that wasn't asked anyway. Around the internet in circles we go ...
  • AndrewUlleAndrewUlle Cleveland, OH✭✭✭ Cigano GJ-15
    Posts: 541
    The Costa Lukacs video posted above reminded me of another version of that tune:

    Only I remember Anton Karas playing it.
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