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Not so loud! How to play quieter rhythm?

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  • t-birdt-bird Portland, Oregon Castelluccia Nuages, Dupont Nomade
    Posts: 119
    I am thinking about rest stroke picking and how the attack of the string is so important to the sound/tone.
    Is this not the case with rhythm/strumming? Already this thread has varying approaches including grazing the strings, digging into the strings softly, pick position, knuckles, arm, etc.
    I find it surprising that low volume rhythm is so important but there isn't any definitive approach/technique.
    That said, after an hour with a metronome, some backing tracks, and tips from this thread, my volume control is already improved!
  • edited April 2016 Posts: 3,707
    Like @Michael Horowitz I too just brush the strings lightly for quiet stuff and harder for loud. In between.

    Try really slowly playing several bars of the same chord as quietly as you can being really relaxed. Then play several more a little louder. Repeat as loud as possible. Focus on being relaxed and easy. Cycle through this exercise for 5 minutes a day until you have the ability to change volume at will.

    Don't confuse tone quality that Denis talks about with the sound a guitar makes. The tone of a guitar changes between quiet and loud. Function of how much the top is excited,
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    The sound inevitably changes depending on the volume, but the tone should still have the crunchiness that is typical in the style.

    It all has to do with the way you strike the strings... Like when you play lead, if you use a rest stroke , whether u play loud or soft, it will still have a certain roundness than if you used free strokes... It's the same for rhythm. You have to dig/scratch into the strings..

    It's like if you have a bit of an itch on your leg, and to relieve yourself , you scratch yourself by going a little bit into the skin.

    The pick should also be held in such a way that not too much shows, there's a tiny bit of contact with the flesh (not so much that you bleed though)
    t-birdCharles MeadowsJazzaferri
  • Charles MeadowsCharles Meadows WV✭✭✭ ALD Original, Dupont MD50
    Posts: 432
    Good advice. Do most of the gypsy players let some of the flesh hit the strings? It sounds like Adrien M and Gonzalo do this, but I wasn't sure about the guys who mute 2 and 4 less. When Angelo was playing rhythm for you on Minor Swing it didn't sound muted at all!
  • Posts: 4,778
    t-bird wrote: »
    I am thinking about rest stroke picking and how the attack of the string is so important to the sound/tone.
    Is this not the case with rhythm/strumming? Already this thread has varying approaches including grazing the strings, digging into the strings softly, pick position, knuckles, arm, etc.
    I find it surprising that low volume rhythm is so important but there isn't any definitive approach/technique.
    That said, after an hour with a metronome, some backing tracks, and tips from this thread, my volume control is already improved!

    I doubt that the mechanics are very different.
    The differences in describing it are probably just different people visualizing and describing the same (mostly) thing using different terms.
    I can't see that taming the volume playing rhythm could be done using very different techniques.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • therealguyfitherealguyfi Milwaukee, WINew Barault
    Posts: 47
    Fwiw I can use Dunlop picks for lead but don't like them much for rhythm. I generally use Wegen twins, and use the round side for rhythm. It seems to glide over the string, you can play hard but still lightly, it doesn't dig in that much. Once Kevin Nolan showed me a polished stone button from a sweater, that was his pick.
  • AndrewUlleAndrewUlle Cleveland, OH✭✭✭ Cigano GJ-15
    Posts: 541
    If I want to play rhythm quietly, I just don't use a pick at all - I strike/stroke the strings with the tops of all 4 fingernails and the edge of my thumb. My hand is in the same position as if I were holding a pick, except I'm not.
    BucoDaveyc
  • ChiefbigeasyChiefbigeasy New Orleans, LA✭✭✭ Dupont MDC 50; The Loar LH6, AJL Silent Guitar
    Posts: 341
    I like Andrew's suggestion. I have some training in Flamenco style, and I'm very comfortable playing rhythm with no pick at all. If I knew I was going to play nothing but rhythm, I might consider using only my fingernails. I've done this on occasion and I'm very comfortable with the amount of expression I can get . In fact, there is a lot I can do finger style that I can't do for the pick in my hand. That Flamenco stuff comes in handy sometimes.

    Does anyone know of anybody who plays Gypsy jazz rhythm without a pick?
  • DaveycDaveyc
    Posts: 30
    Hey chief on the thread of Joscho Stephans interview we talked about it and Joscho,s dad that plays rhythmn for him plays with thumb only. And Robin Nolan just pointed out Sandro Lorier. I still play a lot of finger style and singer singer writer stuff but incorporate some and everything that enhances swing. I have a gig I'm getting ready for that is really my first solo gig , so I try to have many (picks) tricks in my bag:) It's harder work to do when you play thumb style but all about what your wanting to hear. Cheers and I thank you all for great info and discussion. Very helpful !
    wim
  • AndrewUlleAndrewUlle Cleveland, OH✭✭✭ Cigano GJ-15
    Posts: 541
    The nice thing about no pick is that I can practice rhythm without bothering the whole house, and if you want, you can get the string buzz (that usually comes with heavy pick action) by banging on the strings as you strum with surface of the nails, not so much the tips as in flamenco style (I can't since I have VERY short fingernails).
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