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How tight of a grip?

jeffmatzjeffmatz ChicagoNew
in Gypsy Picking Posts: 97
So I'm a few weeks into learning how to do this properly, so let that frame my question. Skip down a few paragraphs if you don't want to know my background.

I've played guitar for 27 years, jazz for about 15...I previously used a sort of bastardized George Benson pick grip, holding the pick with more of the pad of the index finger and thumb, with a pronounced angle when the pick struck the string.

When playing electric jazz, I could play softly but fast in this style, because the amplifier was giving me volume. Needless to say, this technique does NOT work for unamplified gypsy jazz...

So I've been enjoying gypsy picking so far, for the tonal benefits alone, but even just a few weeks in I can already see how speed will come in time.

With my old technique, I would definitely grasp the pick more firmly for bursts of speed...playing a few lines this morning, I can also see that over the years I developed a bad habit of letting the fingers do some of the work too (builds tension)

My question is this- those of you more experienced with gypsy picking--can you play fast lines with as light of a grip as you'd use for rhythm or melody playing? Is it natural to need to grip the pick a bit firmer for the really fast stuff? I figure the answer is "it comes with time," but if that's not the answer, I don't want to be fighting nature, so to speak:)

Anyway, thanks in advance for reading all of this, and I'm new here too, so hello.


  • Posts: 3,253
    Nobody? Ok welcome. I think you scared them off by calling for more experienced haha. Then at the same time, there's another Pandora's box opened with that pick angle deal.

    There was this run I wanted to play over the melody for Blue Skies. Just a phrase to close out the melody. At least for me it was pretty fast. Every time I'd try it at tempo, the wrist would tense up and something would suffer: tempo, groove, notes would get skipped etc...
    So what I did is play it at tempo knowing volume and/or projection would suffer but the goal was to just stay fluid. Then after a while when that became comfortable, I could gradually add muscle into it. After that, this became my standard practice for faster runs: forget volume, work on getting it fluid and then try to add volume little by little.
    By the way a lot of volume here comes from the weight of the wrist, letting the wrist get pulled by gravity more than pushing.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • jeffmatzjeffmatz ChicagoNew
    Posts: 97
    Thanks for your reply!

    I can already see how this technique will keep me more relaxed in the long run. Just gotta stick with it...

    It's frustrating when I know I could do things my "old way" and play them at tempo, but I also know I'll sacrifice tone, volume, and endurance...just gotta keep at it. Wish I did this 10 years ago before I had kids;)
  • NejcNejc Slovenia✭✭ Altamira M01
    edited August 2018 Posts: 98
    There are as many different ways to play the guitar as there are players (purposely exaggerating).

    As you pointed out switching from electrical guitar to acoustic is a problem for everyone.

    The hand and pick become the volume and tone controls.

    The things you could correct before by simply turning the knobs to get the desired sound are now a matter of hand positioning, pick angle etc. The best acoustical guitarists learn to switch these "parameters" to get the desired tone in the middle of the song without even thinking about it. So I dont believe there is a go to way, regarding what kind of grip is better etc. Matter of personal taste and what you think will get you the best sound for that arrangement, or part of it.

    I would say do as you think is best for you. Personally I will never put speed before tone. What you then get is a speed contest not music (something I hear a lot in GJ).

    Start with what you think will get you the best tone without compromising speed and then work on top of that.
  • jeffmatzjeffmatz ChicagoNew
    Posts: 97
    I'd say that sounds like good sound advice. Thank you.
  • NejcNejc Slovenia✭✭ Altamira M01
    Posts: 98
    A bit off topic, but will post it just for the sake of it

    You can watch the whole video or just start from 7:45

    Maestro I cannot get the sound from my guitar, maybe its the string.
    They switch guitars... Its allright =)
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