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I believe a number of gypsy jazz players play with the side of the pick; now, with that in mind do they hold the pick with the pointed end ( the part most guitar players strike with) pointing towards them or away from them?
Hi - I'm actually doing some research on this right now for a video about picks, so this is very top of mind. But first, let's unpack what you're asking:
To be more specific, they play thin (1.5mm - 2.0mm) picks, in the famous Fender 351 shape, made out of Delrin. The Dunlop GatorGrip and Tortex 500 are the most common. Many modern or "newer" players do use them (Gonzalo, Adrien, Bireli) but not as many "older" players.
this completely depends on their personal grip style. If they "pinch" the pick between the last joint of their pointer finger and their thumb, likely rotated to the left (assuming right-handed). Like this:
If they "thumb over" the pick, so that more of their thumb and pointer finger make contact with the pick, it'll likely be rotated to the right (assuming right-handed), like this:
Honestly, find what works best for you. I would honestly focus on what feels best for La Pompe, as your pick is more likely to fall/spin/move around when playing rhythm vs playing lead.
I'm a "side pick" player, but only when I play my archtop (which I use at almost all gigs these days). If I'm using a GJ guitar, I use a 2.9mm pick & hit the strings with the pointy end. But on the archtop, I use a Gator Grip 2.0, like Christophe mentioned, but I use the side of it to hit the strings. The picture of the gator is facing me & the point of the pick is facing to the right of me (I'm right handed). That's just me, hopefully that helps your research.
For side pick playing, I think the pick has to strike the string oretty much flat on (but still "into" the guitar top). So your wrist may have to be lower (toward the floor). For pointier-tip playing, I think the thumb side of the point should strike the string before the wrist side of the point (i.e., angle the pick).
I guess they hold the pick like that because the rounder side gives a warmer and fuller sound. That's the reason why I file down the tip of all my picks (aprox. 3.0), keeping the normal angle of the pick with the same (or maybe even better) desired effect. Or you could just buy https://www.manouchepicks.com/shapes/ model Django, Romino or Giovanni, those are great!
I didn't explain the holding of the pick very well before. When looking down at the pick ( when playing with the side/edge), his the part of the pick that is usually used to strike the strings pointing to the left or right. In the photos this can't be seen
" ... because the rounder side gives a warmer and fuller sound."
To my experience, this depends on which pick you use: some of my wooden picks don't sound warm, but thin and plinky when played with the round side. Some of my plastic ones do. I can't tell if this is due to the materials or due to the shapes.
@Willie Those are two different things. First the shape has an effect on the warmth of the sound, more mass means a warmer sound hence playing with the side or filing down the tip. Second the material has an effect, I found that nothing can beat real tortoise shell, then bone and then epoxy resin and whatever manouchepicks is using.
Who cares how others hold it? You have two options, see which one you like best and go with that! ;-)
A very naive thing to say! See which you like best! Are you crazy! It's not what you like best, but what is the best! This "go with what feels comfortable" school of thought is plain daft! For example, if I were to ask you which is the best way to strike the strings when playing gypsy jazz, would you say " see which way suits you?" Well, you probably would, A lot of the techniques used by the greats of gypsy jazz are definitely anti-intuitive.
Hmm, then what you're asking about is either Edge Picking, or Pick Slanting.
Pick Slanting is angling the top of your pick (that's in your hand) towards the floor. Pick Slanting is mandatory for Gypsy Jazz rest stroke technique, as slanting your pick allows your downstrokes to rest on the string below and upstrokes to escape. You add in pick slanting by rotating your forearm and wrist.
Edge Picking is literally playing with the edge of your pick. This video is a better example in the first like 2 minutes: https://youtu.be/SeqotzwM1uY. I'm guessing this is what you're talking about, as (assuming you're right handed) left would be leading edge, and right would be trailing edge.
Edge picking is definitely a "dealers choice" in Gypsy Jazz, whether to play with the leading edge (many players) or the trailing edge (uncommon, George Benson style) or no Edge Picking at all (also common).
Many good guitar players will change between some edge picking and no edge picking to get different desired tone and feel - so I wouldn't call someone daft when they say see what you like best.