Django's Pick Revealed!!

MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
Back in the days before the Internet, Djangophiles actually wrote letters to each other and sent them via snail mail! Hard to imagine, right?

Neil Andersson of Pearl Django had such a correspondence with Jon Larsen (founder of the Norwegian Gypsy jazz record label Hot Club Records.) Years ago Neil gave me a copy of a letter Jon wrote concerning Gypsy jazz picks. Very interesting, especially since he includes a [u]drawing of the actual pick that Django used!!![/u] I'm not sure what his source was...maybe there was still one of Django's picks in his guitar (now kept in a museum in France.)

The interesting thing about this drawing is the very dull edge that the pick had. My experience was that most Gypsies I played with (Fapy Lafertin, Stochelo Rosenberg, Paulus Schaefer, etc) used picks with extreme wear like this. I actually pointed this out to Michel Wegen....he came up with the Button pick which is "pre-worn." I think it's a great the Gypsies, I prefer a pick with a blunt edge.



The PDF includes the entire letter...he offers advice on making your own pick and some tips on right hand technique. Gee, aren't you glad that all you had to do was buy [url=]Gypsy Picking[/url] to learn all this stuff?


  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    alain antonietto in france has one of django's picks too
  • aa New York City✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 800
    is there any way to get photographs of Django's picks posted? that would be amazing.
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  • trumbologytrumbology San FranciscoNew
    Posts: 124
    That letter is a charming artifact in itself.

    I'm going out looking for some of that spaghetti fork material today (they haven't been declared endangered yet, have they?). I think it's going to bring a nice Neopolitan vibe to my sound.

    Thanks for posting it.

  • SoulShadeSoulShade NW Ohio, USANew
    Posts: 56
    Very interesting. Photographs would be the ticket! Out of curiosity, I wonder where or from what Jon Larsen recieved his info. (Accurate?) Thanks for posting it.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,154
    I don't know where Jon got the info about Django's pick....I'll see if I can find out!

  • aa New York City✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 800
    the answer to this may seem very obvious to some of you, but I'm pretty confused about how to use the button. is the pick supposed to pass through the string like it does in drawing 1 or 2? it's easier to get a pluck on the downstroke with 1, but 2 seems like it would be right because both sides of the pick get equal treatment. Any thoughts?[/img]
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  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,154
    If your drawings are from the players point of view, # 1 would be correct. Basically, you use the beveled edge to slide over the string.

  • aa New York City✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 800
    they are from the players point of view.

    so, the reason that the pick's bevels are symmetrical has more to do with switching sides when you put down and pick up the pick- so that overtime, both sides get to play the down stroke (whereas the 'gypsy-jazz' pick's grip only lets you hold it one way)?

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  • JackJack western Massachusetts✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,752
    a wrote:
    it's easier to get a pluck on the downstroke with 1, but 2 seems like it would be right because both sides of the pick get equal treatment.

    Michael, I'm sure you know more about this than I do, but when I hold a Button as in ex.2, I'm still getting the bevel on the downstroke, but like the quote above mentions, also get more of the other bevel on the upstroke. Maybe this is different because I'm looking at it from a rhythm perspective-that position seems too 'slippery' on the upstroke for lead, to me. Did I just answer my own question?

  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,154
    i think we're all totally confused!! ha ha

    I think this is the sort of thing that needs to be demonstrated in person.

    The bevel on the Button pick is just a more extreme version of the Gypsy jazz pick. The Gypsy jazz pick is also beveled on the back side so that you get a smooth up stroke.

    Jack...i think attacking the string at the angle in diagram #2 is not ideal. You want more of a diagonal, 45 degree angle of attack. It's much smoother...although the button pick is so worn that it doesn't matter as much. Once you get control over the pick angle, you can make even a cheap, thin plastic pick sound great!

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