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Thread: How to hold the pick

  1. #76
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to hold the pick

    Quote Originally Posted by NursingDaBlues View Post
    Thank you!

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    Thank you!
    Made my day.
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  3. #77

    Default Re: How to hold the pick

    I'm posting this mainly to get feedback/comments, and if it helps anybody, so much the better. I think the Marshall grip – i.e. "make a loose fist and place the pick on top of the curled forefinger" -- is best for most people, but the devil is inevitably in the details. One key detail is the degree of curl in the forefinger and what part of the forefinger is doing the work supporting the pick against the thumb. The more you curl the forefinger, the more the pick will be supported by the side of the forefinger and the more support will be centered on the joint of the forefinger rather than its first segment (anatomically, the “distal phalanx”). I think this is what you want (i.e., more on the side and more on the joint). Doing otherwise tends to result using the fingers more than the wrist for motion. You get better timing and rhythm with wrist motion, and it’s far less fatiguing. Supporting from forefinger side and joint are also stronger and more stable due to more contact area with the pick. This enables you to hold the pick looser and more relaxed – which is better all around, but especially for rhythm playing. The advantage will be most noticeable with a tremolo or chop chords – side/joint support will be very secure even with low grip pressure. This is already too long and I’ve definitely given myself away as a mandolin geek, but we’re among friends here!

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  5. #78
    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to hold the pick

    Thanks! I think this issue is always worth bringing up. I just wish you (or someone) would include a good photo. (I haven’t read this whole thread, so maybe someone else did.)

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  7. #79

    Default Re: How to hold the pick

    In over 50 years of playing guitar with a number of folks at different levels and with different styles, all I can say is that the best players use the whole spectrum, from what I was taught at one end and what most jazz guitarists I see do at the other.

    I was taught (at least 5 years too late but THANKS AGAIN BOB CANTU!) to lay the pick solidly on the knuckle. This works great for hard swing, hard strumming/picking, and pinching harmonics.

    What I see most of the better jazz players players use is more towards the tip of the forefinger, and also less on the side of the finger. Also closer to the tip of the thumb. Many of these players also use the small teardrop picks, which I can't manage to hang onto at all.

    The two extremes give different advantages. The latter seems more nimble, the former more "guts". Over the decades since Bob graciously separated me from my terrible self-taught method (thumb and first two fingers, but NOT the pencil grip -- I can hardly imagine it now) I've learned that I can use a variety myself; so when playing rock power chords on acoustic guitar it's the full knuckle (and thumb knuckle), but when playing arpeggios or certain kinds of leads or softer stuff, the pick migrates a bit toward the tip of my finger.

    Another thing I've learned over the decades is that holding the pick is not a static thing. I am constantly adjusting the position as I play, even when keeping it in the same spot. I guess this is necessary when not clenching the pick like a vise. Too firm a grip just tightens up my hand too much for other things.

    I suggest starting in the middle of that range, and occasionally playing with straying from the safe middle and seeing what it does.

    That's for guitar. I'm new on mando. While many folks here discuss the differences between guitar and mando, I find that the same principles apply. My technique varies more depending on what effect I want to get than what instrument I'm playing. But I'm surely no expert, so no doubt there are subtleties I'm missing.

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  9. #80

    Default Re: How to hold the pick

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buesseler View Post
    Thanks! I think this issue is always worth bringing up. I just wish you (or someone) would include a good photo. (I haven’t read this whole thread, so maybe someone else did.)
    This post: https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...=1#post1603809 has some good pictures, and shows half of the range I discuss above. Any of them would be a good starting point.

    IMHO just as important as holding the pick right is to allow the other fingers to be relaxed. Some hold them curled and others leave them uncurled like me; I doubt this matters much as long as they're relaxed and not in the way.

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  11. #81
    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to hold the pick

    Mike got me inspired to shoot this little demo. So I don't know what's right and what's not, but this is the way I hold a pick.

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  13. #82
    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to hold the pick

    You are the best, Frank! Excellent.

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  15. #83
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to hold the pick

    Great video. Super helpful.
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

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  17. #84

    Default Re: How to hold the pick

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankdolin View Post
    Mike got me inspired to shoot this little demo. So I don't know what's right and what's not, but this is the way I hold a pick.
    Your holding the pick video led me to watch a bunch of your other videos, I really enjoyed them.

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  19. #85

    Default Re: How to hold the pick

    The three finger pick hold is mostly a rock guitarist thing. Nearly all elite acoustic flatpickers hold the pick with two fingers; thumb and index finger. There have been a few notable exceptions through the years - I believe Dan Crary was a three finger pick holder.

    I held my guitar pick with three fingers for 20+ years until I finally switched to the more proper two-finger hold. It took some getting used to but now I couldn't imagine going back to a three-finger pick grip. The two-finger grip I believe provides greater maneuverability to execute the continuous alternate up/down strokes required for fiddle tunes.

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  21. #86
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    Default Re: How to hold the pick

    This thread is pretty long and maybe I overlooked something about Wayne Benson's YouTube video on holding the pick. It's quite informative and he shows the process in video of how his old grip sounded, how he came to the grip he's settled on, what he's using now, and how long it took to get there and what it takes to do it. It talks about how to get THAT sound, which the Monroe stylists will understand.

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  23. #87

    Default Re: How to hold the pick

    Quote Originally Posted by dan in va View Post
    This thread is pretty long and maybe I overlooked something about Wayne Benson's YouTube video on holding the pick. It's quite informative and he shows the process in video of how his old grip sounded, how he came to the grip he's settled on, what he's using now, and how long it took to get there and what it takes to do it. It talks about how to get THAT sound, which the Monroe stylists will understand.
    No Dan, you didn't overlook that video. It was posted in late 2020 and the bulk of this thread is from 2017. It's one of the best I've seen regarding mandolin pick grip. (I'm sure it's posted somewhere on this site, but in a different thread.) In it Wayne B. not only describes everything you'd want to know about how he now holds the pick, but why he made the change.
    Not just informative, but very persuasive.

    "I play BG so that's what I can talk intelligently about." A line I loved and pirated from Mandoplumb

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  25. #88
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    Default Re: How to hold the pick

    FH - Thanks a big bunch for saying it better than i. In it there's plenty of good pick meat for new folks, heavy players, and everybody in between.

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  27. #89
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to hold the pick

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandomike45 View Post
    I'm posting this mainly to get feedback/comments, and if it helps anybody, so much the better. I think the Marshall grip – i.e. "make a loose fist and place the pick on top of the curled forefinger" -- is best for most people, but the devil is inevitably in the details. One key detail is the degree of curl in the forefinger and what part of the forefinger is doing the work supporting the pick against the thumb. The more you curl the forefinger, the more the pick will be supported by the side of the forefinger and the more support will be centered on the joint of the forefinger rather than its first segment (anatomically, the “distal phalanx”). I think this is what you want (i.e., more on the side and more on the joint). Doing otherwise tends to result using the fingers more than the wrist for motion. You get better timing and rhythm with wrist motion, and it’s far less fatiguing. Supporting from forefinger side and joint are also stronger and more stable due to more contact area with the pick. This enables you to hold the pick looser and more relaxed – which is better all around, but especially for rhythm playing. The advantage will be most noticeable with a tremolo or chop chords – side/joint support will be very secure even with low grip pressure. This is already too long and I’ve definitely given myself away as a mandolin geek, but we’re among friends here!
    As I say, tried hard to do it. My fingers just kept going back to a guitar pick grip. Now I just use what I do on guitar: use finger picks.

    Works for me and doesn't take coffee breaks!
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  28. #90
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to hold the pick

    Quote Originally Posted by mikerofone View Post
    The three finger pick hold is mostly a rock guitarist thing. Nearly all elite acoustic flatpickers hold the pick with two fingers; thumb and index finger. There have been a few notable exceptions through the years - I believe Dan Crary was a three finger pick holder.

    I held my guitar pick with three fingers for 20+ years until I finally switched to the more proper two-finger hold. It took some getting used to but now I couldn't imagine going back to a three-finger pick grip. The two-finger grip I believe provides greater maneuverability to execute the continuous alternate up/down strokes required for fiddle tunes.
    Probably. It's the way I was taught to do it by a rock/country/jazz guy. He used his ring finger and pinky for finger picking while holding the pick.

    Now he gets acrylic treatments for his nails. He says what he spends on nails he saves on picks.
    Gibson A-Junior snakehead (Keep on pluckin'!)

  29. #91
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to hold the pick

    Quote Originally Posted by Al Trujillo View Post
    (Fair warning: I didn't read all the posts).....does anyone else use their middle finger to add additional support / force to the pick?

    I hold my pick the traditional way with the thumb and index finger but I've become comfortable using the middle finger more and more, especially with my tremolo's.
    Probably. It's a big world. I put a finger pick on my middle finger.
    Gibson A-Junior snakehead (Keep on pluckin'!)

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