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Thread: New picks and pick noise

  1. #1
    Registered User TonyEarth's Avatar
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    Default New picks and pick noise

    I normally using a fender 351(?) heavy pick, which I've been using pretty much since I learned to play the mandolin (maybe 10ish years?). I think somebody got me a big pack of them and they're kinda just what I used because they're what I had and I got used to them.

    However, I recently tried to get back into more serious practice again, and saw some folks say good things about Dunlop Primetone 1.4mm's (quite a bit thicker than my fenders, and a different shape), so I decided to give them a shot. My first impression is that I can hear the difference a lot more than I would have expected!

    Everything about the primetone physically feels quite a bit better, and it produces a brighter (and possibly louder) sound. However I also immediately noticed it produces a lot more pick noise (kind of a "plink") than my fender (more of a soft "thwap"). Is this to be expected with a thicker pick? ....Or is it just that I haven't bought a new pick in ages and my old fender pick has been dulled down?

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    I've found pick noise to be more related to the pick material than the thickness. If you've spent any time here you've seen multiple pick threads. I've found some pick materials (wood, bone, horn) to be too "clicky" sounding. I currently prefer PEEK (a thermoplastic) to give me the best overall sound.

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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    The difference in picks is surprising. I suspect that as the distance from the mandolin increases, that it becomes much less noticeable - someday I'll make myself set a mic up and record some tests, because, between the guitar picks, and now mandolin ones, I've got a crapload...

    I like Primetone picks, and have been using them on the guitar for some time. Never quite as happy with them on the mandolin, but I'm a complete noob on this, so still collecting samples . The smooth Primetone versions are denser (someone posted once it's because they're not pressed into a mold to create the raised lettering of the "grip" models), and have a darker tone. In the large triangles that I use (on guitar, and tried for some time on the mando), it's only the 1.5mm that comes in the smooth, or at least that's what I've found.

    Some of the noise/click can change as you adjust the pick angle, and I think that might happen subconsciously to some degree as we adjust our playing to produce the sound we have in our head that we want to hear. Kind of my same theory with string changes to some degree. Big change at first, but in a few weeks of use, you're still sounding the same .
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  7. #4
    Registered User TonyEarth's Avatar
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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    I've found pick noise to be more related to the pick material than the thickness.
    Huh, this is a great point, definitely something I should think about more as I try picks moving forward.

    Quote Originally Posted by still_fiddlin View Post
    ...it's only the 1.5mm that comes in the smooth, or at least that's what I've found.
    Mine are the 1.4mm smooth triangle shape, for what it's worth.

    Quote Originally Posted by still_fiddlin View Post
    Some of the noise/click can change as you adjust the pick angle...
    Ah, I think I sort of noticed this as well, good to know it wasn't just in my head.

    It's only been a couple days, so I'm just going to keep using it for a while and experiment and see how the sound grows on me. Regardless, I can see why people like the wider triangle shape. Something about how it feels in the hand and rolls off the string feels like home despite it being a new pick.

    One thing to consider for me is price point. I bought these at something like 3 for 5, which already felt just a tad expensive to me (guess I'm used to cheap picks). I know people use higher end ones that are much more expensive per pick, but I used to lose picks a whole lot and I'd need to prove to myself that I can hold on to a pick for a while before justifying that kind of cost
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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    I think i read here that their yellowish Ultex picks are the same material, just not buffed/beveled and with no grip molded in, but cheap, or maybe inexpensive, uh, affordable /entry price point. I like the bigger jazz3 style ultex for guitar, they're ok on mandolin but bigger one's are easier to hang onto

    also i think the Traveling pick samplers are seeing, what is the word, resurgence?

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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    Quote Originally Posted by TonyEarth View Post
    One thing to consider for me is price point. I bought these at something like 3 for 5, which already felt just a tad expensive to me (guess I'm used to cheap picks). I know people use higher end ones that are much more expensive per pick, but I used to lose picks a whole lot and I'd need to prove to myself that I can hold on to a pick for a while before justifying that kind of cost
    I think you are correct in saying we are used to cheap picks. It is a pre-conditioning. But as the type of pick makes much more difference in how the mandolin sounds and plays, the choice of pick is important.

    Here is a great guide.

    I think though, that your ability to hold on to a pick will improve as you pay more for them. Just sayin...

    I am a big fan of Prime tone 1.4mm. I use them a lot.
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  11. #7
    Registered User TonyEarth's Avatar
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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    To quickly correct myself, upon more playing and careful comparison the primetone doesn't actually produce a brighter sound - maybe my ears were just confused by the higher pitched pick noise. It's actually somehow fuller and clearer. Upon switching back and forth enough times that I lost count, I think I'm convinced that I like just about everything about the primetone better than the Fender in terms of feel and sound, and my initial hesitation was largely due to simply not being used to the pick. In fact, I'm not even sure it produces more pick noise at all, maybe just a different noise than the one I expect and perhaps "don't hear" anymore from having heard it so often.

    Still, I'm sure the journey for the perfect pick is neverending...

    Thanks for the informative link, Jeff. You may be right about pick price influencing how easy they are to lose...
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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    Not to muddy your waters, but I recently got some 1.3 mm Clown Barf picks from Banjo Ben that Iím liking. Iím a Bluechip and Wegen guy, but itís fun to experiment, and the Barfs are pretty cheap. For some reason Iíve never bonded with the Primetones, though I really wanted to, lol. They were billed to me as a cheaper alternative to Bluechip, which really isnít a fair comparison, at least not in my hands. Iíve also been playing with some acrylic picks of late (V Pick and Gravity).

    Fender a heavy was my go to for several years, but after adjusting to thicker/stiffer picks, I just canít go back, even on guitar. Have fun trying out some new stuff!!

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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    On picks..... material... shape ... thickness ... from the natural materials which most of us have given up. To the man made ones of casein and space age "stuff" the sky is the limit. For an inexpensive pick I always recommend Tortex because of their availability, myriad of shapes and range of thicknesses. On the other end of the spectrum I have come to prefer blue chip picks. Lastly your technique will have a great deal to do with your choice of pick. Enjoy the hunt. R/
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  14. #10

    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    I'll echo others here in saying that the smooth 1.4 Primetones are great picks, both the material and the speed bevels are more appropriate for mandolin. I keep one in each of my cases as a backup in case one of my Blue Chips temporarily wanders off. The sound definitely is "Fuller and clearer" than a cheap pick. It will also facilitate you using better technique and getting more sound out of the instrument.

    Seeing how much you appreciate the difference between the Primetone and a Fender guitar pick, I would definitely advise you stay away from Blue Chip picks.

  15. #11
    Registered User TonyEarth's Avatar
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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    Quote Originally Posted by CES View Post
    Not to muddy your waters, but I recently got some 1.3 mm Clown Barf picks from Banjo Ben that I’m liking.
    I actually saw a few of the picks you guys mention in the following video, including the Blue Chip and the Clown Barf. I considered checking that one out, but it seems they're sold out at the moment: https://store.banjobenclark.com/coll...31972652023855

    Love to know if anyone knows of another place I can purchase these to try out.





    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Roy View Post
    It will also facilitate you using better technique and getting more sound out of the instrument.

    Seeing how much you appreciate the difference between the Primetone and a Fender guitar pick, I would definitely advise you stay away from Blue Chip picks.
    It's honestly just easier to play with, consistent tremolo is easier and string crossings feel much more comfortable - I'm assuming either new pick placebo, or an actual result of the wider angle and beveled edges. And not to worry, Blue Chips are solidly more expensive than I'm even willing to consider for the time being. Maybe a little farther down the road...
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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    Quote Originally Posted by gtani7 View Post
    I think i read here that their yellowish Ultex picks are the same material, just not buffed/beveled and with no grip molded in, but cheap, or maybe inexpensive, uh, affordable /entry price point. [/url]
    I found those to be brighter and more "pick-ish" sounding. The most reduction I get is by moving to the tortoise colored ProPlecs or Golden Gate (even more so than their clown barf ones).
    Also, using a rounded triange vs. a standard triangle reduces pick noise for me. At present, the Wegen is my sweet spot but I play the Golden Gate when strings are new.
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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    I use the Primetone 1.5 mm rounded triangle with the raised grippy surfaces. While the bevels are a nice feature, I've found them to be somewhat unfinished, the flat gripping surface goes into a rather abrupt bevel so I prep the bevels with a fingernail buffer to round off that abrupt angle and polish the beveled surface. It cleans up most if not all of the pick noise you may be hearing and makes tremolo that much smoother. I use them exclusively with mandolin. YMMV

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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Stein View Post
    I found those to be brighter and more "pick-ish" sounding. The most reduction I get is by moving to the tortoise colored ProPlecs or Golden Gate (even more so than their clown barf ones).
    Also, using a rounded triange vs. a standard triangle reduces pick noise for me. At present, the Wegen is my sweet spot but I play the Golden Gate when strings are new.
    I went to Dusty strings, my local shop which as of last week, doesn't require appointments in advance and saw a display of Wegens and wondered what happened to my Big City and Bluegrass picks from 15 years ago, so got some new ones and splurged on a Trimus, which at $22 is in the price bracket of Gravity golds or Apollo thermoplastics, to drop some names. Great pick of course. The Big city is too small for mandolin, I think but Goldilocks says the Bluegrass model at $4 is just right
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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    I was a BC pick user for many years, the last few years I prefer the Wegens. They are cheaper and sound better for me. I have primetone picks, and while they are good they are not as good sounding as a Wegen.
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  22. #16
    Registered User meow-n-dolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    Quote Originally Posted by TonyEarth View Post
    . ...is it just that I haven't bought a new pick in ages and my old fender pick has been dulled down?
    Welcome to the rabbit-hole which is finding the right pick.

    I too started out with Fender heavies, then went to Ovation heavies (which are no longer made). Years passed, and I got back into playing the mandolin for more than just my amusement, and I fell into the rabbit-hole. I am still there. There is no escape. Accept your fate!

    Seriously, I have used the Primetones, Wegen, Blue Chip, and a whole lot of others, too. Given that the performance of a pick is a very individual assessment, I would say that for most purposes, the Wegen and Blue Chip are very good, and the Primetones aren't bad.

    However, I find myself sometimes playing with a Irish group lately: accordion, whistles, bodhran, couple of fiddles, etc., etc.

    In this setting, volume is at a premium. I took the chance on a V-pick sampler, and found one which works very well for me: the Medium P (pearloid triangle, sharp corners).

    This pick really sings on the higher strings. It is noisy - but also loud -- the relative ratio volume to pick-noise seems the same as the the Wegan and Blue Chip. In a crowded-with-acoustic-instruments-type-environment, it gives me more flexibility. I do not know how long they will last, but I have been using it as my go-to for a couple of months and it still sounds good. You might like one (they are about $4.)
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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    Having tried fancy picks (Wegen, BlueChip, Hawk, Primetones...) I find myself lately favouring picks with no bevels. In the past, I used Dunlop Jazztone 208 for a while and I am enjoying these picks again. I was also impressed by the the Dunlop Ultex 1.14, Clayton Ultem 1.2 mm picks, the Dunlop Flow 1.5 mm, and the Fender Tru Shell extra heavy picks and have been alternating between these picks. I feel I get more overtones with these picks than with BlueChips or Primetones, which is exactly what my oval hole needs. When I moved from beveled picks to non-beveled picks, I was able to identify flaws in my picking technique and I am working on fixing these. I also think that non-beveled picks feel more natural since the picks will be shaped according to my natural picking angle, and I like this more than having to adjust my hand angle to the the pick's bevel (to get the best tone).

    Regarding pick noise, I feel I get less noise when I pick at my "natural" angle, which is another reason I am favouring non-beveled picks.

  24. #18
    Registered User BoxCarJoe's Avatar
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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    Quote Originally Posted by SRNassif View Post
    ......Dunlop Jazztone 208 for a while and I am enjoying these picks again. ....
    I use the Jazztone 208's as a reference to all new picks I try.
    These picks are almost perfect in terms of tone and low click noise.

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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    I own upwards of 1000 picks...need I say more?

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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    Quote Originally Posted by peterbright View Post
    I own upwards of 1000 picks...need I say more?
    on those forums where the kids hang out they say (or they used to) Pix or it didn't happen! Which somebody called me on after I claimed to own hundreds of thumbpicks and I could only find 80 or 90. I just got tired of digging thru cases and boxes in closets...
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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    I'll need a wide angle lens for that.

  28. #22
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    I've found the two best pieces of advice I've seen for picks was from here - I thought it was the late John McGann who stated that you should use the pick like a bow - that stops a lot of the noise. The other one was a video from Chris Thile, saying you should fold your fingers up like a fist, not splay them out. This is hard - I notice Thile's fingers splay when he gets excited. So do mine. But it does improve your response, and possibly tone. The click is often catching the string vibrating, giving that buzz. Keep practicing, and you'll fix it.
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  29. #23
    Registered User TonyEarth's Avatar
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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    I think I keep my fingers in a curled position for the most part, but what do you mean by the first piece of advice? "Use the pick like a bow - that stops a lot of the noise" ? A violin bow? Not sure I see the analogy.
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  30. #24
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    Yes. You donít draw it the full length that you might with a bow but you put a slight movement across the strings. Iím not explaining it well and I noe canít find the interview with John McGann. But it stopped the chirp with my vPjcks for example.

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  31. #25
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    Default Re: New picks and pick noise

    It's hard to beat a Proplec 346 for me, especially for the cost of about $1 each. I used to use Blue Chips for a long time of various shapes and thickness for years. I recently picked up an Apollo casein pick that I really like too. I would say it probably has less pick noise than most of the others I have tried.
    Using the front edge at an angle across the strings should reduce the noise compared to hitting the string parallel also.
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