Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Pick Noise

I recently had a seasoned guitar player give me some advise (which was very welcomed). This guy has been playing for over 30 years and is, in my opinion, an exceptional player. He said, “I like what you’re doing, but you have a lot of pick noise.” He asked what I was playing with, so I showed him - I almost always play with a 1mm gator grip made by Dunlop. He suggested a thinner, slicker pick, something like a Fender Medium or a Martin #1 and a less firm grip. I guess I have greasy fingers because those style picks do nothing but roll around on me. They won’t stay put, I end up trying to correct them, and eventually end up dropping the dumb things. Either that or I end up with a death grip on the pick, which, as far as I understand, makes the pick noise even worse.

Any suggestions? How do I eliminate the pick noise and still hold on to the pick? Or am I completely off base on what is causing my pick noise? If it isn’t the style of pick or how hard I’m gripping it, what might be causing it?

Thanks in advance!

You can always try a different pick as different materials have different amounts and types of pick noise. I generally like fairly rigid picks for 99% of what I do. At the high end of the scale, there’s blue chip ($35, but they have a money back trial period). At the cheaper end of the scale I like Ultex (about $1 each). Also, perhaps a less pointy shape would help.

Also, the way you hold it and the angle of the pick to the strings can make a huge difference. I have experimented with going from having my 2nd through 4th fingers halfway extended to having them loosely in a fist. It made a huge difference in tone. The amount pick sticking out makes a big difference. Just play around and see what sound you like.

I was having a problem with pick noise for about a year or so and tried every pick there is , thick, thin, and every material and still kept getting a nasty raking sound now and then and it was driving me nuts.
Then I finally figured out it wasn’t the picks, it was the guy holding on to them…I had a timing problem in that I would sometimes hit a string still vibrating from a previous pluck and get a nasty noise and sometimes when the pick was between two strings it would happen. When playing strings of notes quickly it is hard to spot but once I realized it was my right hand technique I got it turned around and solved it. A steady movement of up down strokes is the secret, I was breaking the pattern sometimes and hitting an up on a down etc. and it caused the problem.
Hope this makes sense. As far as picks go I use a heavy 1.14 and use it for everything, loose grip is another part of the equation. Jerry

I definately get more noise from a thinner pick. I normally use a Wegen 1.20 for guitar.

I’ve had a similar problem with tone…to this point I am noticing that the thicker the pick the less bright the tone is…or is it just me and/or the pick im using (gator Dunlop 1.14) ? I also realized that I don’t always pick flush on my upstrokes and the pick is slightly angled…not sure what to do about this because I would have to tilt my wrist downward to compensate and to get a completely flush pick stroke…not sure if the tone is diminished enough to worry about…will have to see once I get around more experienced flat pickers…any advice?

CC, a thicker pick will generally be darker (and I think that is a good thing to a point).
I find that I generally don’t like a totally flat attack angle. Check out Mr. Blake’s subtle rotation in the video below (there is some nice technique and a right hand close up starting at 1:29).

this is good to know…i’ve created so many bad habits over the years…it would be quite mundane to rework the new habits I’ve created to put in place of the old habits :unamused: …its interesting in the video how he picks straight down through the strings to make three note rolls instead of a crosspicking pattern…I wonder gauge strings he is using…

Yep, down down up is commonly used as well. I haven’t worked on alternate picking for crosspicking since I started with Ben’s site. I might give it a try again someday.

I alternate pick crosspicking patterns almost all the time. I wouldn’t mind having DDU in my toolbox, though.

D D D U seems like it would be pretty useful too. I just haven’t spent any time working on it.

Maybe I just lucked out but I don’t hear any scraping noise maybe it is my hearing at an older age we tend to lose some hearing . but I am using a 1.0 Dunlap nylon pick with the grip made into the top of the pick, maybe the picking noise may come from the pick moving enough to allow the grip part to strike the strings . I have done that as few times and corrected it . The ones seem to make the notes louder and more pronounced and hearable for me . The ultra grip picks has been a God send to me for I was losing picks and they turned between the fingers a lot . I now can at least get through a tune or song with out losing my pick or having it turn in my fingers , I also exercise the finger thumb to build up those muscles because they were in pitiful shape, now I have the muscle built back up just by squeezing the finger and thumb together for about a minute and repeat . It all boils down to what works for you . Keep on making the music and enjoy what you do .