Pick Placement Relative to Sound Hole?


#1

You know I watched Devon here and I noticed that he plays close to the bridge like I do:

https://banjoebenclark.com/forum/t/somehow-tonight/560/1

Was wondering your guys thought on this? I know the “big boys” get a bit close to the sound hole, like right on the edge, but when I play here (close to the sound hole) I tend to get more of a “washed out sound” on my D18…and it’s hard to get a washed out sound on a D18 when speaking of the bass strings!

I like the sound of the 3rd- 6th strings playing this close to the bridge, but hate the “thin” metallic sound I get out of the first two strings in doing so.

So have you guys found out that certain guitars require a different area to pick in relative to the sound?
Is this a bad habit?
Do some of us naturally slide back towards the bridge to get better string tension for faster picking (mimics string tension of capo’n 2)?

I’m a fairly short fellow and playing a big ol’ dread like the D18 or D28 really does not permit me to have enough arm length to play closer to the sound hole and be comfortable. Only way I can comfortably get up around the sound hole is to slightly angle the guitar back towards me.

Oh, and I hope I don’t offend you Devon, just seen you play close to the bridge like me and since you put up the video I figured I’d link to it so others could understand what I was talking about…nice pickin’ man!


#2

I play in different areas at different times. I think it comes down to the tone you want to get. I suspect it also relates to how firmly (and how) one holds the pick as well. I don’t know that there is right or wrong. When I am flat picking, I generally end up just over the bridge side of the sound hole. When “cowboy chord” strumming, I move more over the sound hole. Sometimes for a real round tone, I’ll end up on the fretboard side of the sound hole. The only time I get back as close to the bridge as you are discussing is for “special” effects type of strums like an upward rake on a 2 chord or something similar. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with playing close to the bridge. The stiffer feel probably makes flat picking easier back there.


#3

Looks like Willie Watson right hand position is pretty similar to Devon’s in this video, right down to the raised elbow.

[video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcM4QLdZLBY[/video]

I usually pick at the edge of, or just behind, the sound hole, but the natural arc of my arm tends to cause me to pick slightly closer to the bridge on the first and second strings which can produce a thin tone (must be a D18 thing, oldhat). Sometimes I’ll try to compensate by shifting my hand forward a little as I pick the thinner strings, but it’s not something I do normally.


#4

Good catch Larry. Willie and Devin look pretty similar from the right shoulder down. They have similar tone as well. Willie has pretty tight and controlled movement at the pick. I like Devin’s use of his wrist better than Willie’s. Don’t tell Willie.

Someone just showed me a video of me playing in a picking group last night… I was getting up pretty close to the fret board. I might need to make an effort to move back a bit.


#5

— Begin quote from ____

Someone just showed me a video of me playing in a picking group last night… I was getting up pretty close to the fret board.

— End quote

You’re getting that far forward with a dred? My arm isn’t that long. If I unintentionally drift out of the sweet spot it’s usually toward the bridge.


#6

Yep, I am, especially the bass strings. It was kind of an arc where the bass strings are more towards the neck. My right elbow rests on the widest part of the bout. More like Steve Kaufman than Tony Rice (whose elbow is past the corner on the bottom of the guitar). From the “Kaufman position”, it’s equally as easy for me to slide towards the neck or the bridge. Lest anyone think I am saying something I don’t intend… I can’t play like Kaufman nor Rice. Anyway, I like the tone when picking more over the soundhole, but the strings feel flabby and flatpicking is less precise. It makes sense I have migrated up since I haven’t doing much flatpicking for a few months… just lots of whanging on chords.


#7

I had to go look at pictures of Kaufman and Rice for comparison to see what you mean. Funny, but I’ve never given a whole lot of thought to how my arm drapes across the guitar. I just found a spot that felt comfortable (and didn’t cut off blood circulation) and went with it. I think I’m closer to Rice’s position than Kaufman’s, though.

Wish my right forearm was about a foot longer so I could set up completely parallel to the strings. Then I could swing a perfect arc across the strings. Guess I’d look pretty funny with one long arm, though.


#8

I guess I arc like most other folks. My pick starts out just over the soundhole on the low E and ends up about an inch from the soundhole back toward the bridge on the high E. I can drift to the extreme in either direction pretty easy since I rest the guitar on my left leg. Seems to free up my right arm more. Might sound weird but it works for my short self!


#9

Bulldog, when you put the guitar on your left leg, do you end up with the neck pointed up in a more vertical position?

Which leg do you use, mreiz?


#10

I am now devoted right legger. I used to do lefty leg for a bit while learning classical. I also did it a bit for fingerstyle stuff (lots of barres). When I was lefty legged, I would have the neck pointed more towards the ceiling.


#11

Well Larry, I guess it’s angled some compared to a right legger but I wouldn’t say it was in a “classical” position. I’ve honestly tried to play with it resting on my right leg but it just seems too cramped under my arm and the neck wants to push away from me. Might be my middle age spread acting as a fulcrum! I use to be short and stocky, now more short and chunky. :blush:
http://s1157.photobucket.com/user/jmart63/media/php5tuIN4PM_zps163471e1.jpg.htmlhttp://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/p599/jmart63/php5tuIN4PM_zps163471e1.jpg


#12

Bulldog’s form looks alot like Jack Lawrence.

I read a quote from him a few years ago where he said playing on the left leg is more natural & reduces stress in the arms & shoulders. I’ve tried it several times for long periods of time & it just doesn’t seem to work for me. It feels uncomfortable & I can’t play as well. It seems to change the sound of the guitar even (less bass & thinner sounding). Anyone else notice this or am I crazy?

I’m glad we’re all different & hats off to those of you who can play left-legged.

J.W.

It’s kinda funny how where we pick turned into what leg we put our guitars on. :laughing: :laughing:


#13

Nothing wrong with leg placement discussion either!

Sorry for starting this thread then leaving it high and dry! Been traveling a lot lately. Got back home from Mexico and Texas again on the 1st of July, then some friends came in for the 4th and we went to watch the Nashville Fireworks then headed down to Chattanooga where we rented a cabin for a few days and took all our kids to all the places to see. So I have not been playing a lot of guitar! To boot I nearly cut off my finger (Index) tip 3 weeks ago on my fretting hand. It managed to finally attach itself after looking pretty bad for 3 or 4 days…still real sensitive when I play, especially when I try and slide.

I am heading back out of town on Thursday to play in a golf tourny in Ohio at a Country Club I used to belong at there. I think I will finally settle down a bit later this month and have some time to pick!

Oldhat


#14

— Begin quote from “Oldhat”

still real sensitive when I play, especially when I try and slide.
Oldhat

— End quote

Please don’t slide too much until it feels firmly attached. I’d hate for us to be having to search eBay for some Tony Iommi fingertip accessories. :open_mouth:


#15

Yeah J.W. holding it like that allows more of the guitar back to be against your body which will definately mute the sound. I don’t hold it pressed against my gut for that reason.


#16

Other than using my right leg, it looks like my positioning is pretty similar to yours, bulldog

I hadn’t thought about the potential muting effect of playing off the left leg, but it makes sense. Even off my right leg, I try to create a little triangle of space between my lap, my torso and the back of the guitar. I love feeling those bass notes vibrate in my gut.

— Begin quote from ____

Sorry for starting this thread then leaving it high and dry! Been traveling a lot lately

— End quote

I think a lot of members might be doing some summer travel. The boards have been really slow.

But, I’m doing the opposite of you, oldhat. I used the holiday to get in extra pickin’. I jammed at a party on Thursday/Friday until about 3 am, slept most the rest of Friday, then went to my regular jam on Saturday. It was lots of fun, but it sure blew up my practice schedule!


#17

The tough part I have with flatpicking is that when I hold my pick with two fingers it makes me sweep across the stings towards the bridge as I move towards the bottom strings. It’s just the nature of the shape of the sweep arc. In order to correct this I would have to drop my shoulder and elbow more than I would like, making it uncomfortable. Instead, I have adopted a three finger grip which allows me to stretch my fingers out more and adjust the arc to be more straight, allowing me to hit the stings better in their sweet spots. It also give me a lighter touch on the strings on my strum strokes.

I am not sure if this is going to be bad in the long run, but the benefits right now are worth it. It also makes going back and forth from flatpicking to rock style easy. I actually just started forcing myself to play both ways … the typical closed hand two finger grip … and my modified version … just in case I hit a speed roadblock with my modified version.


#18

Sounds like you’re holding the pick similar to Dan Crary.

I’ve never tried holding the pick like that. Probably because I’m a lefty playing righty and haven’t developed much fine motor control in my right hand. I tend to lock my pick in and let my wrist do most of the work.


#19

This topic hits me squarely between the eyes (as some would say ,then it hit me) after playing the classical for thirty years on my left leg, I don’t seem to be able to move the steely over to the right…and my pick always drifts to far down to the bridge…I think I am that old dog new tricks group…


#20

— Begin quote from “ldpayton”

I had to go look at pictures of Kaufman and Rice for comparison to see what you mean. Funny, but I’ve never given a whole lot of thought to how my arm drapes across the guitar. I just found a spot that felt comfortable (and didn’t cut off blood circulation) and went with it. I think I’m closer to Rice’s position than Kaufman’s, though.

Wish my right forearm was about a foot longer so I could set up completely parallel to the strings. Then I could swing a perfect arc across the strings. Guess I’d look pretty funny with one long arm, though.

— End quote

                                                                                                                            I would like to have my fingers about a 1/4 inch longer and my wrist be able to twist a bit more but we have to work with what we have . I really have to have my guitar neck up quite a bit to make the C chord and do it comfortably and make all the notes ring . I have a real stiff wrist left hand onlyI guess it is repetitive motion sickness LOL  from thirty years doing mostly the same thing over an over again. mmm? sounds like guitar practice.  

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