Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Playing Loud

Hello !

I hate to admit this , but I’m a pretty soft player. I guess this comes from playing in the comfort of my own home , for the majority of the times.
However, recently I started to pull more volume out of my guitar. I started using the Dunlop Ultex Sharp Pick (1.14 thickness), and I feel like the pick is helping me with pulling out more volume from my guitar.
I would say that my rhythm playing is fine , but my lead playing is what suffers from low volume.
I got a portable speaker, and I started using it to play rhythm tracks. I put the volume all the way up on it , so that it forces me to play just as loud as the speaker. I feel like this method is helping me as well.

As my playing keeps maturing, I feel like I can pull out more volume, which is a good feeling.

My question is, what little (or big) things do you change in your technique in order to pull out more volume from your guitar when you’re playing lead?
Gripping the pick a little tighter? Using more forearm swing? More wrist ?
Also , while we are at it, what picks are y’all using out there ?

( :

I was using the TP48 pick, but I couldn’t pull out as much volume as I do with the Dunlop Ultex Sharp.
I know @BanjoBen used to use the TP40 and TP50. So I was also wondering Mr.BanjoBen, did you feel like you were able to pull a lot of volume out with these two picks?

Thanks in advance to anyone who responds!

Great question, and I’ve been going back and forth b/t a 40 and a 55 recently. I do have to say that you’d be surprised how quietly a lot of the pros play. Tony Rice plays very quiet, but he can work a mic like a legend. Your volume is going to depend on your pick angle with the strings, to some extent, and usually a thinner pick will get you a bit more volume as well. It would help if you could upload some video from this angle of you playing a few strings back and forth:


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Thanks for your response @BanjoBen.
And I agree with you. Throughout my own experimentation with different picks and thickness, I also noticed that thinner picks produce louder volume.

I submitted two videos here .
One of them is me playing a tune , so you can see a real-life example of what I’m working with.
The second video is from the camera angle that you suggest I use, but I couldn’t play a tune because I was using one hand to hold the camera , and the other hand to hold the pick

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Check it out:


Hey Raymond,

After watching your St Annes Reel video, I’d have to say… keep doing what you’re doing. Like Ben said, you look relaxed and that’s very important.

I also noticed you are pulling good tone out of your guitar and there was almost no pick noise if any at all. Which pick are you using in this video? I’ve been wanting to try a Blue Chip 48. I currently use a 50 which I love. I had a 45 that they made special for me but I thought it was too thin. Maybe I’ll see if Ben and Jake can get me an STP-48 with no bevel.

I wouldn’t worry too much about playing loud. I think that will come naturally as we improve and gain speed and confidence. If not, wellllll… Tony played quietly.

Good Luck and thanks for the post.


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Thank you so so much @BanjoBen for your response. You provided me with some really helpful advice. I’ll definitely work on all the pointers you gave me. :pray: I’m really grateful .

Thank you @jw11 for the encouragement!

I actually just started using a Dunlop Ultex Sharp (1.14 thickness) , which is what I’m using in this video. It definitely helps me to pull out good tone on my guitar.
For a long time I used a TP48. There is definitely a big difference in sound between the TP48 and the Dunlop Ultex Sharp. I still love the TP48 though.

I also used a TP50 for a while as well. I gave that one up because I didn’t like how my strums sounded with that pick. I feel like it’s too “clanky” , but that’s just my opinion.

I ordered a TP45 too, but I never use it because I agree that it feels too thin.

I just received a pack of Dunlop Ultex Sharp 1.40 thickness today. That pick packs a lot of power as well. But just like the TP50, I don’t know how I feel about the way my strumming sound. I do see myself using the 1.40 at a jam session or something. But so far I’m really loving the 1.14.

I can send some picks of the Dunlop Ultex Sharp if you wanna try them out. I have some in 2.0 thickness coming in as well. I can send you a few in 1.14 , 1.40 , and 2.0.
I also have a spare TP48 somewhere. I was actually trying to look for it this morning, so if I can find it , I can send it to you as well. A side note: Yes! I love the TP48 so much that I had to get a spare hahah :joy:!
Anyways, let me know if you wanna try them out. Just send me your address.

I appreciate the offer on the Dunlops Raymond, but I’ve already tried them. To be honest, I don’t care for the sharp point. I like the tone and volume, but it’s hard to build speed with the sharper point. I do however really like the Ultex standards in the 1.4 and I have those as well as the 1.14. Have you tried the Primetone line from Dunlop? I think they are the closest thing in sound to a Blue Chip in a “cheap” pick I’ve found thus far.

I may take you up on trying out your TP-48. I have a Red Bear with one sharp corner you may want to try. You’re more than welcome to it.

Thanks again!

That’s interesting. How fast do you play ? And how does the sharp point interfere with how fast you can play? I’m really curious, because maybe I’ll run into the same problem down the road. The fastest that I’ve ever played was at 170BPM, but I use the clicks on half-notes , so that’ll make it 85BPM.
I’ll look for the TP48 tomorrow, and let you know once I find it . We can do a trade for your Red Beared :slight_smile: is it like a standard teardrop shape? Or a triangle shape?

Oh! And to answer your question, no I haven’t tried the Primetones , but a lot of people agree that they are very close to the Bluechips for the price. I’ll definitely try them out as well!

Hey @jw11! I found the spare TP48! It was in my Mandolin bag :sweat_smile:! It just hit me all of a sudden that that’s where I stored it for emergencies. It’s all your now!

I I’m a finger picker not a flat picker but people tell me I need to get more volume all the time. What I knew and applied is F=MA or Force equals Mass multiplied by Acceleration and, more force hitting the strings equals more volume. To get more force you either need more mass IE heavier pick or more acceleration IE Hit the string harder. Since Acceleration is a vector quantity , and has both X , Y and Z acceleration changing the angel of of attack will help too as only the attack 90 degrees perpendicular to the strings is going help you with the acceleration part.

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A few years back, I decided I needed to get more volume on the acoustic guitar (playing with bluegrass instruments). So I set out watching players with powerful right hands like Bryan Sutton and David Grier. These fellas tend to use their right arm from the elbow to the fingertips to control the tone and volume of their instruments. It looks much like a flexible willow branch when they play. Before I watched them play, I tended to anchor my right palm lightly against the saddle, and pick mostly driving the energy from my wrist and fingers; especially when picking single notes. After a few years of dropping the anchor, I produce a much louder voice driving the notes from the elbow down. However, you must be careful to stay very relaxed and you have to take care that you do not over do it as your tone can become harsh from over driving the strings.

Just $.02 more.

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Can anyone translate this from calculus to English? Also,

Do you have experience with this Angel? Does he play guitar loudly? :joy:

that was not calculus just basic physics 101 and that should have been angle. I am dyslexic and I have COD. Pun intended the COD was not, second pun not intended.
But, Basically all I am saying is to to get more volume in Decibels out of your guitar you need either a heavier pick not necessarily thicker (but thicker picks will be heavier ) or move the pick faster and harder with your hand as perpendicular to the strings as possible. For me as a Finger picker that means either suck it up and wear finger picks and a thumb pick, grow nails, or change my angle of attack to add more acceleration in the direction that matters .


:rofl::rofl::rofl: That was awesome!

In terms of generating force, while the rigidity of the pick and the firmness of the grip would be factors, wouldn’t an increase in the mass of a pick be irrelevant compared to the mass of the hand and arm driving it?

I love this question as I am in the middle of reading Stephen Hawkin’s book “A brief history of time”.

So let’s imagine that we have 2 different picks with the exact same size, rigidity and the hand holding it is using the same grip firmness. If their mass of these two picks allowed a similar weight, then you could assume there would not be must difference in attack volume if we also assume that the two picks also have about the same friction against the string. However if everything was the same except the weight (one pick was much more massive and in turn weighed much more even though it was the same size), you would expect that it might be more difficult to handle and may, in turn, affect the tone and volume of the pick attack. The only time they would still pick nearly the same would be in a weightless environment. But even in weightlessness, a super massive pick would be difficult to change directions quickly; after all the Earth is in a weightless environment and a simple meteorite would be able to knock it out of orbit otherwise.

In other words, you are correct; the mass of a pick is not completely irrelevant for volume production, but in real world terms it probably is.

I disagree about the weight of the pick not making any difference. Now I do not have a way to measure force but I do have Calibrated SPLM (Sound Pressure Level Meter) A few weeks ago I did a test I took some some guitars played them with a pick, with no pick with finger picks, and with bare fingers. I had my SPLM about 2 feet away from the various guitars I tested I used fast lo settings and had it Weighted to Decibels in C (DBC) . The guitars played using a pick were 10 DB’s louder with the same hand movements or mathematically speaking 10 times louder. The picks must be doing something. If the weight of the picks didn’t matter at all then the guitar strummed as loud as possible with .7 mm pick should have been near the same amount of DBs as my thumb not 10 times louder. The Decibel scale is logarithmic to base 10. The .7 mm pick on my mahogany tacoma dreadnought measured 87 DBs and my thumb got 76.5 the 2 mm pick got 92 dbs and was about 5 times louder than the .7 mm pick . I have other numbers for other guitars and instruments if anyone is interested.

The comparison is between a pick and your bare thumb? I assume the decibel difference would be attributed to the difference in material, not mass. Skin has much more flex and give than whatever the pick is made from. If mass was going to be the winner then your hand or even your thumb would be the victor. They both have more mass than any pick.