Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

What the Pluck? How the Pluck?

I’ve been developing a lot as of lately with my playing, seems it is all falling in place.

Again, time is slowing down a bit for me and I am starting to not only “hear” things, but likewise “feel” things a bit better.

It’s always good to judge ones progress to the progress of others. With this said…where is over-all pick direction going to on your up strokes and down strokes when playing lead?

I’ve really worked on my down stroke direction…I am attacking the string and trying to drive my pick into the sound hole on my down strokes. This is a lot more prevalent on the first 3 strings on my down strokes and on up strokes these 1st 3 stings get attacked from “the under side of the string”.

To me I am getting a lot “cleaner sound” by attacking at an angle so severe. I know I have just about gotten rid of any muted sound in my picking by attacking at these extreme angles.

So what say you? Is this similar to your experiences and attack? Am I totally off the wall here and am I developing bad habits even though it sounds better?

I know when I want to play something really cleanly I concentrate on over emphasizing my attack angle, that’s about all I am thinking about (not the song, it’s just comes out without thinking about it to much).

Let’s hear it.

If I’m understanding you right, you’re saying you’re picking so as to cause the string to vibrate more perpendicular to the sound board as opposed to parallel. I don’t pick like that for regular alternate picking, but for rest strokes, like with DDU crosspicking, I do pick at a more downward angle.

Also, when practicing, I like to focus on getting my pick solidly down into the strings, because in my pursuit of speed I don’t always get a lot of plectrum on the string. It’s also why I prefer a rounded pick as opposed to a real pointy one. The rounded corner lets me get more pick on the strings without having to dig in so much.

Of course, that might all change if you ask me next week. I’m in the midst of reevaluating pretty much all of my technique. One of the really good pickers in my area has taken me under his wing and has been coming over to the house once a week for half-day lesson marathons. He’s got me rethinking a lot about my playing.

Yep that is what I am saying Larry.

It shows up really prominent on the 1st 3 strings (EBG). I know the only way I can pull off a clean triplet on 3 different frets at 250bpm is to really attack my up stoke from the “under side” of the string.

Since a string is 360 degrees let’s say that 0 degrees would be a perpendicular pluck on a down stroke straight towards the top of the guitar, 90 degrees would be a parallel pluck in reference to the top of the guitar… I am attacking/ plucking/picking the string at maybe 30 degrees and driving down and through towards the sound hole.

Also holding the pick at a slight angel to the strings causes the pick to slide off the strings a tad faster so instead of having the pick straight just angle it a bit and see if that helps or not some can use it others can’t I can relate to things slowing down as I can see and hear more than I ever have since I have been taking lessons here off of Ben . He makes you think about what it is you are doing and also how to do it better . I am almost able to play from tab as others play from music, not there yet but am much better at it . Never be a pro but I will be able to play a few for the family when they come around , so far I have received a few compliments, that always helps get you going . I can’t wait to get well enough to play in Church again .

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I am attacking/ plucking/picking the string at maybe 30 degrees and driving down and through towards the sound hole.

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Doesn’t that make it tough to get back out for the next alternate stroke?

You know Larry I am actually speeding up by doing this…I’ll try and explain “why”

I’ve seen maybe 3-4 folks that described a good way to learn flat picking “sound. speed, tone, etc” mention that a good way to get that sound is to focus on blowing through a sting and then the next string stops it…i.e your pick after a really hard down stroke looses so much force from going through the string that it ends up coming to a smooth rest upon the next string below it.

I tried this several times in the past but could never get it down, it was as if I really had to force my self to end up on the top of the next string. With me know really blowing my pick down and through this stops the momentum of the motion and makes it for an easy transition back on the upstroke. I do not have to “change directions” with my hand to come back for the upstroke, instead the angle and “punch” I have put on the string pretty much stops my forward movement and I can instantly pull up for the upstroke with no resistance. I thought at first that it was helping me get cleaner notes, but after fiddlin’ with it and really studying it I think that instead of giving me cleaner notes it instead has has eliminated any slop that was in my right hand that was causing a bad “pick stroke”.

I ma definitely blowing down through the string a a steeper angle than normal and on my upstrokes I am literally grabbing the string from “underneath” and coming back up through the string…I mean I am making contact the lowest tangent point on the string on my upstrokes. If the “top” of the string is “0 degrees” and the hit on a perpendicular down stroke is 90" (upstroke part 270 degrees and “under side” of string is 180 degrees) then it would be safe to say that my attack angle on my down stroke is going in a 20-30 degrees and my upstroke is coming up and out back the same path.

…if that makes any sense. Am I the only one that is anal enough to spend hours just examining pick strokes?

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Am I the only one that is anal enough to spend hours just examining pick strokes?

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Not a bit.

I am glad it is working for you! I find that rest strokes are great to work on. When I was working on mando early on, I worked on rest strokes and it seemed to work well for me too. As I sped up I didn’t always actually land on the next string, but I was still trying too (but that was ok). Like I said, it seemed to work well.