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  #16  
Old 12-10-2016, 09:14 PM
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rick-slo rick-slo is offline
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It is the first millisecond or two of string vibration (perhaps even before you consciously hear anything) that sets up the harmonic content the string will produce as it continues to sound, and thus it is critical to tone. That first millisecond or two is determined by where and how the the finger tip leaves the string. With fingernails, since most tend to curve towards the palm, a slight backward bend of the end joint of the finger tends to smooth out the sound, and that backward bend tends to happen more with rest strokes than free strokes. Of course you can also try and do other things, for example ramping the shape of the nails, play with short nails, play with artificial nails, pick at an angle instead of perpendicular to the string.
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  #17  
Old 12-11-2016, 06:31 AM
AX17609 AX17609 is offline
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This is one of those threads where everyone's response seems to be accurate. The only thing I can think to add is that the way you attack the strings very much depends on how many fingers you are using and whether or not you're using picks. People who play with thumb and two fingers tend to attack the strings at a very different angle than people who play with thumb and three fingers. The difference relates to the hand position necessary to get the ring finger into action. Similarly, the use of finger picks changes the angle of attack. Personally, I play Piedmont-style with thumb and three fingers (which Stefan Grossman says is dead wrong). When using picks, I anchor my little finger, and when playing with bear fingers I don't. It all depends on the feel of the string and the kind of tone I'm going after.
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  #18  
Old 12-11-2016, 06:37 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pitar View Post
I don't think the finger can physically move the string in a perpendicular direction to the top, nor do I think the author of the technique is an authority if that is his claim.

The initial release of the string places it in its greatest travel displacement which could contact a fret wire if released perpendicularly to the top. After the initial release the string sets up its vibration in a revolving manner much like a jump rope. There are two perpendicular vectors with each rotation, as well as two parallel vectors. But, the initial release is always parallel because that is the only motion the fingertip travels through. The proper pluck is a rest stroke which means the finger displaces and releases the object string, and then comes to rest against the adjacent string. To attempt a perpendicular release of the object string would require hooking and lifting it with the fingernail before release. This is physically impossible to do in regular play.
In regular play, maybe! But I know at least one player who occasionally picked by digging a thumb(pick) or finger(nail) beneath the string, pulling upwards and letting it thwack back against the frets. It's a pretty common technique in slap bass too.

The motion may not be exactly perpendicular to the surface of the guitar, but (like the rest stroke) it's close. The usual rest stroke in fact picks at about 45 degrees, between parallel with the guitar top and perpendicular. The fingernail begins above the string (away from the guitar) and ends up beneath the string, so obviously the first movement of the string is in the opposite direction - away from the surface, and then back down. But at an oblique angle. The string could be made to move in a (mostly) perpendicular fashion, but the fingernail would then end up beneath the string itself, and inhibit its vibration.

The rest stroke moves the string in a more parallel direction (in the plane of the strings).

Of course the string ends up vibrating in what you call a revolving manner, although probably in a kind of rotating ellipse; mainly back and forth, but in different directions about the centre. Its natural tendency would always be to pull back to the centre and back out, not to rotate like a jump rope (whose motion is dictated by the person holding it).
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  #19  
Old 12-11-2016, 06:47 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
It is the first millisecond or two of string vibration (perhaps even before you consciously hear anything) that sets up the harmonic content the string will produce as it continues to sound, and thus it is critical to tone. That first millisecond or two is determined by where and how the the finger tip leaves the string. With fingernails, since most tend to curve towards the palm, a slight backward bend of the end joint of the finger tends to smooth out the sound, and that backward bend tends to happen more with rest strokes than free strokes.
I don't get this personally. The angle of the end of the finger can't have any impact. It only affects the direction of string movement. The nail is going to slide off the string the same way.

The curve of the fingernail toward the palm is supposed to be eliminated by filing the nail to remove any "hook" effect caused by a curve in that direction - precisely so that it can't catch on the string, and will simply slide off, the tip releasing the string. IOW, the shape of the fingernail might make a difference to how the string sounds (although it's still hard to see how), but the same shape fingernail will produce the same affect whichever direction it leaves the string.

Even so, I can hear for myself that a rest stroke sounds different from a free stroke (same string, same fingernail), and I'll admit I can't yet understand why. IOW, your explanation makes no sense to me, but I can't think of one that makes more sense!
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  #20  
Old 12-11-2016, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by JonPR View Post
I don't get this personally. The angle of the end of the finger can't have any impact. It only affects the direction of string movement. The nail is going to slide off the string the same way.

The curve of the fingernail toward the palm is supposed to be eliminated by filing the nail to remove any "hook" effect caused by a curve in that direction - precisely so that it can't catch on the string, and will simply slide off, the tip releasing the string. IOW, the shape of the fingernail might make a difference to how the string sounds (although it's still hard to see how), but the same shape fingernail will produce the same affect whichever direction it leaves the string.

Even so, I can hear for myself that a rest stroke sounds different from a free stroke (same string, same fingernail), and I'll admit I can't yet understand why. IOW, your explanation makes no sense to me, but I can't think of one that makes more sense!
I have already explained, due to the shape of most peoples fingernails (even when nails are short), why it makes a difference in tone. It does help to think in very small physical dimensions and very short time intervals around the moment the finger leaves the string. That is where variability in magnitude of the string's harmonic and inharmonic partials is set up. How smoothly does the fingertip leave the string ("gritty" = more inharmonic partials, smooth = less inharmonic partials.) Accounting for this the rest does not matter (downward or sideways finger motion or where the finger ends up after leaving the string).
It is pretty easy to test it out when (controlling for volume and distance from bridge) by using a smooth flatpick at various tilts and comparing that to what happens with a fingernail. Or another example: pick with tip index finger perpendicular to the plane of the string and plane of the guitar top. Then, keeping finger perpendicular to the top rotate the wrist towards the bridge so that the fingertip picks the string at an angle (say up to 45 degrees or so) and listen to the tone become more mellow.
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Last edited by rick-slo; 12-11-2016 at 12:31 PM.
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  #21  
Old 12-11-2016, 05:52 PM
Znerken Znerken is offline
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Originally Posted by JonPR View Post
I don't quite see how you can pick a string downwards (into the guitar) without touching the next string afterwards.
My teacher recommended me this. He said I should push the stings like I play a piano. I am still trying to figure it out.
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  #22  
Old 12-11-2016, 06:01 PM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
I have already explained, due to the shape of most peoples fingernails (even when nails are short), why it makes a difference in tone. It does help to think in very small physical dimensions and very short time intervals around the moment the finger leaves the string. That is where variability in magnitude of the string's harmonic and inharmonic partials is set up.
That's mainly down to position along the string. We're talking pretty negligible effects here, at best.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
How smoothly does the fingertip leave the string ("gritty" = more inharmonic partials, smooth = less inharmonic partials.) Accounting for this the rest does not matter (downward or sideways finger motion or where the finger ends up after leaving the string).
OK. But you were talking about a "backward bend" of the finger. It was that I didn't understand. The way the nail picks the string is the same whether the finger is bent or straight.
The shape and quality of the nail certainly makes a difference - although only to the attack portion of the sound, not to the sound once the nail has left the string.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
It is pretty easy to test it out when (controlling for volume and distance from bridge) by using a smooth flatpick at various tilts and comparing that to what happens with a fingernail. Or another example: pick with tip index finger perpendicular to the plane of the string and plane of the guitar top. Then, keeping finger perpendicular to the top rotate the wrist towards the bridge so that the fingertip picks the string at an angle (say up to 45 degrees or so) and listen to the tone become more mellow.
OK I must have misunderstood you before.

However, when I try this I get a mellower sound the first way - picking at right angles to the string. At 45 degrees, there's more nail scrape. It's extremely minimal, but just noticeable.
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  #23  
Old 12-12-2016, 03:54 AM
LeftArm LeftArm is offline
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Quote:
Even so, I can hear for myself that a rest stroke sounds different from a free stroke (same string, same fingernail), and I'll admit I can't yet understand why. IOW, your explanation makes no sense to me, but I can't think of one that makes more sense!
When I was learning classical I was told that the rest stroke causes the string to vibrate perpendicular to the soundboard causing more of an up and down vibration in the top. A free stroke causes the string to vibrate parallel to the top so there is less up and down vibration of the top.
Seems to make sense to me.
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  #24  
Old 12-12-2016, 06:05 AM
Znerken Znerken is offline
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Originally Posted by LeftArm View Post
When I was learning classical I was told that the rest stroke causes the string to vibrate perpendicular to the soundboard causing more of an up and down vibration in the top. A free stroke causes the string to vibrate parallel to the top so there is less up and down vibration of the top.
Seems to make sense to me.
That is true. The question is how to make the string vibrate perpendicular with a free stroke.
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  #25  
Old 12-12-2016, 06:19 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeftArm View Post
When I was learning classical I was told that the rest stroke causes the string to vibrate perpendicular to the soundboard causing more of an up and down vibration in the top. A free stroke causes the string to vibrate parallel to the top so there is less up and down vibration of the top.
Seems to make sense to me.
Yes, I can see the logic there. In fact, if I touch the bridge (with left hand) when picking rest and free strokes, I think I can feel the difference - it seems like more vibration from the rest stroke. That would explain why a rest stroke seems to have more "body" to it. (But notice I use the words "think" and "seem"... one could easily be deceived by this sort of thing.)
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  #26  
Old 12-12-2016, 09:24 AM
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rick-slo rick-slo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeftArm View Post
When I was learning classical I was told that the rest stroke causes the string to vibrate perpendicular to the soundboard causing more of an up and down vibration in the top. A free stroke causes the string to vibrate parallel to the top so there is less up and down vibration of the top.
Seems to make sense to me.
That is a nice sounding theory however it is not the reason a free stroke usually sounds more full and mellow than a free stroke. However in actual playing the result is the same, whatever the underlying reasons.
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  #27  
Old 01-10-2017, 02:11 PM
AZ Slacker AZ Slacker is offline
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Been playing fingerstyle since 1967. My nails are my 'picks' and I pick in one direction; up, with the flesh of the fingertip making brief contact with the string and the nail finishing the stroke. Always upward whether Kotte, Doc Watson, blues, Slack-key, you name it. Pick more or less aggressively to adjust for tone and loudness.
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  #28  
Old 01-11-2017, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by A-Mac View Post
Something else I never gave a moment's thought to in my fifty-plus years of playing. I do what I do and it sounds good, so my answers are I don't know and no.
I, like you, just pick. I have no idea what this thread is about.

Ron
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  #29  
Old 01-11-2017, 12:10 PM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Originally Posted by AZ Slacker View Post
Been playing fingerstyle since 1967. My nails are my 'picks' and I pick in one direction; up,
- but down with the thumb, presumably?
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  #30  
Old 01-14-2017, 02:10 PM
SixStingString SixStingString is offline
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flat pick, thumb pick or fingers....my process for executing the precise angle at which to pluck the string is as follows:

Step 1) pluck string(s) if sounds good continue with technique. If not continue to step 2.

Step 2) pluck strings a different way until it sounds good. When sounds good achieved, continue with this technique as with step 1.
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