The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > General Acoustic Guitar Discussion

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 04-16-2011, 10:58 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Chugiak, Alaska
Posts: 29,294
Default Pick grip revelation and the neglect of a fine guitar

For the past year the guitar I've been playing the most has been a Gibson Advanced Jumbo, much like this one:



It was a real switch for me, because I'd been using Triple O and OM-sized guitars onstage almost exclusively since the late 1980's. Prior to getting this AJ, every time I'd pick up a dreadnought in a trade in the past twenty years or so I'd dink with it a little bit, but always eventually end up selling or trading it off. No dreads ever threatened the stage supremacy of my 000-42, that's for sure.

But then this round-shouldered dread came along, and it changed my playing to such an extent that I went ahead and asked Howard Klepper to build his interpretation of the Advanced Jumbo idea for me, this time with black walnut back and sides and a Carpathian spruce top. Here's a picture of my friend John Youngblood playing the new Klepper "KJ" at Howard's shop a few days ago:



(Those interested in following the progress of that guitar from boards to fully functional musical instrument can check out the build thread here:

http://www.acousticguitarforum.com/f...d.php?t=203278 )


Anyway, while I've been playing my walnut Larrivée OM-03W in public a bit over the last few months (most recently at church last week and at a St. Patrick's Day gig at McGinley's Pub in downtown Anchorage,) my Baxendale Mossman 000-42 has been neglected, frankly. I think I've had it out of the case maybe three times in the last year, which was unheard for me before the AJ showed up. That's my workhorse and my desert island guitar, yet I've been ignoring it.

But tomorrow is Palm Sunday, and one of the songs we always sing is "Who Follows In His Train?" (also called "The Son Of God Goes Forth To War.") It's a wonderful, stirring song, and it's the source of the melody for "The Minstrel Boy."

Thomas Moore, who wrote the words to "The Minstrel Boy," found "The Son Of God Goes Forth To War" in his Church of Ireland hymnal, and used its melody rather effectively! But you can hear that melody with the original hymnal words sung at various times in the film "The Man Who Would Be King."

So we sing this song every Palm Sunday, and none of the guitars I own is quite as effective punching out that melody so that hundreds of parishioners can hear it over the choir, the piano and the other instruments as this 000-42. It really cuts through, and you can hear it in the back row of the church without any problem at all.

So this afternoon I took it out of its case, changed the strings, but then was appalled by the tone I got from the guitar. It sounded thin! Harsh!! Brittle!!! And way too trebly without much if any bass response....

Yet I know this is a terrific-sounding guitar. What on earth could be wrong with it?

Well, nothing at all, actually. The problem was with me and how my right hand attack had changed a bit in the year since I'd been devoting most of my guitar-playing time to the AJ.

It took me about a half an hour to gradually start getting sounds from the 000-42 that sounded the way they should.

Was this a case of a guitar needing some time to wake up? Well, no, actually. The new strings needed to stretch in and get stabilized, that was part of the problem, but the main problem was that the way I gripped the pick had changed over the past year.

After I got the guitar sounding back to where it should, I stopped and asked myself: "What am I doing differently than I was a half an hour ago?"

It took me a couple of minutes to figure it out.

The answer was that I had shifted my grip on the pick to where only the last quarter inch of the point was sticking out from between my thumb and forefinger - on the AJ and the Gibson J-60 dread I got a few weeks ago, a good half inch of pick has been exposed when I play.

Choking up on just that short amount of distance gave the medium-heavy picks I use a bit less flex, and got the tone back that I remember from that guitar. Playing a big-bodied round-shouldered dread where both tone and volume are easily extracted had made me lazy and inattentive to that sort of detail (although I never had really paid that much attention to HOW I was getting that tone from the Triple O, I just GOT it...)

With some guitars you have to work a little harder to get the tone, but you're rewarded when you finally figure it out!

Hope that makes sense.


Wade Hampton Miller
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 04-16-2011, 11:26 PM
sfden1 sfden1 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 4,011
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
Hope that makes sense. Wade Hampton Miller
It does indeed. Thanks Wade for the insight into aspects of tone and playing I had not thought about before.

D.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 04-16-2011, 11:41 PM
pgilmor pgilmor is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Watford City
Posts: 1,963
Default

Thanks Wade. That helps out on comments I've heard from you about extracting good tone out of the 000-EC models in a recent thread. Made me really focus on what I was doing with the pick and attack on different guitars. Been experimenting with this a lot, and to hear you comment on your own experience like this just drives it home.
Pat

Last edited by pgilmor; 04-16-2011 at 11:46 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 04-16-2011, 11:45 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Chugiak, Alaska
Posts: 29,294
Default

Thanks, Pat.

Yeah, I didn't want to beat it to death on that 000-28EC thread, but I've heard plenty of fine players get a crappy sound from what I believe to be really superlative guitars - not just the Clapton model Martins, but a number of other smaller-bodied guitars, as well. And it has to be in their right hand attack somewhere.

What was startling to me was here the exact same thing was happening to me, and on my own guitar, no less! So I had to figure out what was causing the problem.


whm
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 04-16-2011, 11:53 PM
pgilmor pgilmor is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Watford City
Posts: 1,963
Default

Wade, this just happens to be my own personal revelation right now, as just after you posted in that 000-28EC hread, I saw Eric Skye post his picking thoughts in another thread and picked up the Brian Sutton Homespun video, all of which made me open my eyes to things I could do with the flatpick. What is it they say, when the the student is ready, the master(s) will appear? Thanks for all the great insight.
Pat
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 04-17-2011, 05:22 AM
DrDavid DrDavid is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Northern Green Mountains
Posts: 1,100
Default

Great post, Wade.

Pick grip "attentiveness" is something I struggle with. There have been many times when my playing just hasn't been sounding "right", until I notice that I've allowed the pick to shift slightly (or not so slightly) from optimal position.

Interesting, too, that the proper length of pick extended below the fingers varies significantly depending on (1) the thickness of the pick, (2) the pick material, and (3) the nature of the song being played.

btw.....that in-process HK of yours is s w e e t.

..
__________________
Sursum corda
Tógaigí bhúr gcroíthe in airde


David
Páirc Thoir Thuaidh



Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 04-17-2011, 05:28 AM
redcloud redcloud is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 1,118
Default

Wade, I really enjoy your thoughtful and instructive posts.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 04-17-2011, 10:17 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Chugiak, Alaska
Posts: 29,294
Default

Thanks, guys.

Now I've got to get the car loaded and go into Anchorage to play in church. I'm glad I figured out what the problem with my tone was. It's startling how something like that change can occur over time so that you're completely unaware of it, but I'm glad I took the time last night to figure it out.


whm
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 04-17-2011, 11:35 AM
MTGuitarSlinger MTGuitarSlinger is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Bozeman, Montana
Posts: 307
Default

great post Wade, i've thought about this lately because i noticed that when i started playing with a thick pick that i wore down one edge of the pick on opposite sides, intriguing me as to what my hand does when i play. i wonder if i started with another guitar and a new pick, if it would have a different wear pattern.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 04-17-2011, 11:44 AM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Coastal Washington State
Posts: 37,684
Default

Hi Wade,

Happy Palm Sunday! (If Palm Sunday can be happy, considering the fickle crowd in the readings.) Only one more week to go! And one full of church responsibilities, too, I know...

Last weekend I learned a Darrell Scott song, "Long Wide Open Road," and he is a big flat picker. I have been away from the flat pick for some time, but I wanted to learn this song, so what the hey...

I used my relatively inexpensive Voyage-Air OM-06 to learn the song off the computer (in case I banged it on the desk), and I thought, good, this sounds good. Then I pulled out my Martin D-35, thinking, this song needs a dreadnought. Suddenly, it didn't sound quite right... Just as you said, Wade, I had to adjust my approach on the flat pick, softening it up quite a bit from my approach on the OM. Then I thought, I wonder what this would sound like on the Gibson AJ? Well, dang, I needed to adjust my approach again to further soften up the attack even more or the song sounded too harsh with that Adi top.

Yesterday I just picked up my repaired and refreted Guild F212 12-string and this morning I played Darrell Scott's song on the 12-string, and sure enough, I needed to change my flat pick approach again until I had it sounding way better. At first, my wife said she didn't like it on the 12-string, but after I got the pick attack adjusted she said it sounded like a different song.

So yep, I know just what you mean! And these comments are coming from a relatively lousy flat picker.... Nice post, Wade!

- Glenn
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 04-17-2011, 11:45 AM
Mycroft Mycroft is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Seattle
Posts: 5,862
Default

It is because that Mossman is a TPOS, Wade. Took you long enough to realize it. Tell you what; as a friend, I'll take it off your hands cheap. I might be able to flog it to some unsuspecting sucker down here in the Pac NW.

Seriously, what you posted applies to fingerpicking as well, I find. Guitars are individual, and each has a way that it "likes" to be played.

TW
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 04-17-2011, 12:01 PM
leeasam leeasam is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Decorah , Iowa
Posts: 4,542
Default

being I was mostly an electric player before getting into acoustic I play with the tip of the pick barely coming through. Can you say pinch harmonics!!! I actually almost do those to easy on electric. Any way that is one reason I use a thinner pick as when I hold a thick pick like that the tone gets really warm and muddy even THUDDY sounding. If one plays softly and more flat picking then it can be pretty but get agressive strumming etc it sounds like crap and the string rattle etc. I have had people say how do you get a guitar to sound so alive-- chorus like-- well I do not use and can not stand heavy pick as they dull the tone unless one holds them high and lets them flex in hand- then you risk losing it LOL. a heavy pick does not let the strings snap and vibrate IMO as nice( however going to light you lose volume big time too) If a person says how to make their guitar less bright I will tell them install poly webs strings and use a heavy pick. then it will be nice warm and muddy sounding.!

I guess I don`t really adjust my style or hold depending on guitar. If it does not sound good for my style I don`t buy it.
__________________
2010 Taylor 816CE
2012 PRS P22 Black Gold Wrap Around.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 04-17-2011, 08:05 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Chugiak, Alaska
Posts: 29,294
Default

Well, what was revelatory to me was

A.) How much just a minute shift in how I held the pick made so much difference in the tone;

and

B.) That a guitar that's really been my main ax for more than twenty years could sound so harsh and unfamiliar in my hands, using the same medium-heavy celluloid picks I've favored since the late 70's.


In other words, here's a well-loved and deeply familiar guitar sounding like totally different instrument, yet I'm using the same John Pearse 80/20 mediums on there that I've always used, playing it with the same gauge pick I've always used on it.

It just makes me wonder how many otherwise fine musical instruments I've dismissed not because there was anything wrong with them, but simply because I couldn't figure out how to coax the tone out of them.

Anyway, thank you for your noble offer, Tony "Mycroft" Weber, but the Baxendale Mossman 000-42 is the only guitar of mine that my daughter wants when I die, so you'll have to wrassle her for it.

And she may be a petite blue-eyed blonde, but she's smart, mean and SNEAKY, as well as being a little bossypants besides. (Her childhood nickname was "the sergeant-major...") You don't want to tangle with her, trust me!

But thanks anyway!


Wade Hampton "She Can Have My Triple O When She Pries It From My Cold, Dead Fingers" Miller
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 04-17-2011, 08:56 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Coastal Washington State
Posts: 37,684
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
...It just makes me wonder how many otherwise fine musical instruments I've dismissed not because there was anything wrong with them, but simply because I couldn't figure out how to coax the tone out of them...
I agree, Wade...
I have heard 3 or 4 different people, with different playing styles, play the same guitar and have that guitar sound completely different with each player.

- Glenn
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 04-17-2011, 09:08 PM
leeasam leeasam is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Decorah , Iowa
Posts: 4,542
Default

Oh I agree Wade using pcik material and how you hold can make or break a specific guitar. I normally use a Torex .50mm red pick but when I play my GS mini at times I find I get get alot richer and warmer tone with a slightly thicker .60mm orange pick. BUT I have to keep the attack a bit soofter and controlled. If I want to get agressive then I us the reds or it will just be harsh and rattle the strings bad. But back off a bit with a thicker and play single note flat pick WOW. I still like the Mini even with my standard Reds and style but cna totally change it to another animal with the thicker pick and lighter attack. Does not work as well withteh 816CE thicker just make is muddy and way to warm for my taste.

like with this clip he is using a THICK pick and light touch-- I can tell!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g84fAikCmW0
__________________
2010 Taylor 816CE
2012 PRS P22 Black Gold Wrap Around.
Reply With Quote
Reply

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > General Acoustic Guitar Discussion

Thread Tools





All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:59 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=