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My thumb hurts
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6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been playing for just over a decade now and I feel as though both my speed and clarity have hit a wall in the last couple of years. I have a different style of holding the pick than most players. I turn the pick the opposite way; really bending my thumb hard. I know how im supposed to hold it, but it feels so unnatural to me. I'm trying to get opinions on whether or not it would be truly benificial to change my pick holding this late in life. thx
 

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NSLALP
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13,286 Posts
I disagree with the qualification that there are several ways which could be considered "proper", but several which would hold you back. I'm not quite sure I understand your method, but it sounds strenuous, which is my definition of wrong. Perhaps a picture?

Anything you can do to play in a more relaxed manner will make you better. It may take a while to change such a habit, but it can be worth it.
 

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Premium Member
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I've seen ridiculously fast players like Vernon Reid hold the pick not unlike that.

With the pick at such an extreme angle, however, I'm not sure you can get up to the fastest speeds. Regardless of how you hold the pick, one important speed hint is to make sure only the very tip of the pick hits the string. It looks like you're striking the string with the middle of the pick, and you'll probably never get up to speed doing that.

As someone who doesn't entirely do things "the right way" myself, I would advise you to first work on streamlining your existing hand position, rather than starting over from scratch. Break down in detail (and at slow speed) the mechanics of how and where the pick is striking the strings, and then try small modifications to get a better angle and position of attack.
 

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I dislike Porcupine Tree.
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Nope. PG has said that he used to pick similarly to that (but with index and middle as well as thumb), and then switched and then instantly made a lot of gains. I'm not saying the OP should switch, or that he would instantly become Paul Gilbert if he did, but PG definitely doesn't endorse holding the pick like that.

On the other hand, I have a couple of friends who do that. Neither of them are speed monsters, but they get by just fine. On the other other hand :D, if your thumb hurts, try something else.

Edit: Dude, you said it yourself, it's "very constricting and sometimes painful." Go change it. Right now.
 

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Edit: Dude, you said it yourself, it's "very constricting and sometimes painful." Go change it. Right now.
:agreed: There's no "wrong" way to pick, unless it's hurting you.

I've re-taught myself how to hold a pick twice now. First, I was holding it with three fingers, thumb, pointer, and middle, and then kind of realized almost everyone used thumb and pointer, so I retrained myself to hold it differently. Then, after watching a bunch of really gifted alternate pickers and thinking somewhat about the mechanics, I realized that from an inertia standpoint a "closed" picking hand was more efficient than an open one. Do a search, I posted a thread here. It was awkward as hell at first, but today, X number of months after that thread, I can go back and forth between both comfortably.

It's tough go break habits, but it can be done, and is often worth trying.

EDIT - this thread:

http://www.metalguitarist.org/forum...ate-picking-few-videos-ive-found-helpful.html

I first started trying to change my picking in August of last year, and for the past couple months it's been perfectly natural to me to pick either way. So, call it six months (and for the last five I haven't had much practice time), and I'm probably a better picker for it today. Which, of course, isn't saying much. :lol:
 

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ɹǝqɯǝɯ ɹɐln&#38
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5,486 Posts
I pick pretty fast but I do it at that angle too. The only problem I have because of this angle is the noise of the pick attack. It's not good oftentimes. I've tried to straighten it out, but it's not comfy.
 

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My thumb hurts
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6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I don't have any trouble with speed on a single string. The restriction is in my string to string mobility. I think i'll take Jacksonplayer's advice and try to evolve my picking little by little instead of starting over from scratch. thx all
 

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I dislike Porcupine Tree.
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189 Posts
String crossing, if you're strictly alternate picking, is a bitch for everyone at high speeds, regardless of how you hold the pick. You're not alone. ;)

At the same time, what I said before stands. If it hurts you, go change it.
 

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Pallin' around
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9,532 Posts
I don't think it is necessarily wrong (as everyone else said) but I do have a couple of points.

1) Any way you hold the pick should allow you to change picking angle. The string emits a different sound with different pick angles, and it is a good idea to master all of those sounds. I don't think it is a good idea to say, "This is how I hold the pick so I guess I will settle with this pick angle and this one sound".

2) Picking style and wrist/arm picking is not important if you can do it comfortably, and most importantly, RELAXED. Ever see your favorite player play something scorching fast and it doesn't even look like it was even hard? That's because it wasn't, he was relaxed. Try running a 40m while flexing all muscles in your body simultaneously. You will slow down. Same thing with picking.
 

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I don't have any trouble with speed on a single string. The restriction is in my string to string mobility. I think i'll take Jacksonplayer's advice and try to evolve my picking little by little instead of starting over from scratch. thx all
I'd recommend the reverse - unless you're gigging and can't afford to take a one month hit to your picking technique, just start completely over. I mean you basically are looking to flip the pick 180 degrees - it's tough to do that in small changes. Might as well just go for it.

Also, if your only problem is picking across strings, maybe come up with a couple picking drills that JUST focus on that?
 

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Super Moderator
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I'd recommend the reverse - unless you're gigging and can't afford to take a one month hit to your picking technique, just start completely over. I mean you basically are looking to flip the pick 180 degrees - it's tough to do that in small changes. Might as well just go for it.

Also, if your only problem is picking across strings, maybe come up with a couple picking drills that JUST focus on that?
i find that if i have trouble with a technique, i'll write a riff in a song by my band so that i have to get better at it, or i'll look like a fool on stage that can't play his own songs. :D
 

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Temporary Autonomous Zone
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582 Posts
I agree with Crucified. Writing your own riffs past your current ability is a quick way to advance.

I dont think theres any 'best' way to pick either...per style. Meaning; let the music dictate your picking. If you can get the sound from the guitar that sounds good for the music, and it's comfortable...that's how YOU should pick.

I've changed my picking twice, and I think I'm coming up on a third. My musical interests have changed from playing shred/death metal to fusion back in 2001. Most recently i've been trying to play traditional jazz, and feel another picking change for that style is in order.

I'm assuming by the photo your a death metal player, and for that I dont see anything wrong with your approach....except that you say there is physical pain sometimes. Playing shouldnt hurt.

There are some VERY good players from the DM genre that pick exactly as in your photo. Luke Jaeger from Sleep Terror is one...Shawn Whittaker from Insidious Decrepancy is another off the top of my head. In the fusion game there's Shawn Lane...as Jacksonplayer said, Vernon Reid also angles the pick like that when he goes nutzoid....hell, even bulb picks with a reverse angle.

The only advice I'll give you if you do start over, is to make sure your right and left hands are syncing up before increasing the speed. Since you've been playing for quite a long time already, your left hand will want to be faster than your new right hand technique, so just watch that. I think you'll be fine...like anything else, practice.
 

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NSLALP
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13,286 Posts
I find the most relaxing posture to be a "teacup" hold. I can take pictures if requested.

Your thumb and index come together and make a "D" and it's very similar to holding a teacup. Your thumb is straight, flush with the index finger, and fully holding the pick without extending over. The pick is coming out of this "D" at like 45 degrees with just a little bit of tip exposed. It's incredibly neutral.
 

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Premium Member
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What i found to really help me with picking is this.

Tape the guitar pick (bandage / medical tape work best) to your thumb, so it does not move; then place your index finger so the flesh on the left side touches the back side of the pick.

After doing this, i didn't have to focus on holding the pick any more; and just focused and cleaning up my technique, after a month or so remove the tape and it will be natural for you.
 

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Premium Member
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367 Posts
I've been playing for just over a decade now and I feel as though both my speed and clarity have hit a wall in the last couple of years. I have a different style of holding the pick than most players. I turn the pick the opposite way; really bending my thumb hard. I know how im supposed to hold it, but it feels so unnatural to me. I'm trying to get opinions on whether or not it would be truly benificial to change my pick holding this late in life. thx
I used to pick the way you do. I always had problems with getting evenly spaced notes and my pick attack was pretty weak, especially on the upstrokes. It's not obvious with gain but it definitely affects the clarity of your playing. It also made my wrist angle awkward on the lower strings and it puts a lot of pressure on your thumb, causing your hand to want to tense up.

Then about 3-4 years ago I decided to completely relearn it the other way. At first it was completely awkward and impossible and my pick would catch on like the 2nd note. After a few weeks though I exceeded my previous level, and have made drastic gains in speed and accuracy since then. My pick attack is much stronger from the improved leverage and my alternate picking is steady like a metronome. The transition period is really frustrating but it was worth it. I highly recommend making the change.

Hope that helps. :D
 
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