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Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II

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Brendy 28 May 00 - 11:16 AM
Mooh 28 May 00 - 12:40 PM
MK 28 May 00 - 01:06 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 May 00 - 06:44 PM
Mark Clark 28 May 00 - 07:16 PM
MK 28 May 00 - 07:57 PM
Mark Clark 28 May 00 - 08:08 PM
Mooh 28 May 00 - 09:22 PM
Little Neophyte 28 May 00 - 10:10 PM
Mark Clark 28 May 00 - 10:22 PM
Little Neophyte 28 May 00 - 11:20 PM
Mark Clark 29 May 00 - 12:19 AM
Peter T. 29 May 00 - 10:34 AM
Little Neophyte 29 May 00 - 02:20 PM
Brendy 29 May 00 - 03:59 PM
MK 29 May 00 - 04:03 PM
Brendy 29 May 00 - 04:23 PM
Mooh 30 May 00 - 07:51 AM
Grab 30 May 00 - 09:10 AM
Mark Clark 30 May 00 - 09:51 AM
McGrath of Harlow 30 May 00 - 05:05 PM
GUEST,Russ 06 Jun 00 - 12:16 PM
John in Brisbane 06 Jun 00 - 09:03 PM
GUEST,HJF 08 Jun 00 - 12:57 AM
Whistle Stop 08 Jun 00 - 08:28 AM
Mooh 09 Jun 00 - 01:20 PM
Mark Clark 09 Jun 00 - 02:33 PM
Mark Clark 11 Jun 00 - 11:57 PM
Mooh 12 Jun 00 - 08:18 AM
Rick Fielding 12 Jun 00 - 12:11 PM
Mooh 12 Jun 00 - 01:06 PM
Mark Clark 12 Jun 00 - 03:04 PM
MK 12 Jun 00 - 03:25 PM
Mooh 13 Jun 00 - 10:02 AM
Mooh 16 Jun 00 - 08:30 PM
Mooh 16 Jun 00 - 08:41 PM
Pene Azul 16 Jul 00 - 03:31 PM
Sorcha 16 Jul 00 - 04:31 PM
oggie 17 Jul 00 - 05:38 PM
Mooh 17 Jul 00 - 05:59 PM
Mark Clark 19 Jul 00 - 12:15 PM
Whistle Stop 19 Jul 00 - 03:19 PM
Mark Clark 19 Jul 00 - 09:01 PM
Whistle Stop 20 Jul 00 - 08:24 AM
Mooh 20 Jul 00 - 03:59 PM
Dee45 22 Jul 00 - 05:24 PM
Pene Azul 23 Jul 00 - 09:02 PM
Wesley S 24 Jul 00 - 04:14 PM
GUEST 25 Jul 00 - 10:12 AM
Peter T. 25 Jul 00 - 10:20 AM
bbelle 25 Jul 00 - 12:29 PM
Mark Clark 26 Jul 00 - 10:43 AM
Peter T. 26 Jul 00 - 11:18 AM
Mark Clark 27 Jul 00 - 03:52 PM
Peter T. 27 Jul 00 - 04:27 PM
Mark Clark 27 Jul 00 - 09:23 PM
Pene Azul 28 Jul 00 - 02:54 AM
Pene Azul 28 Jul 00 - 03:00 AM
Mark Clark 28 Jul 00 - 10:53 AM
Mark Clark 28 Jul 00 - 11:44 AM
Dee45 28 Jul 00 - 02:00 PM
Pene Azul 28 Jul 00 - 03:40 PM
Terry Allan Hall 29 Jul 00 - 10:39 AM
Pene Azul 31 Jul 00 - 01:01 PM
Mooh 01 Aug 00 - 06:05 PM
Pene Azul 10 Aug 00 - 04:04 PM
Mooh 15 Aug 00 - 08:53 AM
Dee45 02 Sep 00 - 02:10 PM
Mark Clark 18 Sep 00 - 10:57 AM
Marion 26 Sep 00 - 01:11 PM
MK 26 Sep 00 - 01:24 PM
mousethief 26 Sep 00 - 01:31 PM
bbelle 26 Sep 00 - 01:38 PM
Marion 03 Oct 00 - 10:16 PM
John Hardly 04 Oct 00 - 12:59 AM
GUEST 04 Oct 00 - 08:06 AM
Marion 04 Oct 00 - 03:16 PM
John Hardly 04 Oct 00 - 11:01 PM
Marion 10 Oct 00 - 12:01 AM
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MK 13 Oct 00 - 12:34 AM
MK 29 Oct 00 - 11:18 PM
Clifton53 29 Oct 00 - 11:26 PM
Mooh 12 Nov 00 - 01:27 PM
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MK 14 Nov 00 - 09:56 AM
Marion 17 Jan 01 - 10:10 PM
Mooh 18 Jan 01 - 12:25 PM
GUEST,folkcensor 18 Jan 01 - 05:48 PM
Marion 06 Feb 01 - 12:18 AM
Mark Clark 06 Feb 01 - 01:16 AM
mkebenn 06 Feb 01 - 10:02 PM
Marion 07 Feb 01 - 10:16 PM
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Justa Picker 23 Mar 01 - 07:38 PM
Rick Fielding 23 Mar 01 - 09:30 PM
Mark Clark 23 Mar 01 - 11:40 PM
Justa Picker 25 Mar 01 - 06:50 PM
Marion 23 Apr 01 - 12:38 AM
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Subject: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Brendy
Date: 28 May 00 - 11:16 AM

Don't mean to be presumptious, but as I'm a sucker for damsels in distress, as requested by moonchild and Bonnie, and also for the common good:-

Lets go again, folks

B.


Click here for part 1



This is a PermaThread (edited thread), used it for information about instruments and playing instruments. Feel free to post messages to this thread, but be aware that information in this thread may be deleted or edited to make it serve as a permanent guide.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mooh
Date: 28 May 00 - 12:40 PM

How about a good will suggestion?

Much has been said over the years about reconditioning strings by everything from simply wiping them off after each use, to using "Finger Ease" and the like, to boiling them clean.

Here's another way of increasing their life. When you're ready to pitch them in the trash, wipe them off thoroughly, return them to their original envelops, and collect them for use in places where strings are hard to get. Where I live, some kind soul takes an annual care package of them to Cuba, where I understand they are enthusiastically welcomed. If you travel, you may like to find out whether you could do the same.

Peace. Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: MK
Date: 28 May 00 - 01:06 PM

A Beginners Look At Strings


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 May 00 - 06:44 PM

Slide guitar: Wild Willie Barrett sometimes uses a raw egg. Good sound, and there's the added tension of waiting for it to break. He closes the piece by chucking it to someone in the audience, at which point it normally does break.

Strum rose: they look vicious,like they would rip your guitar to pieces, and people tend to say "what the hell is that" - they are made up of seven little plectrums all welded together... But they mean you can really get some volume, both on chords (which you have to watch out for, because it's easy to overdo it) and, more important maybe, you can play single strings loud, but never breaking one, because individually the plectrums are quite flexible. They are really handy in Irish Sessions, especially if the others have mini-amps, and you haven't..


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mark Clark
Date: 28 May 00 - 07:16 PM

Michael, The string primer at the Frets site is great. I wish I'd had something like that forty years ago. Local music stores in those days had no idea why strings were different or what the differences were. I used to buy Black Diamond strings because they were cheap ($1.25 as I recall). They were packaged with two G strings, one wound and one plain.

Someone should do an exhaustive history of strings: materials, technolgies, makers, etc. I'm led to believe that there are many more "brands" of strings today than actual producers. Kind of like the sad situation with American beers.

I have a nagging string question that someone may be able to help with. What ever happened to flat-wound strings? Music shops don't seem to cary them, the Frets site didn't mention them, do they still exist? If they're not gone, why are they forgotten? The first serious electric guitar I ever saw up close was a Fender Jazzmaster strung with flat-wound strings. The strings were very heavy and wouldn't have been much use for blues but, thanks to their high tension, were set very close to the frets, like maybe 1/64 in. or less. Just a very light touch was all that was needed to get a clean note, volume was excellent and there was no buzz. The year was 1962. I'd sure like to have a guitar set up like that today.

Thanks,

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: MK
Date: 28 May 00 - 07:57 PM

They are available Mark.

You just have to know where to look.
Hope this is what you had in mind. Otherwise go to Yahoo and do a search on "flat + wound + strings".


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mark Clark
Date: 28 May 00 - 08:08 PM

Tip for Beginners
In the US at least, Real musicians never pay the retail price at a music store. Michael's reference on strings started me thinking about the way we buy strings, accessories, and even instruments. Professional musicians are known at local shops and are often accorded a courtesy discount often as high as fifty percent. (The markup on musical merchandise is very high.) If you sometimes play at local bars or hire out for parties, make some cheap posters and ask your local music store to put them up. Make business cards and leave them at local shops. Volunteer to give the odd free public demonstration at your local music store; it brings in customers and helps the business. The owners will repay you in professional discounts.

Another way to save money on strings is to buy them in bulk. When I was performing I always bought by mail order and never fewer than a dozen sets. You can save a great deal of money this way and not have to worry about boiling your strings or otherwise extend their lives artificially.

Of course if you are studying with a teacher who is also a working professional, he or she may be able to supply you with necessary accoutrements at a substantial savings as well.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mooh
Date: 28 May 00 - 09:22 PM

Mark, You might also try strings.com ... they have a decent assortment. I occasionally order from them and always have my order in a week (I live in southern Ontario).

Regarding flatwounds: I rather like the D'Addario "Flat tops" which are semi flat, quieter, smoother, and great for slide. I use them for my lapsteel set-up acoustic, and for recording if I'm concerned about string noise.

I agree with your remarks about discounts. Some stores offer a teacher or performer price, and so they should, we send alot of business their way. It's a happy partnership, or at least should be. I recommend the store and they reward me, simple as that.

A mandolin tip: I used to have an overly bright F style mandolin the sound of which I mellowed by changing only half the strings at a time...that is, one of each identical pair. Timing the change wasn't too difficult. It saved a bit on string expenses and improved the general tone of the instrument.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 28 May 00 - 10:10 PM

Mark Clark, just wondering if you got the personal message I sent you a couple of days ago?

Bonnie


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mark Clark
Date: 28 May 00 - 10:22 PM

Hey, thanks for the tip on flat-wound strings. I'll try some and see how it goes. Funny how we get locked in by our paradigms; I use the Internet for all kinds of purchases and I'm continually searching for all types of information and yet I was unable to associate the Internet and guitar strings. I guess I figured if music stores don't carry them, they've gone the way of the buggy whip.

Thanks,

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 28 May 00 - 11:20 PM

After reading through this thread I am wondering maybe there should be a Beginners and an Advanced Help for Pickers Tips.
I went back to an old thread of Rick's 'Music Teaching Tips....again'. And there is some really important information in there that I feel would be helpful for beginner. Maybe 'Picker Tips' does not encompass teaching tips, but for a novice, I think it would essential.
Here is an example:
Rick's first posting on Music Teaching Tips........
If you're a rank beginner and learning on your own, grab a clock with a second hand, and time yourself while running through your chords. (this works best if your "game oriented". For example: If you're learning C,F, and G7 see how long it takes you to strum once per chord. If it takes, oh say, 15 seconds to complete the three, try for 14 next time, then 13 etc. If self-competition is not your thing, don't mess with this, but I've seen it work very well with some."

I know Peter T. mentioned in one of his earlier postings on this thread how he wished he had learned about keys and how most songs have a I-IV-V7 format (or the equivalent) and that there are natural minors.
Maybe it would helpful if there was a Permathread for beginners where some basic teaching tips are given.
Then again, maybe I am talking about Utopia.

Bonnie


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mark Clark
Date: 29 May 00 - 12:19 AM

Rick will have to delete this post later but while searching Yahoo for strings, I found the ultimate string site and thought some folks here might enjoy it.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Peter T.
Date: 29 May 00 - 10:34 AM

We already have the moon, Bonnie, why ask for the stars? (or is it we already have the stars, why ask for the moon? -- Bette Davis) Hmmm. Anyway, I agree -- there should be some kind of beginners tips, and then this highclass pickers stuff. They are all mishmashed together here. On the other hand, it is fun to read. And maybe the highclass stuff gives you a sense of where things might go. I wonder more about separating guitar stuff from banjo stuff? Still, fun to read. Slide guitar with a raw egg?

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 29 May 00 - 02:20 PM

Peter T., I understood it as, 'Shoot for the moon, at least you will end up in the stars'

I also agree, it would be lovely if at all possible to seperate guitar from banjo information.

Bonnie


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Brendy
Date: 29 May 00 - 03:59 PM

Apropos the boiling and other wierd things we do or used to do to save us the price of a couple of strings when there was a pint of milk or a loaf of bread to buy.
I never cut the tops of my strings, ie. above the machine heads. Never.
There will be some that know me who would say that the strings aren't on my guitars long enough to make themselves at home there. But it actually goes back to the bread and milk times. You get a longer length of string 'to play with', so to speak, if you happen to break something. I developed a very good knack of tying the smallest double knots onto the ball-end in order to use up as little amount of string as I could. When they got too short, I started to move them onto lower machine-heads if I could.

Stop at nothing, I tell you, to get the most out of your strings!!

B.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: MK
Date: 29 May 00 - 04:03 PM

....or, go to Webstrings.

Buy 'em cheap. Change 'em often!

(and Brendy....get rid of those coils! They can contribute to buzzing. I'll gladly advance you the funds for a wire cutter.*BG*)


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Brendy
Date: 29 May 00 - 04:23 PM

It's true, it's true.
That's why I don't tie them up. They just sit there and... wobble, I suppose, and if you impale a cigarette onto the end of one, you can create a light-show to go with it!!!

I put my guitars into the shop every two months when I'm playing, and they are re-fretted, re-set etc.

What can contribute to buzzing as well is when you have temporarily run out of 'G' strings, for example, and have to put on a 'B' in it's place, cos you're too lazy to go down to the shop.
I would never dream of doing that in public these days, though.

Heaven forbid!!!!

B.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mooh
Date: 30 May 00 - 07:51 AM

Here's another one...

When learning how to play guitar, there are many things to think about simultaneously, and one thing will get ignored while you're concentrating on another. This is natural. One thing you will have to spend time on however, is where to keep your fretting fingers. Many players habitually curl their fingers under the neck, or into a fist, or stick them way out away from the fingerboard. This is inefficient. In the long run it's much easier to train your hand and fingers to remain where you will need to use them, hovering over the fretboard in a ready position close to the strings.

Some teachers and players subscribe to the rule of "one finger per fret" and this is not a bad thing except that in making chords we often need two or more fingers per fret. We also stretch the rule when playing high on the neck where the frets are closer together. It is a good idea for general technique though.

The further the fingers are from where they're needed, the longer it will take to move them and therefore the slower the playing. Reduce the effort required to play by simply keeping those fingers nereby!

Attempt this discipline as early in your playing as possible because another problem called muscle memory makes it harder to change later. This is simply the tendancy of muscles to return to a "remembered" position or state (like when your fingers want to go to some remembered other chord when you think you've told your fingers to go to another).

More later...Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Grab
Date: 30 May 00 - 09:10 AM

McGrath, what's a strum rose? Sounds like a plectrummy hedgehog! Do they fan out like a hedgehog, or are they all just tied together? And how can you play a single note with it if its got some width to it? Sounds quite fun though.

On the plectrum front, how do you stop the plectrum sliding out of your fingers and falling inside the guitar while you're strumming? Is this an issue on hand position? Bcos I kept dropping them, I once tried cutting a plectrum out of a shop loyalty card and filing the edges smooth, which gave a nice big plectrum I couldn't drop! Maybe learning to do it right would be more useful instead, though...

Grab.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mark Clark
Date: 30 May 00 - 09:51 AM

Mooh, that's an excellent point about keeping your fingers close to where they'll soon be needed. Learning to minimize motion is something we always need to work on. This sounds like a good reason to form the open G chord without using your index finger, it leaves your fingers hanging about where you want them.

I used to go to hear and see some of the great country blues players quite a lot. I'd always sit right down front so I could see what they were doing as well as hear. To my great disappointment, it was almost impossible to see what they were doing. There was so little motion in their hands compared to the sounds we were hearing it always seemed like magic. The same could be said of Herb Ellis or Chet Atkins or any of the great players.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 May 00 - 05:05 PM

"Many players habitually curl their fingers under the neck, or into a fist, or stick them way out away from the fingerboard. This is inefficient." It's also bloody difficult...I just tried doing that. "Under the neck"? I'm not built to be able to do it, so that's opne bad habit I don't have to resist.

Strum Rose - I had a hunt around on the net for a picture. At first I found the only site with a mention of the thing was based in Roswell, suggesting that perhaps friends who told me it looked a bit unearthly might be on to something.

But then I tried the Jim Dunlop site, and found it - renamed the "strummer", with a picture, and a blurb:

This multipick is designed to enhance any guitar playing - be it Funk, Blues, Rock, Country or Reggae. Created for all levels of guitar playing, it magnifies the quality of the sound. 'I love the uniqueness and the sounds the Dunlop Strummer creates. This changes everything. Invention is not dead' - Richie Havens. Available in Red, Blue, Purple and Black."

Well I'm not sure about magnifying the quality of the sound. But it does give you a bigger range of sounds you can make. I'd really hate to be without it now. (Not everyone would feel the same way...)


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 06 Jun 00 - 12:16 PM

Lessons I've learned the hard way. These suggestions are for beginners. These suggestions are for ordinarily people like me. These are not intended for the musically gifted. (What does Doc Watson play on the guitar? Anything he wants to. What do I play on the guitar? Anything I can.) 1. Determine your "sonic" goal. If you don't know where you're goin, you ain't goin nowhere. This advice is not about technique or repertoire. It is not about practicing until you can play "Backstep Cindy" at square dance tempo without music. This advice is about knowing who you are trying to sound like and being honest about it. It is about practicing until you can play "Backstep Cindy" at square dance tempo without music AND savvy listeners will be able to tell that you are trying to play it like Tommy Jerrell. This is not to insist that you must be trying to sound like anybody. This is not to suggest that you try to be a clone. It is OK for a beginner to take an instrument and simply concentrate on producing sounds which please him/her. But the beginner should know that with such an approach "There be dragons." If you don't at least begin with a sonic goal your technique might eventually become great and your repertoire vast but your sound will be bland, vanilla, generic, uninspiring. You'll end up boring yourself and your listeners to death. 2. In the beginning it is more important to listen than practice. This comes from Dwight Diller. You cannot pick your goal without a map. You create your sonic map by listening to the possibilities. If you wanna play guitar, become obsessed with listening to guitars. Go to concerts, jams, and open mikes. Beg borrow and steal every recording you can get your hands on. Listen for the sounds that push your buttons. In the beginning your listening will be very unfocused. Excellent. Eventually you will start to home in on a particular sound. Finally you will become obsessed with a sound. Now you've got a "fire in your belly." Now you can start trying to reproduce that sound. Suppose you do all the listening and nothing happens. Try something else. Why would you bother to waste your time trying to do something you don't care passionately about? 2. Spend significantly more than you intended to on a decent instrument. If you don't start with a decent instrument you will end up fighting it rather than using it. It is possible for a beginner with sufficient motivation to win the battle, but the odds are against it if the beginner is an ordinary person. The tricky thing is that a poor instrument can be discouraging in so many subtle ways. A beginner can lose interest because of a poor instrument and not even realize what is happening. First and foremost you should enjoy the sound of the instrument. When I am playing my favorite instruments I will sometimes simply sit and strum chords and listen to them fade away. I do it because I love the pure sound. A poor instrument might not sound obviously bad but its sound might be subtly uninspiring and therefore discouraging. Second, the instrument should be easy to play. A poor instrument cannot be properly set up right no matter what you do. A poor instrument might not have structural problems that are as obvious as a misplaced fret, but a 1/32" difference in the action can make all the difference in the world. 3. Work hard to find a teacher who can help you on your personal musical journey. I am not claiming this will be easy. I am claiming that the rewards of finding the right teacher are immeasurable. At the start, be completely honest with yourself and the teacher. Explain exactly where you are trying to go. A good teacher will be able to customize his/her approach to your desires. I good teacher will honestly admit that s/he cannot help you. Yes, you can teach yourself. But if you are an ordinary person you will mostly teach yourself bad habits.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 06 Jun 00 - 09:03 PM

Not about picking I know, but double bass strings cost a small fortune in this country. I bought a set of plastic coated double bass strings (maybe La Bella?) at a fire sale about a century ago and I've never seen them since. Any clues please? Regards, John


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: GUEST,HJF
Date: 08 Jun 00 - 12:57 AM

Great thread, folks. I just signed up here so I could ask some questions and put in my 2 bits.

First a question for all of you experts out there: In flatpicking bluegrass-style (fiddle tunes, etc.) do you actually try to stroke each note in a full-on "stop" stroke? (I hope I have my jargon right here.) Or do you play some of the notes on the "up" stroke? A jazz guitarist once showed me how he played through the scales and every other note was an up stroke. I find that I want to play the notes on a down stroke whenever possible, like in moving to the next higher string, but some times I gotta hit an up stroke. Any ideas? Also, do you try to play every note, or are hammer-ons and pull-offs OK in playing lead?

Also, this might not be the right place to ask, but anyone know any good jam sessions in Northern Mississippi?

Well, this is already too long, so I won't put in my 2 bits after all.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 08 Jun 00 - 08:28 AM

In my world, downstrokes and upstrokes are both fine, and allow you much more speed and fluidity than just using downstrokes. Same goes for hammer-ons and pull-offs. Your approach should really be dictated by the line you're trying to play, how fluid it needs to be, etc. My advice is to use all the tools you've got, but listen closely to what sort of attack works best at any point in what you're playing, and be willing to adjust as you ear guides you.

If 6you get a chance to watch any of the recognized "greats" of bluegrass flatpicking -- Doc Watson, Tony Rice, Bryan Sutton, etc. -- you'll see a variety of approaches, but they generally use whatever tools they need to get the job done, including alternating picking and hammer-ons, pull-offs, etc.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mooh
Date: 09 Jun 00 - 01:20 PM

For those pickers who have been having trouble holding their flatpicks, I discovered something today which may help, though I've only just got one and haven't used it.

It's called the F-1. www.f1pick.com

Essentially it's a flatpick made from a folded piece of plastic, the shape of which allows it to sit on the index finger more securely. Maybe worth a try.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mark Clark
Date: 09 Jun 00 - 02:33 PM

Tip for beginners:
If you haven't already figured this out, the importance, in folk music, of talent is greatly overrated.
This tip may seem obvious but I've met people for whom it is not. If many people seem to have a particular skill or play at a certain level, the chances are excellent that you can do it also. The real secret is determination. Musical instruments are designed with human beings in mind. That means nearly any able-bodied person willing to work at it should be able, eventually, to play all but the most sublimely advanced pieces. It's really only a matter of effort.

There are many things I'd like to be able to play on my guitar but cannot. I do understand, however, that I am primarily limited by my own sloth and by the priorities I set.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mark Clark
Date: 11 Jun 00 - 11:57 PM

Here is a stray tip on cross picking that I posted in the "Bluegrass" thread. Maybe someone will find it useful.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mooh
Date: 12 Jun 00 - 08:18 AM

This may sound obvious, but it's a good idea to respond at least sometimes to the requests from people to play such things as "Happy Birthday", Christmas carols, "Auld Lang Syne", and the like. Lots of folks think that if you play guitar (or whatever) you should be able to play almost anything. I know it's illogical, but some people actually assume that. Anyway, being prepared to play a few songs for "occasions" can make you alot of points with hosts and friends, I'm not sure if it really helps to pick up women...

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 12 Jun 00 - 12:11 PM

Actually Mooh, I succeeded in attracting a VERY beautiful young woman one night by doing her request for "The Unicorn"! Ya just gotta have the motivation!

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mooh
Date: 12 Jun 00 - 01:06 PM

Rick, well, it did get me through school...Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mark Clark
Date: 12 Jun 00 - 03:04 PM

Link to autoharp tips.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: MK
Date: 12 Jun 00 - 03:25 PM

Replacing a Martin Bridge.
(Good article!)


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mooh
Date: 13 Jun 00 - 10:02 AM

Here's one you may not feel comfortable doing if tools make you nervous, but it's really very simple. A decent guitar tech will do this in seconds, and it affects sustain.

Many acoustic guitars now come with bolt-on necks which may need to be very slightly retightened, particularly after a settling-in or playing-in period. This will ensure a more secure neck and an optimum tone and sustain. Atmospheric changes, wood expansion or contraction, abuse or neglect can all contribute to a slight loosening of the neck joint. If the adjustment is more than slight, perhaps there may be greater concerns which should be visited by a luthier.

As for playing, sustain is a concern for acoustic guitarists and that is why these things are important: open strings, drones, open chords, fresh strings, unmuted instrument top and back, proper string contact with the nut saddle bridge and tuners, and unimpeded string vibration. It is much easier to prevent a string from vibrating than it is to make it continue to vibrate. The effect on playing performance may be subtle until listened for, then you will start to use sustained notes as one of the tools of the trade.

More later, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mooh
Date: 16 Jun 00 - 08:30 PM

Having found that guitar students, and the self-taught, often have trouble with barre chords, I've tried these approaches to gradually make the player used to them.

If ensemble playing isn't an issue, loosening the strings a half or whole step will reduce the resistance and tension which the player has to feel.

Lighter strings (or nylon strings) will also help.

Lower action helps, but only so that there's no degradation of sound.

Where the music will allow, break the chord into pieces. For example, play only the higher or lower (or middle) three or four notes of the chord. To this end I usually teach the famous "power chord" before regular barre chords, so that the hand shape aspect is familiar.

To start the physical adaptation to barre chords, I've also had students practice open position chords without using their first (index) finger, so that when the same chord (typically E major) is moved up the neck then at least part of the hand is used to the feel.

Any of these things may work for you, but don't forget that one of the easiest ways to make your hands do something to which they are unaccustomed is to change the various pivot points, ie, body joints and angles between the instrument and the body. Placement of the thumb, height of the neck, shape of the hand, etc all play a part.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mooh
Date: 16 Jun 00 - 08:41 PM

A few days ago (9 June) I mentioned the F-1 flatpick. Having tried it for a while, I can't say I like it for everything. It's very percussive, which has its place, but I won't use it much. However I may use it when I need alot of clack to my acoustic sound, like when I strum with a shaker egg in my hand. The Strum-Rose (Strummer?) is also good for this. The F-1 may be better for electric players who are having trouble with holding their picks and aren't so concerned with the acoustic sound of the pick attack.

Mooh.

P.S. Try the shaker egg idea, it works in moderation.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Pene Azul
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 03:31 PM

I'm working on a concept to index these and similar threads. Howz about posting more of this great stuff to help me with this?

PA

Please note that we reserve the right to edit these threads.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Sorcha
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 04:31 PM

Tip for the Day: Never kick a cow pie on a hot day.

Soryy, just couldn't resist. And, actually, my group always tries to fill requests, esp. Happy BD. Makes the audience feel like you are there for them, not you. We usually make an announcement to the effect of--We take requests. We don't garuntee to fill them, but we do take them. Most always they are old chestnuts that we all know, but even if not, one of us usually knows enough of it that the rest of the group can fake around and make it sound OK.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: oggie
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 05:38 PM

Learn to use your little finger from the start - I didn't and it has been a problem ever since as I can't break the bad habits (on mandolin and guitar) I got into.

If your fingers or wrist hurt - give it a BREAK! The long term problems caused by tendonitis, CTS etc just ain't worth it!

All the best

Steve (oggie)


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mooh
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 05:59 PM

I have yet to see an intermediate (non-classical) guitar student who had any serious technique instruction before starting with me. I cover technique, hand shape, position, pivot points, relaxation, reach, efficiency of movement, grip (or lack of same), and so on from the start. Many students have been erroneously taught that there's only one way of doing something and/or allowed to develop very rigid (or sometimes sloppy) habits. It is difficult to describe, but if it feels as if your hand(s) is being pulled in two directions, you haven't found the easiest way. It is okay to use your thumb as a kind of reference "anchor" as you reach for notes in order to return to where you were. It is also acceptable to drop or lower your wrist if it helps to curve your fingers around to reach (eg) 6th string notes. A local person of guitar influence says that you should be able to hold a small pool of water in your palm as you play. If you hear this sort of thing, disregard it, your hand should be much more flexible and relaxed than that.

Discussion?

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mark Clark
Date: 19 Jul 00 - 12:15 PM

Here is something that may be both a question for the experts and a tip for beginning guitar players. It is a quick list from the top of my head of a very few guitar players with whom most people should be familiar. The tip is the list itself; those aspiring to play the guitar should have heard the players on this basic list at least once. My question is: which of the players on this list would be familiar and conversant with the important techniques Mooh talked about two posts back? I don't mean to include the accidental or unconscious use of the techniques, only the studied, purposeful use of them.

      - Mark



A Few Well Known Guitarists

  • Chet Atkins
  • Etta Baker
  • Blind Blake
  • Norman Blake
  • Big Bill Broonzy
  • Maybelle Carter
  • Charlie Christian
  • Eric Clapton
  • Ry Cooder
  • Elizabeth Cotton
  • Dan Crary
  • Blind Gary Davis
  • Herb Ellis
  • Ike Everly
  • Freddie Green
  • Buddy Guy
  • Bill Harrell
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Mississippi John Hurt
  • Blind Lemon Jefferson
  • Robert Johnson
  • Stanley Jordan
  • Barney Kessel
  • Albert King
  • B.B. King
  • Leo Kottke
  • Huddie Leadbetter
  • Furry Lewis
  • Brownie McGhee
  • Charlie Monroe
  • Bill Napier
  • Joe Pass
  • Riley Puckett
  • Django Reinhardt
  • Tony Rice
  • Duke Robillard
  • Larry Sparks
  • Merle Travis
  • Steve Vai
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • T-Bone Walker
  • Muddy Waters
  • Doc Watson
  • Keith Whitley






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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 19 Jul 00 - 03:19 PM

My guess is that relatively few of them subscribed to this particular list of recommendations, and I'll bet a lot of them never evan gave this stuff much conscious thought. When all is said and done, there are lots of ways to play the guitar, and some of the people who do it "wrong" have turned out to be outstanding players. [Ask Segovia whether it's okay to use a thumbpick, then ask Chet Atkins. Then tell me who is "right".]

This does not mean that Mooh's suggestions are bad ones -- I think he is right about most or all of what he said. But there's always one more way to skin a cat.

If you want to play like Django, first you have to stick your hand into a very hot fire until your fingers fuse together...


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mark Clark
Date: 19 Jul 00 - 09:01 PM

Sorry, I didn't mean to be taking exception to Mooh's suggestions. On the contrary, I heartily endorse them. As Mooh points out, though, sometimes you need to break the rules. Still, I think it's helpful to know which suggestions you're ignoring and why.

Not all of the wonderful players in my quick list are equally skilled and they had widely divergent learning styles and approaches. I just thought it would be interesting to see which players were self-limiting due to their technique and which ones went about learning some type of formal techniques.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 20 Jul 00 - 08:24 AM

I think we're all self-limiting due to our technique. Hendrix couldn't play like Segovia, and Segovia couldn't play like Hendrix (I'm guessing here, but pretty confidently). I think the key is to analyze what you're doing ergonomically, and see if there's a better way that will allow you to go further in pursuit of whatever type of music you want to make -- and be willing to change, even if it means taking a step backwards in speed/fluidity while you master your new and improved techniques. You can do this by yourself, but it generally works better to do it in conjunction with others who have encountered the same issues.

However, everyone is unique, with respect to both musical vision and physical aptitudes. So we all need a certain amount of humility -- there are some good suggestions out there that may be broadly applicable, but there is more than one "right" way to play.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mooh
Date: 20 Jul 00 - 03:59 PM

WhistleStop. Your elaborations clarify my comments well. There are so many ways of playing guitar that it's nearly impossible to describe them all, however if a player is struggling, that's the time to consider change. I am a sloppy player sometimes, and I study and labour to improve, but a labour job, hand wearying hobbies, and so on make it hard to stay at peak form as a guitarist. I need every advantage I can find...Thanks for your comments. Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Dee45
Date: 22 Jul 00 - 05:24 PM

The Owner's Manuals You Never Got With Your...


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Pene Azul
Date: 23 Jul 00 - 09:02 PM

Great stuff. More...?


Thread: Guitar Tab Template


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Wesley S
Date: 24 Jul 00 - 04:14 PM

I was looking at a sticker on the windshield of my car that told me when I needed to change the oil. It made me think that I should remember to put a piece of paper in the case of each of my instruments to remind my when I last changed the strings.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jul 00 - 10:12 AM

Usually my strings tell me when they need changing...like when the strings are so dead that no matter how much I tweak the tuning I can't get the guitar to sound in tune, then it's time for a string change. *BG*

I see all these advertisements for hand exercises to improve strength, speed, etc. Anybody had any experience with this? Any endorsements/recommendations/critiques? My tack is that these things will come through practice, but I'm open to suggestions.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Peter T.
Date: 25 Jul 00 - 10:20 AM

What that long list doesn't tell anyone is who you would listen to to get started, or improve certain things. For instance, if you are learning fingerpicking, I would assume that you would want to listen to Maybelle Carter to work on simple bass runs, and Merle Travis for Travis Picking, and then....? If you were advising people to learn X, which Y would you suggest they listen to and imitate (or at least get the idea from). That would render the list more useful to novices and intermediates.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: bbelle
Date: 25 Jul 00 - 12:29 PM

Mark ... that's a great list you put together and I was glad to see Keith Whitley. I feel the same about his playing and have mentioned it to different people, who tend to look at me as though I have two heads...

moonchild


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mark Clark
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 10:43 AM

Thanks, Moonchild. As I re-read the list, I start to think of all the great guitar players who should be mentioned. As I said, it's a short list, very spur-of-the-moment. Those are simply some of the guitarists I could think of right then.

Peter, It was my intent to omit references to style or genre. I sort of feel that a motivated beginner will seek out the music of those players and discover for himself where each fits with respect to his own goals. In the process, the student may broaden his view of music and the guitar. Like Douglas Adams' fictional computer, Deep Thought, I think it's often more useful to provide a better question rather than an ultimate answer.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Peter T.
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 11:18 AM

Dear Mark, with respect, I think that is a mistake. You are wasting your vast source of knowledge and capacities as a teacher by just dumping a list like that. It is like me saying to my environmental students -- go out into a swamp and see what happens. That is great, no problem with it -- but a map and a guidebook can be a great help to see what is there. This is maybe good advice (though I doubt it) if you are 19. The rest of us are older and are not stifled by getting some guidance about what is useful -- we can discard it at will. We are wandering around enough as it is. You mention a motivated beginner. A motivated adult beginner (me!) wants to know what to go and listen to for specific things. He doesn't want a list of the great guitarists of the last 50 years. He is already motivated: he has already heard Jimi Hendrix and Joe Pass. He wants to know how to do things. Actually I think this is true of 19 year olds as well -- though broadening their listening is great. Information and guidance are not going to stifle an interest in roaming around and listening to all kinds of music.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mark Clark
Date: 27 Jul 00 - 03:52 PM

Peter, I'm sure you're right. I would never do that to an individual student, I'd suggest specific players according to the student's abilities, taste and goals. Still, I wouldn't think the student was serious unless he or she was willing to listen to all the players on my short list. In fact, I'd expect a serious student to discover some of them on his or her own and tell me about them first.

I keep being troubled by the fact that my list is too short and was done too quickly. Now I'd like to go back and add Kenny Baker as well. If you haven't listened to the guitar work he did with Josh Graves on the Puritan label you're in for a real treat.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Peter T.
Date: 27 Jul 00 - 04:27 PM

Of course you are right. Might one add Dave van Ronk, Elmore James, Lonnie Johnson, Joseph Spence; Paul McCartney and Jaco Pastorius (bassists)? yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mark Clark
Date: 27 Jul 00 - 09:23 PM

There you go. We'll turn it into a long list yet.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Pene Azul
Date: 28 Jul 00 - 02:54 AM

Let's not forget Frank Zappa.

PA


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Pene Azul
Date: 28 Jul 00 - 03:00 AM

While I'm at it: Robert Fripp, Jeff Beck, Allan Holdsworth, Taj Mahal, Andres Segovia,...

Maybe we need categories here (?)

PA


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Subject: Links to Other "Tip" Threads
From: Mark Clark
Date: 28 Jul 00 - 10:53 AM

Paul's comment got me searching to see what other threads might already have discussed recommended players. In the process I realized how many different threads there are that provide important tips of all types. I don't pretend to have found them all but here are a few for cross reference purposes.

Figuring out alternate tunings
For Guitarists
Guitar Picks - What's your favourite?
Ragtime Guitar
Bluegrass G run
improvising folk, blues, jazz etc.
Musicians Little Secrets

I'm sure there are many more. Perhaps others will provide more links as they are rediscovered.

      - Mark


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Subject: More Tip Links
From: Mark Clark
Date: 28 Jul 00 - 11:44 AM

I guess once I get started on this, it's hard to stop.

Mystery of Django's Chords. oooooh!
TWELVE-STRING GUITARS
Harmonica Players Unite!
Help: Banjo Player Questions
Attn: Jews Harp Players

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Dee45
Date: 28 Jul 00 - 02:00 PM

Bit of a crosspost here, as I submitted the following to another thread, but it occurred to me, this would also be an appropriate place to add these links.

Here are 3 good places on the Web to purchase strings. I've dealt with all of them at one time or another and they are all reputable and straight up.

Just Strings

Big City Strings

WebStrings


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Pene Azul
Date: 28 Jul 00 - 03:40 PM

Mark and Rawhide, thanks for all the links. Those will be very useful when I index this stuff. I think we'll have a fine resource here.

Thanks to all of you for the great contributions. Keep 'em coming!

PA


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Terry Allan Hall
Date: 29 Jul 00 - 10:39 AM

Here's a tip I didn't see listed...if you're having trouble hanging on to your flatpick, take out your Swiss Army knife (you haven't got a Swiss Army knife? Well, get one ASAP!) and carve little "cross-hatches" on both sides.

Works like a charm...then there's "Gorilla Snot"...


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Pene Azul
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 01:01 PM

Capo. Cheat or godsend?


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mooh
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 06:05 PM

Check out the "Capo. Cheat or Godsend." thread for my description of my "capo-nut" and other capo tricks. Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Pene Azul
Date: 10 Aug 00 - 04:04 PM

Dear Dr. Folkenmusik


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mooh
Date: 15 Aug 00 - 08:53 AM

I may have mentioned this already. Please forgive the repetition if I have.

Most thumb picks come from the factory with much too much length for most people. Common every-day nail clippers will trim and shape a thumb pick well. A little filing and fine sanding will round the edges. The best and most commonly available abrasive for an absolutely smooth picking surface is likely toothpaste, but I don't personally find it necessary.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Dee45
Date: 02 Sep 00 - 02:10 PM

The process involved in Making a New Saddle.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mark Clark
Date: 18 Sep 00 - 10:57 AM

Here's a link to Rick Fielding's tips on Playing Like Doc Watson. Some of the best advice I've seen in print.

Another tip would be to move to Toronto (great city, you'll love it) and become a student of Rick's, seriously.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Marion
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 01:11 PM

What about that cute little squeaking noise I get from the left end of the guitar when I change chords?

Should I consider it a problem? Is there anything that can be done about it?

Marion


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: MK
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 01:24 PM

Talcum powder on the fingertips, or Elixer strings, Marion.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: mousethief
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 01:31 PM

Marion,

That's called "fret noise" (don't ask me why since it's not caused by frets but rather by the texture of the strings) and there is little you can do about it. If it REALLY upsets you you can get flat-wound strings (most electric strings are of this sort), which decreases but doesn't totally eliminate the noise.

Otherwise just consider it part of the joys of playing the guitar.

Playing the guitar has been one of the greatest joys of my life, and I'm thankful to whatever angel or demon incited me to buy that guitar when I was 16 and my parents were out of town, even though my grandmother (who was "sitting") nearly wrang my neck.

Alex
O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: bbelle
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 01:38 PM

I prefer other strings to Elixirs, but if fret noise is your problem, they're probably the best. The only time I've had a problem with fret noise was from Martin Silk & Steel for folk guitar. Pure drech.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Marion
Date: 03 Oct 00 - 10:16 PM

Thanks Michael, mousethief, and moonjen. I'm not that upset by fret noise - it's only one small thing among Things That Are Wrong With My Guitar Playing (the list is long but distinguished) - but I had been wondering about it.

Fiddle tip:

Recently on the fiddle-l list there has been discussion about how to train your bowing wrist to move freely. These things have been suggested, and I hope to try them soon:

- immobilizing most of your arm by standing too close to a wall, or in a doorframe, or with your arm resting on the top of your chair, or even by having another person grip your forearm.

- opening a paperback novel in the middle and propping it up on your arm, then trying to play without letting the book fall.

The idea is that these exercises will force you to play from the wrist. Although you may really want to play with both wrist action and arm action, the exercises will have made your wrist fluid so you won't end up playing with just your arm.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: John Hardly
Date: 04 Oct 00 - 12:59 AM

If you've got one of those small bodied guitars that Rick refers to at the beginning of this thread, you might find the imbalance of those heavy enclosed tuners pulling the neck down (see thread on gravity). Call Elderly and order ebony tuning keys. It cuts the weight by 72 grams and really helps balance the guitar. (Looks better too)

Learn the scales in ascending and descending thirds. It will spare you the boredom of do re mi, train your fingers to play progressions as they appear in lots of tunes, and show you how chords appear in keys. When you've mastered thirds move on to fifths--sounds kinda modal.

just some things that have helped me.

John


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Oct 00 - 08:06 AM

Neat idea John Hardly. Thanks for the suggestions.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Marion
Date: 04 Oct 00 - 03:16 PM

John, I don't understand what you mean by playing a scale in ascending and descending thirds. Can you explain this, please?

Thanks, Marion


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: John Hardly
Date: 04 Oct 00 - 11:01 PM

Marion,

Since I have no way of tabbing this out to make it easier I'll try to make sense by saying-- Take the scale (G major for example) as you are used to playing it. Now, instead of that 1,2,3,4 order do it 1,3,2,4,3,5,4,6,5,7,6,8,7,1,8,2,1,3,2,4,3,5,4,6,5,7,6,8,7,1 then reverse the order. the G scale works well because 2 octaves in first position make it easy to gain speed and accuracy, as well as get used to the way it sounds. Learn to reverse the order at will, anywhere along the scale. It will set you up well as a primer to cross picking, especially when you start practicing the 5ths----1,5,2,6,3,7,4,8,5,1,6,...Clear as mud?

If this doesn't make sense PLEASE let me know and I will figure out a better way.

John millring Hardly


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Marion
Date: 10 Oct 00 - 12:01 AM

I think I understand what you mean.

You basically play the scale going up but echoing each note with the third above it before going on to the next note of the scale, right?

By "reversing the order", do you mean going down the scale? Or going up but playing the third-aboves before the scale notes? Or using the third-belows as the echoes?

I just wanted to remind you that in the scale 1 equals 8, so the third above 7 would be 2, not 1 as you have it here: "1,3,2,4,3,5,4,6,5,7,6,8,7,1,8,2,1,3,2,4,3,5,4,6,5,7,6,8,7,1"

And the third above 8 would be 3. I don't mean to nitpick, I understand what you meant, but I worried this might confuse someone else using this tip.

Thanks and I'll try it out tomorrow,

Marion


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: John Hardly
Date: 10 Oct 00 - 12:43 AM

You are right--I made it too confusing. I should have either used the 1 again or, to reflect the intention of doing two octaves, just continue 9, 10, 11,etc.

Yes, I meant go down the scale as reverse. The point of learning to reverse anywhere is the way it approximates the way notes of a scale often fall in a tune--f'rinstance Molly Bloom starts very much the same as this exercise.

It's also TONS easier if you take the short time it takes to tab it out instead of "hunt-n-pick" John


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: MK
Date: 13 Oct 00 - 12:34 AM

I was just doing a bit of practising and working up a little arrangement of "Mr. Bojangles" and I stumbled across something interesting in the process. (Maybe to more advanced players than myself it's old hat, but I thought it was a cool technique and something worth pursuing and knowing how to do, so I thought I'd share it as it works really nicely in improvising of 'Jangles chord changes.

It's always been stressed to me that in order to develop the ability to improvise in fingerpicking, it is necessary to be able to play as much of a scale in a given key as you can mangage --while keeping the alternating bass going.

The approach I had been taking was to pick each note indivdually with either the index or middle fingers, but by sheer fluke, I discovered you can avoid picking each note individually by exercising a series of pull-offs and hammer-ons, achieve the same sonic ideas, but with a different, more flowing texture to the sound. So now, in addition to being able to pick all the notes in a given scale, I'm going to start learning how to do it using pulloffs and hammer-ons in all the regular keys I play in. It's a little tough on the left hand and you need well developed callouses to get a good attack, but a technique well worth learning to add to the old "tools arsenal." Like I said, not rocket science or anything, but a little breakthrough for me. (You need those every once in a while when you've think you're coasting on a plateau.)


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: MK
Date: 29 Oct 00 - 11:18 PM

Something I discovered and thought it might be worth passing on. If you want to preserve your well developed callouses, DON'T get into a habbit over a protracted period of time playing your guitar capo-d up two or three frets. I'd been doing this the past several weeks as I was working out different flat and fingerpicking runs.

In preparation for a get together today with a friend and to do some pickin', several days ago I took the capo off of the instrument and started playing things in the first three opened positions, and for the life of me couldn't figure out why the ends of my fingers (fretting hand) ached. I'm feeling the ends of my fingertips thinking where the f--k are my callouses? Apparently playing in a capo-d position on a regular basis destroys them, and because the action is so low, you can get by with a feather light touch and your fingertips don't get the regular workout they need to maintain the callouses.

So take that capo off and play in regular positions frequently. Your callouses will thank you, and you won't have to go through the process of rebuilding them.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Clifton53
Date: 29 Oct 00 - 11:26 PM

Indeed, the capo lowers the action a bit I think. Another thing about capo use which I think changes things is the stretch is not as great with your fretting hand, so if you get too use to playing a tough piece with the capo on, especially if you have it up pretty high, going back to playing it straight is a real wake up call for your fingers.

Clifton53


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mooh
Date: 12 Nov 00 - 01:27 PM

I recently purchased a Yamaha classical guitar, new, solid top, just a workin' man's ax. I often need such an animal for gigs and lessons and recording, and I get nervous borrowing one from a good and reliable friend, feeling it's not fair to put his guitar at risk. I haven't actually owned my own in years. Not wanting to waste any life the factory strings had, I left them on until they pissed me off for the last time. I prefer hard tension nylon strings because they don't slip and slide around so much under my fingers, but the guitar was shipped with what felt like rubber bands.

While I was at this little chore of changing strings, I did a general set-up job. Though the guitar sounded acceptable when I bought it, I knew there could be some improvement. While I had the strings off, I touched up a couple of fret ends and dropped the action a hair. The saddle was very uneven on its bottom and I suspect it made poor contact with the bridge. The bottom of the saddle slot was flat enough, though someday I may remove the finish from it as it impedes the transmission of vibration to the top. The saddle itself I sanded flat on a thick slab of Corian with medium to fine sandpapers. When I returned the saddle to its home I discovered that the slot itself was too wide. My option here was to make a new saddle, but instead I returned the original, shimming it (with an appropriate grade of paper) between the soundhole side of the slot and the saddle (NOT under the saddle). I chose that side of the saddle because I had noticed that the intonation erred that way with the factory strings, and suspected it would with the new ones.

It's a good thing classical strings last a long time for me because it takes an annoying day or so to get the stretch out of them. Once I had the strings broken in I did some measuring. The action was much better, and the intonation was dead on. Sustain improved too, as did the individual note clarity and tone. Next time I change strings I'll make a new saddle that fits the slot snuggly without a shim, but save the old one in case of an emergency. My actual time investment was less than an hour and I've got a much better guitar than the one I bought.

I am one of those non-traditionalists who likes strap buttons on my classical guitar. Heel and tail, as on most steel strings these days, was all I wanted. I love locking strap buttons, but on acoustic instruments which may be recorded or played seated with the strap on loosely, I avoid the locks if they are the variety which rattle.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mooh
Date: 14 Nov 00 - 09:40 AM

I hope I'm not repeating myself here, but it's not a bad time of year for attention to guitar humidifiers.

Though I use several Kyser brand soundhole humidifiers, and I like them, there's a cheaper way. An old plastic 35mm film canister with several small holes drilled in it, and a damp sponge inserted in it, works well as a humidifier. This can be placed in the case, or suspended inside the guitar by cord or velcro (love that stuff) if like me you keep your guitars hung up. So long as it doesn't drip it will work as well as any store-bought solution.

Check it every day or two, depending on the weather, and refill as required.

Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: MK
Date: 14 Nov 00 - 09:56 AM

I find in the winter and when relative humidity levels are below 40% (a hygrometer in the room where your guitars are stored so that you get a daily reading) that refilling the "Dampit" (or your guitar humidifier of choice) 2 - 3 times a week gets the job done nicely. You want to hold the guitar sideways and site it looking across the top. If the area immediately below the bridge is lower than the area immediately above the bridge start humidifying immediately. To know if your guitar is in decent shape during the winter (and dry months) the area immediately below the bridge should be slightly higher. If it is significantly higher, than don't humidify till it drops down. (Tops expand and contract all the time. It's normal.) I agree with Mooh, and always make sure you ring out the sponge so that it is moist without dripping, and the external cover is dry. Takes on average about 8 hours to completely evaporate and dry out.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Marion
Date: 17 Jan 01 - 10:10 PM

Something that might be helpful for tuning to intervals:

Find an example of the interval you need in a song that you know well.

The first time I tried tuning a fiddle string by listening to its interval above another string, I ended up tuning it an octave above instead of a fifth above. I just wasn't in touch with how "abstract" intervals sounded. Then I discovered that there's a perfect fifth in the beginning of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."

So now when I'm testing the tuning of adjacent strings I'm singing "twinkle, TWINKLE" to see if the gap seems right.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mooh
Date: 18 Jan 01 - 12:25 PM

Wanna really drive 'em nuts at a session? Strum your guitar with a shaker egg in your pick hand, the effect is really nice when used in moderation. The problem is that most such shakers are a little large to hold at the same time as manipulating a pick. I looked around for a while and found those little plastic capsules which hold little prizes in gum machines (or "Kindereggs") to be about the right size. Instead of using popcorn or splitshot inside the egg, I used the ball ends from worn out guitar strings. About 30 will shake around nicely for an acceptable shaker sound.

I like these poor man solutions. Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: GUEST,folkcensor
Date: 18 Jan 01 - 05:48 PM

Mooh, you don't fool nobody, poor man my ass. You likely hired someone to do it for you.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Marion
Date: 06 Feb 01 - 12:18 AM

Mark Clark:

"Inexperienced but obsessive" is just how I like to think of myself, so I want to try this exercise you gave in the middle of Thread 1.

"Here is a gratuitous chord exercise for the ambitious beginner. (If I haven't blown the HTML) It moves up and down from G6 to G7 to Gmaj7 and back down again. The trick is this: only two fingers may be lifted from the fingerboard for any single change! Under no circumstances may you reposition your hand. I'm assuming you are using a flatpick and all strokes are down, 4/4 time, two beats per chord. They are four-string chords so the unplayed strings must be muted. Keep this pattern moving until it's smooth."

My question is how to mute the high E and A strings. I haven't done muting before but I'm guessing that you bend the fingers fretting the B and low E back so that they're touching the strings you want muted? Right? Or is it something you're supposed to do with your right hand?

Thanks, Marion


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mark Clark
Date: 06 Feb 01 - 01:16 AM

Marion,

All the muting is done with the noting hand. In my original post the chord names are active links (blue clickies) that generate the chord diagrams and fingering. In the G6 chord, the A string is muted by the second finger and the E string is muted by the third. As you guessed, make the chord so these fingers don't come straight down but angle over slightly and deaden the adjacent string. For the G7, the damping is done with the first and third fingers, in the Gmaj7 it's the first and second.

By the way, the thumb, for these chords, is bent backwards at the first knuckle and placed squarely in the middle of the back of the neck.

When moving from the G6 to the G7, you can't slide your index finger up to the third fret so you move your second finger over to cover the F. Your index finger then moves to cover G on the E string replacing the now absent index finger. Of course in practice the two fingers are raised and repositioned at exactly the same time.

The same approach is used when moving from G7 to Gmaj7 except it's the second and third fingers that are repositioned while the first and third ramain at their stations.

The interesting thing with this is that, after you get it down and can do it easily, there is only one note moving between these positions: E, F and F# on the D string. With these chords, and a half dozen more in the same vein, you have most of what you need to play jazz rhythm in any key you want. Of course a big helping of theory goes a long way too.

Good luck,

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: mkebenn
Date: 06 Feb 01 - 10:02 PM

Thanks, guys an' gals, I read both these threads, then over to the Doc Watson side spur, put down my flat pick and tried a little thumb and index work {about three hours on and off thru the day, an' now I can hardly type. However, I made the first really New sounds in a decade, so relly, thanks. Mike


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Marion
Date: 07 Feb 01 - 10:16 PM

Thanks Mark. I did see the diagrams in your original post, but didn't know how to link to it.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Marion
Date: 23 Mar 01 - 06:52 PM

Just above I mentioned the "Twinkle Twinkle" method of checking a fiddle's tuning. My most recent discovery is the "Amazing Grace" method for checking a guitar's tuning.

There is a fourth between "A" and "maz", and a third between "maz" and "ing".

Therefore, you should be able to sing "A-maz..." on each pair of adjacent strings except G and B.

You should be able to sing "A--maz-ing" playing D-G-B open strings.

PS to Mark Clark: I've got your statement in the first thread that "you need an obsessive personality..." up on my wall.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Justa Picker
Date: 23 Mar 01 - 07:38 PM

While we're at it, and I can't see any evidence of this having been discussed before, let's talk about bridge pins - myths, misconceptions and expectations.

In the grand scheme of things, how MUCH of a real SIGNIFICANT difference does it make to YOUR ears, whether the pins are made of plastic, wood (i.e. ebony) or bone, in terms of the overall sound of your guitar?

I think if a guitar is setup properly and perhaps has a bone nut and bone saddle, as far as the type of material the bridge pins are made out of, the sound differences are negligable.

What do you guys/gals think?


AND WHY DO PEOPLE SHAVE BRIDGES????? (It just becomes one more thing to ultimately have to pay for to replace when you do finally get around to springing for the impending neck reset?)


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 23 Mar 01 - 09:30 PM

Hey Marion, another "obsessive personality" jumps in! Ha ha!

Justa, I've been hearing about how bridge pins can seriously alter the sound of your guitar for years. Folks use Brass, Bone, ivory, rosewood, tusq etc. and truthfully I don't know how much difference it makes. I DO know that it's the "touch" of the player that make all the difference in how guitars sound. Say for example that someone uses brass bridge pins in order to get more sustain....but they don't finger their chords cleanly? No sustain.

Now here's an experiment. You're obviously a guitar "nurd". Why not try three or four different sets of bridge pins and report back. I don't know how many here will care, but there'll be a few.

Shaving bridges? Easy. Ninety nine out of a hundred players (pro and am. alike) never even THINK about bridge replacement (or neck resets, or neck shaving, for that matter) they simply accept their axe for what it is. Plus, those are damned expensive procedures. Heck, shaving the bridge or the saddle is easy......think I'll just grab my old penknife and shave down this nice old Martin....maybe BOTH of them!

Cheers

Guitar nurd boy


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mark Clark
Date: 23 Mar 01 - 11:40 PM

Marion, I hope that works for you. An old friend of mine learned to play (self taught) in his mid teens and was almost instantly brilliant. He was naturally obsessive about it and dropped everything else to play guitar, even school. He couldn't help it. He could have been a great player but he was so painfully shy he often wouldn't even play for friends, let alone in front of strangers. Guitars can get in your blood and lead you astray as easily as they can reward you.

Fiddles are an interesting tuning problem because you can't tune them just by plucking the strings. The arc of vibration of a bowed string is greater than that of the same string when plucked so the bowed note may not be precisely the same as the plucked note. I tune the A string to an A440 tuning fork. I strike the fork and place the but end between my teeth taking care not to touch it with my lips. This causes the A note to vibrate cleanly through my head while I am tuning the bowed A string. I then tune the other strings relative to the A string by bowing them together while turning either the friction peg or the fine tuner. Your ear will tell you when the two "drop" into tune together. Of course the G string is tuned off the D string in the same fashion. I don't have perfect pitch and probably can't sing an accurate interval without having a chord to listen to, I've just learned what the adjacent strings sound like together when they're in tune.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Justa Picker
Date: 25 Mar 01 - 06:50 PM

McCartney's "Blackbird" played in its mother key of G, is an excellent song to use for checking the intonation of a guitar or a guitar one is thinking of purchasing. I use it as one of my "litmus" tests.


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Marion
Date: 23 Apr 01 - 12:38 AM

Here, God willing, is Part 3


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: 53
Date: 23 Oct 02 - 11:12 AM

How do you play with your left hand messed up?


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Subject: RE: Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II
From: Mark Clark
Date: 23 Oct 02 - 04:54 PM

I suggest it's a fine time to learn to play slide blues. If you can check out records (what are those?) and CDs at your public library, go down and find all the slide blues players you can and listen and mess around until you figure out what tuning they're using and start working. Slide blues is a very useful skill because you can play solo on an acoustic guitar or electrify and play with a band.

If you're into bluegrass and country, trade something for a resophonic guitar (Dobro) and work on that.

My own RA is controled now with meds but the day will come when my hands won't be up to the task. When that happens, I'll go to slide blues and bluegrass Dobro.

Keep on pickin', Bob.

      - Mark


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