Picking Technique

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Picking Technique

Postby RogerCook » Tue Apr 28, 2020 5:35 pm

How much of Hank's sound came from his pick attack, especially in the early days? He used quite a lot of upstrokes, but his downstroke technique meant the pick went "through" the string and stopped against the next one down, a bit like gypsy rest stroke picking.

Some of the covers that I've seen in social media videos of late show a much less aggressive pick attack, where the string is played with an action that takes the pick away from the guitar body rather than downwards.

Any thoughts?
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Re: Picking Technique

Postby roger bayliss » Tue Apr 28, 2020 10:59 pm

Listen to The Frightened City and your hear quite aggressive picking , so much so Hank hits other notes accidentally. Hard to imagine upstrokes o that one. Something like Peace Pipe an obviously softer playing style and The Savage deeper picking. I think when he was younger he had a more aggressive picking style probably to get some twang from those very heavy strings. Big Boy is another heavy picking example as is FBI . Blue Star , Wonderful Land , Midnight clearly softer playing.
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Re: Picking Technique

Postby bor64 » Wed May 27, 2020 10:36 pm

Hi Roger,

Your right, but also a part of his softer picking is the softer pick/plectrum material ...
That softer the attack and duller the sound on top of his softer picking.
The GD picks are the worst he ever used, they wear like crazy and some didn't last a hole show...
He gave me a handful new ones and several used ones after a show, because I gave him some of mine to try out.
He smiled when he recognised the brand and type, he told me prefer my picks...for the tone but he loved the grip of the GD.
I told him, instead of filing the dull points of the GD to be sharp again, he could use his time to give the M3 green Tortex a little grip with sandpaper or a grip-vice to add some profile...


Cheers Rob
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Re: Picking Technique

Postby Hank2k » Thu May 28, 2020 9:36 am

bor64 wrote:Hi Roger,

Your right, but also a part of his softer picking is the softer pick/plectrum material ...
That softer the attack and duller the sound on top of his softer picking.
The GD picks are the worst he ever used, they wear like crazy and some didn't last a hole show...
He gave me a handful new ones and several used ones after a show, because I gave him some of mine to try out.
He smiled when he recognised the brand and type, he told me prefer my picks...for the tone but he loved the grip of the GD.
I told him, instead of filing the dull points of the GD to be sharp again, he could use his time to give the M3 green Tortex a little grip with sandpaper or a grip-vice to add some profile...


Cheers Rob


Been a big fan of the GD picks i'm really surprised at that. Hank doesn't exactly pick hard these days and a 2 or 3 hour set that we play in a pub or club i am pretty sure my picks get a lot abuse per gig and yet they always have a nice point etc. I certainly have never had one not last a show! Some of mine have discoloured and got dirty over the years but still more than usable.
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Re: Picking Technique

Postby Iain Purdon » Thu May 28, 2020 10:50 am

Hank2k wrote:Hank doesn't exactly pick hard these days ...


Exactly. Hard picking is a component of "that sound" on the early records.

I remember our leader here, David Martin, giving a club demo of how to pick in order to make Gonzales sound right. He showed us exactly how to hold the pick, where to strike and how hard. It really was most effective.
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Re: Picking Technique

Postby David Martin » Thu May 28, 2020 11:11 am

Iain Purdon wrote:
Hank2k wrote:Hank doesn't exactly pick hard these days ...


Exactly. Hard picking is a component of "that sound" on the early records.

I remember our leader here, David Martin, giving a club demo of how to pick in order to make Gonzales sound right. He showed us exactly how to hold the pick, where to strike and how hard. It really was most effective.


Somewhere in the depths of the How to Get That Sound thread is .my description of the picking technique I demoed...
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Re: Picking Technique

Postby Iain Purdon » Thu May 28, 2020 11:35 am

David Martin wrote:Somewhere in the depths of the How to Get That Sound thread is .my description of the picking technique I demoed...


Is this the one? It's the second post in the thread Whence The Twang?

David Martin wrote:I've heard lots of guys at the clubs who are very proud of their sound (always dangerous stuff that...) play with far too much treble on their amps because they believe it gives them the "twang" or "bark" of the early Cliff and Shads stuff. But if you plug into an early AC15 or 30, it doesn't cut your ears off... in fact an EF86 channel is quite mellow. So the "bark" comes from somewhere else...

Try this instead... get a really nice, soulful, mellow Sleepwalk tone on the middle pickup, then go to https://youtu.be/zFSgY8Be6Bw?t=35
... how to hold your pick, and how to bounce the string off your thumb. Master that and you will sound as if you are knocking seven bells out of really heavy strings - just like Hank did. But you can get that sound on much lighter 10s...

Demo: The Savage
The%20Savage%20%28fragment%29.wav
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Re: Picking Technique

Postby MikeAB » Thu May 28, 2020 1:34 pm

i hate GD picks and believe they are part of the reason many fans disliked Hank's sound on later tours. I once saw him hurriedly grab a new one mid-tune, and he seemed to be always examining the tip. Why top class players make such obvious misjudgements I can never understand.
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Re: Picking Technique

Postby Hank2k » Thu May 28, 2020 1:50 pm

It's interesting people experiences with picks. I really rate the George Dennis picks and have used them for years. Ive got 2 in my wallet that i've used at jam nights etc playing blues stuff and they have taken a lot of use over the last year or so and they still have a great point on them. Ive certainly never noticed a sound difference between them or Fender Heavy Picks or even some of these so called boutique picks.

The only picks i have noticed a sound difference are a pack of Alice picks that some one gave me. Not sure what material they are but they are the only ones i have ever used that change the sound of a guitar.
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Re: Picking Technique

Postby JimN » Thu May 28, 2020 2:47 pm

Hank2k wrote:It's interesting people experiences with picks. I really rate the George Dennis picks and have used them for years. Ive got 2 in my wallet that i've used at jam nights etc playing blues stuff and they have taken a lot of use over the last year or so and they still have a great point on them. Ive certainly never noticed a sound difference between them or Fender Heavy Picks or even some of these so called boutique picks.

The only picks i have noticed a sound difference are a pack of Alice picks that some one gave me. Not sure what material they are but they are the only ones i have ever used that change the sound of a guitar.



I have (most of) a box of 100 Alice picks I bought for $10 at NAMM a good few years ago.

As far as I can tell, there is very little - if any - difference between them and picks of the same gauges sold with the brand names Gibson, Fender, D'Andrea, etc.

I too have a few George Dennis picks (most of them I've had since 2004, when the importers donated a couple of boxes as freebies for the Bonnington Bash*). I've never liked them for use with Fender and Fender-style guitars. They just don't bring out the edge in the tone. They seem more at home when used with an archtop and more productive of the sound you expect from such a guitar.

[* I only got the same number of freebies as anyone else!]
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