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Picking at a 45 degree angle?

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Postby blackenedanger » October 2nd, 2004, 10:54 am

I read somewhere that you should pick at a 45 degree angle? Or hold the pick maybe? I forget exactly, but I know it had to do with a 45 degree angle..

Is it right, and what exactly does that mean!?!
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Postby greybeard » October 2nd, 2004, 11:19 am

I find it less tiring to stand straight up. :lol:
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Postby Metaellihead » October 2nd, 2004, 2:08 pm

I find it's easier to keep it as straight as possible at a 90 degree angle to the strings. If you rake it across at an angle you're more likley to get clicking sounds as the pick hits the strings, and you're more prone to fret buzz.

Hitting it at a straight angle across with make the strings vibrate from side to side rather than a circular or more up and down motion that picking at an angle can do. And up and down=fret buzz.
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Postby blackenedanger » October 2nd, 2004, 4:58 pm

Metaellihead wrote:I find it's easier to keep it as straight as possible at a 90 degree angle to the strings. If you rake it across at an angle you're more likley to get clicking sounds as the pick hits the strings, and you're more prone to fret buzz.

Hitting it at a straight angle across with make the strings vibrate from side to side rather than a circular or more up and down motion that picking at an angle can do. And up and down=fret buzz.


So they were actually talking about strumming down at a 45 degree angle? Not holding the pick at a 45 degree angle.

Like Strumming closer to the bridge after each string....!?

When I hold the guitar up standing...the most comfortable position I've found is to hold the neck angled up and the body down..so far anyway....and strumming straight seems impossible like that...
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Postby paul donnelly » October 2nd, 2004, 6:07 pm

I believe they were talking about slanting the pick like so. I do it almost all the time, although sometimes I hit the string with the pick flat against it when I'm picking a bass, if I want that sound.
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Postby TaylorR » October 2nd, 2004, 11:11 pm

Yarrgh, here be a differing opinion. Yarrgh!
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Postby HowYaDoin » October 3rd, 2004, 11:22 am

When I watch Neal Schon play (on the new Journey greatest hits DVD), It looks like he's holding the pick at an angle.....so yeah, that's what I would do, hold the pick at a 45 degree angle....

I hope you don't mind blackenedanger, but I'm gonna add to your question...

When you play, should your picking hand be kept off the strings? Because when I play, my hand usually rests on the strings.....Is this slowing me down or not?
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Postby NoteBoat » October 3rd, 2004, 11:50 am

Anchoring won't really slow you down - there are plenty of fast guitarists who anchor at the bridge, with the pinky on the pickguard, or on the unplayed strings.

The limitation of anchoring is that you can get more control over your sound (in my opinon, anyway) if you float your hand.
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Postby slothrob » October 3rd, 2004, 12:26 pm

Izabella, I think he's just talking about a different kind of 45° angle. Look at Paul's link again, it's a 45° angle reletive to the long axis of the neck vs. a 45° angle reletive to the face of the guitar. First good, second bad. At least for strumming. Sometimes the plucking motion gives some interesting percussive sounds, I think.
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Postby paul donnelly » October 3rd, 2004, 2:33 pm

Putting your hand on the strings is good for keeping the unplayed strings quiet, so I do it a lot of the time.
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Postby gnease » October 4th, 2004, 5:09 am

I think most of us were never explicitly instructed to angle (rotate) the pick, but just found ourselves doing it after playing for a while.

The 45 degree angle is not a hard and fast rule, but an approximation. The optimum angle depends on the pick shape, playing speed and the tone desired. If one is changing over from picking straight on (0 degrees), an angled pick may seem a bit stiffer at first, but nevertheless, it should move over the strings more smoothly. Angling should make alternate picking more accurate and smooth.

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Postby Nils » October 4th, 2004, 5:31 am

After reading this thread just for the heck of it I tried picking/strumming with the pick relatively straight and could not strum worth a damn.

So, I looked closer at my normal strumming and I noticed my angle changes depending on the pattern and the sound and noticed I am never straight and rarely come near 45 degrees. The only time I do is if I am up strumming followed by a down palm mute. I guess I do this to get my hand closer to the strings so I can quickly palm mute on the way down.

I guess it just goes to prove there are certain things we take for granted after awhile and just don't think about it
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Postby Elecktrablue » October 4th, 2004, 8:59 am

blackenedanger wrote:
When I hold the guitar up standing...the most comfortable position I've found is to hold the neck angled up and the body down..so far anyway....and strumming straight seems impossible like that...


I'm wondering something, but, let me tell you my experience, then you can decide for yourself whether or not I'm on the right track.

When I first started playing I played sitting down almost exclusively. When I finally got a strap and started to stand while playing I discovered that I had been sitting wrong (too low to the ground which made the guitar sit up higher on my body which caused the neck to angle up). I figured this out after I realized that when I switched from sitting to standing there was a period of adjustment (just a minute or so) where I would try to hold the neck up at the same angle it had been when I was sitting (it also caused pain in my neck and shoulder from trying to hold the neck up). If I just let the guitar hang naturally, it threw my fretting off because I had my hand/wrist at a different angle than it was when I was sitting. (Am I making sense?) Anyway, I bought myself a barstool (and a footstool, but I'm only 5 feet tall, so I needed one!) and I began to use my strap (letting the guitar hang naturally) whether I was sitting or standing because it kept the guitar at exactly the same height and angle either way. Being up on the barstool, and using the strap, (or standing) I forced myself to "relearn" my chords at the corrected angle. I no longer have any periods of adjustment, my neck and shoulder pain has gone away and I have better left hand control because I'm not exerting any effort with it in an attempt to hold the neck up.

The main reason I'm even bringing this up is because of the quote above. You're right, it would be impossible to strum straight if you're holding the guitar at an angle. It's just a thought. Take from it what you will! :)
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Postby blackenedanger » October 4th, 2004, 2:22 pm

Ah ha!

I see now.

I held the pick angled...relative to the neck somewhere around 45 degrees to the left (I am a left handed player....right handed would be to the right) and I can actually play some of those fast "chugga chugga" riffs.

The only thing though is I'm noticing a slight scratchy sound when I play without distortion or overdrive. Am I overdoing it just a bit?

But yeah that really helped alot. Thanks for all the replies!
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Postby gnease » October 5th, 2004, 4:34 am

blackenedanger wrote:Ah ha!


The only thing though is I'm noticing a slight scratchy sound when I play without distortion or overdrive. Am I overdoing it just a bit?

But yeah that really helped alot. Thanks for all the replies!


Try a different pick -- less pointy, softer, maybe thicker. Thin, hard, pointy picks will scrape against the windings more.

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