So after 4 years of diligently practicing my picking, I finally found a comfortable movement… or so I thought. A friend observed that my picking sounded very noisy, and was probably using too much of what is known as edge picking. I’ve also been struggling to produce any volume with my current technique. The thing is, a lot of it is probably to do with the angle I hit the strings, which is more “left and right” ie toward the neck and towards the bridge, than up and down. I don’t know how to fix this. This is just the way my wrist naturally moves. What do I do?
First off, I think this is pretty great picking!
Correct me if I’m wrong @Troy but this (picking towards and away from the bridge) is totally normal for the setup you are using (lightly supinated forearm + wrist motion as far as I can tell?).
You can still control your attack by using different pick grips to fine tune the edge picking etc. I also would experiment with picks of different materials and thicknesses.
More generally have you ever had access to the pickslanting primer? You are at at pretty advanced stage so revising that will probably give you more insight on what you are already doing!
Well thank you! Yeah I have. I’m very bad at diagnosing my problems, I find. My friend believed that part of the scratchiness might be mitigated by changing my thumb angle - it is set up for pretty extreme edge picking, but I find bending my thumb back can cause my pick to get stuck. I’m not edge picking for tonal reasons, but for comfort reasons - makes it easier to slice through multiple strings.
And yeah that’s correct, supinated wrist movements
High degree edge picking needs a pointy pick like a Jazz III. Bluegrass players don’t do it because they use rounded point 346 style picks. If you use a 351 style pick and this much edge picking you’re going to get no tone on acoustic, it’s going to sound scratchy. Either use a pointy pick or lower your approach angle as per these instructions:
You can also use the pronated form like Molly Tuttle, which will use less edge picking. But if you want to use the form you’re using here, your only two options are pointy pick or lower approach angle.
My pick is a Dunlop Flow - surely in the same category as the Jazz III, yeah?
I have both the flow and the jazz 3, the latter is a bit more pointy so you could try that
I find them very different - definitely worth trying.
And with respect to the “approach angle” item on the checklist, one easy experiment to achieve a lower approach angle to see how it feels, is to rest the guitar over your left leg instead of your right. This shifts the entire guitar and nearly forces you to lower your approach angle. Even if you don’t want to adopt that setup full-time, it’s a simple way to experiment with a different approach angle.
Moving a pick diagonally is what I came up after experimenting with UPX. I guess that’s the obvious motion unless your forearm is parallel to neck or you using additional movement component (like fingers or flextension).
As for the sound you may try to decrease edge picking angle if you need. Another tricky way is to play with leaning angle of the pick (make it more claw-like). Third option is to add rotational component (that’s what I do occasionally)
Oh, you may also try thin picks (these bending things).