For slower passages Schenker uses the grippy part of a nylon pick for attacking the strings, so maybe that chirp is what you’re hearing? Back then he was using Herco picks, these days it’s Dunlop nylon .88mm.
Based on our testing I’d say no. Chirp happens much less frequently when you try to play with low- or zero-degree edge picking. It’s not gone, but it’s more infrequent. Something about the attack being perhaps a little bit off as we’ve been discussing seems to shut it down against the wider contact patch. But when you play flatter you get more force to the string instead of force deflection, and this gives you a louder attack. You also get a shift in frequency response, with less bass response and more upper mids and treble response, like a tilt EQ. We’ve measured this in our chapter on edge picking, and it doesn’t seem to be simply the result of picking harder. All of these things can make lower-degree edge picking sound snappier.
Cool observation! I haven’t noticed this effect. I can tool around but I think the string amplitude may be too low to hit any part of the pick once it clears the edge. And of course if you switch to the neck pickup, it would be reversed. Chirp comes from the pick-headstock string segment, not the pick-bridge string segment, because that’s where the bridge pickup is located.
Also, if you pick right on top of the pickup you’re using, chirp disappears. The amplitude is zero at that point.
Yes, Eddie is in the minority of lead players with his thinner gauge picks. You’d never guess from the rhythm parts though, given how beefy they are. Same goes with Paul Gilbert too, who has played thin gauges at various times - not sure if he still does.
I haven’t actually been able to reproduce this. We’ve been tapping on strings with just about every common pick material for a couple weeks and we can’t consistently produce less chirp with beveled picks compared to other edge geometries. Some picks that chirp seem to produce less of it if you play them with lower degrees of edge picking, and only down near the point. It’s not even on every pickstroke, but it is occasional. Something about the flatter surface when you attempt to play it flat, but perhaps don’t exactly succeed, sometimes kills the chirp. We’re not entirely sure what it is but we’ve offered some theories in the above posts. More ideas welcome!
I haven’t tried metal since it’s not a material in super common use. But if you can really get less chirp from a metal pick I’d love to see some video of it! So far, material hardness appears to be the number one indicator. And it may be subjective. I’ve read posts on other guitar forums of players saying they like BlueChip picks for chirp resistance, but BlueChip picks are made from a very hard material and are super chirpy. So I’m always skeptical until I test.
We do this in the upcoming Pickslanting Primer update. But tapping is the most reliable and consistent way to isolate the characteristics of the material from what the amp is doing to the ringing string. If you’re interested in frequency analysis we will have plenty of it in the upcoming Primer update so stay tuned.
However pickslanting, as an FYI, does not affect tone. When you use pickslanting for alternate picking, your goal is to orient the pick 90 degrees to the way it is moving, even if that motion is an angle or an arc. There is no effective “slant” to its motion path, and your pick attack is the same as a player with “no slant”.
By “Chirp” is that the harmonic attack of the pick?
Just by feel, I like the Dunlop Tortex, for grip and a more dry harmonic attack - but I like the Primetone for a really sensitive harmonic attack - I guess that’s maximum chirp.
You are going to see that you have never tried picks like that.
They are one of a kind, with a set of caracteristics that makes them unique.
From all my collection of picks (an insane collection I might add) they are:
-The ones with less chirp noise
-The ones that provide the darker tone. They cut the treble in your tone A LOT. But man, the tones you can get are beautiful and unique.
Now, those two things, they come with a cost. The picks are very maleable, as you can see in the photo.
Although I have experienced it only by feel without objective measurements being made, I believe that these are the picks that, while remaining 100% usable, have the longer “recoil time” of all my collection. It takes some time for the pick to return to his original form after you play a note.
It is something that only starts getting in your way at very fast speeds, but you will notice. It’s a little more difficult to shred with this ones than it should, it requires some practice and adaptation, but in the end, as I said they are 100% usable, as I haven´t found any lick under my reach that I’m unable to perform while using them.
And the last thing, I only use the Jazz sized ones. I think that it might be posible that the 351 shaped ones has all the effects of their malleability intensified.
Sorry! I should have prefaced the original post. As others have noted, chirp is the pitch the pick makes when it touches the string. Turn on your amp, set your guitar to the bridge pickup, get a pick made of a hard material, and tap it or touch it against an unwound string. That is chirp. The effect is strongest when using a heavy gauge pick made of a hard material, and when using some amount of edge picking. A standard 351 celluloid heavy is enough to hear the effect. You can hear it on acoustic or clean tone, but it’s most audible on a high gain amp.
The reason this matters is you can hear this pitch during alternate picking, an instant before the note itself sounds. It’s subjective. Some people don’t like it, or don’t like it in certain situations. And some people don’t hear it at all. In the clip I linked to above, the chirp pitch is an octave or so higher than the line I’m playing on the B string. There’s only one note on the E string so you’re mainly hearing the B string chirp, which happens to be roughly in key for the lick I’m playing. It almost sounds like an effect, or at least, an affectation.
Re: harmonics some picks do produce more treble range energy in the 5k - 10k region, which are typically harmonics. Nylon and celluloid picks do this when they start to abrade, for example. However in this case what we’re talking about is more like an actual fretted note, again like you’d get from a slide or tone bar.
Looking forward to it!
We’ve tested the Primetones quite a bit while working on this stuff. They’re not particularly “harmonic”-y. They’re hard and smooth, so they pick the string forcefully for solid mid and upper mids performance. But because of the smoothness, you don’t get a jacked up 5k to 10k response like you do with a worn out Dunlop Nylon or Jazz III that’s all scratchy and adds treble harmonics.
The hardest / smoothest pick we’ve tested is the BlueChip. The slipperyness of the surface means you only get mids and upper mids, and no very high harmonics / treble. Some people call think of them as dark, and I sometimes do. But in reality what they have is mids but no treble.
So in your case, if you think Primetones sound bright, it could be that you’re hearing the chirp as part of the ringing string, which technically it’s not really. Or it could be that you just get a more force into the string when using a rigid, less bendy pick — which equals more brightness for a given amount of picking force. That’s certainly a thing that happens.
Ok here it is a little demo:
-Titanium jazz pick
-Ibanez Elastomer SOFT 2.2mm
-Teflon 1mm Jazz pick
-Rubber pick (unusable)
Awesome! Now that’s a test.
Is Teflon a softer material than the Elastomer, or is there an as-yet additional material characteristic we haven’t identified that’s reducing the chirp?
Teflon is known for its slipperyness, like on cookware, but it’s not immediately apparent to me why that would influence chirp. Frequency response, possibly, as with the BlueChip, where slipperyness simply doesn’t grab the string and produce very high harmonics.
Did you try the Wegen gypsy picks? Super thick 3.5mm beveled edge, very warm and smooth attack!
Yeah, Blue Chip material is also one of a kind. It will take YEARS for this picks to really show signs of wearing. Hard as a diamond. And thay glide trough the strings with minimum resistance giving a tone with a very soft attack. And yes, they chirp loud and clearly. LOL
I have found that the Iron Age Pugio picks, from their Legio Ferrata collection glides trough the strings with even less resistance. That´s another extreme of my collection.
Man, I really don’t know.
I don´t think it is softer than the elastomer. The Ibanez has a very “rubbery” (it is that a word? ) tact. Teflon feels harder in my hands, I would say.
And with the Teflon, something very interesting is that if you use the edge of the pick, it glides with very very little resistance, but if you use the pick flat, it will catch the string, because the material has a texture.
No, but what we’re trying to do here is understand the effect of various aspects of design so that we don’t have to play every pick under the sun to have some idea what it’s going to sound like. Whether or not a pick bends is one aspect of this, what its edge and point geometry look like are another, whether the surface is slippery, whether the material chirps, etc.
In general, thick picks with a rounded edge produce more bass frequency tilt. Picks with rounded points produce bass frequency tilt when played with edge picking. When played with low or no edge picking, a rounded point pick doesn’t sound very different from a pointy one, all other things being equal. The effect of point geometry is primarily on edge picking.
So when you have a very thick pick that is already tilting toward the bass with zero degrees of edge picking, and then you use a little edge picking, you get even more bass. That’s probably what’s going on with your Wegen 3.5mm example.
so has anyone mastered the super chirpy pick slide intro with harmonics etc??
Anyone care to demonstrate?
I know there is a Tony Macalpine example somewhere too but I couldnt find it on the intros on his first 2 albums. Could be on one of the solos
pretty sure Schenker has the same effect on one of his songs. He was pretty chirpy anyway:
I attended a talk that PRS gave in Cupertino (on the Apple campus) where he was throwing materials on the ground and listening to them (nuts, etc.). Throwing picks down on a hard table is an interesting exercise inspired by him, and Ultem really sounds harsh!
Metallic Bells Ring, but Rubber Bells Don’t; Why?
When we strike a metal bell by its clapper inside, the metallic parts collide and the bell rings. We can listen to and enjoy the celestial, melodious bell ring only if it is a metal bell. A rubber bell will be of no use except as a showcase piece.
The speed of sound in a material depends upon its structure (elasticity and density) and temperature. When an object vibrates, the molecules bump one another in a wave pattern and the kinetic energy is passed from molecule to molecule. This transmission is faster if the molecules are closer and the bonds are stronger. Hence, sound travels fast in solids, but it is slow in liquids and gases since the molecules are not closely connected. The speed of sound is 4600 m/s in copper; but it is 1482 m/s and 355 m/s in water and air respectively.
A very common method to measure the damping of polymers is dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA). It measures the modulus (stiffness) and damping (energy dissipation) properties of materi- als. The polymer sample is subjected to an oscillating stress and the resulting strain is recorded continuously.
Stiff materials, like metals, have low damping whereas compliant rubbers possess high damping. But the figure of merit for damping materials can be represented by a combination of stiffness and compliance. However, materials possessing high damping and high modulus at the same time are not common. But, this can be achieved by making composites containing stiff and compliant materials.
As I suspected it’s a combination of stiffness and dampening of the material. The Blue chip picks are stiff with high damping characteristics, custom composite. The shape is less relevant I suppose. But mass will affect amplitude and frequency.
I don’t claim to understand beyond natural intuition the mechanics of this phenomenon, but it was an exciting read never the less.
Such principles could be applied to the resonance of guitars, and it’s components perhaps.
edit: Come to think about it, this is precisely the reason I don’t prefer Stainless Steel frets, there’s a chirp on brighter necks that gets accentuated and the attack is all wrong(harsh) to my ears.
The nickel alloys have less hardness and more dampening. Jescars Evo gold may be a good blend without the harshness.
Teflon is one of the materials with the lowest coefficient of friction. This is why it’s used to coat non-stick frying pans etc.
When I first came to this thread my hypothesis was that the pick chirp is produced through the same mechanic as a tone on a bowed instrument.
As you probably know you have to apply rosin to a bow in order to make it effective. The rosin increases the friction between the hairs of the bow and the strings.
The experimental results by @petergrifindor are in line with this theory. As is the finding that reducing edge-picking eliminates the chirp (because the pick spends less time gliding along the string like a bow).
If this theory is any good then the most chirpy thing would be something that has a very high coefficient of friction. Hardness is probably important too because a soft material might dampen the string after producing the chirp?
According to this table of friction coefficients an aluminum pick should be super chirpy (it has the highest sliding friction coefficient in this list).
As far as plastics goes nylon has a very low friction coefficient, which explains why that doesn’t chirp very much.
Are there any other plectrum materials other than nylon that have such thin gauges?
Is nylon the only material that will not snap?
Is it this tensile property that affects the chirping?