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Old 01-05-2013, 07:18 PM   #1
AdamBa17
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Soft picking vs Heavy picking vs Who cares?

Hey guys,

I've been playing for 10+ years now, had a few professional gigs, but STILL to this day, the question that I can not get my head round is conflicting information between picking strength.

Some pro's seem to pick really hard (you can hear if you watch them on youtube or listen to them play live in front of you, you can literally hear the string bang), and some recommend to be lighter so you can play faster.

I don't know if it really matters or not. I think that I've overthought and tried to research this matter beyond all possible realms, it's just the kind of guy I am. I have no problems playing most complex things, but I'm always trying to improve the smallest nuances.

Any ideas?

Softer gives a better tone and allows faster playing?
Digging in heavy gives a better tone?
It doesn't really matter, just whatever naturally comes with the dynamics of the current piece?

I would just like to amass a big pool of opinions, please. Even if you can only be bothered to post a one word answer.
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:22 PM   #2
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It is called dynamics. If you play softer the attack of the note is not as in your face. You play hard and you can make a clean amp sound a little dirty.
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:31 PM   #3
AdamBa17
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And your preference?
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamBa17
And your preference?

I use both probably equally But I have been playing for almost 20yrs and gigging for over 11 yrs and of that almost all have been original bands. Even in my prog-metal band we use massive amount of picking dynamics. In all honesty if we only played hard or soft the music would loose fealling and sound like crap.
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:38 PM   #5
AdamBa17
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Yeah I get you. Have you ever consciously put any thought into it? I'm worried that I'm overthinking it
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:46 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamBa17
Yeah I get you. Have you ever consciously put any thought into it? I'm worried that I'm overthinking it

I never reall think about it. I was never classicly trained, so my playing is based more on fealing and emotion rather than mathmatical.

I find when I am in a certain mood I write music in a certain way. The hardest meanest songs I have ever wrote are when I am in a horrible mood and vice vera.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:29 PM   #7
sashki
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I use a medium-thin pick and I tend to "dig in" a bit. I don't do it conciously but one of my friends has pointed out that I pick pretty hard.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:10 PM   #8
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With a lower gain setting, soft picking produces a nice clean, but edge breakup kind of sound. I love it for quiet breakdowns before a heavy riff. If you hit the strings hard, it brings out more gain.

I use it when Im not using my overdrive, but I find you dont have to beat the strings honestly. Just pick harder. Its fun and can add expression to your playing
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:18 PM   #9
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Between a lack of neurological control, and some good ol' nerve damage, I have virtually no control over how hard I pick, or fret, for that matter. I can either barely scrape the string or I can twat it at full force, that's it for me. Can't say I've ever really found myself wanting anything else, though. For the music I play I always want everything to be either full-on or virtually off, so my cack-handed picking goes along with that perfectly.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:24 PM   #10
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I would think of picking strength almost as another volume knob. If you play really hard its really loud, maybe have some amp breakup, whereas if you play soft its quiet.

Depends on the style you play.
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:02 PM   #11
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If I play cleans I'll play a bi softer than when I use distortion.

Then again I am told I'm very heavy handed.
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:53 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFlibble
Between a lack of neurological control, and some good ol' nerve damage, I have virtually no control over how hard I pick, or fret, for that matter. I can either barely scrape the string or I can twat it at full force, that's it for me.

I am both amused and sympathetic.
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:54 AM   #13
thebestjoe
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When I play, I seem to really only dig in on the bass strings, and play a lot lighter on the treble. When I record quick ideas off of my phone, you'll hear a tong of clicking and whatnot on low parts and the higher ones are a lot clearer.

For dynamic changes, I just use a volume pedal or a comp as a limiter.
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:34 PM   #14
AdamBa17
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Interesting replies, thanks guys.

Seems most people don't really think about it, it seems to just come as a natural expression of that particular song/part rather than a "technique".
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:36 PM   #15
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Entirely depends on the song I'm playing. I'm one of those hippies that believes that true tone comes from the fingers, so I've worked hard to become very dynamic in my difference styles. I slam and chug as much as I lightly fingerpick.
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:36 PM   #16
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Hard picking doesn't mean slower tempo. Look at Paul Gilbert. He picks really hard and plays really fast. And that's what gives him very accurate and clear tone.

Sometimes our band's guitarist picks too soft and I don't really like it. He has the amp volume at 5 or something in our music class and I can't still hear what he is playing. But when I start playing with the same settings, my ears hurt, it's freaking loud. Seems like he plays even softer if we turn his volume up. And everybody tells him to play louder. Maybe it's due to him being in front of the amp, his ear in front of the speaker.

I think you should be able to do both. But sometimes it's great fun to play with a very hard touch in the climax part of the song. It kind of gives a lot emotion to playing. (Of course different kind of emotion than playing softly.)
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:07 PM   #17
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Being that I play in B tuning with 11 gauge strings and a heavy gauge pick, I hit the strings pretty hard.
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