Thumb Pick And Strumming

MTWaggin
MTWaggin
@mtwaggin
last year
5 posts

Wow that looks cool!   Not to be too light hearted but I'm thinking I'm going to need to figure out a craft project for all my extraneous picks eventually!  LOL

 

Elvensong:

 

 

Here's a couple of photos:  Pykmax

 

 

 

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
last year
1,696 posts

I find my idea of my favorite pick changes from year to year.  I have a whole box of favorite picks I've collected over time, and they are not all that similar... It's funny how our own playing preferences can change and evolve!




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Elvensong
Elvensong
@elvensong
last year
26 posts

Dusty Turtle:

It's probably not a good look on stage, but it's better than losing control of a pick and having it fly into the audience! 

 

I liked your entire response but I can definitely relate to the above. I found a fantastic new pick (I use the 1mm) and it addresses just about any pick foible you can imagine. Here are a couple of photos on my page:  Pykmax

Elvensong
Elvensong
@elvensong
last year
26 posts

I discovered my favorite pick only recently. It's called Pykmax and is a revolution in guitar picks (IMHO). It's really hard to describe how it works but it basically is a mini-platform that holds a pick and is cradled in your hand. It's fantastic! They come in different pick sizes but I use the purple 1mm.

After 5 minutes of playing I no longer realized it was there except for the wonderful freedom from pick slips, turns, bounces, fly aways and any other picking mishap you can imagine.   :D

Here's a couple of photos:  Pykmax

 

Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
last year
263 posts
Terry Wilson:
MTWaggin:

So glad I am not the only one just starting and already collecting picks!  You guys are awesome!   I went to the local music store and just got one of any that looked interesting and had different shapes and sizes.  I did however avoid the finger picks (for now).   I also just ordered some felt and leather picks just to see.   I am struggling with the clacking (just makes me cringe) and realize it may also be the WAY I am strumming.   Anyway, I'm going to keep reading and learning.   Right there with you Nigelbleddfa.


I know we're not to hate on people, places or things, but I really do hate "clacking".

Imho: When strumming, try and strum across the strings, not down. But maybe you are already working on this approach.

I used to love to strum at around the 12th and 13th hole. But now, 80% of my strumming and picking are right at the end of the strum hollow, going left. No clacking!

I anchor the meaty part of my hand against the board where the nut is. This approach also helped to lessen hand pain.

All of this, of course, is a work in progress.

Good luck and happy strumming.
Kusani
Kusani
@kusani
last year
124 posts

Great response Dusty!

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
last year
1,147 posts

A few comments on pick clack.

First, you probably notice it more than any listeners would since you are right above the instrument and the clack does not bounce around in the box and get amplified the way the sound from the vibrating strings does. 

Second, you might indeed be hitting the fretboard when you pick or strum, but that is probably the only technical "mistake" that one might make. 

Third, although it might seem counter-intuitive, thinner picks make more of a clacking sound than heavier picks.  Consider moving to heavier picks and holding them loosely rather than tightly.

Fourth, you might indeed reduce pick clack with leather or felt picks, but you will never be able to control those picks enough to play lots of single notes, something you may want to do eventually even if you are mostly strumming now. 

And fifth, some of us don't hate the pick clack, so don't worry about it too much.  I liken it to the sound of fingers squeaking as they move along the strings. It is a nice reminder of the tactile nature of the instrument.  This is music being made by a person holding an instrument, not some digital creation made in a vacuum with no ambient noise.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Elvensong
Elvensong
@elvensong
last year
26 posts

[quote="Ken Hulme"]

"There's no right way, or wrong way to play the dulcimer."  Just YOUR way. 

 

Hear Hear!

 

MTWaggin
MTWaggin
@mtwaggin
last year
5 posts

So glad I am not the only one just starting and already collecting picks!  You guys are awesome!   I went to the local music store and just got one of any that looked interesting and had different shapes and sizes.  I did however avoid the finger picks (for now).   I also just ordered some felt and leather picks just to see.   I am struggling with the clacking (just makes me cringe) and realize it may also be the WAY I am strumming.   Anyway, I'm going to keep reading and learning.   Right there with you Nigelbleddfa.

nigelbleddfa
@nigelbleddfa
last year
33 posts

Thanks for the suggestions. I started with Herdim and they are not for me. I have now bought some firmer picks - Dunlop Tortex, Gibson, Everly Star, ... You name it I've got it or ordered it nod

 

Again, thank you.

Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
last year
263 posts
My pick choice is a small Clayton 50mm, with a cork circle on one side, where I place my thumb. Discovered this pick on Ron Gibson's Web site.

With arthritic hands, it's a pick that I don't DROP while playing at home, or out.

The tip is rounded and the tip is neither stiff or limber. Just right. My attraction is the cork, otherwise it's just another good guitar pick. Imho.
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
last year
1,147 posts

I guess neither of us took to the Herdim picks, huh?  Let me point out that you are experimenting with different materials, gauges, and designs all at once.  You might try to limit the variables.  For example, try to isolate the material you like before deciding what thickness works best.  If you try four different picks but each one is different in shape, material, and thickness, you might not figure out why you prefer a specific one. 

Since you mention it, let me say that my pick of choice is the Dunlop tortext pick, but I use the standard size, not the III.  When I first started on the dulcimer I was using the yellow .73, then I moved to the green .88, and recently I've moved to the 1.0 blue ones.  But I like heavier strings, and in general as string gauges get bigger so will the gauges of your pick.  I like the tortex material, but find I need to moisten my fingertips a bit.  You will often see me lick my fingers and then wipe them on my jeans to get just the right amount of moisture.  It's probably not a good look on stage, but it's better than losing control of a pick and having it fly into the audience! 

The only picks I've found that I prefer to the Dunlop Tortex are the Blue Chip picks, but those are way beyond my budget.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
nigelbleddfa
@nigelbleddfa
last year
33 posts

Thanks, Dusty. I have tried all three colours of Herdim picks, Red, Yellow and Blue and none suits me. One Yellow pick developed a small nick at the side and had to be thrown away after only a little use. I have a number of thumb picks left over from my attempt at learning the autoharp and today received three new lots.

The new ones are Dunlop Tortex III Green 0.88, Yellow 0.73 and some Gibson Standard Guitar picks. I also have some 0.85  and 1.5 Blue Maxgrip ones. ( I have goose quills but they have been locked away together with my lovely DAA Charles Hagen dulcimer until I started making progress with DAD. )

All I need now is some peace and quiet to sit down and play. I have had three hectic days and my dulcimers have not left their cases.  Hopefully, I can strum away tonight happys


updated by @nigelbleddfa: 04/05/18 01:11:07PM
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
last year
1,147 posts

Hi, @nigelbleddfa .  I would encourage you to continue experimenting with different picks. Note that in addition to different shapes (teardrop, triangle, etc.) and design (thumb hook, hole in the middle, etc.), picks come in different kinds of materials and, most importantly, different thicknesses.  You refer to your old Herdim pick as "floppy," which leads me to think you were using a pick that was too thin and you have found more success with a heavier gauge pick.  As I have been playing the dulcimer I have moved to slightly heavier and heavier picks, and one reason I like the heavier picks is that it makes it easier to pluck single strings.  I personally did not like the Herdim picks (too pointy), but I played guitar for decades before discovering the dulcimer, so my own pick preferences were mostly developed before I ever held a dulcimer.  But you might revisit the Herdim picks and choose one that's a heavier gauge than the one you started with.  Again, keep exploring different options.  Eventually you will settle on the best pick for you.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie

updated by @dusty-turtle: 04/05/18 12:02:28PM
nigelbleddfa
@nigelbleddfa
last year
33 posts

Thanks, Rob, I have fallen into that trap already and am waiting for the delivery of three different picks this morning. happys

The Bumble Bee is a pick made by Fred Kelly and is a black and yellow thumb pick.


updated by @nigelbleddfa: 04/05/18 06:31:57AM
Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
last year
447 posts

Nigel, as others have mentioned, picks are personal.  I have a bag of picks of all kinds in my case, most of which I never use.  Jerry Rockwell turned me on to "Pointless Picks," round ones that I really like for some things.  I have a V-Pick "Bing" for use when I need to "stand out."  Some Hercos including the one Ken H mentioned and some Dunlops.  Even tho' I have a couple in the bag, I hate floppy picks.  Floppier the pick, the less control you have.  Bottom line: try out a bunch (another fav of mine is the Star Pick, the green ones) and buy more of what you like and put the others in a bag.  When you find other dulcimer players who didn't bring a pick you can whip out the bag and say, "Well, here's a few."  LOL

 

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
last year
1,637 posts

Some wound strings (phosphor bronze, flat wound, etc.) may be easier on your fingers if you are finger picking, but the unwound strings are like unwound guitar strings.  What you might want to think about Ann, are thin leather thimbles which would protect your nails but still allow you sensitive feel of the strings.  

Ann Andrews
Ann Andrews
@ann-andrews
last year
1 posts

Nigelbleddfa,

I read your posting.  We are similar "new players." What is a Bumble Bee pick?

I am very new to FOTMD. As I am learning, watching You-Tube instructions, I want to play with a soft approach.  To me that means with the fingers of the right hand.  I also play classical guitar and do not want to destroy my fingernails. Several questions cross my mind.  Are some strings easier to play with fingers? I thought I read something about that a few months ago and cannot find anything.  I know some people use finger and thumb picks.  I would love to hear some reviews. 

nigelbleddfa
@nigelbleddfa
last year
33 posts

Thanks for the replies. I have a lot to learn.

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
last year
1,637 posts

"There's no right way, or wrong way to play the dulcimer."  Just YOUR way.  For many years I used the Herco brand flat-thumb picks.  Basically a triangular flat pick with  thumb loop.  Works well. 

I also have picks/strummers made from feather shafts, thin wood, thick leather, thick felt (uke pick), plastic lids, plastic packing strap and zip ties, vegetable ivory and shell.

dulcinina
@dulcinina
last year
62 posts

Picks are a very personal choice.  I started with a Herdim because it was given to me.  Then I began experimenting with different picks, noting the sounds they produced.  I cut picks from margarine lids, old credit cards. and tried different brands and thicknesses.  You'll find one that suits your style of playing and feels comfortable.  Just have fun. Dulcinina

nigelbleddfa
@nigelbleddfa
last year
33 posts

I am new and I am reading and watching YouTube videos in my efforts to learn as much as I can about the dulcimer. Most of the videos relating to the strumming of "modern" dulcimers, not using a noter and quill, show the user using  a loosely held triangular pick. Naturally I have tried to imitate these players but I saw a video where the player was using a Bumble Bee pick and, as I already had one of these, I decided that I would try it. To my amazement my strumming appeared to be greatly improved. I seemed to be strumming the strings in a smoother pattern than when I used my floppy Herdim. Also, the volume is so much louder than before. I am better able to concentrate on my fretting now and it seems as though I am playing better.

My question is this - Have I picked up a bad habit ? Should I persevere with the Herdim ? Thanks !


updated by @nigelbleddfa: 04/10/18 01:43:18PM