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Switching between fingers and pick at a gig

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by The Mock Turtle Regulator, May 15, 2001.

  1. anyone switch between the two when playing live?
    I'm wondering if people compensate for volume differences/low end level differences.

    I've played mainly fingerstyle since I started (9 yrs ago), only occasionally practising using a pick.
    I switch in a high mid boost to get a pseudo-pick sound on some songs.
    at a gig last week I tried leaving the eq flat and actually using a pick instead (less fret noise, better definition, I thought).
    but I found string-crossing very difficult and put the pick away after a couple of songs. oh well, I'll stick to fingerstyle live.
  2. cschenk78


    Mar 12, 2000
    Watertown, NY
    You could try holding the pic under your pinky and ring finger while you fingerstyle or slap, then just pull it out when you want it...it makes the crossover a little easier.
  3. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    I've had the same problem for years. There's that occasional song where I want to get a little more attack. For a while, I kept a pick stuck into the gap of the pickguard (actually, it's still there after 20 years!), but I've found it easier to use my index fingernail. I don't keep it trimmed real close, and for what I do in picking it works out fine.
  4. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    To me, there are two difficulties:
    1 do the switch fast and without fumbling
    2 get the tone I want immediately

    I would not fumble around with the tone/vol controls in a song. I might do that between songs. But when switching within a song, it's a matter of technique: attack angle, position and force.

    The first issue is worse. Where to put the pick when not used? Mouth is OK, as long as you don't sing, but if you do, you need a parking place. Keeping it in your hand will inflict on your fingerstyle.

    Am I making any sence on this? I think I need some food - urgently....
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I do it the old fashioned way, using my ears and fingers. Usually I can get louder with a pick, so I just don't play as hard when using a pick.

    The only way to deal with the technical stuff is to practice it. I hardly ever use a pick, so like you I have trouble sometimes playing passages that would be no problem fingerstyle. I'm sure a few weeks of woodshedding would get most people up to speed.
  6. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    I've tried the old "pick-in-the- mouth" technique, but I think I looked like a dork that way. Maybe gals don't look as good with picks stuck in their mouths and then, of course, there is the lipstick issue. Besides it takes as much time to get the pick out of your mouth as from elsewhere.

    I've tried holding it in my picking hand, but it just wasn't comfortable and I felt it really impacted on my finger picking. So I opted for having the picks in a convenient location.

    Guess I've tried everything, from trying to stick the pick in different places on the bass or on the strap. Nothing was satisfactory because of issues of how easily the pick could be retrieved from the location I had it stuck.

    Here're are the two strategies that worked best for me ultimately. One, I kept a bunch of picks on my stack by the amp. Then I just grabbed one as I needed it.

    The other thing is having a pick holder attached to the microphone stand. You can have several stuck in the holder and pull them out fast when you need them or if you drop one. Those holders don't cost much, maybe five bucks, and are worth the money. Of course, if you don't sing, you don't have the mic stand.

    Anyway, I was so insecure, I always kept a stock of picks close by and handy because if they got wet from sweat or got too soft, I'd get a new one in a hurry.
  7. thanks for the advice, guys.

    I've decided to leave pick playing for practising, or if ever I get asked specifically to use one for recording (hopefully never when recording with my originals band....).

    there was one song in the covers set which would have sounded good with the pick, but I play an octave at the beginning (possible using ring finger to pluck upper note- a bit like Colin Hodgkinson does) and also tap a harmonic with chorus at the end to get a sort of bell-like sound- very difficult while holding a pick.

    the experience of trying using a pick live was a worthwhile one, as I was a bit insecure about only playing fingerstyle before- as if I was missing something.
    but fingerstyle only and flat eq or switch to high mid boost + pluck more firmly approach seems to cover it for me.
  8. What works for me is to buy a big pack of picks and keep them on your amp. When you need one just grab one, and then when switching back to fingers just throw them on the ground.

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