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The Campy Forum

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How does Jim hold his pick?
  • I've been trying to get into the hybrid picking thing but I'm having a hard time coming up with a way to hold the pick that still allows my other fingers to be at a good angle to do what they need to do. The way I've held a pick for the last 20 years is certainly not working for me. None of the videos I've watched seem to give me a good view of how Jim does it. Any advice?
  • I think that he holds it with his fingers :D

    But seriously. I think hybrid picking is something you have to experiment with. I usually have about an 1/8" of the pick sticking out. I like to feel like I'm using my thumb, for me I'm more accurate that way. And it's angled slightly toward my wrist.

    Maybe try this, put your middle and ring finger on the G & B strings, and while holding a pick with your thumb and index finger, rotate and move the pick until it feels comfortable. I know when I started hybrid picking it didn't feel natural no matter how I held it. So I started by using just my middle finger with my thumb, then added the ring finger later. Hope that helps.

    Jim may chime in later and offer some more tips.
  • Thanks Aaron! That's surprisingly great (should have been obvious) advice. Makes sense to start with the middle and ring and see where that lands the pick. The opposite of how I was thinking it thru. I think part of my problem is that I occasionally just play a good ol' strummer. And when I need to differentiate between my strummer grip and my hybrid grip my hands get confused.
  • Some of the best video shots of Jim's right hand technique can be found in this youtube clip, especially around the 1:20+ mark.



    If for some reason the link doesn't work, it's one of the Prettiest Girl in NY clips (dated 2/3/07).

    I think Jim has mentioned before that for single string notes, he uses the pick, for doublestops, he uses middle and ring fingers. Also he plays a smaller, firm jazz pick. I've recently switched to the type of pick Jim uses and it almost automatically makes you play a different way. It's kind of nice not having all that much pick between your fingers and at least for me, seems to aid a little bit with the hybrid picking thing. Either way, I'm pretty weak with that stuff and have been considering ordering the Twister lesson as it seems it would be a tour de force of right hand technique.
  • Gentlemen - this thread is really thorough - thank you so much!

    My 2 cents... I use "circular picking" which started intuitively for me. I don't recall ever thinking about it... I've read Roy Buchanan employed "circular picking" ... and maybe Gatton?

    Anyway - Although I've been teaching for 30 years and can be very opinionated (ha ha!) I am very cautious when folks ask me about right hand (picking) technique.

    First off- There is an absence of literature on this subject, second - stylistically there are major differences between great technical guitarists, and lastly- it seems to me every approach has it strengths and drawbacks.

    Then we have players like Wes, and Merle Travis redefining what is "correct"...

    Again, I feel like a politician avoiding an important issue, but I think picking technique is very personal and has no rigid rules indicating the ONE CORRECT WAY.

    This is accurate (thank you usmercury)

    ".... single string notes, he uses the pick, for doublestops, he uses middle and ring fingers. Also he plays a smaller, firm jazz pick..."

    Here's an EXTREME close up!


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  • I gotta say Campilongo, you have an amazing touch on that video.That's some very inspiring playing.I remember seeing you a bunch of times in S.F. back in the early nineties. I was pretty well blown away then and you have just gone on to even greater heights.
  • Wow- How generous of you! I guess I'm doing something right. I really appreciate the sentiment. Thank you.
  • Thanks for the close-up pic Jim! Unfortunately, it looks an awful lot like how I usually grip the pick, so I guess that's not my smoking gun. I guess I just need to work on cleaning up my right-hand technique.

    It's funny how my two favorite guitarists both avoid nailing down a "correct" right hand method. I found this on Nels Cline's website.
    "I'd love to accumulate photos of "guitar greats" and focus on their picking hand (those who pick, anyway). It would very quickly become apparent that it's a highly personal matter. Why? Because guitarists quite often are self-taught maroons?? Partially. But also because (I think) that our physiology differs. Look at how Pat Metheny holds the pick ("correctly", in Jimmy Stewart terms) and how John McLaughlin holds the pick (coincidentally very similarly to yours truly). Which one has achieved the greater technique? Who cares! It's obvious that while a few guidelines are OK (to avoid the pifalls of tendonitis or scoliosis perhaps),it's a very individual choice - or accident." -Nels Cline
  • Interesting! thanks
  • Tuck Andress har written a pretty thorough article on different styles of picking, might be interesting for some of you:

    http://www.tuckandpatti.com/pick-finger_tech.html

    Oh yeah, I remember reading a Pat Metheny interview where he said his picking technique was not "correct" and that he considered getting lessons from someone like Frank Gambale in order to improve it. Go figure. :)
  • I once read a quote attributed to Robert Fripp where he said Jimi Hendrix "didn't even know how to hold a pick"
  • I know this has become a zombie threat but in case anyone is interested, I found this informative article on "circular picking" which explains the technique in detail. https://www.seymourduncan.com/blog/the-players-room/talkin-bout-a-revolution-circular-picking
  • Interesting this thread re-surfaced... I was watching the Hahn Model C demo, and it looked like you (Jim) were striking the strings at a 45 degree angle with the pick? Maybe just an optical illusion? When I saw that I wondered, "is that how he gets the sweeter treble (when he wants it) instead of the typical (biting) tele treble?"

    I know that another favorite player of mine, Guthrie Trapp, uses the rounded edge of the pick (a standard pick) instead of the "pointed" end for that very reason.... I tried it, and it works. BUT... I'm not going to start changing how I'm holding the pick in the middle of playing, and not sure I want to only use the rounded edge... I like the pointed end, I find it more accurate, for ME at least...

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