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  1. #1

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    I bought a nylon/electric for use in playing old standards and jazz. Any recomendations for picks to use with nylon. I have some Doyle Dykes thumb picks I like, but looking for a good flat pick.

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  3. #2

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    I don't understand why you'd want to use a pick when the whole point of nylon strings is the rich variety of timbre that can only be achieved with the various approaches of addressing the strings with the fingers.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by jckoto3
    I don't understand why you'd want to use a pick when the whole point of nylon strings is the rich variety of timbre that can only be achieved with the various approaches of addressing the strings with the fingers.
    1) The timbre still far surpasses that of electric guitars.

    2) Where has it been established what the "whole point" of nylon strings is? Nylon strings have only been around since WWII. Plectra have been around for thousands of years. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...en_2416_n1.jpg

    3) But to answer your question head on, some of us prefer acoustic instruments to electric ones because of timbre issues. I went at least a decade without listening to any guitar players, just classical music and acoustic jazz, and when I got back to listening to guitar players I found it very hard to accept the electification. Conventional acoustic guitars sound way too tinny. So that leaves nylon strings. One can use one's fingers. I played classical for a couple of years and I have no issues with somebody who wants play jazz that way. For me personally, I chose not to because the sounds I get from a plectum are more in keeping with the jazz tradition. But I could imagine switching to the thumb at some point.

    I think your question was sincere, but the right hand thing is a usually an easy cheap shot meant to deflect attention from the fact that most of the great jazz is acoustic. Keith Jarrett says that electric instruments are toys. And if you don't listen to them for a long period of time, you'll find that that is exactly what they sound like. Imagine if all the great jazz bassists played electric bass, all the great drummers played synth drums, all the great keyboard players played synths, and all the great sax players played EWIs. I think you have to agree that that would totally suck. But guitarists think that everybody else is supposed to tolerate their electronic crap.
    Last edited by jster; 03-08-2013 at 08:25 AM.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzchief1
    I bought a nylon/electric for use in playing old standards and jazz. Any recomendations for picks to use with nylon. I have some Doyle Dykes thumb picks I like, but looking for a good flat pick.
    Picks are pretty personal. I use the biggest bass picks I can find. I melted one a bit in the dryer and now it has a great ergonomic curve. That's my favorite.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by jckoto3
    I don't understand why you'd want to use a pick when the whole point of nylon strings is the rich variety of timbre that can only be achieved with the various approaches of addressing the strings with the fingers.
    Some very famous, and very good players use pick & nylon string guitars like John Mclaughlin, Strunz & Farah to name a few. I agree you get a better tone with your fingers & nails, but picks do have their advantages, mainly speed.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by jster
    I think your question was sincere, but the right hand thing is a usually an easy cheap shot meant to deflect attention from the fact that most of the great jazz is acoustic. Keith Jarrett says that electric instruments are toys. And if you don't listen to them for a long period of time, you'll find that that is exactly what they sound like. Imagine if all the great jazz bassists played electric bass, all the great drummers played synth drums, all the great keyboard players played synths, and all the great sax players played EWIs. I think you have to agree that that would totally suck. But guitarists think that everybody else is supposed to tolerate their electronic crap.
    ?!

  8. #7

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    I like Dunlop JazzTones. I reviewed them here if you'd like to see: Guitar Corners: Jim Dunlop JazzTones 205 Picks: Review

  9. #8

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    I like to use Claytons:

    Picks for nylon guitar-img_0759-jpg

    These are the rounded triangle picks. The one on the left is sold as a bass pick, the one on the right is called the "Raven" and is sold as a guitar pick. As far as I'm concerned they're practically identical; the material is the same and both are 1.90mm, which is the thickest one. The only real difference is the embossing.

    Using a pick on a nylon strung guitar is a matter of personal choice. I know a classical player who freaked out when I told him I do it. Sometimes I just play finger style chord melody, or play some lines with my thumb, but I can't generate "Wes Speed" with my thumb so I'll use the pick when I need to.

    I've tried to play with thin picks but it sounds tinny and the strings have too much resistance. I also have a felt pick which I'll use sometimes for a soft, muffled sound.

  10. #9

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    Purple dunlop torex jazz with rounded tip.

  11. #10

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    I do not like the sound created by the pick. I prefer my nails...:-)
    Last edited by kris; 03-09-2013 at 04:23 AM.

  12. #11

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    Reminded me when I was at GIT and Don Mock a chops monster would be playing an Ovation nylon string all the time with a huge stone pick. He said it help with right hand like a weighted bat type thing so when on his electric with normal picks easier and speedier.

  13. #12

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    I practice pick chops on nylon with a stone pick, but the teardrop Claytons in the heavier gauges sound very close to well-shaped nails. Also, Fred Kelly jazz babies work well on nylon.

  14. #13

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    I've found classical guitars to be pretty forgiving in the choice of pick used.

    I used to be a classical guitarist up to pro concert level for many years and then
    I gradually spent more and more time playing jazz on a semi hollow electric with
    fat flat wound strings.
    I was using a Dunlop red Jazz 111 on the electric during the change over, so when I needed to pick up the
    nylon string say to try out a chord progression or whatever, I'd just continue with
    the Jazz 111 pick.
    Sounded fine to me. I probably instinctively angled the pick a bit to round out the sound,
    moved toward the bridge and squared up the pick attack to get a strong gutsy tone etc

    But I wouldn't be concerned with whatever the classical [or jazz] police think.
    .....As Frank Zappa was supposed to have said "opinions are like assholes, everyone's got one" ha ha



    But back to picks on nylon guitar, I've used heavy tortex, celluloid, and varying thicknesses of
    Dunlop's ubiquitous regular size nylon picks.....Maybe there's something about nylon picks going
    with nylon strings.
    ...I just remembered hearing Sharon Isbin saying that she used a Dunlop nylon pick on the heavy
    rasguados in the Rodrigo concerto.....mainly to save her nails...but hey!

    Sometimes I've been required to play nylon in theater productions where they just want to hear a certain
    sound and the pick just can do certain things that fingerstyle just can't. eg extreme speed, but loud.....
    ...unless you're in Paco de Lucia class forget about it.

    Finally, there's a great story that Tommy Tedesco the great session guitarist recounted about when he was
    engaged to play on some cues for the movie The Deer Hunter, he found that he was one of two guitarists
    on the session. They would both be playing classical guitar ....[that being one of Tedesco's strengths,and he
    had many others]
    Anyway TT almost always used a pick on his nylon strings and was noted for his beautiful singing tone
    on lead parts. [He always used a heavy pick for that type of sound]

    Well the the "other" guitarist was a certain Mr John Williams [not the composer JW you understand]
    who had been flown in from London.


    So he met JW who he said was a very delightful person and they were
    asked to do a rehearsal, just the two guitars to get a good balance before the orchestra came in.

    First off he told John that he [JW] had to sit on TT's left because he didn't like people sitting on his
    right. John took this as being possibly a little eccentric. ....The "real" truth being that Tommy didn't want John to see
    his right hand in case an emergency came up and a pick suddenly appeared in his hand.
    "We were opposites of the guitar world: John the purist, everything just right; Tedesco the mechanic,
    get the job done as painlessly as possible."


    So there was a lunch break and John came back late.
    The full orchestral rehearsal started with JW missing and while he was away, TT played the lead parts.
    "Like a little child sneaking candy while no one is watching. This was a good feeling for me; it made me feel like a little better guitar player again"
    "Who knows a few more dates like this and I might become the purist and laugh at those little rock and roll kids"

    ....So, apparently the great John Williams didn't notice that Tedesco played his part with a pick.

    Long story but one I love and I hope that it inspires and maybe gets a grin.

    And a big +1 from me regarding John McLaughlin's sound on the nylon string with a pick.
    Listen to Live at the Festival Hall, Que Alegria and Belo Horizonte.

  15. #14

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    It is a matter of taste. While I play 99% of nylon sting with my fingers, picks can sound very cool. I would reccomend a pick made out of nylon, like Jazz IIIs, or something like Derlin or Ultex. Use a thicker pick. Light touch!

  16. #15

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    Jazz III's for me as well - softer pick on nylon strings sounds and feels right to me.

    jster - maybe in your opinion. Suffice it to say that a lot of people will disagree with your assertions. I'm one of those people.

    "1) The timbre still far surpasses that of electric guitars........

    ....And if you don't listen to them for a long period of time, you'll find that that is exactly what they sound like. Imagine if all the great jazz bassists played electric bass, all the great drummers played synth drums, all the great keyboard players played synths, and all the great sax players played EWIs. I think you have to agree that that would totally suck. But guitarists think that everybody else is supposed to tolerate their electronic crap."

    In my opinion (which is what all of these are, including yours, so please don't tell me I have to agree, as I really don't have to do anything of the kind), there is no comparison; I view them as requiring completely different approaches which enables me to keep an open mind. Maybe you should try that.

  17. #16

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    Somebody can have an open mind and a strong opinion. Sorry, if it upsets you. But I've actually listened to and played electric guitars for decades. My mind couldn't be more open. But I have come to really dislike the sound and I have come to agree with Keith Jarrett. So go ahead and call him "closed-minded" too. I would never have thought to put the point as strongly as he does. And if you actually want people to "open" their minds, then try not attacking them, but rather just sticking to what they actually say. And I'm also sorry to inform you that your ad-hominem rebuttal is so generic that it could be used in defense of Justin Bieber. Doesn't his music require a "different approach"? Rather than take up the matter that almost all of the world's greatest music is acoustic, you would rather feign indignation over my use of the expression "I think you[one] have to agree..."? Too funny.

  18. #17

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    You don't upset me. I'm disagreeing with your opinion - which is why I said "Some people will disagree with your assertions. I'm one of them" - and also with your didactic expression "I think you have to agree". So what happens now? No soup for me?

    Keith Jarrett - I once heard from a bandmate who attended a Jarrett solo concert that he turned on a poor woman in the audience who had the misfortune to have a cough while Jarrett was playing. I'd call him an arse for that kind of behaviour, but would I call him closed-minded for the stuff that he comes out with about electronics? Probably, yeah. Just because he's a well-known musician doesn't mean someone retired and made him Pope.

    Defending Justin Bieber? Why not? He's not my cup of tea, at all. However, lots of people like him and he's still as entitled to be out there doing what he does as Keith Jarrett is to be doing what he does. (I own two Keith Jarrett records, though none by Justin Bieber). Yes, he takes a different approach to music, though not one that I enjoy. Doesn't mean that I'm going to be condescending about him. Big wide world out there, room for all. I'm not going to tell anyone what they have to like or dislike for that matter. That's their/your choice not mine.

    However, my 'different approaches' point related solely to the topic under discussion, i.e. electric vs. acoustic guitars. Again, each with its own place. Not better, not worse, just different.

  19. #18

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    This thread seems to have morphed into two separate threads. I like finger style on nylon string because it sounds great with chords and single lines. I also love both electric and acoustic music; my ears go through phases where I listen over and over to one type of music and them move on to something else entirely in a different tonal range. I don't have such a problem with Keith Jarret's opinion, but he's in a good place because a piano can play soft, but also loud enough to keep up with a horn and drummer. My beloved nylon string is just not loud enough on its own to do that.

  20. #19

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    Has anyone mentioned Wedgies? They are hard rubber like picks which give a flesh like tone on metal strings. I would be interested to see what the results would be with a classical. Unfortunately, my Paracho made classical is in the pawn at the moment. :-(

  21. #20

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    Yeh, I just have a little difficulty with walking into the guitar shop and telling the sales assistanet that I want a Wedgie............

  22. #21

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    I play flamenco and also teach jazz guitar on nylon and steel. I started using Sharkskin picks on a loop and found them comfortable as one can use fingerstyle and play single notes at speed. However for true picado tone fingers are best. I am no Paco Di Lucia. Paco di Rubbish possibly.

  23. #22

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    Has anyone found a way to lessen the 'click' that the pick makes when hitting a vibrating string (esp the 2nd and 3rd strings)?
    It is I think unique to nylons strings + picks and does sound pretty dreadful.

  24. #23

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    Aidybop said; "It is I think unique to nylons strings + picks and does sound pretty dreadful." Willie Nelson's been doing it for years. It gives him a unique and not all together unpleasant tone. Not for me, but Willie's fans seem to like it. ;-)
    add-Got my classical back! Whoop! Now I just need to do a little gluing on the dried up binding!

  25. #24

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    JD Jazz III 205 or 206.
    They produce the same tone that I do my best with my fingers (flesh w/ perfectly shaped & polished nail).

  26. #25

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    My experience with picks & nylon strings has been the heavier the better, all the heavies mentioned here plus the stone jobbies and golden gate (triangular rounded edge) & similar. I use Odessa picks almost exclusively, these are very heavy nylon standard pick-shape, because I bought a huge bag of them 20 years ago when I was playing almost exclusively steel string pick style. They sound great on steel or nylon. These days I play mostly nylon strings and fingerstyle, but there are times when a pick works better for reasons mentioned above and others.

  27. #26

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    Keith Jarrett is certainly eccentric, though brilliant. As I recall he played a lot of electric piano and organ with Miles Davis back in the day, maybe he's reformed since then? (Actually I just found the article where he discusses it and calls electric instruments toys: http://jazztimes.com/articles/14383-...tt-whisper-not)

    Re' electric guitar, it is really a different instrument from acoustic in so many ways, kind of like a pipe organ is different from a piano.

    I saw John McLaughlin live when he was playing his Belo Horizonte stuff--sat about 20 feet from him--it's unbelievable how fast he played that nylon string. He has discussed his instrument choices in several articles of course. Check out the YouTube video of him playing Cherokee with the Tonight Show band--just blows the place apart. I liked his acoustic stuff, not so crazy about his heavily modded or synthesized sounds, actually prefer him playing a 335 or similar standard electric, ala Electric Guitarist and Electric Dreams.

    I played with a pick when I had a hybrid nylon string with a narrow nut, but on a standard neck I think fingerpicking works better--not so natural to maneuver the pick around all that real estate.