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  1. #1

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    Anyone else prefer comping fingerstyle instead of a pick for jazz? I use a pick for all my solos, but prefer comping with my RH fingers for almost everything.

    It'd be fine but seems like I'm always having to reach for a pick when I'm getting ready to solo. I do a lot of hybrid picking in other styles.

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  3. #2

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    I do hybrid picking for bossas and the like, sometimes ballads. But i like to strum with a pick in most cases, finger plucking can sound too anemic to me, doesnt drive enough.

  4. #3
    I have a lot of volume with my right hand(years of playing classical and some occasional bass gigs). It's not a volume thing. I think it's a dampening and control thing.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by DS71 View Post
    I have a lot of volume with my right hand(years of playing classical and some occasional bass gigs). It's not a volume thing. I think it's a dampening and control thing.
    No, it's not a volume, it's more of intensity issue. If you want to drive the band, strumming sounds better, at least for me. Plucking is always kind of delicate sound, works for mellow music. Unless you're Albert Collins, of course

  6. #5

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    I don't use a pick at all. I never liked having to pinch a piece of thin material to play. I sometimes envy players who play well using a pick, but I also think that you can get similar results using just your fingers and thumb.

  7. #6
    My picking and timing are 2 of my strong points. I think I just like to Dampen a lot with my fingers as I accent different parts of the beat. Also the type of chords.

  8. #7

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    strumming flamenco-style is pretty powerful as far as driving a band goes, but is better on nylon strings.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz View Post
    strumming flamenco-style is pretty powerful as far as driving a band goes, but is better on nylon strings.
    Holey moley I would never even attempt rasgueados on a steel string. It would sound bad, too.
    Navdeep Singh.

  10. #9

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    Yeah, I'm mostly pick for solo, fingers for comping. For what it's worth, it is a softer sound.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by JazzinNY View Post
    Yeah, I'm mostly pick for solo, fingers for comping. For what it's worth, it is a softer sound.
    I am, as well

  12. #11

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    I use hybrid picking (pick and fingers). This helps me separate the bass from the harmonies and I feel that I have more control over the volume. However, when I play swing style (chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp, four on the floor type tunes) I use a pick.


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  13. #12

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    Fingerstyle allows me melodic lines inside of a chordal comping, using arpeggiated non linear patterns to break up the effect (alternating every other string, and other things like that), and the voicings possible are huge. For more driving rhythmic stuff, I strum with the nails perpendicular to the strings, as a group.

    But as everything, you develop with your given resources and always look for options that augment your chosen approach.

    David

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by JazzinNY View Post
    Yeah, I'm mostly pick for solo, fingers for comping. For what it's worth, it is a softer sound.
    Same here (but using just the thumb for comping). Now I play mostly just duets with either another guitar player or piano player; with another guitar player using just the thumb for comping does damping the sound allowing the soloist to cut through.

    With a piano player it depends on the song; Since the piano player has a left hand, I use a pick to just stress the rhythm. But for some songs like ballads, I'll finger chords that the piano player can 'play over \ around'.

  15. #14

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    One thing I have never experimented with but is occasionally at the back of my mind is the application of the heavily accentuated fingerstyles of traditional folk players like Martin Carthy and Martin Simpson.

    Of course, in the absence of other instruments the strongly percussive side to their picking is there to provide rythm.... but there are some aspects that are almost slap bass in their effect.

    How this could be transported into a jazz context and with which other instruments, raises some very interesting questions....

    Anyone tried it? Care to share their experience?

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray175 View Post
    One thing I have never experimented with but is occasionally at the back of my mind is the application of the heavily accentuated fingerstyles of traditional folk players like Martin Carthy and Martin Simpson.

    Of course, in the absence of other instruments the strongly percussive side to their picking is there to provide rythm.... but there are some aspects that are almost slap bass in their effect.

    How this could be transported into a jazz context and with which other instruments, raises some very interesting questions....

    Anyone tried it? Care to share their experience?
    The time feel inherent in the two genres is different, with jazz shunning the stated pulsating beats of many of the Brit isles genres. Where it gets interesting is in the mix, neither one nor the other. Pierre Bensusan loves the improvisational side of solo guitar. His pulse is always strong and regular but it's also looser and more spacious than many of his predecessors which gives him a lyrical sound. The singing scat also helps in finding a very appealing crossover.

    Ralph Towner's soloing approach also defies genre yet shows a lot of the pulse and beat definition in folk genres.

    Michael Hedges also spent time outside of either genre, borrowing and creating his own sound.

    David

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz View Post
    For more driving rhythmic stuff, I strum with the nails perpendicular to the strings, as a group.



    David
    Wow, so you growing nails to do that? Do they break often?? I assume you are talking electric guitar... You have any videos?

  18. #17

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    I use both...I primarily play hybrid, so both sounds are available. The music dictates how I comp.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  19. #18

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    Definitely a style thing, they're just different sounds for different contexts. You can do pick, thumb a la wes, hybrid, all fingerstyle. They all sound different. It's nice to emulate other comping instruments like piano and even copying different pianists lends itself to different right hand approaches. For example if I were to try to comp in a style more like McCoy Tyner I'd probably use the pick and strum/stab chords, ad if I were to comp more like Bill Evans on a ballad I'd probably be using fingerstyle/hybrid.

  20. #19

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    Been hybrid for a little while now for comping. Cool thing, as well as a very challenging thing, is the control you have over the relative volume for each string. Experimenting with nail length and finger tip angles etc, you can coax different blends, accentuating or de accentuating the bottom, middle or tops of chords.

    Hardest for me was getting the pinky to pull it's weight, especially as often it plays the melodic top line in your comping. Years of classical and fingerpicking styles using p-i-m-a is a hard thing to change, particularly if you want to arpeggiate through the chords using the pinky!

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
    Been hybrid for a little while now for comping. Cool thing, as well as a very challenging thing, is the control you have over the relative volume for each string. Experimenting with nail length and finger tip angles etc, you can coax different blends, accentuating or de accentuating the bottom, middle or tops of chords.

    Hardest for me was getting the pinky to pull it's weight, especially as often it plays the melodic top line in your comping. Years of classical and fingerpicking styles using p-i-m-a is a hard thing to change, particularly if you want to arpeggiate through the chords using the pinky!
    I've been transitioning from 100% fingerstyle (PIMA) to hybrid pick and fingers (Pick-MAC). I find that I have better and cleaner control and sound on the bass strings with the pick, and I will often just play lines on the top strings with fingers only and not even use the pick for single note lines.

    The trick is to be able to play the block chords as clean as with PIMA. The *split* vocings (i.e., drop 2 and 4) require greater attention to detail in terms of making sure the chord is heard cleanly, especially the "C" finger (pinky).

    No regrets to transitioning to pick and fingers. Even the arpeggio lines that go across the neck that are *bread and butter* are coming along nicely with the pick and fingers (especially the 2-1-2-1-2-1 Tim Miller arpeggios).


    Pasquale, Pasuale, Pasquale! We all aspire to be like him. Ok, if not him, then Chuck Wayne, then.
    Navdeep Singh.

  22. #21
    Cool. I think I'm going to give the hybrid style a go for a while. I've actually played more classical(and rock) even though jazz is what I'm playing primarily now. But I never used my pinky except for some strums or occasional rasgueado. Have to build it up a bit.

  23. #22

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    I find I am more relaxed using my fingers and play with less reliance on "grips." I find I prefer a guitar with a hotter output for fingerstyle playing and tend to rolloff a bit more treble. But my archtop (floating CC) definitely prefers the pick, whereas my Tele (CC pickup, semi-hollow, maple/mahogany so not a usual Tele) does well with fingers. My Tele with Tele pickups prefers hybrid picking.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by JakeAcci View Post
    if I were to comp more like Bill Evans on a ballad ...
    Whoah! Good luck with that

  25. #24
    Different sounds and styles with a pick, fingers or thumb. Personally though i could never do the hybrid styles of playing with pick and fingers simultaneously, it always felt unnatural, so i tend to fold the pick in hand if i want to switch to fingers

  26. #25

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    I want to revisit this thread.

    Hep said something really interesting and I think we all kinda glossed over it.

    He said that using a pick is more "intensity" and not always about "volume".

    I think that most of us associate comping with fingers as soft and intricate and comping with a pick as loud.

    I just watched another episode of "You'll Hear It" and Peter and Adam were talking about drummers and the importance of dynamics.

    So it got me thinking, if we were to think of our pick in the same way that a master drummer thinks of his sticks--could we play soft, intricate accompaniment with a pick?

    Could you play Bossas with a pick? Didn't Jim Hall do this to some extent with Paul Desmond?

    I know that players like Howard Alden bring out individual notes of a chord by changing pick direction. For instance, playing a down strum and catching a note on the up stroke. Or, highlighting a bass note with an upstroke and playing the rest of the chord with the down stroke.

    I'm a huge Peter Bernstein fan, but I've often ignored his comping--big mistake! He grooves so much with a pick. I know sometimes he uses his fingers--but it's mostly picked.

    You can definitely groove with your fingers, no questions. But the intensity is certainly different with a pick.

    So I'm gonna challenge myself to just play with a pick and no fingers--and still comp the way I usually do. I think I want to revisit the way I strum as well. You all ever notice how a drummer throws the drumstick at whatever he or she is playing and then catches it? I think there's an equivalent with strumming--it's less of a wringing of the wrist and more than just the "pushing" of the strings. I think Peter Bernstein approaches his strum like a drummer approaches his hit. Does that make sense?

    I think the pick affords us more opportunities than we think when it comes to accompaniment.
    Last edited by Irez87; 07-06-2019 at 11:01 AM.

  27. #26

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    There's a video with Jody Foster interviewing Tal Farlow and it was noted that when playing chord melody type things he plays with almost all upstrokes, so as to impart the most energy to the top strings where the melody is. Interesting technique, I've been trying it a little bit.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  28. #27

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    I've heard from some pros that the main case against comping with a pick is that all the notes should 'sound' at the same time, which is kind of impossible with a pick...we can't get that same simultaneous sound that a piano can get and I think piano comping is held out as the point of reference.

    My thoughts are that I've heard enough amazing comping with a pick to feel that any lag in some of the notes 'sounding' is totally acceptable and, personally for me, I appreciate the additional intensity and range that a pick brings to the table. This applies both to me as a player and as a listener. I also feel that comping is more about rhythm than the specific notes...I guess it's really about "feel"...and I think a pick helps achieve that better.

    @Irez87: not sure if you'd agree, but to me it seems that Bernstein is often very subdued/minimal in his comping for pianos (lol probably because inevitably they comp for themselves anyway)...so a great album to check out for some higher-intensity Bernstein comping is Brain Dance where he does not hold back in comping for organ.

  29. #28

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    I love Pete B's work with Bill Stewart and LARRY GOLIDINGS!

    I tried out some pick comping with the triads I've been woodsheding (not necessarily 1 3 5 voicings, just 3 note voicings) and I liked the sound a lot.

    Like I said, if you highlight part of the chord with an up stroke--it sounds nice.

    I've always liked what Howard Alden did here with a pick, watch at 2:30:


  30. #29

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    I love Pete B's work with Bill Stewart and LARRY GOLIDINGS!

    I tried out some pick comping with the triads I've been woodsheding (not necessarily 1 3 5 voicings, just 3 note voicings) and I liked the sound a lot.

    Like I said, if you highlight part of the chord with an up stroke--it sounds nice.

    I've always liked what Howard Alden did here with a pick, watch at 2:30:



    I dunno, but playing an archtop with a good pick (I play with the Jazz BC 80) has a sound that I really like. The pick pulls the sound out of the guitar and projects it into the air differently than fingers alone. There's some great players that really take advantage of playing with fingers. A recent example would be Sid Jacobs--but he plays some mean classical guitar as well. But I still think that a pick pulls the sound out of an archtop better than fingers alone. But, that's just my opinion. I see this "pick only" as a challenge. Maybe I'll go back to using my fingers to comp, but I want to see how far I can go with a pick-a-roni.

  31. #30

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    I played another jam session today. I began by going back to my habit of comping with my fingers--BUT, I caught myself. Remember, I said I would try comping only with a pick--indefinitely.

    I switched back to the pick and I was glad I did. All the horn players at the session were called to the stage for a blues. It got LOUD. So I comped with a pick. I did the same for Invitation--damn that form is confusing during the solos... Anyway, playing everything with my pick forced me to focus on my groove. You can definitely groove with your fingers, but you can also get away with playing pretty harmonies that float. With a pick, by design (almost), you are forced to commit to some sort of rhythm.

    Plus, when you dig in with a pick (and your guitar is setup to allow you to dig in--I learned that 2 years ago when I opted to get jumbo frets--my Eastman didn't have those before) it just sounds different than when you dig in with fingers. When you lock in with the drummer and do that snap with your strums in just the right way... it feels so groovy that you wanna dance (I almost ended up dancing to the groove we all setup as a band).

    Looking at the other side. Lenny Breau was a harmony monster and he used his fingers. Ted Green, he used his fingers and he used his pick as well. Steve Herberman can groove like it's no one's business with his fingers. But when I'm at a jam and things get loud, I think playing harmony with a pick can be more... I dunno... useful?

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87 View Post
    But when I'm at a jam and things get loud, I think playing harmony with a pick can be more... I dunno... useful?
    Or, you'll learn that the sound you want to get, makes you sound more like....you.

  33. #32

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    that's true too.

    COSMIC, how are you?!?

    I see the alfalfa is still sticking up like a weather vein.


  34. #33

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    Just wanted to say that this thread made me learn to hold my pick between two fingers and switch back and forth between fingerstyle and pick. First thing I got from this forum that I can actually use right away

  35. #34

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    Got my thinking.

    Before I left for Washington State, I really wanted to take a lesson with Jonathan Stout--but I didn't know what I wanted to focus on.

    Now I have an idea--his right hand. The way he approaches the strings when he strums.