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  1. #1

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    Hi. I've had this on my mind a few months now. I came to this category and saw a ton of fingerpicking posts; I even answered one from "Yonathan"..
    I always thought, since the the mid 1950s, that the steel stringed archtop jazz guitar is a plectrum operated instrument, being related to the old Italian mandolins in this way. Nowadays, unless I have been wrong all along; and that I just never noticed all the arch-toppers using fingers way back then, there seems to be a sea change happening in this respect; that plectrum picking is becoming obsolete. Is this true ? And if so, why then don't we all just use classical guitars to play jazz, since the nylon is much more user-friendly to our picking-hand ? It goes without saying that there certainly are a ton of CGs with cutaways and on-board electronics..Yes, velocity seems to be hindered on CGs. But I believe there are flatwound CG strings... I could go on and on. But I think you know what i'm getting at. I was just watching some Joe Diorio vids and man does he do some A1 things with that pick. In fact, it oozes of archtop jazz, the way I commonly thought it to be..One thing I'm aware of is that there seems to be more emphasis on integrating walking bass into our numbers. That, of course, does need finger-picking. But again, then why not on nylon stringed guitars ?
    This is not a rant or a complaint. It's more a curiosity in the 'why and why not' department.. Would love your explanations....
    Last edited by MarkInLA; 04-06-2016 at 08:18 PM.

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  3. #2

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    First time I hear about it. I don't see too many fingerpicking archtop players around in my neck of the woods.

  4. #3

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    Well, you can see great YouTube videos of Pasqual Grasso and Andy Brown playing great fingerstyle jazz on archtops. Joe Pass, Chet Atkins, Lenny Breau, George Van Eps and Ron Eschete, among others, all played archtops fingerstyle, some with a thumbpick and some without. There are probably a bunch of others that I am not thinking of offhand.

    I don't think it's new nor a trend. Just a different way to approach the instrument with its own utility. I use both approaches at different times and also hybrid picking.

  5. #4

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    I'm saying in general. I don't see any trend of abandoning plectrum all of sudden. There is always a small percent of jazz guitarists who used fingerstyle, of course. Now, hybrid picking, that's different, I use it too. It's a great skill to learn for any guitarist IMO.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive
    I'm saying in general. I don't see any trend of abandoning plectrum all of sudden. There is always a small percent of jazz guitarists who used fingerstyle, of course. Now, hybrid picking, that's different, I use it too. It's a great skill to learn for any guitarist IMO.
    Pasquale Grasso uses hybrid picking like no one I've seen. He studied classical guitar as well as the flat picking of Chuck Wayne.

    Another great hybrid picker that is far less known and should be greater known is Christopher Woitach, from Portland Oregon .

  7. #6

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    I prefer a thumb and finger style of playing....like Jim Mullen. I very rarely use a pick.

  8. #7

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    I do what the piece calls for. Some chord melody tunes are far too difficult for me to use a plectrum or hybrid style, so I've been working a lot on fingerstyle playing recently. But if I'm working through a Pat Martino tune for instance, plectrum all the way.

  9. #8

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    I do feel like playing exclusively plectrum style has gone by the wayside. But I guess with the dark tone many typical electric jazz guitarists use it's hard to tell anyway IMO. I play only plectrum style, but on acoustic. I just never had interest in finger style playing at all. I don't like the tone and I don't like the feel. But there are things you can only do with finger style and vise-versa. I can understand wanting to have both skills. It's easier in many ways. I always like to think about george van eps and how much more powerful his plectrum playing was compared to his later finger style stuff. That's what I want. The power and tone of a plectrum on an acoustic archtop is unbeatable to me.

  10. #9
    destinytot Guest
    Interesting.

    As well as gazing at stars, sometimes I find myself hearing guitars - played finger style. I love the sound of flesh (not nails) picking nylon-strung acoustic, and small comping chords plucked with fingers on electric.

    But on acoustic archtop, it"s got be plectrum. I think picking is alive and well.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by dcharles
    I do feel like playing exclusively plectrum style has gone by the wayside.
    oh, that's just great....not only is my style stuck in the 50s and my tone a throwback to the days before amplifiers

    ...but now even the way I play everything with a pick has gone by the wayside???



    you kids with your chorus pedals, whacky modes and hybrid picking are driving me nuts!

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nate Miller
    oh, that's just great....not only is my style stuck in the 50s and my tone a throwback to the days before amplifiers

    ...but now even the way I play everything with a pick has gone by the wayside???



    you kids with your chorus pedals, whacky modes and hybrid picking are driving me nuts!
    All jokes aside, I have a huge respect for people who can hybrid pick correctly with fluency at tempo.

    I need to improve on it big time, it's my worst weakness. I've analyzed why this is: it's because it relies on the weakest parts of fingerpicking ----(1) the M and A ( there is a reason why lines are just usually played with P and I ot I and M)--- The dexterity is not as great because they're connected to the same joint; as someone said, "Man, your I & M and P & I will completely blow up big time if you practice the shit out of the M&A ; (2) in order to get 4 note voicings, you need the C as well. The C is the least untillized finger in fingerpicking. Often, it's not even used it all. Hell, I don't even think I have nails on my C.


    Thus, it's hard because it relies on the weakest links of the right-hand.

    I have been setting aside one half hour of each day to practice and improve one very important technical and musical concept; right now, I spent 30 minutes each day first thing in the morning practicing right hand Rasgeados on a nylon.

    I really feel I should add another 30 minutes of daily practice doing nothing but hybrid picking .

    Given that I am now up to six hours of practice per day, that's still thankful he will be five hours for the important stuff.

  13. #12

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    six hours a days is very good. A lot of guys don't have that kind of endurance.

    and all kidding aside...I play classical guitar, so I actually have a right hand that's pretty functional

    but what to do with the pick? That's the classic question for guitar players. I do sometimes resort to the hybrid picking where I'm really only using my "m" and "a" fingers.

    The best solution to that problem I ever saw was Joe Pass playing solo. He kept his pick in his mouth when he was doing fingerstyle, and then whenever he reached for his mouth to grab the pick he was about to let 'er rip.

    The thing about that that struck me was just how natural he was. Like he'd been doing that all his life (which I'm sure he had)

    but I've also learned how to do a lot of things with a pick because when I play with my trio I rarely use finger style picking. That is mostly because we are a "hot" jazz combo, so the plectrum picking style fits better

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nate Miller
    six hours a days is very good. A lot of guys don't have that kind of endurance.

    and all kidding aside...I play classical guitar, so I actually have a right hand that's pretty functional

    but what to do with the pick? That's the classic question for guitar players. I do sometimes resort to the hybrid picking where I'm really only using my "m" and "a" fingers.

    The best solution to that problem I ever saw was Joe Pass playing solo. He kept his pick in his mouth when he was doing fingerstyle, and then whenever he reached for his mouth to grab the pick he was about to let 'er rip.

    The thing about that that struck me was just how natural he was. Like he'd been doing that all his life (which I'm sure he had)

    but I've also learned how to do a lot of things with a pick because when I play with my trio I rarely use finger style picking. That is mostly because we are a "hot" jazz combo, so the plectrum picking style fits better
    Joe was a very close friend of my teachers. He lent Joe one of his 7 strings, thinking that Joe would be a complete natural to play the instrument, because most of the time he played finger style ( except, as you say, executing certain lines with the pick).

    After several months, Joe gave the guitar back, saying that he couldn't play the seven string because he would have to relearn a lot of things in terms of the system he developed in playing the instrument. He was happy playing six strings .

  15. #14

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    I don't see any trend nor do I think pick style is obsolete, in fact the way I see it, the vast majority of today's jazz guitar players are primarily pick players. I myself swapped over to all finger-style due to a hand injury and since jazz chord melody, classical guitar and flamenco are genres that I play or want to learn, dropping the pick for me was the way to go.

    Martin Taylor who is a great fingerstyle player and can walk a bass line like no one else still uses a pick for fast passages. The number of fingerstyle jazz players who can approach a pick player in speed and variation are very few in number.

    One who can do it is a member of this group.

    Last edited by rob taft; 04-06-2016 at 06:20 PM.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkInLA
    Hi. I've had this on my mind a few months now. I came to this category and saw a ton of fingerpicking posts; I even answered one from "Yonathan"..
    I always thought, since the the mid 1950s, that the steel stringed archtop jazz guitar is a plectrum operated instrument, being related to the old Italian mandolins in this way. Nowadays, unless I have been wrong all along; and that I just never noticed all the arch-toppers using fingers way back then, there seems to be a sea change happening in this respect; that plectrum picking is becoming obsolete. Is this true ? And if so, why then don't we all just use classical guitars to play jazz, since the nylon is much more user-friendly to our picking-hand ? It goes without saying that there certainly are a ton of CGs with cutaways and on-board electronics..Yes, velocity seems to be hindered on CGs. But I believe there are flatwound CG strings... I could go on and on. But I think you know what i'm getting at. I was just watching some Joe Diorio vids and man does he do some A1 things with that pick. In fact, it oozes of archtop jazz, the way I commonly thought it to be..One thing I'm aware of is that there seems to be more emphasis on integrating walking bass into our numbers. That, of course, does need finger-picking. But again, then why not on nylon stringed guitars ?
    This is not a rant or a complaint. It's more a curiosity in the 'why and why not' department.. Would love your explanations....
    Nah, I don't think so. Most people I know are pick players, and (I'm sure some will disagree) I think it's harder to play jazz lines convincingly with fingers.

    Also I think Joe Pass thumb and fingers walking bass sounds a bit cliche for duo stuff now. I like what Peter Bernstein does in these situations and he uses a pick.

    Many people hybrid picking though. I would say that's the new thing.

  17. #16

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    Question about display: Why is my opening post (OP) at bottom of thread now ?? Why is "christianm77" the first post ? How did this happen ?... Mark (of course THIS thread now is at top of his )....
    Last edited by MarkInLA; 04-07-2016 at 07:51 PM.