Pick Wear

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Pick Wear

Postby bret » Sun Dec 31, 2017 7:50 pm

I've noticed that the Herdim pick I've been using for a couple months has started to pick up some wear. Just wondering if this is normal and if the wear pattern is normal. Here's what it currently looks like. The flip side is worn the same, but on the opposite side.

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Re: Pick Wear

Postby KenH » Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:06 pm

How old are your strings? When is the last time you lubricated them. That looks like wear from old, dead, rusty strings...
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Re: Pick Wear

Postby bret » Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:11 pm

They came with the dulcimer - about 6 weeks ago. They don't seem to be rusty or showing wear yet :)

I've never heard of lubricating strings. :shock: Granted I'm only really familiar with violin and that wouldn't work with rosin. Is that a thing for dulcimers/guitars?
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Re: Pick Wear

Postby bret » Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:15 pm

Here's a picture of the strings for reference:

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Re: Pick Wear

Postby GrantOlson » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:31 am

How hard do you strum and do you strum over the strum hollow?
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Re: Pick Wear

Postby KenH » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:45 am

Yes, lubricating strings, both for rust abatement and to make them more slippery is common. FastFret and Dr Duck's Axe Wax (not really a wax) are two well known products, but dozens more ... Search under Musical Instrument String Lubricants

At second glance Grant may be on to something. That looks like you are using the edge of the pick, not the flat; and if you're not strumming over the strum hollow you may have the pick "too deep" to the point it is scraping on the fretboard or on the edge of a fret itself. There's no way that pick should show that much wear, even after a year of play!
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Re: Pick Wear

Postby Banjimer » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:56 am

This type of wear is normal. You should have several spare picks on hand because they do wear out. They even break at times.

You have a piece of plastic striking a metal string. With friction at work the picks will begin to show wear. The wear itself is informative, because it shows you how the pick is making contact with the strings. The pick is normally angled slightly when contacting the strings. The wear is indicative of which edge of the pick is striking the string first.

On a related note, a clawhammer banjo player strikes the strings with the back of one or more of the fingernails. The fingernail experiences the same wear as your pick. Some clawhammer players even resort to gluing on fake fingernails that can be replaced as they wear out.
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Re: Pick Wear

Postby Dusty Turtle » Tue Jan 02, 2018 2:48 pm

It is totally normal for a pick to show signs of wear. SOme materials might withstand being smacked against metal strings better than others, but all will show signs of wear.

I met a gentleman once who was offered to give me flatpicking lessons on the guitar, and the first thing he did was examine one of my used picks. He said the wear could tell him if my technique was "correct" or not. I also heard of a professional dulcimer player who uses one of those expensive Blue Chip picks that cost like $30 or $40 for a single one. They come with a lifetime warrantee, and when she sent one back for some reason they offered to replace it and asked if she wanted them to recreate her "right-hand bevel."

In short, it is totally normal for a pick to wear like that. If you are good at not losing picks, you will find that eventually the point is too worn down and you need a new pick. I usually lose them before it gets to that point.
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Re: Pick Wear

Postby bret » Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:32 pm

KenH wrote:Yes, lubricating strings, both for rust abatement and to make them more slippery is common. FastFret and Dr Duck's Axe Wax (not really a wax) are two well known products, but dozens more ... Search under Musical Instrument String Lubricants


I looked into FastFret a bit. It seems to be an optional thing, but I'll give it a try. I'd say these strings are holding up about as I'd expect though. They don't seem to have taken a lot of damage yet. Do you know if FastFret can damage the string coating? I know with violin strings I was told by a couple people to not be too aggressive wiping strings down as it can rub the protective coatings off.

KenH wrote:At second glance Grant may be on to something. That looks like you are using the edge of the pick, not the flat; and if you're not strumming over the strum hollow you may have the pick "too deep" to the point it is scraping on the fretboard or on the edge of a fret itself.


I definitely don't play over the strum hollow! The strings are quite stiff there and it takes a lot more push the pick through. I can definitely feel the individual strings as it goes over them, almost like it's stiff enough to grab them. I usually strum around the 10th/11th fret unless I'm fretting there. It seems to have a nicer tone strumming in that area. Strumming closer to the bridge, it doesn't sound as nice.
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Re: Pick Wear

Postby bret » Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:41 pm

Dusty Turtle wrote:It is totally normal for a pick to show signs of wear. SOme materials might withstand being smacked against metal strings better than others, but all will show signs of wear.

I met a gentleman once who was offered to give me flatpicking lessons on the guitar, and the first thing he did was examine one of my used picks. He said the wear could tell him if my technique was "correct" or not. I also heard of a professional dulcimer player who uses one of those expensive Blue Chip picks that cost like $30 or $40 for a single one. They come with a lifetime warrantee, and when she sent one back for some reason they offered to replace it and asked if she wanted them to recreate her "right-hand bevel."

In short, it is totally normal for a pick to wear like that. If you are good at not losing picks, you will find that eventually the point is too worn down and you need a new pick. I usually lose them before it gets to that point.


Banjimer wrote:This type of wear is normal. You should have several spare picks on hand because they do wear out. They even break at times.

You have a piece of plastic striking a metal string. With friction at work the picks will begin to show wear. The wear itself is informative, because it shows you how the pick is making contact with the strings. The pick is normally angled slightly when contacting the strings. The wear is indicative of which edge of the pick is striking the string first.

On a related note, a clawhammer banjo player strikes the strings with the back of one or more of the fingernails. The fingernail experiences the same wear as your pick. Some clawhammer players even resort to gluing on fake fingernails that can be replaced as they wear out.


Thanks to both of your for those insights. It makes sense to me that there would be some wear. Thinking about it, the nylon is pretty soft and it's hitting the metal strings over and over.

Playing with the pick a bit, it does seem the wear is where it contacts the strings when I'm strumming. I noticed I hold the pick at about a 45 degree angle so more of the side hits the strings than just the point. (By 45 degrees I mean that Instead of the point of the pick pointing straight down, it's about 45 degrees turned toward the head/tuners).

I don't know if there's a right wrong way to do it, but that seems to be what I'm naturally inclined to do.
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