Pick size

Help for new mountain dulcimer players of all ages!

Pick size

Postby CathyA » Mon Aug 07, 2017 11:17 pm

Can anyone tell me what size a pick I should use? I am a really new beginner and have heard conflicting reports on pick sizes.
Thick or thin?
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Re: Pick size

Postby Judy K » Tue Aug 08, 2017 12:21 am

Cathy, the best way to find your right sized pick is to try several until one feels and sounds "right". I started with thinner picks because that was what "they" said was right. It took awhile but my favorite pick is a D'Andrea delrin pick, 1.14mm thick. The type of music you want to play on the dulcimer also plays into pick thickness. I play chord/melody, mainly in a flat-picking style. I've heard that playing noter/drone style usually takes a thinner pick with/for more flexibility.

I have a bunch of different picks in a 'unused' box. If you would like a free sampler pack of various thicknesses, send me a PM.
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Re: Pick size

Postby KenH » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:16 am

In general most beginners start with a thinner pick; most advanced players gravitate to thicker picks. Some of us traditional noter&drone players use an elongated 'plectrum style pick -- an oval say 2"-3" long and 1/2" or so wide. I use old credit cards to make such plectrums.

The biggest factors are how rigidly you hold the pick -- both the pinch of the fingers and how stiffly you hold it in relation to the strings. Don't "white knuckle" the pick, and have only 1/2" or less sticking out of your fingers.

Pick thickness? I don't personally care for a pick as thick as 1mm, but .75mm are just fine for me; I control the stiffness by how and how hard I grip the pick.
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Re: Pick size

Postby dholeton » Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:23 pm

For my box dulcimer that I tune DAA most of the time I use a Dunlop Tortex Teardrop Jazz Flatpick. It seems that the pick is cut so that one side plays the strings sharper and with more clarity than the other side. I'm not sure if the same picks are cut in the same way today such that a different tone is provided holding the pick one way versus the opposite way. My strumming pattern with this pick does not usually strum across all strings but emphasizes the melody string and picks the middle and bass strings as needed.

For all of my other dulcimers I use a Fender medium pick and I cut the pick so that very little extends beyond my thumb. It took a while to settle on the Fender trimmed pick, the Dunlop pick was an accidental discovery. I also use Fender medium picks for my guitars. I trim the picks to make them slightly more pointed. I found trimming the picks reduced pick clack.

It took a while for me to settle on picks that produced the sound I wanted to produce.

Dave
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Re: Pick size

Postby CathyA » Thu Aug 10, 2017 11:44 pm

Thank you so much for all the information. You all have sure given me a lot to think over.
You would think that something so small wouldn't cause me so much grief.
Thanks again
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Re: Pick size

Postby KenH » Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:52 am

Don't "let it cause you grief" -- use what you have and get familiar with it. In the meantime, pick up a few others -- heavier and lighter -- and when you figure out what you like/don't like about that first pick, then try something else to see if it 'fixes' the problem.
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