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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 1:51 pm 
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CiaranOC wrote:
Mike;

How do you play a triplet at the start of a jig bar? Is it DUD_D D_U_D or DUD_U D_U_D?

Unfortunately, I'm relatively new to ITM. I've only worked on two double jigs ("Swallow Tail" and "Morrison's"), one slip jig ("Ryan's", I think it is), and one single jig ("Road to Lisdoonvarna").

In the versions I play, there are no triplets at all.

Can you point me at one or two more that have triplets like that?

CiaranOC also wrote:
My experience, for what it's worth, is that if you want to develop quick triplets you will need to tighten your grip on those thin picks. Use picks which are very elastic and snap back quickly (like Dunlop Tortex 0.5mm - the red ones) and not ones that take time to spring back (like the grey Dunlops). In using a loose grip the pick is rotating in/with your fingers and consequently it is out of position for the next note. This is why it's slipping around and stalling and snagging. Unfortunately this will only get worse with increased speed.

If you can hold the pick really tight at right angles to the string and try to get the pick to bend and do the work rather than your grip rotating and doing the work, you will end up with crisp triplets and much less snagging and slipping. I know that after years of using your existing grip this may be easier said than done, but it's well worth giving it a go.

Be careful, though. A tight grip shouldn't become a tense grip.

I started looking at my pick grip, and most of the time it reminds me of the unbreakable finger circle that we were taught in Aikido. It's tight, but at the same time relaxed. The tightness doesn't interfere with the flexibility of my wrist and forearm.

It's kind of a mental trick--one of those things where your body knows how to do something if only your conscious intentions don't interfere with it. What it really involves is that only a few muscles may be needed to hold the pick tightly, but we tend to use adjacent muscles that don't contribute much to the process. At the extreme of this approach, we may tighten our entire hand and forearm.

If this doesn't make sense to you, try this (without your instrument):

Hold the pick in the normal way, but pretty loosely, so that you can use your other hand to rotate it.

Then, gently pull at the pick with your other hand, while letting your pick hand index finger and thumb tighten only enough to keep the pick from sliding out of your grasp. Then relax and do it again several times. Each time, try to get more and more of the feeling that your finger and thumb are tightening their grip on their own, until it feels like you aren't doing anything at all--but the pick won't easily slip out of your grasp.

Once you get the hang of this, you can tighten your grip quite a bit to really drive the pick through the strings for accents without seriously increasing the overall tension in your hand and forearm.

I used to play with almost completely inflexible picks, like the Clayton Ultem 1.20 mm, and the only way to get any speed on a guitar with medium-gauge strings was to have a very flexible grip.

Quote:
Slipping picks are always a problem with speed and perspiration. A couple of tricks that work include sanding the grip part with rough sandpaper or gluing on some sand.

I just spent about an hour trying different picks with guitar, mandolin, and banjo, and looking at how various picks can gradually rotate in your grip.

It turns out that, for me, the pick shape and thickness aren't very relevant to that particular problem. Instead, it's the angle at which the pick strikes the strings. I like to have the edge farthest from the bridge hit the string first on the downstroke. The other edge hits first on the upstroke. Because my downstrokes, on average, are stronger than my upstrokes, the tip is gradually driven toward the bridge.

My picks with the wide strip of rubber band contact-cemented to them totally solve this problem. Neither the .73 mm teardrop nor the 1.20 mm big triangle slip at all, even playing really hard and fast with slightly sweaty fingers. Gorilla Snot might work as well, but I've never tried it.

I also tried having the pick hit the strings absolutely flat, and even fairly slick picks didn't rotate at all. This also tends to produce a louder, cripser sound with any pick. However, I don't find the hand position for this attack comfortable, and it seems a little slower for me. Still, I think I'll work with it as another way of changing timbre.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 9:33 pm 
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Mike;

You could put in that triplet at the start of the first bar of Morrison's as an ornament. Instead of E_D_E B_A_B| try EEE_E B_A_B|. It's not real pretty but it gets the idea across.

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A tight grip shouldn't become a tense grip.
- Agreed completely. Many start off with the pick held between the tips of the thumb and index finger. The force required to keep the pick in place is much greater and results in slipping picks and cramps at the base of the thumb. I find that holding the pick firmly between the pad of the thumb and the side of the index finger works best for me. Definitely tight but relaxed is the key.

I like the rubber band idea - gotta try that one. I get away without much slipping because my light picks (0.5mm) tend to curve around the profile of my thumb and I hit the strings as flat as possible (to get the timbre I'm looking for). From the sound of your grip and the angle of attack, I'd imaging that your pick sort of slides and bends over the string simultaneously whereas my pick purely bends over the strings. This way I can use a very firm grip and let the pick do the work as my thumb stays the same distance from the string at all times. Using my grip, I wouldn't get away with playing triplets with a heavy pick without snags though. This is also the reason I need a pick that springs back quickly, as it has to bends a lot more than if I had more angled attack. Another classic example of 'each to their own' though. If it works and it produces the sound you're after then it must be good.


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Ciaran


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 10:35 pm 
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CiaranOC wrote:
Mike;

You could put in that triplet at the start of the first bar of Morrison's as an ornament. Instead of E_D_E B_A_B| try EEE_E B_A_B|. It's not real pretty but it gets the idea across.

In that case, definitely:

EEE_E B_A_B
DUD_D D_U_D

I tried putting the triplet in place of the second and third notes, and was expecting this to feel right:

E_EEE B_A_B
D_UDU D_U_D

However, for some reason, this feels better:

E_EEE B_A_B
D_DUD D_U_D

So much for having a universal theory.

One reason why multiple downstrokes are fairly easy for me may be that I've been working for about seven years on all-downstroke Bluegrass backup. I'm still not entirely upstroke-free, but I'm a lot better at than when I first started.

Quote:
I like the rubber band idea - gotta try that one.

The ones I use come off of bunches fresh broccoli and are a bit over 1/4" wide. I prefer red ones to the blue ones, because they make it much easier to spot a Clayton gold when you drop it on a tan carpet.

I use a needle to mark lines where the contact cement goes, and pre-cut the rubber band as closely as possible, then apply the cement between the lines and gently press the rubber band into place while it's still wet. After it dries, I trim the ends of the rubber band with an Xacto knife if necessary.

After a couple of years, the rubber band will harden to the point that you'll probably want to scrape it off and apply a new one.

Quote:
I get away without much slipping because my light picks (0.5mm) tend to curve around the profile of my thumb and I hit the strings as flat as possible (to get the timbre I'm looking for). From the sound of your grip and the angle of attack, I'd imaging that your pick sort of slides and bends over the string simultaneously whereas my pick purely bends over the strings.

Actually, even the .73 mm doesn't bend very much.

Quote:
This way I can use a very firm grip and let the pick do the work as my thumb stays the same distance from the string at all times. Using my grip, I wouldn't get away with playing triplets with a heavy pick without snags though.

I wonder. My Clayon 1.20 mm big triangle had a square edge and the entire surface was sort of frosted when I got it. In addition to the rubber band trick, I beveled the edges with a fingernail file, then polished the edges and about a half-inch of the tip, using red jeweler's rouge. Even hitting the strings at a full 90 degrees, it glides over them very smoothly.

The reason I've been experimenting with .73 mm and .94 mm picks is that I want a brighter sound for the large Bluegrass jam sessions that I'm going to these days. When you're up against two banjos, three mandolins, a fiddle, a dobro, and five guitars--most of whom have no concept of backing off to hear the soloist, you need all the help you can get. (Handguns not being permitted.)

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