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Joey Vellucci / Blog

Pick the right guitar pick

Something so often overlooked is the guitar pick and it's effect on sound and tone of your guitar.. Guitar picks or plectrums are made these days of many different materials. Some are made of plastic, some of celluloid, some of nylon, graphite, wood, bone, shell, metal and man made materials. These all have a different type of sound when you play the guitar... I will break it down and explain my results: Standard Medium picks - I always keep a couple in my pocket. I am using at this time a Gibson ES 339 guitar with 10 guage strings..I play many different styles of music and like to really play some syncopated ryth. parts...this pick is my first choice for that as it really lets the strings ring out clearly. It is also perfect for playing finger picked style chords that ring nicely. It is also a great choice for chicken picking, country twang, funky ryth. etc.. Keep a couple in your pocket on the gig for when you need that kind of sound. YOU wont miss your Fender guitar if your a Gibson guy and need that clear type of ryth. sound.. Standard Heavy Picks - When I really need precision this is the pick I grab...the heavy pick will round off the top end of your sound and make a very smooth, fat , round tone....this is also the pick I use when I want to play chord melody style guitar , jazz chords or with overdrive it will really make the guitar sing with a vocal quality to it... Pick Materials - I have found that the Dunlop orange or red nylon picks are great for a medium pick (see Standard med. picks above) ..it has a nice feel and quick spring to it..You need to try this pick as well as a handful of other med. picks in various materials...you will hear how the different materials all sound different...you may like the celluloid better then the nylon or whatever the other pick is..Same thing goes with the heavy picks..the different materials all have a different sound and feel Shapes and Feel - I like the standard guitar pick shape for my medium picks...this works well for me and is something i can hold on to easily.. Heavy picks I like the a variety of them depending on what sound and style I am going for at that time..the main thing I look for is that the tip of the pick be slightly rounded and very smooth..so it glides over the strings with little to no effort...I have tried every type of heavy pick, jazz pick etc and the ones that i have really like have been the Dunlop 207's, 208's and there knock off of a gypsy jazz guitar pick called a Primetone...these picks sound so warm and round and smooth...try em you will love em...Another pick that i like to use especially when playing acoustic jazz or acoustic leads is the Wegen 3.5 MM to 5.0 MM gypsy picks...these are wonderful picks and will make any guitar sound fat, warm and singing..using it with an acoustic guitar willl bring out all the tone,volume and vibration that so many guitars claim that they have..These Wegen picks will also accelerate your speed and picking technique...your old Fender shell pick is not going to do that!!...You will also find with the heavier picks is that you dont have to grip them and hit the strings so hard...you can really relax the wrist and let it just flow out nice and smooth....this increases your speed tremendously.... Well that's it on guitar picks!! Go out with about 20 dollars and buy a whole bunch of em and experiment..this could be the missing link or the tone you been searching for that you just cant get....it could be a simple as getting some new picks....I carry a variety of them in my pocket on every gig and switch em out as I am going from song to song to get different sounds and feels...sometimes I will play ryth with one and then when i take a solo grab a different pick.... Good luck and have fun!!

"Tone"

Tone, tone and more tone!! That's all we hear these days in guitar publications and on the internet....What is tone? What is a good tone? why would you chase a tone? Well after 30 years of playing guitar and owning just about every type of guitar made I got a few thoughts on it!! I will save you zillions of dollars and explain it....A guitar that is comfortable in your hands that you can play easily and something to amplify it with is all you need..the name on the headstock and how much you paid for it does not matter....sounds simple, right? Well learning to use the tone controls on the guitar and the amp should get you any tone you want.. Providing the guitar is setup correctly, pickups are set at the right height and the guitar is working correctly...the amp or pa should be working right too...learn to set the tone controls and get the best possible sound out of just the guitar and amp/pa.....next add some color to it...reverb, echo, chorus, distortion, overdrive, phaser...etc...you can do this easy too...just buy some pedals that sound good with your guitar and amp and there ya go....don't get nuts with all the hype and buzz words...like "mojo", "real tone" , "vintage tone" "re-issue" , " made like they used to" "tone woods" "custom made" " hand crafted" "relic" "thin skin" "nitro finish" all that kind of shit..it is all marketing bullshit!! The electric guitar has not changed all that radically since the 1930's ...all that has changed has been the players, the way tone controls are used, clean recording techniques...the guitar is basically still the guitar and any guitar can be used for any style of music you wish to make... See my blog on Guitar Picks and on using eq on your amp

Strings

Over the last 30 years I have used lot's of different brand strings. Some strings were expensive and some were inexpensive..What I have noticed is this...on most guitars a round wound nickel string is all that is needed to get a good feel, tone and vibration for your guitar..I have found that string companies like to hype there products but when it all comes down to it...a $4.00 set of strings will work as well as $12.00 set....the two string companies that I would say work best for me are D'Addario and Ernie Ball...I like the plain old set of 10's that they both offer. Wipe em down after every gig and they will last you a while..I found using Wintergreen Rubbing Alchohol on a cloth and wiping them down does the trick...wash your hands before you play too...

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