Posts Tagged ‘django reinhardt’

I’ve literally spent hundreds of dollars on picks over the years; well most of that was spent in the last few years as I transitioned from standard Dunlop nylon picks to high-end, thick, rigid picks. Until recently, I used different picks for different guitars and even styles. For instance, for electric guitar, I used a V-Picks Snake (pointed) or a V-Picks B-flat for general rock, and I’d use a Red Bear B-Style Gypsy Jazz pick for when I knew I’d be doing a lot of leads or fills in a song. For acoustic, I also used the Red Bear, but mostly used a Wegen GP 250. But when I lost the GP 250, I wanted to get a new Wegen, so I found the “Fatone.”

When I first held it, I knew I was holding something special. It just felt “right.” Then trying it out on a couple of different guitars (at Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto, CA), I immediately fell in love with the pick. It was so comfortable in my hand, and the bevel was absolutely perfect! Even within the first couple of minutes, I figured out that slight angle changes my attack angle could produce different tones. With the pick attack angle more perpendicular to the strings, I could get a warmer tone. Flattening out the angle put the bevel more into play, and would produce more highs. I was really blown away! So of course, I bought the pick.

Now, almost a month into owning it, I’ve used it in over 10 gigs, for both acoustic and electric, and I can confidently say that this is it! I’ve found my all-in-one pick.

Soon after I got the pick, I contact Michel Wegen via email (he’s in Holland). On his site, he has a particular emphasis of using his picks on acoustic guitar. I asked him about that considering I’ve been using his picks for both acoustic and electric, and why he doesn’t mention anything about using his picks with electric guitar. Here’s his response verbatim:

Hi Brendan, It’s like the microwave and the small dog story. I’m sure you have heard of this. So, to be on the safe side, I only recommend my picks for acoustics. I have some customers having great fun making big electric guitar noise, using distortion and all, and they complaint to get free picks.

Kind of a bizarre response, but I get the picture. 🙂 I suppose from the response that several electric guitar players have used the picks and were breaking strings because they’re wailing on the strings so hard. But they love the sound, so they try to needle Michel into giving them free picks as compensation for their string loss.

But that brings up an important point about playing with thick picks. You have to un-train yourself from attacking hard. With traditional thin, flexible picks, to get more volume, you attacked harder. The same principle applies with thick picks, but because of their mass, you needn’t attack nearly as hard as with a traditional pick. Where with a traditional pick, your picking hand does most of the work to produce volume, with a thick pick, that work is transferred to the pick. You also hold a thick pick must lighter than a traditional pick. The net result is that your hand is very relaxed, and allows you to be much more fluid with your playing.

Django Reinhardt used super thick picks back in the day. If you see videos of him playing (there are only a few), look at his right hand, and see how fluidly his hand moves across the strings. Of course, a lot of that can be attributed to his incredible technique, but I can assure you his pick was never an impediment.

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