Why Pointy Guitar Picks?
Todd Simpson
Nov 28 2020, 08:48 PM
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Posts: 22.054
Joined: 23-December 09
From: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
In my SHRED BOOTCAMP, I’m always telling students to buy a sharp pointy guitar pick and then take a pocket knife and make it even sharper. I also suggest students purchase a STYLUS PICK as a training tool. The stylus pick is useless for actually playing guitar but it’s great for training the hand to do one of the most important things needed for playing in a brisk manner. I’m talking about using a shallow pick strike depth. The pointy pick helps this happen and it lets the hand find a natural resting angle. With a dull pick, the hand sometimes tries to angle the pick to address the string in a horizontal fashion. This forces the hand in to an awkward angle and then to make things worse, the dull tip allows too deep of a strike depth. These two things together make it very hard to get past a certain level of precision/speed.

Let’s look at the pick point idea. The hand needs to find a natural resting point that does not put undue stress on the wrist. Otherwise, one risks permanent injury. I found this out the hard way as many of you know. During my early days I was practicing several hours a day using a dull pick. I found myself adjusting my hand angle to strike the string with the pick horizontal to the string. Also, I was letting the pick to do deep past the string for every strike. No matter how many hours I put in, I could not get the speed I was looking for. What’s worse, I kept this up for so long that I developed a repetitive stress injury (carpal tunnel syndrome) in both arms. This is a very painful condition and sometimes requires surgery. I had to wear arm braces on both arms to immobilize them for six months. I was not able to play guitar at all during this time or risk never being able to play again without surgery. In short it was Hell. Then someone gave me a stylus pick and the little book it came with.

At first I thought the entire thing was a gimmick. The pick looked strange. A large pointy cone at the end of a large pick. I tried it and could not play a thing. String traverse was nearly impossible. Also it kept getting stuck after every pick strike. Then I realized, it was designed to get stuck if you went too deep with your pick strikes. So I started using more shallow pick strikes. Also, since the pick is a round find point at the end, you can let your hand find a comfortable resting angle since you can strike the string at any angle due to the fine point of the pick. Then it all clicked. Bam. Before I knew it I was playing with precision and speed without exerting any effort at all. That was the next revelation. That I didn’t have to tense up. I didn’t need to use force. That force was the enemy of precision and speed. Many players who “muscle it” and pick from the elbow, can only play in bursts of speed as they burn out the arm/wrist from using too much force. By using minimal force, I can keep up my maximum speed as long as I want. That’s shredding IMHO. When your creative expression is no longer limited by your technical ability. If you think a huge scale run over eight bars is what would sound good in a solo, you can play it with ease and still have fuel in the tank for the rest of the solo. That’s what I try to teach in BOOTCAMP. It cost me dearly to learn these lessons. I paid in pain for knowledge. I”m happy now to pass it on smile.gif Choke up on your pick put your fingers near it's tip. Only use the very tip to strike. Make sure it's so sharp and pointy it could pierce flesh. Sharpen your pick with a pocket knife to a beveled fine point. Any pick can be sharpened. It will wear down just like a sharpened pencil. Eventually, you'll need to buy something like a VPicks Blackhole or Mathias picks Impaler. These are sharp/pointy from the factory and don't wear down. I still use the hand made OCTAVIOUS pick made from air craft grade aluminum. These were made by one of our own here at gmc and are no longer available. But the vpick and mathias are fine picks and I use them as well.

This is NOT the "Only" way to play. Marty Friedman uses a curved hand upstroke and does fine. This is a practical way to achieve precision/speed. It's also the quickest way I've yet found. Which is why it's what I teach.

Handy graphic showing the intended strike range on the stylus. This is what it trains the hand to do. It's what is standing in the way of most players increasing their precision/speed.
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This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Nov 28 2020, 08:59 PM
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Phil66
Nov 28 2020, 09:27 PM
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Posts: 8.351
Joined: 5-July 14
From: The Black Country, England
Stylus pick is a great tool.


I use these for picks and find them brilliant out of the packet, our friend Ben Higgins likes them too cool.gif

I think you'd probably still make them more pointy though Todd wink.gif


These are good too.


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This post has been edited by Phil66: Nov 29 2020, 11:45 AM


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Todd Simpson
Nov 30 2020, 10:17 PM
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Posts: 22.054
Joined: 23-December 09
From: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Those are good choices! The pointier the better! I even sharpen my MATHIAS Impaler a bit. smile.gif Only ones I've never sharpened are the Metal Vonhotch picks and the Vpicks black hole/switchblade.


QUOTE (Phil66 @ Nov 28 2020, 04:27 PM) *
Stylus pick is a great tool.


I use these for picks and find them brilliant out of the packet, our friend Ben Higgins likes them too cool.gif

I think you'd probably still make them more pointy though Todd wink.gif


These are good too.



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