How to Hold and Use a Pic on a Stick Dulcimer

Having good technique to use a pic is a valuable skill, as it can make playing your Stick Dulcimer so much easier. Check out the video to learn the proper technique!

Transcription:

If you're going to play an instrument you gotta figure out how to do it a couple of different ways so that you have options. Fingers work great, and pics are another way. There’s all kinds of pics that you can use, flat and pointy, all kinds of different ones. I'll leave it to you to figure out which one works best for you and which one has the best sound because they all have a bit of a plasticy sound, for lack of a better word. They have different weights of plastic and different types of flexibility. These all make differences in the tone - it can be more of a flappy sound. The angle of how you hit the string with the pick also affects the tone.

So, this is how I hold the pick. I roll my finger like this, and put the pick right here in that first piece of my finger and hold it with my thumb down like that. Now I do that because I was taught that way, but also because when you move your thumb the whole finger setup will move. This lets the pick point wiggle back and forth. When you see that on the string it'll make more sense. So let's take a look. I've got it up against the string, and I'm gonna try and exaggerate the movement a little bit.

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If I were to do this, notice I’ve got my hand at an angle like this, that’s how I would roll it. When I'm plucking the string with the pick, for me I can push out with my thumb and pull in with my thumb and then get what is the down and then up motion of the pick in terms of hitting the string. That's exactly what we talk about when we talk about strumming a dulcimer guitar, a lot of times it's down, up, down, up, right? So the same thing is true with picking. We wanna have a down up, down up. That way we can never have to move our hand. If we were on one string, we never have to move the hand at all - we only have to move the thumb. We get an economy of motion for things like (music). Stays pretty straight-forward. If you're moving across strings you just move your hand steady - easier said than done. Then you go like that, or you can (music). So you get the same motion, same holding the pick angle, for when you’re strumming and also when you’re picking. So you go down up, down up, down up on the low string, and then the middle string. So I can go down up, down up, down up. And I’m just switching strings but you can see my hands aren’t moving a ton, I’m just moving my thumb and moving the entire hand a bit.

I’m sure that leaves questions for you. I would love it if you could tell you what they are so I can address them. I’m not entirely sure how to teach some of these things digitally, so help me out and let me know. Thanks!

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Now my suggestion is: I’ve got a free download on my website, it will help you transpose. I would love for you to download it and let me know if it helps that way you can learn more songs on the channel.