Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Anyone playing a classical with a pick, a la Willie?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by 985plowboy, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. 985plowboy

    985plowboy Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 5, 2012
    South Louisiana
    I grew up on Willie Nelson records. Red Headed Stranger is in my truck CD player right now as a matter of fact. Which is probably why I'm wondering; Does anyone play a classical acoustic with a pick?
    And I mean on purpose and on a regular basis, not just that one time around the bonfire when it was the only guitar there.
    But hey, if you got that story go ahead and tell it anyway.

  2. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

    Sep 14, 2005
    Nueces Strip
    Red Headed Stranger just happens to be the only CD in my truck for the last few months.

    Somebody gave me a decent but way banged up classical guitar a few years ago.
    I brought it back to life and even meticulously chipped out the extra sound hole.
    With a pick it does have a Willie sound, but i still can't play like him.
    985plowboy likes this.


    LOSTVENTURE Tele-Holic

    Feb 13, 2007
    Charlotte, NC
    I play a Godin nylon string Multiac if that count. That's one of the few guitars that I use a heavy pick on. It sounds incredible through Fenders new Acoustic 100 amp.
    24 track and 985plowboy like this.

  4. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire

    The guitar I've owned the longest is a Takamine C-140SH classical that I bought new in 1980 (it was made in 1975). I never used a pick until about 2000, but since that time I've used picks for all my guitars, including that one. Same as my other guitars, I rotate picks every so often; right now it's using a SurfPick.

    I've been thinking lately that I should do more fingerpicking, work up some ability in that area, and that maybe I should start by not using a pick on my classical guitar.

  5. Snook

    Snook Tele-Meister

    Sep 17, 2015
    Well it's ok for Willie to play a classical with a pick, but nobody else should be allowed to <grin>. Only thing that makes me crazier is somebody playing an electric bass with a pick.

  6. xafinity

    xafinity Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Dec 24, 2015
    my Mom's basement
    Jim W likes this.

  7. BryMelvin

    BryMelvin Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 4, 2014
    Arivaca AZ
    Yep If I bring my classical to Friday night Jams I often do Angel Flying to Close to the Ground, City of New Orleans, Pancho and Lefty, and Crazy. So to cover Willie play like Willie. Although I play a Cordoba not an old Martin.
    985plowboy likes this.

  8. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Friend of Leo's

    Feb 3, 2017
    Foat Wuth, Texas
    Someone once told me most bass players play with their fingers because they can't keep track of a pick...that, and they usually can't afford to buy beer AND picks. :) . Too many local level bassists just don't have the dexterity to play accurately and consistently with their fingers. one has appointed me "Bass Czar".

  9. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Friend of Leo's

    Mar 29, 2007
    Manassas Park, VA
    I never actually use a flatpick on my Classical, but I always use a thumbpick ( but no Fingerpicks) whenever I do anything fingerstyle or fingerpicking on my steel-string or my cheap Classical guitar. (the thumbpick is a Herco combination flatpick/Thumbpick- mine is gauged the same as a Fender Medium)

    I recorded a whole CD of some of my favorite tunes played instrumentally using my Herco pick and the Classical ( a combination of originally vocal rock/pop songs, instrumentals, and blues) just all LIVE, on my Classical into a hand held digital recorder. Turned it into a CD for friends and family...

  10. bowman

    bowman Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2006
    Framingham, MA
    I do. I like the way it sounds, and that has nothing to do with Willie Nelson, whose music I barely know outside of his hits. I just think it's a unique sound. I still play the nylon with my fingers from time to time, but mostly I use a pick.
    Dukex, 985plowboy and P Thought like this.

  11. 24 track

    24 track Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Nov 6, 2014
    kamloops bc
    I have a lefty one of those, I love it I run it into my G&K or into my guitar rack set for ultra clean and or ambient ( or the GR55) outstanding player! some songs I use a pick , but I love to fingerpick as well.

  12. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

    I use a pick once in awhile but also use fingers by themselves. I also hybrid pick. I've also been known to use a pick on bass from time to time, which for certain genres is perfectly acceptable, IMO.

  13. radiocaster

    radiocaster Friend of Leo's

    Aug 18, 2015
    I did when I had a classical. I like the clear plastic strings.

    Also try a felt ukulele pick, those are cool too.

  14. sockgtr

    sockgtr Tele-Meister

    Mar 3, 2016
    Portland, OR
    One of my bandmates plays a Taylor nylon and always uses a pick. It sounds great! I also use a Wegen 5mm Trimus pick on my Cordoba GK Negra.

    We're jazz/swing/gypsy jazz players, so not really like Willie at all :)

  15. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

    Sorry (a little) about hijacking the thread....

    With regard to using a pick on bass, Carol Kaye was the bass player in Hollywood's Wrecking Crew and is probably on more hit records than any other bass player ever. She used a pick. Also, who know that many great hits' bass lines were recorded with a Fender Precision going into a stock Fender Super Reverb?

    This is from the FAQ on her website:

    FAQ 3

    Q. Were you ever required to play with your fingers (since I know you're exclusively a pick player)?

    A. No, no-one ever asked me to play with my fingers as I could get a nice warm finger-sounding sound also with the pick by just turning up the bass a little and turning down the treble sound. And never was ever asked to slap either. I was the #1 Call for many many years in Hollywood and other bass players were asked to get the "Carol Kaye" pick sound. Most records cut in Hollywood were recorded with the pick on the bass with flatwound strings, whether it was me or others.

    FAQ 7

    Q. What kind of strings have you always used?

    A. I've always used medium-gauge flatwound strings since I play exclusively with a hard pick (with a flat wrist, not like guitar players). Most of the 1960s hits out of Hollywood were cut on flatwound strings by bass players who played with a pick. And I always use a doubled up piece of felt muting on top of the strings just over the bridges to dampen the over- and under-tones for a cleaner recorded sound too (good for live work also). If you play with fingers and maybe sometimes with a pick, I'd advise to use only the foam underneath the strings barely touching the strings for this sort of muting of unneeded extra-tones. Strings still ring if the muting is done correctly.

    FAQ 13

    Q. How do you get such a deep bass sound playing with a pick? Why not use a felt pick?

    A. First of all, you have to use a very hard pick (a felt pick doesn't get a good defined sound, and limber picks don't either) as that gets the thicker bass sound and with the right amp/bass settings, you never hear a "click" either unless you set the settings for more treble. But you must play with the beat: downstrokes on the downbeats and upstrokes with the upbeats, with a flat wrist, the bottom of your thumb muscle usually touching a bottom string (no, not for muting but for a home-base" strong solid feel), this is where your fine deep bass sound comes from as well as picking close to the end of the neck , never next to the bridges.

    I had the pleasure to show Victor Wooten this picking system recently at the NAMM Trade Show, and he got it quickly within minutes, saw the logic, the strength, and the pick-stroke ideas, how good everything worked together, an honor to teach him. Sometimes tho', it does take awhile to get this system, much different than playing guitar with the movement only coming from a flattened wrist. For the double-time funk, you just pat your foot twice as fast (on every 1/2 beat, 8 beats to the bar) and accordingly 8/8, you pick that way also, it works fine, records rhythmically-perfect (engineers loves you and there's no need for compression or EQ then), this way of fine inside meter picking.

    And your sound can vary from very "clicky" (with highs all on like what I recorded the "Mission Impossible" theme, "Boots", some of the Beach Boys recordings etc. with) or very low like the Andy Williams, the Motown, the other hit recordings and TV shows and movies with ("Across 110th St.", Henry Mancini, Ironside, Bill Cosby, Kojak, MASH, Streets Of San Francisco, True Grit, Airport, Sweet Charity, McCloud, Hawaii 5-O, Thomas Crown Affair etc., it's all in the settings and heavy pick right-wrist technique/sounds.

    First ones to play bass with a pick (most Hollywood recordings were done with a pick on bass) were Rene Hall, Ray Pohlman, Arthur Wright.... all 3 from 1956 on...then myself in '83 (I was a studio guitar player from 1957 on direct from the jazz club work in the 1950s), Lyle Ritz, Bob West, Larry Knechtel and later, Joe Osborn, Chuck Berghofer, Jim Hughart etc.

    FAQ 17

    Q. What instrument/amp did you use in the 60s recording sessions and how often would you change strings?

    A. I used the Fender Precision bass, with the Fender Super Reverb open-back 4-10" speakers amp for a long time. Then about 1966-67 or so, I started using the enclosed cabinet double-amped Versatone amp (3-4 amps carted around by my cartage company, Van Cartage). You always wiped your strings after each date, and I would carry a chamois for this purpose plus would wipe the strings off with jewelry cleaner once in awhile to keep the strings sounding live, being careful not to get any on the instrument.

    There was no time to change strings, and instead traded the bass in every 2 years or so. Later in the 70s, I tried the Gibson Ripper bass for a short time, but switched back to Fender Prec. as I missed the punchy sounds. I used the stock Fender Precision when playing live with Hampton Hawes 1974 on. Later I used the Music Man with Walter Woods Amp top & Fender 4-10 bottom, then a Hybrid Fender Copy, Fender Prec. Lyte w/Polytone MiniBrute Amps, since 2003 I have used the Ibanez SRX690 with GK 150 amps, and also a new Gibson Tribute SG elec. guitar for jazz.

    sockgtr and P Thought like this.

  16. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

    OTOH, I've read that Willie wanted to emulate Django.
    Papa Joe likes this.

  17. sockgtr

    sockgtr Tele-Meister

    Mar 3, 2016
    Portland, OR
    Heh. Gotta tell ya, if he is, he's not really succeeding :)

    Don't get me wrong, I actually really dig Willie's playing, it's incredibly abstract. He's one of those cats who's been doing it wrong for so long it's really right.

  18. Papa Joe

    Papa Joe Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Jun 30, 2007
    Swanton Ohio
    I do..Really like the sound when playing on the lower strings..Not all that much in the higher register..

  19. Boomhauer

    Boomhauer Friend of Leo's

    Aug 18, 2013
    I've only actually met one person who did that.

    Meanwhile, I'm trying to learn acoustic fingerstyle on 13's :p

  20. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Tele-Holic

    May 7, 2015
    I've got a Yamaha aex500N,


    Its got a piezo under the bridge,
    I use a pick about 90% of the time,sometimes I mix styles between picking and plucking. Lots of fun trying to hold the pick with my index finger against my palm while I pluck then roll it back into position when I pick. It does give two totally different sounds though.

    I like high tension nylon strings, they bend better. There is also a few types of magnetic nylon strings out there if you want to try adding a mag pickup to your soundhole.Or on a pickguard floating style.

    Dukex likes this.

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