How to reduce the loudness of pick attack noises?

Discussion in 'The Tone Zone' started by wonderingape, Jun 17, 2020.

  1. wonderingape

    wonderingape Active Member

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    Everytime I tremolo pick on the higher strings in the lead channel or distortion channel or whatever you guys called it, the pick attack noises overpowering the notes in terms of loudness. I even tried with thick and thin picks and change the picking angle, the result is still the same. With thin picks, the pick attack noises are somehow higher in pitch and scratchy, and with thicker picks the pick attack noises are lower in pitch and sounds like there is suddenly a helicopter flying around you when you tremolo picking on the higher strings.

    Is it possible to eliminate or at least greatly reduce the loudness of pick attack noises when tremolo picking on the higher note strings on the distortion channel? Are there pedals that can achieve that? Anyway, I mostly play 80's metal and modern metal.
     
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  2. DaDoc

    DaDoc Well-Known Member

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    Playing loud and distorted will bring out every little unwanted noise both you and your guitar can possibly make, and I doubt the pedal has been made that will cure that, at least not without sacrificing a lot of tone!

    I have the same problem, and all I can recommend is to work on right-hand technique and practice, practice, practice.
     
  3. lespaul339

    lespaul339 Well-Known Member

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    Are you using the same type/material of pick when you switch gauges? Maybe it's the picking material that you're hearing catching on the string and not so much your picking attack.
     
  4. MarshallDog

    MarshallDog Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Or use less gain!
     
  5. junk notes

    junk notes Well-Known Member

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    Learn as you go then. Many choices in today's pick library for everyone's technique. I am not saying that it is inexpensive to buy and try an assortment of picks. There are many materials and composites in choosing the right pick for you, your technique and dexterity, but mostly for you.
    I recently ordered an entire line in all the picks and guages with the exception of one model. On a calculated hunch, they were what I expected and now have come to appreciate them.
    It is up to your if this investment is worth the musical endeavor.
     
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  6. lordquilton

    lordquilton Well-Known Member

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    You should list what picks you have tried.
    You could also try lowering the pickup height.
     
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  7. Maggot Brain

    Maggot Brain Well-Known Member

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    Experiment with your tone controls on your amp. Middle and High can accentuate that pick sound, I usually notice higher Mid levels = more distinguishable pick noise.
     
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  8. wonderingape

    wonderingape Active Member

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    I'm using some local plastic picks. But I already too used to play at pass the 5 on the gain knob. I'm just too obsessed with high gain distortion sounds.

    Hmm...

    Maybe the only ways to tremolo pick on the higher pitched strings on the guitar with no pick attack noises at all are by using some sort of sustainer such as the Ebow. Like the video below.



    The other way is simply by playing through a keyboard or a synth with distorted electric guitar sounds.



    But without the reverb or delay effects and actually there are slight attack noises when he pushed the keys, but I think on keyboards or synths the attack noises can be eliminated by simply tweaking the knobs.
     
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  9. Gutch220

    Gutch220 Well-Known Member

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    I hear the scratchiness of the pick attack all the time in this commercial. I'm surprised, because Santana is such a legend. How would THEY get rid of this?
     
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  10. Trelwheen

    Trelwheen Certified B.S. Launcher Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    Try messing around with a powerful and tweakable compressor such as an EHX Platform. It's an incredibly versatile tool that can do anything from lightly touching peaks to swells and bowing effects and everything in between. Set it super fast with a quick release and adjust until it tames the pick attacks.
     
  11. purpleplexi

    purpleplexi Well-Known Member

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    I've spent my life trying to get more pick attack noise into my playing so I envy you. I love crunchy pick sounds.
     
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  12. IOSEPHVS

    IOSEPHVS Well-Known Member

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    Good suggestion, except that the Platform is digital. For a compressor in pedal form, I recommend the White Finger XO (optocouplers and FETs). It is discontinued, but NOS units are still readily available. I absolutely love mine.
     
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  13. lespaul339

    lespaul339 Well-Known Member

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    I still say it could be the type of material your picks are made out of.
     
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  14. EndGame00

    EndGame00 Well-Known Member

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    Sounds you should switch to nylon picks with a rounded tip....

    I’m the opposite, I love the “pop” of the pick attack as I want to hear the separation of notes while alternate picking...
     
  15. wonderingape

    wonderingape Active Member

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    I could have just adopt the tapping technique, which is without picking the note with a pick, by lightly touching the fret without turning up the amp volume. Are there pedals that help equalize the loudness of lightly touched notes similar to plucked notes without the need to turn up the amp volume?
     
  16. Matthews Guitars

    Matthews Guitars Well-Known Member

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    Pick thickness and material matter. And so does your EQ. Drop some midrange in the EQ and you will lessen the pick attack.

    Steve Lukather's tone in the 90s had a very pronounced pick attack. His tone pushes the midrange hard before distortion and slightly more after distortion, which brought out the pick attack and pick scrapes that were very much a part of that sound.
     
  17. EndGame00

    EndGame00 Well-Known Member

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    You can modify your technique... Pick the first note and then legato the rest of the lead runs..

    As far as pick choice, thick nylon pick with beveled edge would minimize the “pop” or pick scrape... Dunlop Jazz 2 helps... downside with Jazz pick is they are smaller than regular pick, not enoug surface area, so you may have to adjust your grip...

    I can recommend my personal favorite pick: Ibanez Paul Gilbert pick... 1mm, nylon, slightly more surface area than the Dunlop Jazz picks...
     
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  18. EndGame00

    EndGame00 Well-Known Member

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    distortion pedals tend to “even” the volume/attack of the hammer ons and pull offs legato.... try to practice your legato with clean tone, that usually help develop finger strength when your not reliant on gain/high saturation signal... it helped me when I went from high gain amp like a Mesa Mark IV to Plexi style amp...
     
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  19. BftGibson

    BftGibson Well-Known Member

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    Might laugh but

    i spend decent time noodling unplugged in the writing phase..when it is controlled then..the dynamics in picking..even fretting..it really translates over to much more controllable gain playing..the guitar unplugged can really bring out the nuances if you listen to em.. learning the clean side of amps & unplugged has really worked well learning technique for me..then when the gain on, its is like a helper kicks in & accentuates it all to whatever level crunch or sustain looking for

    l
     
  20. soul_schizm

    soul_schizm New Member

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    I've been dealing with this lately. I'm sure everyone's experience is different. Short version: there isn't that magical one thing that solves the problem, at least not for me. The "problem" (and it may not even be a problem at all for everyone) needs to be dealt with on more than one level.

    In my case there's a "scape element" and then a little higher frequency "swish." It only happens for me when palm muting the open E. After EQ'ing (and nearly driving myself insane looping only the scrape sound in my DAW), I learned a few things. First, the troublesome frequencies happen in more than one place on the spectrum. There's a part that sits around 1100 Hz, and then another than sits around 2000 Hz. I can target those frequencies but didn't like how it affected the tone. I tried targeted compression using the reafir Reaper plugin, and it really does the same thing. It drops more than the sound of the scrape/swish, killing the desirable part of the performance. That said, I typically scoop a little to give some room for vocals and solos, but definitely not as much as I found necessary to remove the problem. Tried a whole bunch of other things with that reafir plugin. It's pretty powerful, but ultimately I couldn't solve my problem with it.

    So, post-recording processing only gets me so far. Plus, I really don't want to over-EQ my sound. I like my amps. I just want to target a few frequencies to make room for other instruments and vox, not overhaul everything. Time to look to the source: amp sound, picking technique and type, gain, etc.

    There's a lot to work with here. I was using a more traditional pick shape, Dunlop Tortex and Ultex. Both good picks to crunch when I want to dig in on a palm muted part, but also part of the problem as they tend to have a relatively "squared" edge. The Tortex bevels itself over time though, but I find a bit more slippery. Using the Jazz III helped with the more rounded edge. I settled in on the Petrucci Jazz IIIs. I also tried the "stubby" jazz picks, which I had used many years ago but kind of stopped just....because? I always liked those because it makes harmonics so easy. They also worked well for this issue. Now I've got a drawer full of picks of all different types. Yay...

    Picking style makes a big difference for me. A "straighter" angle of attack obviously produces less scrape. Yeah, it takes a little practice but not that much. Buckle down and do some work; it pays off in more than one way.

    Amp settings make a big difference for me as well. Dialing down the gain does more good than just reducing pick scrape. It's better for definition, and makes the sound pop through the mix better. I've found the more gain used in rhythm sections, the more the guitar sinks back in the mix. Even in heavy music. Hey, just my humble opinion. I'm not trying to tell anyone else how to dial in their sound. Just saying it helps me.

    Bringing up the high frequencies and dialing down the mids just a tad helps. Mids are desirable frequencies for me, but upping the presence and treble a bit helps to overwhelm that scrape. This isn't something everyone will want to do. Again, I'm not going to tell someone how to dial in their sound, just saying it helped me to modestly tweak the nobs. As I said before, I like my sound so I did this very judiciously.

    So, take it for what it's worth. I spent a lot of time on this, which is why this post is so long. Ultimately I think you'll need to attack this in more than one way if you really want to minimize the scrape. I also liked the Devin Townsend vid on the topic, where he's making the case that you might not even want to do any of this at all.
     

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