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Guitar pick harshness

Hey folks,

I have a Friedman Cali with the stock Friedman bridge pickup. It is a bright pickup in general.
I love the Bog Street picks - some of the best picks I have ever used but they are also bright.
The problem is - the combination of these two leads to a very harsh/bright pick sound.
I don't want to remove it completely, just want to tame it a bit. Any suggestions?
I've tried EQ'ing but it's difficult to pinpoint the frequency of the pick sound..
 

GlennO

Power User
Pick attack is broad band, so you probably won't find a frequency to cut to tame it. Dynamics processing with a compressor can help if you can't tame it with your pick/hands.
 
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Ocnor

Member
You could try using a parametric EQ. Narrow the Q of one band and turn it all the way up. Then slowly sweep across the frequencies while picking. When you hit the right one you will know it. It will most likely be between 4K and 8K.
 

Fab8040

Inspired
Try essetipicks speedy hybrid.. They are patented, cost a lot but one last one year and due to the material i think could also solve your problem
 
For me 2300 Hz is the magic frequency to cut for harshness. The trick is to set your Q to 10 and boost a random frequency maybe 6-9dB while playing a loop recording of the horrible pick attack. Then sweep as @Ocnor suggests. You’ll eventually hear when it gets really out of control obnoxious; that’s your offending frequency. Then cut just enough to get rid of it without taking away too much character. I found that for me the worst of it began at 2284 Hz and ended at 2321 Hz, so I split the difference and cut at 2300 Hz. If you need to, you can also widen the Q by lowering the Q value, and that will help further with the taming.

The input EQ of the amp block is awesome, but you have to reset that frequency cut every time you switch models, so you may just want to use a Filter Block right after the Input Block instead, maybe using the Notch Filter. I've done that before, actually setting a maximum cut of 20 dB at Q 10. It's way too much, but the idea with this approach is then you can boost the mids in your amp safely without driving an icepick through your eardrum, no matter what amp or IR you choose. :)

I've also found that just trying IRs you never touch (possibly with amps you don't usually try) can mitigate it. I was thinking that my current harsh pickup (Schecter Sunset Strip), much like the JB, must sound right to the designer, and there's got to be a context in which it can work okay and deliver a cool tone. I finally found that for me just trying some IRs and annoys that were out of my wheelhouse really took care of it. For my other guitar though, a pickup swap (from JB/59 to Saturday Night Specials) not only cured the harshness completely, but utterly gave the guitar endless dimension too.

Lastly, changing the value of your pots can possibly mitigate the problem. On my other guitar I first tried swapping out the two 500k pots on the bridge to 250k, and that really did the trick. Afterward, I still didn't think the JB had any versatility, and that's why I went for different pickups in the end. But for taming the harshness alone, the changing of pot values totally took care of it. Alternatively one can change pot value by installing a resistor, though supposedly the taper changes.

I do feel your pain, so Best of luck to you!
 

TSJMajesty

Power User
You said you're happy with your pick, but after playing for over 40 years, I'm still experimenting with different picks, partly because there's SO MANY choices available. Even though you use a pick that you like, (but also don't like), I'd recommend trying different ones first, something that has the attributes you're satisfied with, but perhaps made of a different material.

I recently bought an assortment pack of picks, and there was 2 that I liked, but also things about them I didn't, so I searched on SW to see if they had a pick that had the best of what I liked in those 2, and could not believe how many choices there are now.
 

Budda

Fractal Fanatic
it's 6am on a Saturday, but didn't Cliff mention a parameter that shapes pick attack in a FW update or two ago?
 

mistermikev

Inspired
what's that - a new pick? ty... now I must try it. a while back I tried some swiss picks. I've been a dunlop stubby guy for the longest but I shred them pretty quick. swiss picks are pretty hard to shred but they are also much brighter. seems to me that added brightness is most apparent at the very front of the note. w that in mind I had tried some transient shaper vst that worked ok. it seems like that is such a crucial area that a little goes too far... so if all else fails that might be an avenue worth exploring.
 

BaronVonGrim

Power User
Hey folks,

I have a Friedman Cali with the stock Friedman bridge pickup. It is a bright pickup in general.
I love the Bog Street picks - some of the best picks I have ever used but they are also bright.
The problem is - the combination of these two leads to a very harsh/bright pick sound.
I don't want to remove it completely, just want to tame it a bit. Any suggestions?
I've tried EQ'ing but it's difficult to pinpoint the frequency of the pick sound..
Rotate your pick
 
One thing I wanted to add about trying amps and cabs outside of your wheelhouse to avoid harshness: if higher gain stuff is your thing, try weirdo amp choices, and make liberal use of Input Gain and Input Boost to turn a low gain model into a high gain one, or vice versa. I just made a preset with the Archon Clean through Factory bank 1 IRs # 295 and 299 (OwnHammer 1x12 Fender Deluxe with two different speakers). This preset goes from completely clean to very high gain all on the same model, and none of the eight tones (one per Scene) exhibit the harshness I'm used to with this guitar. For the highest gain setting I have Input Trim above 7.6 and Input Boost at 14.25 dB, plus Drive and MV nearly dimed. But it took definitely going outside my wheelhouse. Anyway, just an example, but I hope you can find a good way out of the harshness, whatever method you choose!
 
For my other guitar though, a pickup swap (from JB/59 to Saturday Night Specials) not only cured the harshness completely, but utterly gave the guitar endless dimension too.
This is somewhat validating to read. I have a Schecter Blackjack with a 59/JB combo, and pick attack always seems to be at the forefront, at least with the JB. I think it’s a combo of me needing to refine my picking technique more and the JB’s mid emphasis doesn’t help much.
 
This is somewhat validating to read. I have a Schecter Blackjack with a 59/JB combo, and pick attack always seems to be at the forefront, at least with the JB. I think it’s a combo of me needing to refine my picking technique more and the JB’s mid emphasis doesn’t help much.

You should Google harsh JB, and you'll find a bunch of forums. A lot of people feel this way; I totally would not adjust my technique for that pickup. It's not worth slowing your progress as a player even for a night.
 

RB2021

Inspired
I was really liking the Cornfed M50 amp when I first got my axefx. But I had some real harshness in the pick attack area. No matter what parameters I touched it was un-tamable. I still like that preset for certain things, but switching to a different amp model for my kitchen sink preset was the solution for me.

For what it's worth you could try this advice from the wiki:
https://wiki.fractalaudio.com/wiki/index.php?title=Amp_block#PICK_ATTACK
 
I was really liking the Cornfed M50 amp when I first got my axefx. But I had some real harshness in the pick attack area. No matter what parameters I touched it was un-tamable. I still like that preset for certain things, but switching to a different amp model for my kitchen sink preset was the solution for me.

For what it's worth you could try this advice from the wiki:
https://wiki.fractalaudio.com/wiki/index.php?title=Amp_block#PICK_ATTACK

Interesting. Cliff is referring to Bias Excursion parameters as a plural, so I'm wondering what additional parameters that includes.
 
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