The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #57003   Message #894635
Posted By: GUEST,Claymore
20-Feb-03 - 05:52 PM
Thread Name: Finger/Thumb Picks
Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
I'm sure that there are as many ways to use finger picks as there are pickers, but allow me to add my two cents. Since I play three or four instruments in various combinations (Guitar, long neck banjo, 12 string, mandocello and autoharp) two or three at a sequence, I use the same plastic picks for all. Though the information above is true, IMO the only way to get speed and volume is to use finger picks.

I use plastic which I bend to my fingerpicks using a cup of water and a microwave. Heat the water to just short of boiling and use a set of tweezers to hold the pick end of the fingerpick while you dip the circular portion into the hot water for a short time (just enough to see the plastic start to open up). Have another cup filled with ice water in which you have soaked the finger to be wrapped for half a minute, before you dip the pick. Quickly remove the hot pick and wrap it around the soaked finger, and push the open ends of the circular portion into your finger nail. (It will not hurt due to you numbing the finger before the wrapping).

The plastic will harden almost immediately into an oval shape as opposed to the round shape, which it what causes the pain of wearing them. When you have a shape that pleases your finger, reverse the process and add a slight forward bend to the pick portion to give you some resistance when you are picking, which is closer to the natural resistance of your fingers. Use the same method on your thumb pick to move the pick portion slightly forward of the manufactured position, and wrap the circular portion more comfortably around your thumb.

Next get a small portion of heavy grit emery cloth and roll it into a cigarette shape. Use it to roughen the interior to the circular portion of the picks, so that you do not need to use the various glues etc. The roughened portion will allow the pick to stay on, even when you are sweating, etc.

The final tip is to use a marking system for your picks so that you can feel or tell at a glance which pick is for which finger. The thumb pick is no problem, but I use tortise shell finger picks in which those with swirls the run up and down are for my first finger (and have a deeply scratched I) and my second finger has swirls that run side to side (and have a cross scratched into them). I can reach into my pocket and know what I have.

All the rest is just personal experimentation... Good Luck!