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Using fingerpicks vs. going commando

Cool Beans 19 Feb 10 - 02:29 PM
GUEST,Jed Marum - sans cookie 19 Feb 10 - 02:32 PM
Don Firth 19 Feb 10 - 02:40 PM
John Hardly 19 Feb 10 - 02:45 PM
Dave MacKenzie 19 Feb 10 - 02:57 PM
pdq 19 Feb 10 - 03:03 PM
DonMeixner 19 Feb 10 - 03:06 PM
olddude 19 Feb 10 - 03:06 PM
DanTappan 19 Feb 10 - 03:07 PM
breezy 19 Feb 10 - 03:18 PM
Doug Chadwick 19 Feb 10 - 03:24 PM
agingcynic 19 Feb 10 - 03:29 PM
Dave MacKenzie 19 Feb 10 - 03:33 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 19 Feb 10 - 03:52 PM
Little Hawk 19 Feb 10 - 04:02 PM
Leadfingers 19 Feb 10 - 07:37 PM
BobKnight 19 Feb 10 - 07:47 PM
DADGBE 19 Feb 10 - 10:20 PM
GUEST,Cap't Bob 20 Feb 10 - 12:21 AM
PoppaGator 20 Feb 10 - 01:13 AM
Backwoodsman 20 Feb 10 - 03:14 AM
Will Fly 20 Feb 10 - 03:45 AM
Backwoodsman 20 Feb 10 - 04:07 AM
Will Fly 20 Feb 10 - 04:39 AM
Backwoodsman 20 Feb 10 - 05:55 AM
MikeL2 20 Feb 10 - 06:22 AM
Little Hawk 20 Feb 10 - 10:33 AM
RevGeo 20 Feb 10 - 11:43 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 20 Feb 10 - 01:28 PM
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Subject: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: Cool Beans
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 02:29 PM

I'm a very good bare-knuckled fingerpicker but a clumsy and imprecise player whenever I use a thumbpick and fingerpicks. Therefore, I never use them in public. I do like the crisp sound of fingerpicks but I don't like the feel. One problem I have is that the open part of the thumbpick keeps getting caught in the strings. I've tried different models--plastic, metal, large, small--with little success. Is there a closed thumbpick I should try? Or should I just stick with what I'm good at?


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: GUEST,Jed Marum - sans cookie
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 02:32 PM

Stick with what you're good at!

I use my nails - but I have the Nail Salon ladies paint the acrylic layer over the top of my 3 primary picking fingers so they will never break.

Works great. Been doing it for 11 years non-stop. Lotsa other players do it too, now-a-days


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 02:40 PM

I also use my nails. Whenever I've tried to use fingerpicks, I felt like I was trying to tap-dance in combat boots. Too much stuff between me and the strings.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: John Hardly
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 02:45 PM

"One problem I have is that the open part of the thumbpick keeps getting caught in the strings"

Can you explain/describe this? I can't figure out what you mean. The thumbpick most generally only downstrokes. The open part is so far removed from the face (where the contact occurs) that I can't imagine how you're even digging in deep enough to have that kind of problem. Are you using one of those very short Kelly slick picks?


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 02:57 PM

Catching the thumbpick on the strings is quite a common problem. If you're varying your tone on the bass strings by right hand technique then there's always a risk. All I can recommend is practice.


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: pdq
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 03:03 PM

Try a finger pick (metal) on the index finger a thumb pick (plastic) and see what you can do.

This type of "two-finger picking" has served many people well including Doc Watson, Merl Travis, Mark Knofler, Chet Atkins and John Cipolina.


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: DonMeixner
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 03:06 PM

I use finger picks on the Autoharp and on the banjo. When I use them on the guitar I feel like I'm digging holes in the strings. My finger want to play as if they are bare and I am wearing armor. The best of all worlds for me is crisp, smooth, finger nails of the perfect length.

Don


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: olddude
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 03:06 PM

I only use finger picks for the banjo. I can't use them on the guitar. I guess I am just too use to using my fingers.


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: DanTappan
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 03:07 PM

Count another vote for acrylic nails, all 5 picking fingers. As far as I'm concerned it's much better than finger picks because you can also choose to strum with the backs of the nails, or flick the strings, without hooking the picks.


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: breezy
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 03:18 PM

Playing with thumb and finger picks calls for a very light touch and the action is very different as you have to develop a 'feel' for the strings which may only want a much shorter picking action

I only got the thumb pick caught on the strings when the pick had worn down, that was the sign to tell me to use a new one. nowadays I use a fred kelly speed and they take an eternity to wear down

Finger picks have to be shaped to fit the contour of your fingers so that they stay on and dont slip off, and also need a hook end to 'pluck' without the pick catching on the string. They do not come 'ready to wear' though many people think they do then wonder why thet cant use them and give up on em

They also permit the instrument to be heard !

Those who never use them don't know what they are missing, unless of course they are blessed with good strong nails.

Look out for the players who use them and ask


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 03:24 PM

I felt like I was trying to tap-dance in combat boots. Too much stuff between me and the strings.

It's just matter of getting used to them. My nails are not strong enough to grow to any length, so I play with my finger tips. I use three plastic finger picks and a thumb pick to give both a crisper sound and extra volume I switch back and forth between picks and bare fingers without problem, My brain compensates for the difference so I get the same feel with or without picks.

The open part of the thumb pick can be a bit of a problem but dropping the pick into boiling water and then moulding it quickly around the thumb so that the open end is tucked as far as possible under the thumb, out of the way, usually does the trick. (The hot plastic and residual boiling water can be painful for a few seconds but, hey, you've got to suffer for your art!)

If you have good nails then fine but if you feel the need for picks then persevere. You'll get there in the end and it's worth the effort.

I once followed some advice to try aLaska Piks which fit under the nail but, if you're like me and don't have good nails in the first place, they're about as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

DC


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: agingcynic
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 03:29 PM

when i play gigs with a single mic i use fingerpicks but am definitely much more versatile without them

wondering if there is a brand or type of nail hardner that can be easily purchased. i have a friend who swears that the stuff you get painted on at a salon works best but then you have to pay them to do it.


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 03:33 PM

I also find a thumbpick catches less than a thumbnail.


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 03:52 PM

When I hear guitarists finger picking in folk clubs - without a mic/amplification, they are rarely loud enough for my taste! Martin Simpson - in days of yore, was very loud (thumbpick & superglue nails). These days, Martin, Pierre use false nails.


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 04:02 PM

Go to a local Vietnamese fingernail-making place (where you will discover that 99.9% of the customers are female) and get them to put a layer of acrylic on top of your existing nails...after you've grown them long enough to suit your picking style, with nails, that is.

The results are unbeatable. Your acrylic-reinforced nails give you totally natural feel and excellent tone on every note. It takes little or no time to get used to them, they don't catch on the strings, and they're virtually unbreakable.

You will need to get them filled in at the back about every 6 weeks as the nails grow out. It's not expensive to get these "fills" done.

You will also need to file them back periodically at the front, using a coarse nail file followed by a medium nail file to clean them up. This you can do yourself, no need to go to the nail clinic.

I play this way all the time now, and it's ideal. I wish I'd known about it 40 years ago.


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: Leadfingers
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 07:37 PM

I also suffer from fragile nails on my fingers , so started on Jim Dunlop metal Thumb AND Finger picks VERY early in my Picking Days and wouldnt be without them now , on Guitar and Banjo !


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: BobKnight
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 07:47 PM

I can't grow nails, they just split, so I use fingerpicks and thumbpick. Funnily enough, unlike others here, I file the thumbpick right down until it is really short, I figure the shorter it is, the more natural the feel. It suits me fine, but then I'm no great shakes as a guitarist.


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: DADGBE
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 10:20 PM

Hi Cool,

I got rid of the thumb pick catching the string problem by heating the pick in boiling water, curling the offending part out of the way a bit with 2 pairs of needle nose pliers, then holding it in position under cold running water.

It makes the pliers soggy but works well on the pick.


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: GUEST,Cap't Bob
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 12:21 AM

I have had the same problem with thumb picks catching on strings. Having tried about every pick on the market I finally came across Fred Kelly's "SLICK PICK". It looks a lot like other picks but somehow I don't have the problem when using this pick. The ones made of Delrin have a softer feel.   

Cap't Bob


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: PoppaGator
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 01:13 AM

I became accustomed to fingerpicks years and years ago, when I was playing on the street (unamplified ~ that's how we all did it back in the Dark Ages) for long hours. If I were starting all over again now, I can't be sure that I might not make different choices, but the equjipment and technique I've used for years absolutely "works for me" at this point in time. I learned early on to use the same picks not only to play delicately, plucking one string at a time in a very clean manner, but also to wail load and hard, strumming across multiple strings with the thumb and/or with either or both of two fingers.

I've never had the thumbpick get hung up on a string, but I have only-too-often snagged a fingerpick and had it fly off my fingertip. It's bad enough when it falls to the ground/sidewalk/floor, but worse when it goes straight inside the guitar via the soundhole.

I invest a lot of time and effort into shaping the fingerpicks to grip my fingertips, and to hit the strings at the optimal angle. Of course, this is possible only with metal fingerpicks. The plastic ones have to be used as-is, as though one size could possibly fit all ~ I don't understand how and why people use 'em, let alone prefer 'em. Oh well, to each his own.

I use two fingerpicks. One of them (the one I wear on the middle finger) is at least 35-40 years old; I've re-bent it over the years as my fingertip has become more misshapen by arthritis. It's mate got lost years ago, and I've gone though a few index-finger picks over the years. National no longer makes them quite the same way ~ the shape stamped out of the flat metal, before it is bent, is a little different ~ and I can't seem to make the newer models (of any brand) to fit quite as tightly and surely as my one remaining 1970s model.

I've come to play barefingered more and more often lately, but strictly in private. I'm somewhat unsure about performing without my picks, because with them I can produce not only a louder sound, but also a broader spectrum of different tones.

Barefingered picking can be more free and flexible, and I find it helps me be a little more creative when working up new arrangements. Also, as noted earlier, barefingered picking allows you to downstroke with the nails and well as to pluck upwardly with the fingers. However, for some reason I can't explain, I always find it fairly easy to take any riff/arrangement/etc. that I've developed while playing without picks and to "translate" it to with-picks technique, wherein all the finger strokes are upstrokes.

I never liked the idea of a metal thumbpick, perhaps irrationally, and probably out the same feeling that makes many other folks cringe at the prospect of using any kind of pick. I decided early on to use a plastic thumbpick and metal fingerpicks, mostly just from observing that most players (including banjo and pedal-steel players) seemed to prefer this combination. As noted above, the adjustable nature of metal fingerpicks is something I find to be essential. My preference for plastic in the thumbpick is probably largely a matter of habit, but I also find that for me (and for my somewhat bottom-heavy Martin guitar), the balance of volume between bass and treble strings seems best with plastic thumb- and metal finger- picks


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 03:14 AM

I'm with Doug C, Jed et al - I have very thin nails which rip and break easily, so I get the 'Nail Salon' treatment on three fingers (fibreglass wraps and gel) and it's just like playong with WW3-proof natural nails. I use a Dunlop 'Calico' or 'Ivoroid' thumb-pick and never get a 'hooking-up' problem (although I used to when I used the Herco blue thumbpick introduced to me by a pedal-steel-player friend). I think the flexibility of the pick may well be part of the hooking-up problem - the Hercos are very flexible, whereas the Dunlops I use now are heavy and extremely rigid.

BUT - I've recently had a problem with a couple of 'falsies' coming off and, until my Nail Salon appointment comes round, I'm using these:-

http://www.fredkellypicks.com/products-page/freedom-pick

(Sorry - my computer steadfastly refuses to make blickies on here)

These Kelly Freedom Picks slip on like a thimble, with the end cut out at an angle go form the 'nail' part, and bare finger-tip flesh showing so you can 'feel' the strings. Pretty good and way, WAY, WAY better than those dopey Alaska-pik rubbish things which only work if you've already got a good nail - duh!

All IMHO, of course. YMMV. :-)


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: Will Fly
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 03:45 AM

I've experimented with various kinds of fingerpicks over the years and rejected them all. The reason lies in the way I've developed my playing style. When I'm playing a tune on the guitar, I put little fills in between the picked notes by flicking the strings with the backs of my nails. It's something that's developed unconsciously and which gives a very full sound when playing - I don't know anyone else who does this - but it's impossible to do with fingerpicks.

My nails have been reasonably good over the years, though there's been a slight tendency for them to split now and then in later life - just age, I think - and, when this has happened, I've used a pick and nails combination (hybrid picking). When I was playing electrically in bands, with a pick, I always used the hybrid picking style to pick out double string combinations, block chords and single note runs.

As for volume, it's true that nails don't carry like picks. In a bust or crowded or noisy venue, I'll resort to the pick and nails if I think nails alone can't hack it. On the other hand, playing quietly can reduce the level of ambient chatter as people shush each other when they can't hear!


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 04:07 AM

Listen to Martin Simpson, Will - he does the 'back-flick' a great deal, it's one of the characteristics of his playing style.

The Kelly Freedom picks also allow for the flick.

And the Bomb-Proofing of natural nails by having the wraps/gel-layers applied (preferably by a pretty young lady!) gives the nails sufficient strength to produce volume pretty much equal to picks.


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: Will Fly
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 04:39 AM

Funnily enough, I've heard one or two horror stories of under-nail infection from acrylic coatings. Do you have to have it remove completely to allow the nails to breathe for a spell?

I've heard Martin Simpson quite a bit but, oddly, rarely seen him live. I think I've got a video clip of him accompanying June Tabor singing "Strange Affair". I shall hook it out and watch the fingers! I hadn't realised he was doing the nail flick thing - I don't feel quite as weird now... :-)


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 05:55 AM

The infection-thang is why you should get your nails done professionally Wiil - I've never heard of anyone having bad experiences with professionally-done nails, but some really bad stuff about people who have done their own with the cheapo kits, or superglue and bits of ping-pong ball or whatever crap.

A trained nail-technician-type-person knows what to look for and how to prevent it, and will use good hygiene techniques and best-quality materials.

Re MS - he's a great disguiser of the flick, difficult to see it, but you can hear it alright. Seen him a lot (he's a local lad, and lives not a million miles away) and I went on straight after him when he played at the opening of Scunthorpe Acoustic Music Club a year or two back. Now THAT was diarrhoea-inducing!! :-)


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: MikeL2
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 06:22 AM

Hi

Like will I played a lot of rock & rool and jazz when I first learned to play.

So I used a plectrum for picking and strumming. As I developed and played more complicated styles I used the flat pick and my fingers My nails were OK then but now as I pass 21.....lol I find that they are softer and split more.

So I started to use a thumb pick and two finger picks.

It was like starting all over again but like with anything practice and time you get to master them. This has opened the way for me to play more expressiveley as I am slightly more restrained in my style these days.

I have no problems with plastic picks having now got used to them.

Like somebody else higher up the thread I too learn and develop the piece with my thumb and fingers without picks and then use the picks to make ready for public performances.

many thanks for all the good and intereseting advice.

Cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 10:33 AM

I've heard of people getting infections under acrylic nails, but have never experienced such a problem myself.

The nails do suffer to some extent from not breathing when they are covered by acrylic. They get thinner and weaker over time. This causes some people to take a break on the acrylic nails for awhile and let the natural nails grow out fully with no covering to restore themselves.

You have to watch what's happening with your own nails and judge accordingly if it's time to stop on the acrylic nails for awhile.

What I do to help the nails breathe is I let them grow out for at least 6 weeks before filling in with acrylic fills at the back. This means that almost half the length of the nail is exposed to the air before I get it covered over with acrylic. I figure that helps maintain nail strenght and health.


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: RevGeo
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 11:43 AM

I usually use a blue Herco thumbpick and a combo of flesh and short nails on the first two fingers. I have no problem with volume because I play loudly. My nails are pretty tough but now and then I use Sally Hanson Hard As Nails polish. I detest fingerpicks. They feel creepy and seem to isolate my soul from the strings. When I used to play bluegrass banjo I used a plastic thumbpick and two metal fingerpicks. Now when I play banjo I play with the same setup as on guitar. But I no longer play bluegrass.
When I play classical ragtime tunes I do without the thumbpick. I like the tone of the bass strings with the bare thumb on those tunes.
90% of my fingerpicking is done in a solo or duo situation so I don't have to worry about cutting through the sound of mandos, banjos etc.

Rev George




Oft quoted: I started playing guitar to get chicks, now I spend my time talking to other middle-aged men about my fingernails


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Subject: RE: Using fingerpicks vs. going commando
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 01:28 PM

Here's some advise from the fantastic Dave Ellis ( I used to marvel at his playing in Bunjies in the 70s).

Finger pick advise.


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