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Finger/Thumb Picks

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posterchild 20 Feb 03 - 02:51 PM
Clinton Hammond 20 Feb 03 - 03:14 PM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Feb 03 - 03:16 PM
breezy 20 Feb 03 - 03:19 PM
Mark Clark 20 Feb 03 - 03:54 PM
Sam L 20 Feb 03 - 05:34 PM
GUEST,Claymore 20 Feb 03 - 05:52 PM
Frankham 20 Feb 03 - 06:28 PM
Deni-C 20 Feb 03 - 11:16 PM
Rick Fielding 20 Feb 03 - 11:26 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 21 Feb 03 - 02:07 AM
breezy 21 Feb 03 - 11:21 AM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Feb 03 - 11:28 AM
Steve Latimer 21 Feb 03 - 01:15 PM
Genie 21 Feb 03 - 11:36 PM
Sam L 22 Feb 03 - 08:22 AM
Betsy 14 Apr 04 - 02:09 PM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Apr 04 - 04:40 PM
Grady Musick 14 Apr 04 - 05:02 PM
Betsy 14 Apr 04 - 05:02 PM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Apr 04 - 06:30 PM
CraigS 14 Apr 04 - 09:15 PM
GUEST,Andy 14 Apr 04 - 09:56 PM
GUEST,Andy 14 Apr 04 - 10:05 PM
wlisk 14 Apr 04 - 10:12 PM
Mooh 15 Apr 04 - 09:00 AM
GUEST,van 17 Apr 04 - 03:15 PM
Strollin' Johnny 17 Apr 04 - 03:35 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Apr 04 - 08:10 PM
Strollin' Johnny 18 Apr 04 - 03:16 AM
Mooh 18 Apr 04 - 07:35 AM
Mooh 18 Apr 04 - 07:37 AM
Mooh 18 Apr 04 - 07:39 AM
Betsy 24 May 04 - 10:46 AM
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Subject: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: posterchild
Date: 20 Feb 03 - 02:51 PM

Somebody Help! WHERE can I get some decent finger and thumb pick (I play guitar) that will not pinch, fall off, slip or cut off the blood supply. If they don't exist...there has to be a genius in this crowd of talent who can invent something. How about some sort of glove?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 20 Feb 03 - 03:14 PM

I use Herco thumb-picks and my own finger nails...

:-)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Feb 03 - 03:16 PM

Alaska Piks - especially the brass version. Thye look weird, but they are the only finger picks I've ever come across that feel like the kind of finger nails I wish I had.

And you can wear them on your thumb, and it means the angle of attack is the same as if you were playing with just fingers. (Or you can use an ordinary thumb pick with them, if thta s what you prefer.)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: breezy
Date: 20 Feb 03 - 03:19 PM

1 make sure they fit and are correctly shaped to begin fingers will shrink and expand according to the temperature.
2 You play outdoors in cold weather? then they will slip off unless you use strips of elastaplast to keep em on, this can help keep fingers warm as well as a pair of fingerless gloves.Keep wrists covered to aid heat retentionin the hand and also keep the fingers moving on BOTH hands, or they'll get frost bite!!! Bar chords are out!!
3 I use fred kelly speed pick on thumb and nickel silver on 3 fingers
based on over 35 years experience playing in all weathers, inc snow
4 Warm thumb pick in hot water to open it up so's its not too tight


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Mark Clark
Date: 20 Feb 03 - 03:54 PM

I'm sure that hand and finger size is an important consideration. For reference, my own hand, with fingers spread, spans eight inches. My thumb is around two and one-half inches in circumfrence.

I recommend not using finger picks at all. If you must use finger picks, do as Rick Fielding has suggested and learn to be equally comfortable with or without them. You'll get a much wider range of attacks and sounds without finger picks than with them. You can learn to play with precision and authority without them, trust me. This also has the advantage of not having to keep track of them and keep them properly adjusted.

I use a white Dunlop S (small) most often and cut the pick down with fingernail clippers so that only three sixteenths inch or so sticks out past the side of my thumb. (If you do this, you'll want to refinish the edge so it's smooth and rounded arain.) I like the small size because it fits snugly and the part that wraps over my thumb can't get caught in the strings by accident.

Lately I've been experimenting with Fred Kelly's Slick Pick, also white, in a medium size and heavy guage. I've been using this mostly on my Telecaster (heavy medium flat-wound strings) where I find I can use the pick as both a thumb pick and a flat pick at need. Fred Kelly's also makes one called the Bumblebee Pick that really is both a thumb pick and a flat pick but I haven't tried one—most likely won't. I buy my Fred Kelly's Slick Pick at a local music store and only buy a couple at a time.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Sam L
Date: 20 Feb 03 - 05:34 PM

I have a patent on a different type, but so far I seem to be the only player that likes them. Gloves have been invented, but not well--a 1930's patent to Rodriguez I seem to remember.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: GUEST,Claymore
Date: 20 Feb 03 - 05:52 PM

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!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Frankham
Date: 20 Feb 03 - 06:28 PM

I've been hoping for years to find a fingerpick that is long enough to accomodate long joints in the fingers. Most of the commercial brands seem to be too short for me. Also, a decent banjo pick could be made that could be used for up-picking and frailing (clawhammer). The Alaska Pik doesn't quite work for me because it's again too short and falls off or catches in the strings when used both ways. I've experimented quite a bit with them. The problem with embalming your nails is that it can ruin them. Also, if you're playing with other instruments and want to be heard, I'm not sure that finger nails carry enough...at least not as much as metal fingerpicks. You're right, a new finger pick needs to be made.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Deni-C
Date: 20 Feb 03 - 11:16 PM

Related topic, nails. Our guitarist has been known to glue on a false nail when he breaks one, seems to manage oK. Or if you can't grow your nails, what about those acrylic paint-on ones?

Cheers
deni


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 20 Feb 03 - 11:26 PM

Can someone point our friend to that Lonnnnng thread where we talked about this in detail?

As Mark said: I strongly recommend that you learn to play WITH picks (for that Blues, "snap") and WITHOUT (for when you lose 'em!)

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 02:07 AM

I use medium gauge Fred Kelly Speed-Picks and 018 gauge Dunlop metal fingerpicks for banjo, guitar and Dobro. I use Speed-Picks and plastic fingerpicks for autoharp. (The harp likes to snatch metal fingerpicks off.) I've found that the metal fingerpicks can be adjusted, bent and manipulated to fit one's fingers very easily. I have tried out different gauges and settled on the 018 as the best compromise between comfort and volume. Heavier gauges are harder to bend into a comfortable shape and lighter ones lack volume. I would love to not use any picks and play with just fingernails, but picking-length fingernails and throwing pottery for a living seem to be mutually exclusive.

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: breezy
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 11:21 AM

you can play really fast with touch with the 'bumble-bee' and angle it to suit requirements, well worth trying out.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 11:28 AM

I once found a finger pick designed to cover the whole end of the finger, like a sort of ridged thimble, but I lost it. I think it was probably made for some kind of steel guitar.

But I've found that with an Alaska Pik, provided you adjust it carefully, and maybe file it down, you can pick up or down without it catching. The only problem is you have to tailor them differently for the different fingers, and if you squash 'em in your pocket, you've got to start over again bending them just right. The thing is, unlike any other pick I've ever tried, you get the feedback from your fingernail that you get when you play without picks, and I find I miss that when I use picks generally.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 01:15 PM

Yeah, you certainly have to use the hot water method for the thumb pick if you don't want to have your thumb go numb after about thirty seconds. Don't leave the pick in the hot water too long. I wrecked one once by leaving it in for about a minute, it opened up too much and I couldn't get it to close to where it would stay on my thumb.         

Claymore's Emery cloth suggestion is something that I will try. Earl Scruggs (who knows a thing or two about picks) suggests that you scar the inside of the thumbpick with a penknife to keep it from slipping off. I would think that the emery cloth would work better.

I find that with metal fingerpicks you have to really mould them to the shape that you want and re-adjust them from time to time.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Genie
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 11:36 PM

I used to use Herco thumb picks and just my own nails (except occasionally using metal finger picks, which I would have to tape on). The Herco picks are nylon, hence more comfortable than plastic, and they can be used as flat picks (which you don't keep losing like regular flat picks) or thumb picks.

But about 8 or 9 months ago I had my 3 picking nails and my right thumb nail acrylic coated, and since then, I normally just use the fortified nails and don't need finger or thumb picks. (I wait till the nails are nearly halfway grown out before "refilling," and that seems to have kept me from getting the fungus that acrylic nail wearers often get.


Genie


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Sam L
Date: 22 Feb 03 - 08:22 AM

I've never been able to use any thumb or fingerpicks very well, tend to use a classical hand position, or a casual version of it.
The ones I make are made from sheet plastic, folded with bends to encircle the thumb or finger, and clasped to fit with notches--or, for a quick fix, tape. Best tape I've ever found is an auto tape for covering chrome trim. I hear that some people use tape to secure picks, and so, it's an idea, it looks good too.

   The main novelty of mine is that the picking element is worn parallel alongside the thumbtip or fingertip, so you still touch the string, but can lean into the pick. The pick tip doesn't stick out to the side because it's origami'd to partly overlay the finger, like a half-cone shell on the side, comes to a peak just beside the peak of the nail. Being folded that way makes a thin plastic more rigid, and gives an up and down stroke surface.

They aren't perfect for palm-muting or anchored-hand positions, but the thumbpick does well as a flatpick for me, better than the position of traditional thumbpicks. And they have variant possibilities I'm trying to explore, as I can.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Betsy
Date: 14 Apr 04 - 02:09 PM

I'm a 6-string (metal strings)acoustic guitar player.
Isn't there any sheet plastic that I can buy to shape it to my nails
then maybe superglue them .
I love using fingernails - but occasionally on a sticky car door handle etc - snap !! and another 4 of 5 weeks of tenderly growing the bloody thing again.
I dont hold my hand at the right sort of angle to use Thumb picks ,and I would firmly recommend all learners to use picks - I envy all those who can use them.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Apr 04 - 04:40 PM

I dont hold my hand at the right sort of angle to use Thumb picks

As I suggest up the thread, if you use a big Alaska Pik for the thumb, you get the same angle on the strings as with a bare nail. Even if you use other types of picks for the other fingers, it's worth exploring this option.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Grady Musick
Date: 14 Apr 04 - 05:02 PM

I guess I'm the odd man out.
I use my fingernails,coated with"Nail Envy"by OPI.

I haven't broken a nail since I started using the Nail Envy.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Betsy
Date: 14 Apr 04 - 05:02 PM

Sorry McGrath I missed it or "something" - have you any further info on these ALASKA PICKS - I might need a non guitarist to get me some in the UK ( he's on leave there at the moment )to bring back to were I'm presently working.
Have you an "idiot guide" to tell him, what to get me - apart from the obvious?
Cheers


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Apr 04 - 06:30 PM

Not many people seem to stock them this side of the water, Betsy. Thrift Music in Walton-on-the-Naze (actually Frinton next door, but there's more music in Walton)) did import a few, and they might be able to help - get in touch.

Even if they've run out, it might prompt them to re-order, and I could use a couple. The metal ones are best, though they are also made in decent plastic now.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: CraigS
Date: 14 Apr 04 - 09:15 PM

I use my nails when they exist. When they do not exist I use picks or get blisters. I cannot use flatpicks - I just lose them inside the guitar. I use medium Gibson, Fender or Rotosound thumbpicks. I had a worn one that I liked a lot, because it was easier to play with, and used to file the tip down to simulate wear - but now I always reduce the pointy bit by setting it on fire and blowing it out v quickly - less effort than filing. Metal picks are easy to make from old cans with a pair of scissors, but a metal thumbpick does not cope with upstrokes and opens out unless supported with the index finger. I find that plastic fingerpicks as bought are better if distorted using hot water and worn the "wrong" way round, ie picking surface = nail side of the finger, but not curved - straight. Richard Grainger always plays with metal picks the wrong way round and I have been astonished for years as to how he keeps them on his hand doing this. I have tried it but I get fed up of the dang things falling off.
End of 30 yrs experience of trying to use picks. I still avoid them if possible.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: GUEST,Andy
Date: 14 Apr 04 - 09:56 PM

I get better accuracy and "feel" with nails, and my style uses vigorous downstrokes, which you can't do with any fingerpick I've seen. Bare fingers don't give me the ring and volume I want. I've been forced to acrylics since my own nails aren't up to steels strings. The problem with an acrylic thumb nail is bad picking angle, resulting in snapping the string unpleasantly. Guess that's why Martin Simpson uses a thumb pick with his acrylic fingernails. But I've never mastered accuracy nor gotten the touch I want when using a thumbpick. I've never solved this problem.
All the best,
Andy


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: GUEST,Andy
Date: 14 Apr 04 - 10:05 PM

Fred Miller,
Your picks sound VERY ineresting. I've long wanted picks that accomodate up and downstrokes. Any way I can get my hands, er, fingers, on some of yours?
All the best,
Andy


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: wlisk
Date: 14 Apr 04 - 10:12 PM

I use a product called Gorilla Snot (think it's funny , but it's snot) on my thumb pick if it is loose. This resin type stuff will keep your pick in place. I use alot of up strokes with the thumb pick and the Gorilla Snot works quite well. Elderly Instruments among other places carries it.
Bill


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Mooh
Date: 15 Apr 04 - 09:00 AM

I switched to Fred Kelly Slick Picks as soon as I found them. Previously I used the Fred Kelly Speed Picks but found the point too narrow, and I shortened them considerably. Until the Kelly epiphany, I used National (or National type when I couldn't get 'em) thumb picks for something like 25 years. The Slick Pick does for me what all the others wouldn't, and that's a rare thing for me.

I still dress the edges with extremely fine abrasives.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: GUEST,van
Date: 17 Apr 04 - 03:15 PM

Years ago a flamenco player told me he used tissue paper and shelac to strengthen his nails. No need for picks. I was also told to eat jelly cubes to harden my nails - might not work but tastes good - brewers yeast is good and try some nail hardeners - my wife buys mine to save odd looks at the till in Boots. Using a thumb pick depends on how you play. I used to use one but I changed how I play and find it better without one. I now have 2 tortoiseshell thumbpicks banned by CITES. Not used and glad it was stopped.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 17 Apr 04 - 03:35 PM

Betsy, try 'The Music Room' at Cleckheaton (West Yorks) or their Oxford shop.   

http://www.the-music-room.com/

(Sorry, tried to make a blicky but as always it wouldn't play ball)

HOWEVER - prepare to be disappointed with aLaska-piks, tried both the brass and plastic ones with no success - you have to have long nails for them to sit under (seems daft and end-defeating to me!).

I keep saying this in 'pick' threads - get down to your local manicurist and get fibreglass or gel overlays. Indestructible! Re: the thumbpick question, I used to play the way I suspect you do - thumb picking inside my fingers (hand like a 'claw')? I forced my self to straighten my thumb and practised, practised, practised with a thumb pick. No problem now and it's a far more natural way to play. I use Herco (blue) thumbpicks which I have to buy from the States. Hogan's (Steel guitar specialists) in Newbury used to stock them but alas no more. Incidentally, I've played the guitar since I was 13 and I'm 57 now - changed my picking style about 9 or 10 years ago (aged around 47) so I guess old dogs can learn new tricks!!

All the best mate, hope some of the above is helpful.

Bye now,
Johnny :0)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Apr 04 - 08:10 PM

"you have to have long nails for them to sit under" I find they work well enough with quite short nails. People vary, including the way fingernails are set. And I find they work for both up and down strokes, and as a thumb-pick as well.

But most of the time I use a flat pick or fingers, because doing it that way needs less organisation.

But while were about it, does anyone else use one of these - Dunlop Strum Rose Pick They look vicious, but in fact they are handy especially in a noisy session, and you never break a string, no matter how hard you strike them. But I don't think Dunlop make them any more, and not many places have them.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 18 Apr 04 - 03:16 AM

Hey McGrath, you must be more dextrous than me! I tried the aLaskas but just couldn't get them to work for me. Ah well, into each life some rain must fall! :0)
Johnny :0)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Mooh
Date: 18 Apr 04 - 07:35 AM

I should mention that the Fred Kelly Slick Picks (thumbpicks) I referred to earlier come in light, medium and heavy guages. The light and medium ones are the first I've been able to properly flatpick and fingerpick with. It's amazing how quickly one gets on to a hybrid style with these.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Mooh
Date: 18 Apr 04 - 07:37 AM

Marc...Sorry, I just noticed what you had already pointed out! Blame stupidity for this one, I just had my prescription changed!

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Mooh
Date: 18 Apr 04 - 07:39 AM

Um, Mark, I mean.

Where's that rock I was hiding under?

Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Finger/Thumb Picks
From: Betsy
Date: 24 May 04 - 10:46 AM

Just put 3 picks on - plastic ones.Needed bit of waggling about `cos my nails are in pretty good nick - for once.
Used `em for 15 mins - hardly made any mistakes in 3 types of tunes including a ragtime - bit more practice just to make them feel OK on my fingers and I think they`ll be the best thing to natural nails I`ve ever tried.
They`ve solved the big problem with thumb angle - but as someone said could be a problem with down stokes.
Compared to anything else I`ve tried - these could be a genuine "starter" as it`s the first time in many times of trying that I`ve been able to enthuse about the prospect of playing with finger picks, but, like many ,I wish I had eternal , decent fingernails.


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