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How Do You Fingerpick?

  • Flesh/Fingertips

    Votes: 57 51.4%
  • Fingernails

    Votes: 13 11.7%
  • Both

    Votes: 41 36.9%
  • Finger Picks

    Votes: 4 3.6%

  • Total voters
    111
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Lately, I'm fingerpicking about 95% of the time. Years ago, when my instructor first introduced me to fingerpicking I used fingerpicks, but I found it was always hard to keep track of 4 separate picks when I was switching back & forth between fingerpicking and flatpicking. For a long time I went with just a thumbpick and would hold it like a flatpick when I was flatpicking - Herco used to make thumbpicks that did double duty. Now I just use bare fingers. I keep the nails on my fingers just long enough to get a bit of bite on the string, but most of my tone comes from the pads of the fingers. The thumb is all flesh - I've tried to grow my thumbnail long enough to use it but I find that I'm always catching it on things and I've given up.
 

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Thanks to a minor table saw accident, my thumbnail is essentially another pick, so it's always doing the alternating bass Travis thing during my "pickless" times. The next three fingers are both pad and nail depending on the tine and how long ago I cut my nails.
 

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Im finger picking on my re-set-up-to-be-a-uke little guitaralelle @[email protected] LOL pulled off the 6 strings put on new uke strings and went. The trouble with my nails is that my psoriasis mutilates them frequently, and my tips simply sound better. I do have some felt picks on their way from the UK though. From http://myworld.ebay.ca/feltrums/ the item "Ukulele Ukelele Banjo Bass Plectrum Sample Pack Of 5"
 

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A great question and one that made me remember why I like it here so much.

I have found while playing acoustic guitar I really prefer flesh on strings for two reasons. First I prefer the tone I can achieve this way with little or no effort. Picks of any kind on my acoustic tend to have a harsh or shrill sort of a sound where as fingers have a really mellow sound but without being muddy or too thick. Second it allows me much better control when playing. My playing hand is in a better position to grab the strings and snap them or gently glance off them, I can slide my hand forward ever so slightly to mute or slide it back if I want to tighten everything up. For some odd reason its just much more comfortable and effortless this way.
 

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I gave up on using picks years ago. The constant search for a pick on stage when ones were dropped wasnt as much fun as you'd think.

I've grown to really appreciate the intricacies you can implement when using fingers. So many subtlties to tone it's unreal. I find myself limited when using a flat pick because there are so many different rhythm variations to be done with fingers that a flatpick just cannot emmulate.

But when strumming chords, I hold my thumb and index as if I'm holding a flat pick. This lets my fingernails strike the strings instead of my fingertips resulting in a crisper tone.

So I suppose I use a mix of both.

On fingerpicks - I can't stand them things. Just don't feel right.
Ironically my three fav players right now are Tommy Emmanuel, Adam Rafferty and Smokin Joe Robinson and they all swear by thumb picks.

To each their own. As long as you're happy with the sound :)
 

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I've been using fingers a lot more these days, but I doubt I'll ever give up using picks.
I won't give up buying them, as I like trying out new ones, and have several more as souvenirs than to actually use.
 

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I saw Steve earle using this nifty thumbpick that has more of a conventional pick attached. I got 2 a few days ago and now I don't have to choose between pick and fingers, it's always both. Love it. Here's a site with an image:

Nantel Music Store - Picks / Herco HE113
 

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I'm a very serious fingerstyle guitarist, and I use only fingernail. I started out in classical guitar, so I guess it's only natural. I think it gives way better tone than fingerpicks or flesh.

I considered fingerpicks for a while, but then I read and interview of Leo Kottke saying years of using fingerpicks gave him severe joint pain in his fingers, and he eventually switched to using the nails on his fingers and the flesh/nail on his thumb, which is pretty much what I do now.
 

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I only recently tried it again with my living room guitar, but only because I couldn't find a pick and I was feeling too lazy to go downstairs. Of course, I'm trying to play just about the same stuff I would do with a pick and I am not near a good as I am with a pick.
 

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I'm a very serious fingerstyle guitarist, and I use only fingernail. I started out in classical guitar, so I guess it's only natural. I think it gives way better tone than fingerpicks or flesh.

I considered fingerpicks for a while, but then I read and interview of Leo Kottke saying years of using fingerpicks gave him severe joint pain in his fingers, and he eventually switched to using the nails on his fingers and the flesh/nail on his thumb, which is pretty much what I do now.
I love the sound of the bare thumb but when I play with my father who is a heavy strummer it gets hard to have any volume without the thumbpick. I've tried fingerpicks and could never get used to them, I could only liken it to someone putting huge rings around the ends of my fingers and then attempt to play something intricit. It's just not going to happen with me haha.
 

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I am absolutely terrible at finger-picking these years.

I use to be somewhat ok at it once....it was a HUGE hurdle for me to cross; way back when.
Both a phsychological(sp?) and physical hurdle.

Back then i ended up contacting the strings with both flesh and nail.....i sound like Vincent Price.....though i first started off with nail only....then went to flesh only...to end with the combo....almost sounds like the combo # 5, with mustard and some ketchup with no mayo buy yet pickles and onions yet no bacon but still yet called a bacon burger with tomatoes and stuff yet.

Ha.
Fancy that.

But!!!

A guitar player should also practice holding the pick with the index and thumb(as normal?) while using the other left-over three fingers to finger pick.

It becomes easy with practice.....like almost most things. Ha.


...most chords require finger-picking....it doesn't seem like this is true because we intelligently avoid using those chords....Ha.




Fake with The Early Settlers
 

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Just getting into finger picking....man it's hard! Just using my fingertips as my nails are short because, well, I have worked all my life with my hands and pretty nails just don't cut it in that world.
 

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But this is what worked for me!

Very short nails(i.e. trim/file them all the way down...);
Yet still use the fleshed padded part of the finger too/simultaneously!!!!!!!!!!...sometimes the fleshy pad alone...sometimes in conjunction with the nail(even though its filed as low as you can file it).


But this obviously won't be to everyone's fancy....this is a matter of STYLE!





Andy CrampWrist Fake
 

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After seeing some great finger stylist using fake nails,I tried them and they work great! You might get a few looks and questions about what's wrong with your nails.I use 3 on 2nd 3rd and 4th fingers as i can use both flat pick and thumb pick. Trim them with clippers and file fairly short.Great for acoustic and electric.I can 't get the attack without them.
 

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Intersting topic!

I have been spending some time trying to learn and have just been using fingers no nails.
Its coming along as I am teaching myself using classical music.
 

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I dont play with my fingers as much as i used to when i was just learning to play ('94) but im playing a lot more electric guitar these days.
I owe any fingerpicking technique to my guitar teacher (big ups Jeff Bond!) who was big into classical guitar. So I still have the ability but it needs some polishing to say the least.

I use both flesh and nails but i never grew my nails out too long or they would get in the way. My thumb nail was probably the only one that I let get longer than the rest.
As was said before I too feel a connection between me and the guitar when i use my fingers but i like fingerpicking more on an acoustic or classical guitar not so much on electric.
That said its harder to do on an electric but the tones and dynamics open up a whole new dimension.
 

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I really prefer the sound of nails and when I have a broken one it really affects my playing.

I've been playing about 45 years and have used many approaches. For a long time I played with pick and two fingers most of the time but have always finger picked on an acoustic at times. About 8 years ago I began experimenting with just fingers on electric as well and 5 years ago made the switch. I've played many styles and instruments but began concentrating on a original latin jazz acoustic thing playing only nylon strings about 2 years ago and finally was able to grow my nails in. I've begun playing electric again and it's really important that I file a nail if it begins to fray. In fact staying on top of filing my nails is an important part of having them survive. I like to sail and have a sailboat. I'm conscientious about wearing gloves if I'm working on the engine or doing anything that might bust a nail. It makes it difficult playing piano and I rarely play acoustic steel string for fear of wearing the nails out but I think it's worth it.
 

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modified thumb pick

I too had great difficulty adjusting from thumb play to thumb pick play. The scale was all screwed up as the pick stood so far from the edge of my thumb. The change was too great to adjust to on short notice. What I've been doing and it works great for me is file down the thumb pick until it extends just past the edge of my thumb. I find this is much more comfortable than the great extension on an unmodified pick. The pick in the picture is the basic Dunlop thumb modified to my needs.

As for preference, I'm primarily a slide player and I must agree that the level of control and subtle tonal changes that can be achieved with flesh are for my style superior to using a pick of any kind. However, if playing acoustic with a second player who insists on using a flat pick is in the cards then I find the subtleties are buried in the volume of the second instrument anyway so out comes the modified thumb pick and a couple of brass finger picks.

 
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