Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Anyone else using pick + fingerpicks a là James Burton?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by bradpdx, May 18, 2017.

  1. bradpdx

    bradpdx Friend of Leo's

    Jul 16, 2006
    Portland, OR
    When I first started to play the Telecaster in 1980, I was coming from a background of a lot of acoustic fingerpicking using a thumbtack and 3 metal fingerpicks. Playing with only a flatpick felt weird, and so I put fingerpicks on my middle and ring fingers. I played that way for several years before I learned that James Burton did something similar (flatpick + 1 fingerpick). It always sounded great that way, a big steel/chicken picking tone.

    In the 90s I dropped the fingerpicks because I was tired of keeping track of them at gigs. Bare fingers have their charms, but it's different for sure. Lately I've been trying the fingerpicks again, and damn they sound good. It only took a few minutes to remember what to do.

    Anyone else play using this technique?
    Telegoober likes this.

  2. Telegoober

    Telegoober TDPRI Member

    Feb 26, 2017
    Near Boring, OR
    I've tried (and struggled with......) getting by with only a thumbpick. Been using Fred Kelly stuff lately, the Slick Pick trimmed shorter, and the Bumblebee. And they've been kicking my buttocks......

    I guess the hardest parts of playing with a thumbpick are feeling like I've lost some "precision" as far as picking some single note stuff goes. I'm slower at scales, up or down, with the thumbpick. This is while trying to bring my old & arthritic 1st & 2nd fingers into the scale work, or while trying to grasp the thumbpick between my thumb & first finger curled back and under, like holding a conventional flatpick.

    I also struggle with a kinda "different" sounding (louder, maybe?) attack when strumming chords.

    But for "Mystery Train" style rockabilly stuff, the thumbpick is the bomb. Ditto for playing slide on my resonator guitar.

    Sorry, don't mean to hijack your thread, Homey! just wonder if you, or anyone else, has these kinda "issues" with the the thumbpick.

    How does Brent Mason do it?????? o_O

  3. bradpdx

    bradpdx Friend of Leo's

    Jul 16, 2006
    Portland, OR
    No problem. I don't use a thumb pick with the Tele - it always seems overpowering to me, as you've experienced. I just use a regular heavy flatpick held between thumb & index finger, with metal fingerpicks on middle an ring fingers. String balance is excellent, but you trade some moves away to gain others. Surprisingly flexible, really.

  4. jimash

    jimash Friend of Leo's

    Nov 5, 2013
    I always try fingerpicks after I break a nail, recently got metal, but I just can't bond with them.

  5. Telegoober

    Telegoober TDPRI Member

    Feb 26, 2017
    Near Boring, OR
    Thanks, Bradpdx!!!

    First, an apology for my misunderstanding. For some reason, I thought you were using a thumbpick. You stated you use a heavy flat pick, and I missed totally that. Sorry 'bout that.....

    Do you manage to get a fairly clean attack with the steel finger picks?


    SPUDCASTER Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Hey Brad!

    Bob Saloum used to do that very same thing. He was a Burton disciple and a great player.

    I worked with he and Donnie Simmonds for a stretch.

  7. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 5, 2009
    Georgetown, TX
    Was watching the old episode of the Marty Stuart Show with James on it. Appeared that he only had one metal fingerpick, on his middle finger. Is that right?
    tonytrout likes this.

  8. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Apr 2, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    I gave up trying to keep my nails the right length, always broke them doing anything at I went to metal finger picks. Well they just don't work for me--they can be painful actually. I manage it with a thumbpick and three fingernails...but I'm no James Burton :)

  9. screamin eagle

    screamin eagle Friend of Leo's

    Oct 9, 2008
    S. CA
    If the music calls for it than yes. Otherwise it's one or the other, though mostly pick. If you're going to dedicate your style to hybrid then you should really use a thumb pick. The bottom E just doesn't sound quite right otherwise.

  10. bazmusicman

    bazmusicman Tele-Meister

    Dec 21, 2015
    london England.
    Yep, a flat pick and metal finger pick on his middle finger.

  11. FattoneTele

    FattoneTele Tele-Meister

    Dec 12, 2016
    Jena, LA
    I do sometimes with one on my middle finger. Sounds good but uncomfortable to me.
    jimash likes this.

  12. motwang

    motwang Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 11, 2010
    plattsburg mo.
    I like the flat pick plus a finger pick, but the metal ones hurt my fingers or fall off. Can't find a happy medium! But now that I've read this, I'm going to give it another try. Lol!!

  13. mrmousey

    mrmousey Tele-Meister

    Aug 6, 2016
    Largo, Fl
    Sounds like a good idea !! Have to give it a try

  14. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 5, 2009
    Georgetown, TX
    Cool because that mimics the way Merle Travis himself picked, with just his thumb and index finger. That's it.

  15. LKB3rd

    LKB3rd Friend of Leo's

    Jan 10, 2013
    Brent uses Herco thumbpicks, which are shaped like regular Fender picks with a thumb loop to hold it on. They work better for "flat picking" for many.

  16. Sjnoring

    Sjnoring Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 26, 2017
    You can get a lot of mileage even with just the pick and claw technique, just picking with a pick and your middle finger. That way 9 out of 10 people will think you're really fingerpicking, and you don't need the hassle of finger picks. That 10th guy will be an old folk singer or a classical cat, no fooling some people.

  17. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2009
    Western Canada
    This is why I love these forums...
    I never knew this was how James Burton played.... something new to try!

    Actually, he uses the Blue Herco picks that are normal thumb picks, not the "flatpick / thumbpick" style.
    Last edited: May 20, 2017

  18. '64 Tele

    '64 Tele Tele-Holic

    Mar 8, 2013
    NW Arkansas
    Earl Cate (of Earl and Them, Cate Bros., the Band) plays this way.

  19. tonytrout

    tonytrout Friend of Leo's

    Mar 19, 2003
    Brasstown/Murphy, NC
    I've been using a flatpick & fingerpick for years - although, it did take a little bit to get used to playing with a metal pick on my third finger. Now, it's like second nature.


    SPUDCASTER Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.