What is "Chicken Pickin'"?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Bama, Jul 17, 2011.

  1. Bama

    Bama TDPRI Member

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    I hear the term all the time, but I'm not sure if it's just another way to say finger picking or if it's a different style that's similar-but-not-quite finger picking. Can anyone clear this up for me?

    Also, if I decide to learn this (chicken and/or finger picking) is it possible to go totally pick-less? Could I become so proficient at finger picking that I can play everything without ever using a pick, or will I always need a pick to play certain styles/songs?

    Thanks in advance for any answers. :)
     
  2. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    "Chicken pickin'" has more to do with the sound that is made than the technique. Here, James Burton demonstrates his version, saying that he created it. I believe that it is best done with a thumb pick and the fingers, or hybrid picked - flat pick and fingers.

     
  3. motwang

    motwang Tele-Afflicted

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    Playing finger style is totally different than chicken pickin', look them up on you tube and you'll easily see the difference. Going pickless is a different matter altogether. Some people use a thumb pick and fingers, some a flat pick and fingers, some bare thumb and fingers, some let their nails grow, some use finger picks, etc. . Your style is determined by you playing and ability. Heck some people use multiple techniques in one song. Check out Tommy Emmanuel on You-Tube.
     
  4. Rob Moody

    Rob Moody Tele-Meister

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    Albert Lee is the man for me. He is never not doing it.
     
  5. sir humphrey

    sir humphrey Friend of Leo's

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    The true definition of Chicken pickin' is that clucking staccato sound you can get withe hybrid/finger picking using left and right hand damping.

    But it's kind of become a catch-all phrase for twangy country playing of any kind - Pete Anderson/Brent Mason type stuff.
     
  6. sir humphrey

    sir humphrey Friend of Leo's

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    I play that style using just fingers. There's pros and cons - I have to use a lot of legato to get some of the fast runs that are picked by hybrid players, but I can play more complex picking patterns, cascades and banjo rolls.

    Tone is slightly different with fingers too - a little sweeter. But you can also really dig in with your fingernails to get a much snappier country sound you just don't get with a pick.

    You need strong nails though. If not, hybrid picking is you best bet.
     
  7. sir humphrey

    sir humphrey Friend of Leo's

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    Sorry - just to add, I play all styles with fingers so yes it is possible. Even metal - in fact pinch harmonics are an absolute breeze using fingers and you can tremolo pick using your nail (though it wears it down fast)

    For me, the flexibility of playing with fingers makes it a no brainer. Playing with a pick feels wrong to me!
     
  8. Mojohand40

    Mojohand40 Tele-Afflicted

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    exactly. The only thing I'll add is that the strings actually strike the fretboard. Think "popping" like some bass players do.
    The term used to be just a technique that was used here and there, but now somehow,the term has evolved to mean a whole guitar style. Not sure why.
    :rolleyes:
     
  9. Bama

    Bama TDPRI Member

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    Thank you all for the replies, that actually clarifies a lot of things for me. The few "chicken picking" lessons I've found on the web have seemed to be more-or-less fingerpicking lessons, so I wasn't sure if it was just a "slang term" or a specific technique.

    I started watching a finger picking lesson last night and really enjoyed it. It seems a little more difficult at first, but similar to Sir Humphrey it did feel a little more natural than using a pick, and I also liked the tone a little better. I'm going to concentrate on that for a while and see if I can pick it up.

    As for Chicken Picking.....yeah, I'll let that remain on the web for now....it's way beyond my capabilities at the current time. :)
     
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