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Do you play electric guitar without a pick? (not traditional fingerstyle)

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by RnBtele, Jun 29, 2017.

  1. RnBtele

    RnBtele TDPRI Member

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    Do you normally play your electric guitar(s) without a pick? I don't mean in the traditional finger-style sense where each finger sticks to a specific string. Instead, do you play the guitar and perform the same or similar techniques with your fingers that you would normally use a pick for? If so, what are some of the difficulties you experience and how do you overcome them?

    The reason I'm asking this is because I find myself constantly switching between playing with and without a pick and I feel that the constant switching may slow down some of my learning process due to the time I'm wasting on trying to decide on which method to predominately use.

    Now, I know this is all personal preference and that I should just pick the one I'm most comfortable with, which for me is playing without a pick. I seem to have better timing and rhythm when I play without a pick and my playing feels more expressive. It's like there's a better connection between both hands when not using a pick. However, I feel that my tone is a little warmer than what I particular care for. I know using my nails would give a closer sound to playing with a pick, but I prefer just playing with the flesh of my fingertips. I also feel that using a pick gives somewhat too strident of a sound while pickless sounds a little smoother.

    Is there anything that I could do, besides using my nails, to brighten up my sound some when not using a pick?

    The amp I use is a Ibanez tsa 15 with a cannabis rex speaker. I tend to play with my bass on 8 o'clock and my treble at noonish. My classic vibe tele is somewhat warmer sounding acoustically so I've contemplated swapping pickups for either some OVs or some 64 pure vintage pickups. However, I'm not sure if they would be brighter and more lively sounding then what I already have. I currently have a SD vintage p90 in the neck which is brighter than stock when using a pick along with a stock bridge. Both pickups have a3 magnets.

    I appreciate any thoughts and help I can get regarding this.
     
  2. Dr Improbable

    Dr Improbable Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Playing without a pick sounds great until you have to play with other amplified musicians. Then it becomes difficult, but not impossible. It is feasable, and if that is your muse I say go for it! My buddy Paul plays with his fingers (blues) in a non traditional way too:
     
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  3. Cheap Trills

    Cheap Trills Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I'm a year or so into the pickless journey, but I still havent figured out a few things that I miss with the pick. Lately it's been finding a fuzz that works well and isnt too muddy on the warm attack but also isnt too harsh when I play softly...

    But on the warmth thing, picking closer to the bridge definitely helps, pulling up on the strings instead of striking down helps too but that can sound less vocal for me.. you'll notice a lot of the blues guys playing with their fingers hit down on the strings-- derek trucks, albert colins, jimmy vaughn. I've watched ritchie kotzen's technique pretty closely bc he's somebody that seems to have been able to do a lot of the same things without a pick.

    It's interesting that you find rhythm playing easier, I have the exact opposite experience!
     
  4. Sconnie

    Sconnie Tele-Afflicted

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    Pickup height and pole height could probably help a bit, an EQ pedal could help too, and I'm sure there is a wiring trick out there to put some treble back into the signal but I'm not good with that stuff off the top of my head.

    I usually play with a hybrid picking/finger picking style and I just have to make my tone "too bright" at full blast with a pick and roll off the tone when I know I wanna pick instead of pluck, if you will.
     
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  5. Big-Tele

    Big-Tele Tele-Meister

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    It works for Mark Knofler.
     
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  6. RoyBGood

    RoyBGood Doctor of Teleocity

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    Jeff Beck does ok without a pick. Maybe the CRex isn't a bright enough speaker for your purposes? Pickups with A5 magnets may be a touch brighter, but more hassle to swap than a speaker.
     
  7. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Using your fingers does dull the sound down a bit, but you also get a lot more snap with your fingers. I practice with my fingers all the time. It's fun. But I still can't play a decent rhythm without a pick.
     
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  8. brobar

    brobar Tele-Holic

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    All the time. Depends on what I'm playing and whether or not I need speed and attack vs warmth and finesse. Sometimes I use a pick, sometimes a finger pick, sometimes multiple finger picks, sometimes finger nails, sometimes just the skin of the fingers. Just depends on what the note calls for.
     
  9. Zesty feline

    Zesty feline Tele-Holic

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    I choose to play without any pick at all, if you can't decide you should perhaps try hybrid picking.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2017
  10. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

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    This guy doesn't seem to have any trouble playing without a pick:

     
  11. ScribbleSomething

    ScribbleSomething Tele-Holic

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    I'm pretty much only using fingers. Primarily thumb and index, but the middle helps out every once and a while.

    The hardest thing for me to do is one string tremelo picking — as if I where playing a mandolin.

    I'm trying this thing where I flutter my index or middle finger real fast. It's not too accurate and better for multiple strings. It's awkward to try to mute the surrounding strings while the finger between them is whipping back and forth.

    Hey I suppose I could mute with my fretting hand instead. Duh.

    I love watching Andy from ProGuitar Shop just for his fingerpicking chops. He is incredible. I've picked up a few things from him. I wonder if he teaches.
     
  12. Flaneur

    Flaneur Friend of Leo's

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    You may want to experiment with using more treble on your amp? You might want to try using a thumb pick? You could also turn up your amp's volume and control it from the guitar.

    I often switch from using a pick to fingerstyle- especially when playing electric slide, when I might want to throw in some melodic runs or basslines, or get a more complex sound, by clawing four or five strings at once. If I switch back to a heavy strumming tune, I need to turn down the volume and sometimes back off the treble.
     
  13. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I don't use a pick playing guitar.... sometimes I use one playing Bass if I want a crisp sound...

    I kinda pinch my thumb/index finger together..use the index fingernail as if you had a pick... and play like that..strum or lead lines... as well as trad fingerpicking with all the fingers....

    I got sick of dropping picks so I stopped using them...
     
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  14. GuitarsFromMars

    GuitarsFromMars TDPRI Member

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    I started (not using a pick) playing with fingers in 2006. Most of the time I use the technique that the note attack calls for, in terms of a particular musical application. Using a pick still has it's own merits. Fingers are also excellent.
     
  15. Allen Peterson

    Allen Peterson Tele-Meister

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    I've gone to using hybrid picking. I use a Fender medium between my thumb and index finger. I play double stops with my middle and ring fingers, and sometimes with the pick and middle finger. I play fast riffs alternating with the pick and my ring finger. I used to use my middle finger more, but I've developed arthritis in the first joint. This has caused me to play more with my ring finger. When I need to pop the strings, I use my fingers. When I have to strum chords, I use my pick. I can also do finger picking styles with the pick and my middle and ring fingers. Haven't started using my pinky yet, but I may try it.
     
  16. adjason

    adjason Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I use a pick almost all the time with teles and acoustic but I got a hollowbody jazz guitar a couple of years ago and on that I play with my thumb only -just sounds better that way
     
  17. drlucky

    drlucky Tele-Holic

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    I've been practicing at home without a pick for the past couple of years. If I'm in a situation where I'm going to be playing strictly lead on a song with the band I'll use just fingers (well, fingernails) and thumb, as I really love the snap and attack I can get, especially on rockabilly, country, and blues tunes. Still working on the rhythm, tho...
     
  18. dkmw

    dkmw Poster Extraordinaire

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    OK, I wasn't going to participate on this thread because I'm a hack - but I do the same thing with the back of the index fingernail. Now I feel better about it:) I can get a ''thumpy'' sound on the low strings that I like just using downstrokes with the index fingernail picking and some right hand palm muting.

    I used to be a pick-only guy FWIW. I still use one about half the time; I'm sort of fighting with myself about going one way or the other.
     
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  19. bsman

    bsman Friend of Leo's

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    I go back and forth from pick to thumb-and-forefinger and have for years and years. I can pretty seamlessly move from one style to the other, based on how I'm feeling at the moment.
     
  20. RnBtele

    RnBtele TDPRI Member

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    Thanks. I'll have to check kotzen out and play closer attention to his techniques... Rhythm is easier for me since I can better judge the distance from the strings however currently I'm more accurate playing lead with a pick. It's just when I play with a pick, I play too fast and too mechanical. I found out I can play more musically without a pick.
     
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