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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. Ex-riverman

    Ex-riverman Tele-Holic

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    Have you tried playing with your fingernail or thumbnail and it didn't suit you? I find it really doesn't have a 'pick' sound in the same way plastic does. It gives me a lot of control and enough punch.
    I like the Dr Feelgood post above. I've been using my thumbnail and index for a long time and he really inspired me to bring it down hard on the side of the thumbnail for hard rhythm. It sounds so good on a telecaster. Huge inspiration.
    I guess Albert Collins probably compensates for using his fingers with sheer volume and lots of treble.
     
  2. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

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    Interesting question. I'm a fingerpicker, but I use my nails, and I'm currently thinking of going back to using a thumbpick again to allow easier string damping with the edge of my hand on electrics. In your case, could it just be a question of developing calluses? Rory Block plays with her bare finger ends, but you wouldn't know it from the sound. Ry Cooder uses the edge of his thumb but again it doesn't sound in any way "soft".
     
  3. RnBtele

    RnBtele TDPRI Member

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    Like others have posted, I mostly pinch my thumb and index together like I'm holding a pick and strum. Now in that sense, I guess I'm using the back of my nails to make contact with the strings but if I just try using the tips of either fingernail, my nail tends to get caught and throws me off. So in order for me to strum without a pick, I have to keep my nails cut short as not to snag any string. It never occurred to me to try the side of my thumbnail though haha.
     
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  4. RnBtele

    RnBtele TDPRI Member

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    Oddly enough, my fingers tend to not make hard calluses even my fretting hand. I mean I know I have them but I guess they're more like soft calluses if there's such a thing haha.
     
  5. aerhed

    aerhed Friend of Leo's

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    I'll knock a pick out of my hand about every 5 gigs, or so. Fingers until the end of the song.
     
  6. ebb soul

    ebb soul Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've been a fingerpicker for some time. I don't have anything to add but you might try a thumb or 'banjo pick' then your fingers are still freed up.
    I been working on this but have yet to find one that has the right feel.
     
  7. cabra velha

    cabra velha Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    It (fingers) is really a door to some other sounds but after a couple tries I'm convinced that the Knopfler style is not for me (as much as I enjoy his tone and playing). If you think about it, neither Knopfler or Beck really do any conventional rhythm playing. To me plucking triads doesn't really sound right for a lot of stuff, any jazz progression on an acoustic and I tend to slide into bossa novaism anyway. I've heard several people that played with fingers almost pedal steel style which is impressive but perhaps an acquired taste.
     
  8. Ira7

    Ira7 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Of course. It depends on the song.

    I do some numbers where in certain parts, I flick the strings with my forefinger, like you would flick a bug off your arm. In these cases, it's my nail hitting the string, not the soft part of the finger.

    And believe me--I'm no great talent. It's just a technique I've learned that isn't hard to learn at all.
     
  9. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

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    I pretty much put the picks away when I heard Mark Knopfler.

    Now, after 50 years of playing, I have to practise using one again.
     
  10. codamedia

    codamedia Poster Extraordinaire

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    Not at all.... some things work better with a pick, and some things work better with your fingers. If you can get the best of both, all the power to you. Mark Knopfler and Lindsey Buckingham are two notable examples of players that use their fingers most of the time, but they don't hesitate to grab a pick when a part calls for it.

    In my world.... I balance my time between flat pick, fingers, thumb pick and fingers (finger style guitar), thumb pick and finger picks (dobro, banjo and pedal steel).
     
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  11. Valvey

    Valvey Tele-Holic

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    If you play a lot with bare fingers you will build up calluses. Those will give you enough brightness and clean release to get by.
     
  12. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Poster Extraordinaire

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    I rarely (if ever) use a pick. Generally, it's just flesh and fingernails, using my thumb and first three fingers. I will also strum without a pick, generally using the top of my middle fingernail.

    On the rare occasions I use a plectrum, it's a Dunlop Jazz III or a teardrop-shaped Clayton, as thick as I can find 'em (1.26mm or 1.52mm or even 190mm).

    Using a flatpick is usually for a specific recording where I'm overdubbing myself and I want the guitar tracks sound significantly different...the change from my "normal" (fingerpicking with no picks) technique to the use of a flat (albeit small and thick) pick will successfully make it sound more like two different guitarists rather than me overdubbing myself.
     
  13. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I always regarded playing with fingers as another tool in the box, Picks are cool and easy to control once you get the basic pick patterns down( up/down alternating for fast leads etc ,and strumming ) fine control with fingers , fleahy bits and fingernails, & thumb ( ala Jeff Beck and Robbie Kreger) its all another tool , another voice, Ebow is yet another mode to learn properly.

    but for picks I only use light Shark Fins Love 'EM and they rock!
     
  14. Strum und Twang

    Strum und Twang Tele-Meister

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    I do a fair amount of "traditional" acoustic fingerstyle playing (Piedmont blues, etc), and I have been known to throw it into the mix on my Tele or Strat during gigs from time to time. But I'm also increasingly working finger approaches into my electric solos and rhythm work. I'm fortunate that my two main bands have sufficient musical awareness and senses of ensemble playing dynamics that I can get away with fingers alone if the venue itself isn't just awash with noise. In those noisier situations, I'll happily revert to picks and/or hybrid picking.

    I like having the three approaches as "arrows" in my metaphorical quiver of techniques.
     
  15. musicalmartin

    musicalmartin Poster Extraordinaire

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    I play a bit like Wilko .Sort of cross between a flamenco flick ,a 3 fingered strum , and single string fleshy finger pick .Difficult to describe as it varies all the time .I have no coordination between my thumb and finger so cannot actually play finger style.
     
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  16. tominwa

    tominwa Tele-Meister

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    I learned Classical on a classical nylon string guitar. The hardest thing I ever had to do was learn to use a pick switching to electric a few years ago. Its been a few years and still my biggest problem controlling the lack of feel you get with your fingers. Knowing where you are by feel. That said, I don't see going back with electrics. I try here and there just to see but it doesn't sound right. At least for me, might be different for a stage musician.
     
  17. rickthescot

    rickthescot Tele-Afflicted

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    In one of the You Tube Robben Ford videos, he sates that you should be able to play with or without a pick. He is good at both but then again, he's Robben Ford.
     
  18. Aras Bruce

    Aras Bruce TDPRI Member

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    When I️ moved over to electric guitar I️ thought I had to use a pick. Now I️ use a hybrid pick and three fingers technique most of the time and have learned how to tuck the pick in my hand when I️ want to utilize my thumb and pointer finger middle finger for “that snappy sound.” I️ say do and practice whatever is most fun and practice the less fun stuff to get out of ruts.
     
  19. Macrogats

    Macrogats Friend of Leo's

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    Fingers. Mostly thumb and index like a pick for strumming, thumb, index and middle for finger "picking" and soloing.
     
  20. colchar

    colchar Friend of Leo's

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    I've never been fully comfortable with a pick. I also have some issues with my right wrist, which can make playing with a pick uncomfortable/painful. I keep trying to become comfortable with a pick but any level of comfort with them never lasts very long. I really need to just make the decision to ditch the picks and to stick to playing with my fingers instead of going back and forth as I know that the constant switching is holding back progress.

    I like playing with just my fingers as I feel I am more musical and I like the tactile connection you have with the guitar.

    I basically use my thumb and first finger - thumb for downstrokes and index finger for upstrokes. And I do that for both strumming and single note playing.

    I pretty much play like the guy in the video below, minus the whammy bar wanking and his putting his fingers together as if he were holding a pick. Check out what he does at about the 0:19 second mark, that is what I do. But as I said, I really need to make the decision to switch completely and stop going back and forth.

    And sadly, I believe the guy in the video drowned last summer so is no longer with us.



     
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