For Those Who Pick With Their Fingers . . .

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by colchar, Apr 29, 2019.

  1. colchar

    colchar Friend of Leo's

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    . . . how do you deal with power chords? In other words, how do you strum them? I can strum open chords with my fingers, and basically play barre chords the same way. Power chords, however, just feel strange and don't sound all that great (I often hit the sixth string too hard).

    I am trying to transition to playing only with my fingers, but power chords are screwing with me so I would appreciate some advice.
     
  2. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I mostly strum power chords with my thumb.
    Just stick with it and everything will eventually feel natural. You will stop getting hung up on certain strings when strumming etc. I sometimes use my fingers too but I don't like the sound of the nail when strumming power chords.
    You can also kind of pull at power chords or rake up on them with your finger tips or bang on them with the side of your thumb and they will sound out fine.

    Once you abandon a pick you tend to adapt over time and find your own way of playing the songs you know or practicing the same exercises you have always done.
    Whatever works for you and gives the sounds you want is the right technique.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
  3. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    If I know I'm going to do something power chord-ish I'll use a thumbpick. Otherwise, I just use my thumb. Sometimes I'll use multiple fingers if I want to do something along the lines of Wilco Johnson.
     
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  4. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    If you watch Andy's demo videos on Reverb, you'll see he hardly (if ever) uses a pick, but he often presses his index finger and thumb together, almost as if he were holding a pick, and strums with that. He'll switch between that, picking individual strings with individual fingers, and other things.

    You could also us two fingers to pluck an inverted power chord. Instead of root on bottom and fifth on top (usually on string and two frets higher), it's root on top and fifth on bottom (usually same fret, one string lower).
     
  5. colchar

    colchar Friend of Leo's

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    That is what I am doing.



    It feels weird, but it is my hitting the sixth string too hard too often that seems to be my biggest issue with it right now.
     
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  6. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes, it was almost like starting from scratch again at first for me too. Not quite but definitely a step backwards. That goes away over time. You just need to persevere and stick with it. I need a pick for some things like really fast lead runs I can still play faster with a pick but sooner or later everything evens out and you can compensate with fingers.

    Maybe try learning dear prudence to get your fingers all working independently. I started with hybrid picking, then learning Blackbird, Then Dear Prudence and then I just felt comfortable playing with fingers more as I stopped using a pick altogether. I kept practicing speed runs and my lead with fingers only and you adapt as you go and build the speed back over time. Think in years more than days weeks or months or better yet don't worry about time at all. You will definitely get there at some point if you stick with it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
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  7. Route67

    Route67 Tele-Meister

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    I use my index finger nail supported firmly with thumb and of course only hit two or three strings; takes practice to hit cleanly while also using fretting hand to mute non played strings.

    With practice you will learn to hit d, and especially g, b strings hard and low e really carefully and controlled, even with full swing of arm. Force of contact is really uneven between these strings but it results in sweet amp output, never favouring the low e.
     
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  8. colchar

    colchar Friend of Leo's

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    I should point out that I only use two fingers - thumb for downstrokes and index finger for upstrokes.

    If you watch the first minute of this video, I pick like he is doing here:

     
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  9. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I recommend having a look for a lesson on Blackbird, that's a simple two finger song, more thumb and a brush with pointer finger but it does get things working independently, then once you have that down learn dear prudence to introduce more fingers. They are cool songs to play and it's more fun progressing with cool songs than it is to just practice although I would keep practicing too. I never thought I could ever play with all fingers but those songs got me going and it gets easier as you progress.
     
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  10. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Just seen the edit and watched the video, I pick the same way but also throw the other fingers in from time to time. Learning fingerstyle, a couple travis picking songs will help get your fingers co ordinated and listening to your brain. I haven't thought much about my progression but I think starting with travis picking might have helped make things easier and progress quicker. I didn't really sit down and decide I was going to use fingers only. It just kind of happened over time although when I realised it was happening I did make more effort at practicing with fingers only. I'm sure learning the finger style songs I mentioned had a lot to do with getting to that stage.

    Although you don't want to use the other fingers learning a song that uses them triggers something in your brain and all your fingers become more coordinated and feel much less clumsy. It's also much better to practice on a acoustic than on electric because it builds better strength and clarity. It's a fun journey to take and keeps thing new and interesting.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
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  11. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    If I drop a pick I just finish the song with my fingers and will often move between pick and fingers for some tunes. Pick in the mouth temporarily.

    I don’t use my thumb much as it sounds too soft but rather the nail of my index finger, positioned and held as if I was holding a pick to do similar downstrokes for the solos and basic power chord stuff. It’s my ‘faux pick’ mode

    For really tight, fast or specially voiced power chord stabs, etc. I will grab several strings with my finger tips and lift the strings from the fretboard and release them. Thumb from above, fingers from below. This avoids the over-loud bass note effect for me.

    Then there are lots of other variations.

    I think a lot comes with time and experience too, you just learn and get muscle memory of more and more ways to get noises from a guitar. I am a certainly at the unconscious and unplanned stage.. I just imagine the sound I want and whether pick or fingers, I have a method or technique in the repertoire.

    Dropping a pick mid song is a great teacher.

    [edit just analysed it a bit too now... I do tend to rest my hand on the body/bridge more to triangulate things and keep the precision high when using fingers.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
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  12. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Why would you wanna get rid of the pick if you're playing stuff that involves power chords? o_O

    I have hardly used a pick for the last couple years, but that's cuz I'm playing nylon-string electric-acoustic and power chords don't come up much in my repertoire these days...
     
  13. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes , this is common, it takes a while to get comfortable playing without a pick but after a while ( could be a few years) you'll never return to using a pick. Power chords are not an issue, learning how to do it may be. It just takes time.

    For me , after maybe 3 decades of NO picks, I have begun to use one on a few songs now and again, maybe, based on the style of the song. It took a while to get comfortable with the PICK again ! Go figure.

    Quite honestly, most of my player friends don't even realize I don't play with a pick . Until they ask how I get those chord shape sounds which can only be done with fingers and NOT with a pick.

    Many of the Nashville cats use a thumb pick and fingers, the only difference is many of us don't use a thumb pick. I guess I could , I've tried, but I find it an oddity on my hand ! It doesn't belong there !
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
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  14. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    All fingers in this song, power chords and everything else are no problems using thumb or fingers after some practice.
    It's the fast lead that gets difficult and where some up picking is usually used and a hammer on or pull off isn't suitable. I think it took Richie around 6 years to get to this point with his lead after being a casual user of fingers before giving the pick away for the most part. Lead starts at around 4.20

     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
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  15. VintageSG

    VintageSG Friend of Leo's

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    I use the back of the fingernails for downstrokes and the thumbnail for upstrokes. Study some Wilko for further details. Sometimes the whole hand moves, sometimes the fingers go from curled to extended.
    Danggit, now you've got me analysing too much!.
    Sometimes I roll the fingernails in a faux flamenco fill, which is nice. Use the fretting hand to control muting/get some percussion in there as palm muting requires a whole new world of awkward. It's a bit like riding a bike. Tricky at first, then you get the gist, but it remains a smegger to explain.

    Also worth seeking footage of John Lee Hooker. His right hand technique is worth copying for getting some boogie on.
     
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  16. stinkey

    stinkey Tele-Afflicted

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    I've been doing as Andy for 35 + years. Stopped using picks when i heard Knopfler.
     
  17. alathIN

    alathIN Tele-Holic

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    A lot better fingerstyle players than me already responded, but I will add that for some power-chord sounds you can pinch the strings using multiple fingers at the same time.
    Knoplfer playing Money For Nothing is basically an extended exercise in this. Paul Davids has a good YouTube video on this lick if you're not already familiar.
    A variant is to use my thumb on a lower string alternating or simultaneous with the fingers playing the power chord. This really works for me playing Panama by Van Halen - the thumb hits the "bass notes" alternating with my first two fingers playing the power chords. It's kind of like Merle Travis got a Marshall ;-)
     
  18. El Marin

    El Marin Tele-Holic

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    I use my index nail as a pick in that situation
     
  19. colchar

    colchar Friend of Leo's

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    They aren't a huge part of what I play, but are still part of it. And if Ritchie Kotzen can play hard stuff with his fingers I figure why not give it a shot eh?
     
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  20. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

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    I'll use two approaches...

    1: The back of my index nail... which sounds very similar to using a pick.
    2: I attack (pluck) the two strings with my thumb/index/middle fingers as required... This is the "smoke on the water" and/or "money for nothing" technique.

    I prefer the 2nd approach when possible... I really like the separation of the notes it creates.
     
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